Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How to say that you used to do something in Finnish

I used to is an expression that people seem to need often but which is very different in Finnish. The verb to use is käyttää (käytän, käytin, käyttänyt), but it's only used in sentences like

  • Käytätkö maitoa? - Do you use milk (in your coffee)?
  • Kuka hullu käyttää pitkiä kalsareita toukokuussa?! - What kind of a crazy person wears long underwear in May?!
  • Haluatko sä käyttää mun tablettia? - Do you want to use my tablet computer?
  • Mitäköhän tuo on käyttänyt? - I wonder what he's been taking.

When you want to say what you used to do, just say the sentence in the past tense and add ennen, before:

If you want to emphasize that you do or did something regularly, you can use minulla on/oli tapana structure. Tapa is a habit, and yes, it is also the imperative form of tappaa. Tapana is the essive case, and it means as a habit.

  • Mulla oli tapana käydä juoksemassa joka aamu. - I used to go running every morning.
  • Meillä oli tapana tehdä perjantaisin pitsaa. - We used to make pizza on Fridays. 
  • Sillä oli tapana iskeä joka ilta joku uusi mies. - She used to pick up some new guy every night. 
  • Onko sulla aina tapana puhua noin? - Do you always speak like that?

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.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I read somewhere that it is also possible to use tavata + infinitive to express this concept, e.g. Tapasin juoda kahvia. Is that correct?

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

Hei. Yes, that is also possible. Sounds a bit old-fashioned, but it's correct.