Sunday, September 16, 2012

How to use the Finnish verbs 'tavata' and 'tappaa'

One of the classic mistakes in Finnish is to mix up tavata, to meet, and tappaa, to kill. A typical sentence of this case would be

  • Tapan mun tyttöystävän vanhemmat ensi viikonloppuna. - I'll kill my girlfriend's parents next weekend. (Yes, it should be tapaan, I'll meet.)

There's also another similar verb to tavata, and confusingly, its basic form is also tavata. The meaning of this word is to spell, and the verb conjugation differs only in consonant gradation.

  • Missä te tapaatte? - Where will you meet?
  • Missä te tavaatte? - Where will you spell?

If you mix up these verbs,  Finns will still understand what you mean. However,  if you want to reach for the perfection, be aware of the difference between the three following verbs and their four important forms.

To meet: tavata, tapaan, tapasin, tavannut

  • Kuinka te tapasitte? - How did you meet?
  • Mihin aikaan tavataan? - At what time shall we meet? (Or spell, but meeting makes more sense.)

To spell, or to read (Finnish) syllables: tavata, tavaan, tavasin, tavannut

  • Vieläkö koulussa tavataan, kun opetellaan lukemaan? - Do they still spell the words in syllables when learning to read at school? 

(Notice that tavaaminen in Finnish means reading the words in syllables when learning how to read. It's not just listing the letters like in spelling bees. The question How do you spell your name? is  Kuinka sun nimi kirjoitetaan?, which literally means How your name is written?)

To kill: tappaa, tapan, tapoin, tappanut

  • Tappakaa ne hämähäkit! - Kill those spiders!
  • Mikä ei tapa, se vahvistaa. - What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

This post was inspired by my friend Emili, who told me (in Finnish) about the interesting people she had spelled during the summer. She was pretty upset that nobody had corrected her during the last SEVEN years, but now she knows the difference! :)

Related post: Tapaaminen Nightwishin rumpalin kanssa

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. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi! It's a great post, thanks! :) It would be great to have a print option on the website. Thankful nonetheless :)