Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to use the Finnish words 'mutta' and 'vaan'

What's the difference between these two buts?


  • Laitoin herätyskellon soimaan, mutta nukuin silti pommiin. - I set the alarm clock, but I still slept in.
  • Haluaisin tulla, mutta minulla on kokous samaan aikaan. - I'd like to come, but I have a meeting at the same time.
  • En pääse, mutta olen hengessä mukana. - I cannot make it, but I'll be with you in spirit.  
  • En tilannut pihviä vaan salaatin. - I didn't order a steak but a salad.
  • Ei se ole minun vaan Kallen! - It's not mine but Kalle's!
  • Täällä ei juhlita vaan mennään aikaisin nukkumaan. - Here we don't party but go to sleep early.

So, usually mutta starts an explaining sentence of its own, and vaan gives an alternative, something else instead.

Notice that vaan is also the spoken language form of vain, which means only, just.

  • Tää on vaan tytöille! - This is only for girls!
  • Miks sä ostit vaan kaks perunaa? - Why did you buy only two potatoes?
  • Joo, ota vaan se tuoli. - Yeah, go ahead and take the chair.
  • Mene vaan. - Just go.

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...

Awesome post as always, you talk about those little things that no finnish course brings up, wich makes the talking a lot more fluent :) And easy to understand. This blog means a lot for me, and probably for others as well.
Keep up the good work!

Hanna said...

Kiitos, that is so nice to hear!

Unknown said...

what is "vaan" in "tuli vaan"