Sunday, April 20, 2014

Conditional in Finnish

  • Voisiko joku auttaa minua? - Could someone help me?
  • Maksaisin, jos minulla olisi rahaa. - I'd pay if I had money. 
  • Tulisin, jos en olisi sairas. - I'd come if I wasn't ill.
  • Olisipa jo kesä! - I wish it was summer already!

Forming the conditional mood in Finnish is quite simple: just put isi between the verb stem and the personal ending. If there is a consonant change in the verb, use the strong grade: make the 3rd person plural and drop the vat or vät before isi.

  • nukkua: he nukkuvat - they sleep
    • nukkuisin - I would sleep
    • nukkuisit - you would sleep
    • nukkuisi  - s/he would sleep
    • nukkuisimme - we would sleep (Spoken language: me nukuttaisiin)
    • nukkuisitte - you would sleep
    • nukkuisivat - they would sleep

Pay attention to the vowel changes:

O, u, y, a and ä don't change:

  • sanoa, sanovat: sanoisin - I would say
  • puhua, puhuvat: puhuisin - I would speak
  • haluta, haluavat: haluaisin - I would want
  • kysyä, kysyvät: kysyisin - I would ask
  • antaa, antavat: antaisin - I would give
  • päättää, päättävät: päättäisin - I would decide

E and i go away:

  • lukea, lukevat: lukisin - I would read
  • opiskella, opiskelevat: opiskelisin - I would study
  • uida, uivat: uisin - I would swim
  • oppia, oppivat: oppisin - I would learn

Long vowel is shortened:

  • jäädä, jäävät: jäisin - I would stay
  • saada, saavat: saisin - I would get

Certain verb type 2 verbs have a special vowel change, just like in the past tense.

  • juoda, juovat: joisin - I would drink
  • syödä, syövät: söisin - I would stay
  • viedä, vievät: veisin - I would take

Perfect tense

Conditional can also be in perfect tense. Then you only change the verb olla into conditional and leave the rest in the NUT form.

  • Olisin maksanut, jos minulla olisi ollut rahaa. - I would have payed, if I had had money. 
  • Hän olisi tullut, jos hän ei olisi ollut sairas. - He would have come, if he hadn't been sick.
  • Olisipa eilen ollut parempi ilma! - I wish it had been a better weather yesterday!

Passive voice

There is also such thing as passive conditional, and that brings in all the spoken language madness:

  • Mitä tänään syötäisiin? - What should we eat today?
  • Suomessa syötäisiin enemmän luomuruokaa,  jos se ei olisi niin kallista. - People would eat more organic food in Finland, if it wasn't so expensive. 
  • Me maksettaisiin tämä, jos meillä olisi rahaa. = Me maksettais tää, jos meillä olis rahaa. - We'd pay this, if we had money. 
  • Me oltaisiin maksettu tämä, jos meillä olisi ollut rahaa. = Me oltais maksettu tää, jos meillä ois ollu rahaa. - We would have paid this, if we had had money.

Useful links and songs:

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.  


Anonymous said...

Whenever discussing Finnish conditional, one really should include a warning for the Turku dialect, where similar sounding construct is used to indicate the past tense.

Hanna said...

I know.. Here's an interesting blog post about it:

Unknown said...

Hi Hanna,

Sometimes I found "tultais" or "voitaisko" in the conversation. Are they all the passive conditional ??

Unknown said...

Yes they are. Well spotted!!

It is really not just a written language and a spoken language that we have here in Finland. There is actually a continuum from very formal to very informal, and then disintegrating into different slangs among small groups. "Tultais" and "Voitaisko" are just a little bit more informal than "tultaisiin" and "voitaisiinko".

Native Finns move on this continuum without even realizing it. Just one more person entering the conversation or even the room, can change the tone more or less formal. Also, when Finns get very angry, they might start to speak in a slow, measured, exceedingly polite and formal way. Friendly warning: that is when a Finn is most dangerous. ;-)