Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Finnish sentence types

You've probably heard of the verb types and the noun types, but how about the Finnish sentence types? If you want to have a full lesson about them, I recommend reading Leila White's grammar book, pages 300-323. Here's my short version of the most useful sentence types.

The ones where the verb conjugates according to the person:

  1. Minä asun tuossa kerrostalossa. - I live in that apartment building. (The simple sentence. Nothing special here.)
  2. Me olemme opiskelijoita. - We are students. (A predicative sentence. Might cause confusion because of the occasional plural partitive.)
  3. Minä juon nyt kahvia. - I'm drinking coffee now. (A sentence with an object.)
  4. Minä tykkään opiskella suomea.  - I like to study Finnish. (Two verbs, the second one in the basic form.)
  5. Minä menen nyt nukkumaan. - I'm going to sleep now.  (Two verbs, the second one in ma-infinitive.) (Oh, you might like my post about the English -ing form.)

The ones where the verb is always in the same (3rd person singular) form. It's the personal pronoun that changes:

  1. Minulla on kokous neljältä. -  I have a meeting at four o'clock. (Having something.)
  2. Baarissa oli paljon ihmisiä. - There were many people in the bar. (An existential clause, as in There is something somewhere. Again, you might need plural partitive.)
  3. Minun täytyy maksaa tämä lasku. -  I have to pay this bill. (Having to do something.)
  4. Sinun kannattaa nyt lähteä. - You should leave now. (A sentence with kannattaa.)
  5. Tämä elokuva itkettää minua. - This movie makes me cry. (Sentences with feeling verbs.)

The sentences that express a change or a result can be in either category:

  1. Tulin äidiksi 31-vuotiaana. - I became a mother when I was 31 years old.
  2. Minusta tuli äiti 31-vuotiaana. - I became a mother when I was 31 years old.

These ones have no personal pronoun at all:

  1. Ota lisää! - Take more! (This verb form is called imperative.)
  2. Saako täällä syödä omia eväitä? - Is it ok to eat your own food here? (A generic sentence, the subject could be anyone.)
  3. (On) tosi tylsää, että teidän pitää jo lähteä. - (It's) super lame, that you have to leave already. (Expressing your opinion with an adjective in the beginning of the sentence.)
  4. Suomessa juodaan paljon kahvia. - They drink a lot of coffee in Finland. (A passive voice.)

If you want to read about forming questions, which you can do with all the sentence types, I have a post about the question words and another about the questions ending with ko or .

Lue lisää: 

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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. 


MBLAH_op said...

Thanks for your blog and for that kind of round up.
I could definitely read and use a post about those sentences that have a 'kind of subject' in the genitive (though I feel it's more a dative complement than a genitive subject) + modal verb + verb in 1st infinitive. Like «Ulkomaalaisten kannattaa opiskella suomea.» A short list or more example of modal verbs that require that construction would be great ! :-)

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

Tässä postauksessa on joitain sellaisia verbejä: (Pahoittelen, että vastaan 3,5 vuotta myöhässä.:))

Unknown said...

Ive read countless blogs and chapters and wrote down countless of my own charts but im still struggling with creating my own sentences. Would you give me a few quick and simple tips on how to translate an english sentence to finnish? I have alot of finnish in me and would love to learn it but im terrible. You can email me at the provided email i usei used to post this.

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

Challenge accepted! Give me a couple of English sentences that you'd like to say in Finnish and I'll write a blog post about them. I'm pretty sure that figuring out the sentence type is the key.