Tuesday, November 11, 2014

hyvä - hyvää - hyvin

Hyvä can be a surprisingly difficult word. It's used a lot, and many times you just want to express that something is good or great with one word. But shoud you say Hyvä or Hyvää?  I'm guessing that even if you make a mistake when using hyvä, your Finnish friends don't correct you, because...

  1. they understand what you mean. 
  2. they don't want to be impolite or make you feel bad. 
  3. they don't want to end up in the situation where they have to talk about Finnish grammar. 

Say hyvää when you are eating or drinking something and you want to express that it tastes good. Hyvää is also used when the question word requires it. Notice that the translations are horrible on purpose.:)

  • Mitä sulle kuuluu? - Hyvää. - What is hearing to you? - Good.
  • Millaista ruokaa siellä oli? - Hyvää. - What kind of food there was? - Good.

Hyvä! is used when reacting to incidents and news. Unless you are eating or drinking something, this is usually the one you should use.

  • jätin mun poikaystävän. - Hyvä! - I dumped my boyfriend. - Good!
  • Tämä korjataan huomenna. - Hyvä! - This will be fixed tomorrow. - Good!

(Confusingly, if you want to use any other adjective as a one word expression, they are in partitive. Mahtavaa! Hienoa! Kamalaa! - Excellent! Great! Horrible! )

Hyvin is well. It's an adverb of manner and answers the question miten or kuinka

  • Miten sä voit? - Hyvin. - How are you feeling? - Well.
  • Miten menee? - Hyvin. - How's it going? - Well. 
  • Kuinka työhaastattelussa kävi? - Hyvin. - How did the job interview go? - Well. (Käydä is to happen in this context.)

Hmm.. I have a feeling that I will be editing this post a lot. Feel free to leave questions and comments. :)


  1. Totally different topic, but your note about käydä reminded me: what is the difference between sattua and tapahtua?

    1. They both mean to happen, but sattua is also to hurt.

      Mitä siellä tapahtui? - What happened there?
      Mulle ei koskaan tapahdu mitään kivaa. - Nothing nice ever happens to me.
      Sattuiko siellä jotain kamalaa? - Did something awful happen there?

      Sattuuko tämä? - Does this hurt?
      Sattuiko sinuun? - Did you get hurt?

  2. I've come across a phrase I'm having a problem translating: "hyväs ja hyväs". I was told it meant "in good and good", which makes no sense to me! Online translators don't recognize the word. Can you help? Thanks!

    1. Hmm.. I've never heard that, but yes, it could be a form of "hyvässä ja hyvässä", as you wrote. What exactly is the situation where you've heard this?

  3. En ymmärrän, miksi on "hyvää" tässä lauseessa: Hyvää syntymäpäivä! Or hyvää uutta vuotta!