Friday, February 15, 2013

oppia - opettaa - opiskella - opetella

I've noticed that these verbs are easy to mix. Here are some simple sentences and the four important forms of each verb.

oppia, opin, opin, oppinut - to learn

  • Opin lukemaan neljävuotiaana. - I learned to read when I was four.
  • Mitä me voimme oppia tästä? - What can we learn from this?
  • Etkö sinä koskaan opi? - Don't you ever learn?

opiskella, opiskelen, opiskelin, opiskellut - to study

  • Kuinka kauan sinä olet opiskellut suomea? - How long have you studied Finnish?
  • Haluaisin opiskella oikeustiedettä. - I'd like to study law.
  • No niin, opiskellaan! - Well then, let's study!

opettaa, opetan, opetin, opettanut - to teach

  • Saanko minä opettaa sinulle jotain? - Can I teach you something?
  • Oletko koskaan opettanut suomalaisia teini-ikäisiä? - Have you ever taught Finnish teenagers?
  • Kuka opetti sinut ajamaan autoa? - Who taught you how to drive a car?

opetella, opettelen, opettelin, opetellut - to learn through trying (perhaps without a teacher), to teach oneself

  • Voisitko opetella syömään suu kiinni? - Could you learn how to eat with you mouth shut?
  • Tänä kesänä opettelen soittamaan kitaraa! - This summer, I will teach myself to play the guitar!

Sometime opetella is also used with languages like in this article. However, I often think that opetella is something that you do, not read. 

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About the author of this blog:

My name is Hanna Männikkölahti. I am a professional Finnish teacher who gives private online lessons and simplifies books into easy Finnish. You can contact me through You can subscribe to this blog from the right-hand banner. 


tigareth said...

A useful and relevant thing to point out here, especially for English speakers, is that 'opiskella' is used to talk about studying or taking a course in a particular discipline, while a different verb is used when talking about studying course material or reviewing/revising for an exam. (I think this would be 'lukea' (to read)?)

A similar mistake is often made by English speakers learning German, where 'studieren' would be the equivalent to 'opiskella' and 'lernen' to study or review for exam.

Hanna said...

Yes, a very good point. Thanks for the addition!

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Mä opettelen suomea, and I was getting confused with the various words for "learning" :).