Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to use Finnish MA-infinitive

Syömään! Nyt nukkumaan! Pyyhkimään!

I'd say that those are the most common uses of the MA-infinitive in any Finnish family with small children. If you don't know what they mean, you'll find it out at the end of this post.

Basically, it's all about adding the local endings to verbs and through that, expressing the directions of the activities and even more! To connect the verb and the ending neatly, you need a ma or mä between the strong verb stem and the local ending. Conjugate the verb in the he form and drop the vat or vät before the ma or .

  • lukea > he lukevat > lukema-
  • syödä > he syövät > syömä-
  • kuunnella > he kuuntelevat > kuuntelema-
  • pelata > he pelaavat > pelaama-

Here are the five different forms of third infinitive of pelata, to play:

  1. Olin eilen pelaamassa pokeria. - I was playing poker yesterday.  
  2. Tulin pelaamasta viideltä aamulla. - I came from playing at five in the morning. 
  3. Menen pelaamaan kuudelta. - I'm going to play at six o'clock.
  4. Voisitko olla pari iltaa pelaamatta sitä typerää peliä? - Could you not play that stupid game for a couple of night? (could you be without playing) 
  5. Hävisin tuhat euroa pelaamalla huolimattomasti. - I lost 1000 euros by playing carelessly. 

Here are more examples of different MA-infinite expressions:

1. Inessive: in (the middle of) doing something (massa / mässä)

  • Olin koko lauantain kirjastossa lukemassa. - I spent the whole Saturday reading in the library.
  • Olin juuri soittamassa sinulle! - I was just about to call you!
  • Minä käyn katsomassa, onko posti jo tullut. - I'm going to check if the mail has come already. (Notice how you need the inessive ending with the verb käydä.)

A couple of very common verbs have an exceptional third infinite form in this case:

  • Tulla > Olin tulossa kaupasta, kun soitit. - I was coming from the store when you called.
  • Mennä > Olen menossa keskustaan. Haluatko kyydin? - I'm going to downtown. Do you want a ride?
  • Lähteä > Matti oli juuri lähdössä. - Matti was just about to leave.

2. Elative: from doing something (masta / mästä)

  • Mihin aikaan sinä tulet pelaamasta? At what time do you come from playing? (whichever sport you do)
  • Minä kielsin sinua menemästä sinne! - I told you not to go there!

3. Illative: to go to do something, also used in the structure to be good/bad at something and with certain verbs. (maan / mään)

  • Mennään ostamaan sinulle uudet talvikengät. - Let's go to buy you new winter boots.
  • Tulkaa meille katsomaan Greyn anatomiaa. - Come to my place to watch Grey's Anatomy.
  • Onko teistä joku hyvä käyttämään videokameraa? - Is anyone of you good at using the video camera?
  • Kuka voisi opettaa minua soittamaan kitaraa? - Who could teach me how to play guitar?

    4. Abessive: without doing something (matta / mättä)

    • Hän lähti sanomatta sanaakaan. - He left without saying a word.
    • Miksi sinä otit sen lupaa kysymättä? - Why did you take it without asking a permission?
    • Ole kolme tuntia juomatta ennen leikkausta. - Be three hours without drinking before the operation.

    5. Adessive: by doing something (malla / mällä)

    • Laihduin kymmenen kiloa jättämällä leivän pois ja lopettamalla tuoremehun juomisen. - I lost ten kilos by leaving the bread out of my diet and by quitting drinking juice.

    Read more - Lue lisää:  

    The meaning of the first phrases introduced in the beginning:

    • Syömään! - (Come) to eat!
    • Nyt nukkumaan! - Now to sleep!
    • Pyyhkimään! - (Come) to wipe (my butt)!

    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. 


    Bon's Bits, Bites, and Blurbs said...

    Thank you so much for your response to my post yesterday. I am in a Luksia language class, and being one of the older students, I'm struggling a bit more than my fellow classmates. I love your blog, and have shared it with my other English speaking classmates. In addition to the Verbit Substantiivi we are also tackling Monikkon Partitiivi - which is another area that is totally confusing to most of us. By chance have you addressed that before, or wouldn't mind another request? I use so much of your various posts as reference material, to go along with what we're doing in class. It is much appreciated, and I hope you don't mind my requests. I hope its, okay, but I want to share your site with another Expat Language group on Facebook. Thanks again.

    Hanna said...

    Kiitos palautteesta! It is really nice to hear feedback and get requests from people who are reading this blog.

    I think this is the only one so far that I have written about the plural partitive:

    Here's what Finnish for busy people has to say about it:

    Anonymous said...

    Nice to "discover" new resources to learn finnish! Thank you! :)

    I learned in class and read in textbooks that the third infinitive is formed using the "HE"-form, as opposed to what is written here, "minä"-form. Hence, nukkumaan (he nukkuvat, minä nukun), lukemaan (he lukevat, minä luen), etc.

    In my opinion, it's actually easier to remember it that way, since you don't even have to actually stress about what is the strong grade. :)

    Hanna said...

    Kiitos! Mä lisäsin he-muodon tuohon muodostamiseen. Thanks! I added the he-form to the formation part. I don't know why I actually explain it the other way.. Maybe I thought that people are more familiar with the minä form. Anyway, it's important to have something else than the basic form so that people don't make sentences like "Minä oli pelatamassa jalkapalloa." :)

    Bon's Bits, Bites, and Blurbs said...

    The next follow up to this that I'm struggling with, is the "mistä" and "misesta" endings as well. Can you explain how these fit into the picture of what we're forming above? Thanks again.

    Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

    That's another thing and has to do with nouns that are derived form verbs and end with minen. Many students find their declination kind of confusing, as the stem of the noun changes.

    lukea, to read --> lukeminen, reading

    Rakastan lukemista! - I love reading! (partitive, lukemis + ta)

    Tykkäätkö lukemisesta? - Do you like reading? (elative, lukemise + sta)

    More about the nouns that end with nen:

    Bon's Bits, Bites, and Blurbs said...

    At some point, would you address "JOKU?" - we did this in class today, and, using the various forms of Kuka (Kenen, Kenelta, etc.) was totally confusing. Can you help?

    Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

    I will, but I warn you - it's horrible! :) The reason being that in spoken language, we mix the declination of JOKU and JOKIN. (someone and something). Grammar books teach you to say things like "Onko jollakulla nälkä?", Is someone hungry?, but in spoken language, we say "Onko jollakin nälkä?" although 'jolla' is a form of 'jokin', not 'joku'. This will be a tough one for me too. And I haven't posted about JOKA (that, which) either. Kiitos ideasta!

    Anonymous said...

    Kiitoksia :)

    Hanna said...

    Moikka. Molemmissa lauseissa nuo kaksi asiaa tapahtuvat yhtä aikaa.

    "Istun olohuoneessa juomassa viiniä" on tavallisempi, eikä siinä ole oikeastaan mitään ihmeellistä. Vastaa kysymykseen "Mitä sinä teet?"

    "Juoden" ilmaisee tapaa. Yleensä tuota E-infinitiivin instruktiivia käytetään,kun halutaan korostaa, millä tavalla jokin asia tapahtuu. Esim. "Tyttö tuli kotiin itkien." "Hän kertoi sen minulle hymyillen."

    Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

    Tässä on postaus tuosta E-infinitiivistä:

    Anonymous said...

    I was reading some texts and suddenly a weird verb structure appeared.
    Example verb: tehdä.
    The variation was tekemällään.
    Or laulaa (laulamallaan).
    Or uida (uimallaan).
    In which situation is it used? It looks like a mix of adessive form with something else, yet I could't clearly understand the usages.

    Thank you!