Saturday, June 1, 2013

How to use the Finnish pronoun 'se'

Se means it or that. In spoken language, se is often used instead of hän when talking about he or she. Sometimes se can be translated as the fact. Notice how se becomes si or sii in most of the cases. 

It or that

  • se: Mikä se oli? - What was that?
  • sen: Mä tiesin sen. - I knew it. 
  • sitä: Mä en muista sitä. - I don't remember it. 
  • siinä: Mitä siinä kirjeessä oli? - What was in that letter?
  • siitä: Älä välitä siitä. - Don't care about it.
  • siihen: Miksi sä menit siihen kokoukseen?  - Why did you go to that meeting?
  • sillä: Mitä sinä teet sillä? - What do you do with it?
  • siltä: Siltä näyttää. - Looks like it. That's what it looks like.
  • sille: Älä istu sille tuolille! - Don't sit on that chair. 
  • sinä: Mä olin sinä maanantaina koko päivän kotona. - On that Monday, I spent the whole day at home. 
  • siksi: Mä luulin sitä siksi Tiinan kirjaksi. - I thought that it was the book that belongs to Tiina. 

He or she

  • se: Kuka se oli? - Who was that?
  • sen: Mä seurustelin sen kanssa lukiossa. - I used to date him/her in high school.
  • sitä: Mä vihaan sitä! - I hate him/her! 
  • siinä: Mitä siinä on parasta? - What's best about him/her?
  • siitä: Älä puhu siitä. - Don't talk about him/her. 
  • siihen: Mä en luota siihen. - I don't trust him/her. 
  • sillä: Mitä asiaa sillä oli? - What was his/her business? What did s/he want?
  • siltä: Mä sain siltä tosi oudon tekstiviestin. - I got a really strange text message from him/her. 
  • sille: Mä soitin sille eilen. - I called him/her yesterday.


The fact, or nothing

  • Mitä ajattelet siitä, että kaupat ovat sunnuntaisin auki? - What do you think about the fact that the shops are open on Sundays?
  • Se riippuu siitä, mitä kello on. - It depends on what time it is.
  • Soitin hänelle sen jälkeen kun olin kuullut asiasta. - I called her after I had heard about the matter. 

The place adverbs

Yes, there's even more! There are SIX place adverbs derived from the word SE:

siellä, sieltä, sinne - A larger area that you cannot see or that is close to the recipient.

  • Mitä te teette siellä? - What are you doing over there?
  • Tulkaa pois sieltä! - Get out of there!
  • Menettekö te sinne autolla vai junalla? - Are you going (to) there by car or by bus?
  • More examples with these words: 

siinä, siitä, siihen - A small area that you cannot see or that is close to the recipient.

  • Siinä sinä olet! - There you are!
  • Ota siitä kahvia. - Take some coffee from there. 
  • Kirjoita siihen sun nimi. - Write your name (to) there. 

Notice that these three words are also used as pronouns:

  • siinä: Mitä siinä kirjeessä oli? - What was in that letter?
  • siitä: Älä välitä siitä (asiasta). - Don't care about it (the thing).
  • siihen: Miksi sä menit siihen kokoukseen?  - Why did you go to that meeting?

If you found this post helpful, you might also like my posts about tämä and tuoI also have a

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. 


Nick O. said...

Too many words come from se! No wonder I hear si... se... sounding words at work everyday!

Anonymous said...

Dear Hanna,
This has nothing to do with the post above, I just wasn't sure where to go to suggest a new topic for a post. I was wondering: are there any common word-order mistakes that English-speakers make in Finnish, which we could learn to avoid? I've heard that Finnish word order is relatively flexible, but there must be some things we tend to get wrong?

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

That's a good question! I'm actually planning a post about common English sayings and structures that are impossible to translate word-by-word in Finnish, and this is kind of in the same category.. but in general, the word order is quite flexible.

joni123 said...

Kiitos kovasti sun opetustasi.Sun työsi on valtava iso, ihmettelin miten jaksat vastata noin paljon kysymyksiin. Kunnioitan sinua. Yritän lukea useammin sinun blokejä, ne hyötyvät paljon.

chicklet said...

How to use silti or siltikin