Saturday, May 31, 2014

How to use the Finnish word 'ihan'

Ihan is a tricky word because it means either quite or really. 

With positive or neutral words, ihan means quite, just. 

I think the most important thing is that you don't say that ihan kiva, ihan hyvä or ihan kaunis when you really mean tosi kivatosi hyvä or todella kaunis.

  • Se on ihan OK opettaja. - She's an OK teacher. 
  • Se oli ihan kiva näytelmä. - It was a quite nice play.
  • Mun isäpuoli on ihan mukava. - My stepfather is quite nice. 
  • Mun tentti meni ihan hyvin. - My exam went just fine. 

With negative and super positive words, ihan means very, really, absolutely.

(If you are bored with ihan, you can also use aivan with negative and super positive words.)

  • Se elokuva oli ihan mahtava! - The movie was absolutely awesome!
  • Tämä on ihan uskomattoman hieno asia! - This is an unbelievably great thing!
  • Tämä paita on ihan liian pieni. - This shirt is absolutely too small.
  • Se mun deitti oli ihan kamala! - The person I met on a date was absolutely horrible! 

Ihan in vulgar expressions

Common expressions with ihan

  • Mä tuun ihan pian. - I'll come in a minute.
  • Ollaan ihan hiljaa. - Let's be quiet.
  • Ihan sama! - Whatever!
  • Ihanko totta? - Really?

How to avoid the whole word

If you want to say that something is quite something, use aika.

If you want to say that something is really something, use todella or tosi.

Oh, in case you wonder: ihana means lovely and wonderful, and I don't think it has anything to do with ihan. 

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.  


Nick O. said...

Kiitoksia :)

Anonymous said...

"Ihan" is about the same as "aivan", even "täysin". It sort of conveys the exact level, the completeness of statement. Without it, there could be more to say about it.
"Se meni ihan hyvin" says that "it" did not "go" badly nor did "it" "go" exceptionally well. (It can also indicate that you had misgivings about how it would go, but that it went ok.) "Ihan" is a way of saying things matter-of-factly. In some uses it compares to the word "completely" in English.
It went well. - Se meni hyvin.
It went completely well. - Se meni ihan hyvin.
It broke. - Se meni rikki.
It completely broke. - Se meni ihan rikki.

Adele said...

How about todella and tosi? Are those words synonyms or is there any difference between them? sometimes I feel I have to be careful with tosi... :) Kiitos!

Hanna said...

'Tosi' is less formal than 'todella'. I usually say 'tosi', but if I'm writing something official, I use 'todella'.

Anonymous said...

"Tosi" is probably also wrong grammatically.

Hannah O. said...

Kiitos taas tästä! Osaat niin hyvin selittää nämä hankalat tapaukset! :)

Dino Nguye said...


Unknown said...

Can you please explain why is "uskomaton" in genetive form in the sentence (Tämä on ihan uskomattoman hieno asia! - This is an unbelievably great thing!).

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

Yes.:) Whenever you have two adjectives describing something, the first one is in genitive.
- Tämä on ihanan pelottava elokuva!
- Tämä ruoka on kamalan suolaista.
- Tämä on älyttömän vaikea tehtävä.

Anonymous said...

Kiitos paljon.