Sunday, August 12, 2012

Imperative mood in Finnish

The imperative mood, in singular, is a piece of cake (helppo nakki in Finnish) if you know how to conjugate a verb in minä-form. Just drom the n and there's your command. Add älä in front, and you'll  have a negative command.

Giving orders to one person

  • Tule! - Come!
  • Älä tule! - Don't come!

Giving orders to more than one person or being polite

This one is a little bit trickier.  Here are some examples using the different verb types:

  • Antakaa se minulle. - Give it to me.
  • Syökää lisää! - Eat more!
  • Opiskelkaa yhdessä. - Study together.
  • Pelatkaa ilman minua. - Play (a game or sports) without me. 
  • Valitkaa yksi. - Choose one.

In the negative form, just add älkää  in front of the verb and change the kaa/kää ending to ko/kö

  • Älkää antako periksi! - Don't give up!
  • Älkää syökö liikaa ennen peliä. - Don't eat too much before the game.
  • Älkää opiskelko liian väsyneinä. - Don't study while being too tired.
  • Älkää pelatko koko yötä. - Don't play the whole night.
  • Älkää valitko tätä. - Don't choose this.

So how do you make this plural imperative form, then? The secret is the basic form. You have to drop a letter or two from the end and then add the imperative ending kaa or kää, like this:

  • Verb type 1: (to give) antaa: anta + kaa > älkää anta + ko
  • Verb type 2: (to eat) syödä: syö + kää > älkää syö + kö
  • Verb type 3: (to study) opiskella: opiskel + kaa > älkää opiskel + ko
  • Verb type 4:  (to play) pelata: pelat + kaa > älkää pelat + ko
  • Verb type 5: (to choose) valita: valit + kaa > älkää valit + ko

This post was requested by a friend of mine who was wondering about the ko/kö ending in the sentence Älkää herättäkö minua.  Notice, that this ko/kö has nothing to do with the similar looking question ending such as in sentences Onko sulla rahaa?  or Mennäänkö taksilla?  (=Do you have money? Shall we go by taxi?) I hope this post was clarifying, not confusing! :)

About the author of this blog: 

My name is Hanna Männikkölahti. I am a professional Finnish teacher who gives private online lessons and simplifies books into easy Finnish. Please read more in

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are also third person imperatives -koon, -köön and -koot, -kööt which could be translated as let her/him/them ..., e.g. let them eat cake.