Sunday, August 5, 2012

Passive form in Finnish

The passive form is a super useful thing to master, and actually quite simple to form, if you know the basic forms and the verb types or just take some wild guesses.

These are the most common cases when to use it:

1. Suggesting something

  • Mennään! - Let's go!
  • Soitellaan! - Let's call each other, let's keep in touch.
  • Otetaanko tämä? - Shall we take this?

2. The spoken language conjugation for the 1st person plural.

This can be confusing sometimes as you'll hardly ever hear people use the me olemme type of conjugation expect when trying to sound official.

  • Missä me ollaan? - Where are we? (Missä me olemme?)
  • Me ei kerrota kenellekään. - We won't tell anybody. (Me emme kerro kenellekään.)
  • Me tultiin autolla.  - We came by car. (Me tulimme autolla.)
  • Me ei osattu tehdä sitä. - We didn't know how to do it. (Me emme osanneet tehdä sitä.)
  • Ollaanko me tavattu aikaisemmin? - Have we met before? (Olemmeko me tavanneet aikaisemmin?)
  • Me ei olla vielä syöty. - We haven't eaten yet. (Me emme ole vielä syöneet.)

3. The "real" passive

=  Not knowing, telling or caring about who does or did it.

  • Mitä sun kotimaassa tehdään itsenäisyyspäivänä? - What to do people in your country do on the independence day?
  • 80-luvulla osattiin juhlia! - People knew how to party in the 80's!
  • Meidän talo maalattiin viime kesänä. - Our house was painted last summer.
  • Tätä on suunniteltu koko vuosi. - They've been planning this for the whole year.
  • "Sitten hoitaja opetti minulle, kuinka lasta syötetään, nostetaan, kannetaan ja kylvetetään." - Then the nurse taught me how to feed, lift, carry and bathe a child. (From a novel Yösyöttö)

More to read:

About the author of Random Finnish Lesson: 

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 and follow this blog, if you want to be the first one to know when I post something new.  


Anonymous said...

Hi Hanna

I just have a question on the second use case...
"Mitä sun kotimaassa tehdään itsenäisyyspäivänä?" As a passive sentence, isn't this translated more like this -> What is done/happens in your country on the independence day?

"Tätä on suunniteltu koko vuos" Isnt this sentence also translated like this ->This has been planned the whole year

Thanks again for the good summary

Hanna said...

Yes, those are more accurate thraslations.

Ithink that in English, you can also use "people" or "they", or even "you" when you translate the FInnish passive. I've actually heard that Finns use too much passive in English because of the passive voice in Finnish. :)

Unknown said...

Hi Hanna,

is there any difference between "Me tultiin autolla" and "Me tulimme autolla" or any reason to chose one over the other except for the fact that the former is more colloquial than the latter?

also, is there a colloquial way to say that using the active form?

Great blog anyway, after you know just a few basics this is definitely the best resource I could find online to step up the game ;D

Unknown said...

ok, I just realized that was a stupid question.
I guess I got confused as we have a sentence structure which is actually quite similar in certain Italian dialects, but I couldn't wrap my mind around it because I was reasoning about it from an English perspective.