Friday, September 28, 2012

How to say 'or' in Finnish

Two little words, and they both mean or. What is the difference?


Tai is used in commands and in affirmative sentences, but also in questions. In a question, tai is used when there is a hidden idea of for example or or something else. 

  • Osta mansikoita tai kirsikoita. - Buy strawberries or cherries.
  • M√§ soitan sulle huomenna tai ylihuomenna. - I'll call you tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.
  • Haluatko omenan tai appelsiinin? - Do you want an apple or an orange? (For example. Or something else to eat? You don't have to take anything.) Compare: Haluatko omenan vai appelsiinin? = I assume that you want either an apple or an orange, so now tell me which one.

If you want to be really annoying in Finnish, end all your sentences with tai jotain, which means or something. 


Vai is used when you have a certain amount of choices and you have to pick one. Vai is only used in questions. (Usually foreigners tend to overuse this one.)

Another common use of vai is vai mit√§ at the end of the sentence.

  • Tavataan keskustassa, vai mit√§? - Let's meet in downtown, right? (or what?)

About the author of Random Finnish Lesson: 

My name is Hanna M√§nnikk√∂lahti. 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. 


Nick O. said...

Kiitoksia, vai mitä? :)

Anonymous said...

terveisia australiasta, mit2 hui, hyi ja huh huh tarkoittaa? kiitos, t2m2 blogi on erit2in hyva , olen virolainen ja luulen et meill2 pohjois virolaiselle on suomen opiskelu aika iisi mutta t2lt2 olen saannut paljon tietoja keep up the good work,

Unknown said...

Unfortunately, it is hard to find good materials in Russian. So I have to use English in order to understand Finnish. Thanks a lot for your lesson.

Love for Nature said...