Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to say 'for' in Finnish

The preposition from is always either sta or stä (elative) or lta or ltä (ablative), right?

  • Tulin eilen New Yorkista. - I came from New York yesterday.
  • Sain Richardilta timantteja.  - I got diamonds from Richard. 

However, the preposition for has more options, at least seven different endings:

1. Partitive

  • Minä odotan sinua. - I'll wait for you.
  • Matka kesti kaksi tuntia. - The journey lasted for two hours. 

2. Genitive (with verbs that don't express movement)

  • Aion olla Pekingissä viikon. - I plan to stay in Beijing for a week. 
  • Se kesti tunnin.  - It lasted for an hour.
  • Opiskelin tätä asiaa koko viikon. - I studied this topic for a whole week.
  • Read more about genitive.

3. Translative (with verbs that express some kind of momement)

  • Menen kolmeksi päiväksi Helsinkiin. - I'm going to Helsinki for three days.
  • Hän tulee tänne kahdeksi viikoksi. - She will come here for two weeks. 
  • Juna pysähtyi kahdeksi tunniksi. - The train stopped for two hours. 
  • Hissi jäi jumiin kymmeneksi minuutiksi. - The elevator got stuck for ten minutes. 

Notice the difference: 
  • Matkustin Kanadaan viikoksi. - I traveled to Canada in order to stay there for a week. 
  • Matkustin Kanadaan viikon. - The journey to Canada took a week. 
  • Kävelin kotiin kahdeksi tunniksi. - I walked home to be there for two hours.
  • Kävelin kotiin kaksi tuntia. - I walked home and it took me two hours. 

4. Elative

  • Kiitos kyydistä. - Thank you for the ride.

5. Allative

  • Tämä on sinulle. - This is for you. 
  • Mennään lounaalle. - Let's go for a lunch.

6. Essive

  • Älä pidä sitä itsestäänselvyytenä! - Don't take it for granted! (itsestäänselvyys = something that is self-evidently clear)

7. Illative (because the sentence is negative)

  • En ole syönyt mitään kahteen päivään. - I haven't eaten anything for two days. 
  • En ole nähnyt aurinkoa viikkoihin.  - I haven't seen the sun for weeks.
  • En ole tehnyt mitään kivaa pitkään aikaan. - I haven't done anything fun for a long time. 

Related posts:

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.  


Tommy Quist said...

It'sonly fair considering the wide range of meanings for "for" in English.

Bales said...

Awesome....Helps make a lot more sense!! Thanks a lot....keep em coming....I may get it right one day :)

Paul Hopkins said...

Kiitos blogista, Hanna!

Maybe you could explain something I've been wondering about recently: what's the difference between using the allative and using varten?

So for your example:

Tämä on sinulle

would you also be able to say

Tämä on sinua varten

and if so would it have a different shade of meaning?

Hanna said...

Kiitos ideasta! Kirjoitan siitä pian jotain, mutta tässä on mielenkiintonen linkki aiheesta:

Paul Hopkins said...

Niin, se on mielenkiintoista! Mutta vähän vaikeaa suomeksi...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great blog! I just discovered it.

How do you know whether to use the genitive or the translative in time expressions? Or are they interchangeable?

For instance, what is the difference between "Aion olla Pekingissä viikon" and "Hän tulee tänne kahdeksi viikoksi"? Does it have to do with the number of weeks (one vs many)? Could you say "Aion olla Pekingissä viikoksi" or "Hän tulee tänne kahden viikon"?

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

I think it has to do with the verb that you are using. And no, they are not interchangeable.

Aion olla Pekingissä viikon. - I plan to stay in Beijing for a week.
If you are staying there for two weeks, that would be "kaksi viikkoa."
Hän tulee tänne viikoksi. - He is coming here for a week, his plan is to be here for a week.
The translative is used at least with mennä - to go, tulla - to come, matkustaa - to travel, jäädä - to stay. Genitive is used with more static verbs: Hän on siellä viikon. - He will be there for a week. Hän asui siellä vuoden. - He lived there for a year.

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

I forgot this one: No, you cannot say "Aion olla Pekingissä viikoksi" or "Hän tulee tänne kahden viikon". Certain verbs can only take certain endings.

Anonymous said...

That explains it! Thanks very much for the (fast!) reply.

If I can bother you more, is there a good way to understand the case difference between "viikon" and "kaksi" in the examples "aion olla Pekingissä viikon" and "aion olla Pekingissä kaksi viikkoa" ? How come "kaksi" wouldn't be in the genitive here like "viikon"?

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

Yes, the phenomenon is called (my translation) an adverbial of quantity that takes the object case.

You treat "viikko" like you'd treat "omena".

Aion syödä omenan. Aion olla siellä viikon.

Aion syödä kaksi omenaa. Aion olla siellä kaksi viikkoa.

Remember, if there is any reason to use partitive (here the number 2), use it. Partitive wins all the battles of the cases! :)

Here's an informative Slideshare document about the time expressions:

Anonymous said...

Thanks again! I didn't know about that. And the slides are great.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the helpful post. I was also wondering, the word "for" is often used in English when drawing a contrast between a person/object and other members of a group that the person/object belongs to. An example is "James speaks really good Finnish for an American." How would this idea be expressed in Finnish?

Olli Väisälä said...

"James speaks really good Finnish for an American."

= James puhuu tosi hyvää suomea amerikkalaiseksi. (translative) OR
James puhuu tosi hyvää suomea ollakseen amerikkalainen.

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

Totta! :) Kiitos lisäyksestä. Mun täytyy lisätä tuo myös A-infinitiivipostaukseen: