Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The passive voice in different tenses

I've noticed that using the passive voice can sometimes be tricky. Many people seem to overuse the verb olla, probably because of the English passive construction, although in Finnish, that's only used when forming the perfect and pluperfect tenses. Minulla on nälkä, so all the examples are with syödä. (The translations are not ideal, but the whole point is to clarify this particular Finnish structure. I also have a post about how to form these passive forms.)

Present tense:

  • syödään = is eaten
  • ei syödä = is not eaten
  • Meidän perheessä päivällinen syödään neljältä. - In our family, the dinner is eaten at four o'clock.
  • Jälkiruokaa ei syödä joka päivä. - The dessert is not eaten every day. (Syödäänpäs! - Yes it is!)

Past tense:

  • syötiin = was eaten
  • ei syöty = was not eaten
  • Mitä koulussa syötiin tänään? - What was eaten in the school today?
  • Me ei syöty mitään. - We didn't eat anything. (Written language: Me emme syöneet mitään.)

Perfect tense:

  • on syöty = has been eaten
  • ei ole syöty = has not been eaten
  • Tämä kakku on syöty melkein kokonaan! -  This cake has been eaten almost completely!
  • Miksi tätä keittoa ei ole syöty? - Why hasn't this soup been eaten?

Pluperfect tense:

  • oli syöty = had been eaten
  • ei ollut syöty = had not been eaten
  • Kun tulin kotiin, kaikki laskiaispullat oli jo syöty. - When I came home, all the Shrove buns had already been eaten.
  • Löysin vain yhden surkean pullan, jota ei ollut syöty. - I found only one lousy bun that had not been eaten.

The confusing part:

 In spoken language, we use a double passive in the perfect and pluperfect tenses: 
  • Mä löysin vain yhen surkeen pullan, jota ei oltu syöty.  

Actually, here are all the forms in spoken language and written language.

Present tense:

  • Me syödään. = Me syömme. = We eat.
  • Me ei syödä. = Me emme syö. = We don't eat.

Past tense:

  • Me syötiin. = Me söimme. = We ate.
  • Me ei syöty. = Me emme syöneet. = We didn't eat.

Perfect tense:

  • Me on syöty. / Me ollaan syöty. = Me olemme syöneet. = We have eaten.
  • Me ei oo syöty. / Me ei olla syöty. = Me emme ole syöneet. = We haven't eaten.

Pluperfect tense:

  • Me oli syöty. / Me oltiin syöty. = Me olimme syöneet. = We had eaten.
  • Me ei oltu syöty. = Me emme olleet syöneet. = We hadn't eaten. 

(I can't help feeling that I should apologize this on behalf of all the Finns. Anteeksi.)

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 www.linktr.ee/hannamannikkolahti and follow this blog, if you want to be the first one to know when I post something new. 


Unknown said...

Sorry for asking here, but i stucked with verb rection. Here http://www.uusikielemme.fi/mihinsta.html i found that pitää requires sta/stä, but also ajatella requires it also. But... I definitely know that "i think about you" is "ajattelen sinua"or "i think about my work" is "ajattelen työtäni". It looks confusing... Does it mean that it is wrong? That this verb doesn't require sta/stä

Hanna said...

Hei, hyvä kysymys! :)

Ajatella + partitive is the "neutral" thinking.

Mitä sinä ajattelet? En mitään.
Ketä sinä ajattelet? Ajattelen sinua.

Ajatella + elative is used when you say what you think about something. I think it's more common in questions.

Mitä sinä ajattelet tästä asiasta? (What do you think about this matter?)
Mitä sinä ajattelet meidän opettajasta? (What do you think about our teacher?)

Mä en ajattele siitä mitään. (I don't think anything about it.)
Mä ajattelen, että se on ok. (I think that it's ok.)

('Miettiä' is to think in order to come up with a solution. 'Luulla' is to think, not to know or not to be sure about something.)

Unknown said...

Kiitos paljon ajastasi, Hanna! :)
Oot enkeli!