Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Finnish enclitic particle pa (or pä)

I just found this post in my draft folder. Olipa kiva yllätys! - What a nice surprise!

Translating pa oris kind of tricky. I hope that these examples help you to understand how it's used and what it expresses. Just like kin, you can use this enclitic participle only once in a sentence. Pa or is usually added to the first word of the sentence.

If you have Leila White's Grammar book of Finnish, you'll find more examples of this and other enclitic particles in the end of the book.   

A surprise or an emphasis

  • Onpa komeat viikset! - Such a handsome mustache!
  • Lauloitpa sinä hyvin! - Oh how well you sung!
  • Onpa teillä kiva koti. - Such a nice home you have.
  • Olipa kiva päivä! - What a nice day it was!
  • Tulipa siitä hieno kakku! - Wow, that cake turned out fancy!
  • Minäpä soitan nyt isoäidille. - Well, I'm going to call grandma now. 
  • Mepä syötiin jo! - We ate already!
  • Mikkopa lähtee vaihto-oppilaaksi. - Well, Mikko is going to be an exchange student.

A mild command (Notice how the pronunciation of p doubles in the singular imperative forms.)

  • Syöpä nyt reippaasti! - Why don't you eat cheerily now! [syöppä]
  • Puepa sukat jalkaan! - Why don't you get the socks on! [pueppa]
  • Istupa tähän joulupukin syliin. - Why don't you sit here on the Santa Claus' lap. [istuppa]
  • Tulkaapa pojat tänne! - Why don't you boys come here! 
  • Kertokaapa, mistä te saitte nuo. - Why don't you tell where you got those.

Disagreeing, child-like arguing

  • (Minä istun tässä.) Minäpä! - (I'll sit here.) No, I will!
  • (Tämä oli minulla ensin.) Eipä ollut! - (I had this first.) No you didn't!
  • (Miksi sinä et siivonnut?)  Siivosinpa!! - (Why didn't you clean up?) Yes I did!

A wish

  • Olisipa jo huominen! - I wish it was tomorrow already!
  • Sataisipa jo lunta! - I wish it would snow already!

Mainos: Tervetuloa ääntämisen työpajaan torstaina 15. syyskuuta!

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...

Kiitos! how about han on the end of a word?

Hanna said...

That's another tricky one! It has several uses, but I'd say that the most common is wondering:

Hanna said...

Here are some examples of its use:

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

Hanna, does "Olipa kiva yllätys!" mean "What a nice surprise it was." - Does it exclusively point to the past? Can you consequently say "Onpa kiva yllätys!" when it is happening right now?

Hanna said...

Hei Erik! Joo, se on oikein. Voit sanoa "Onpa kiva yllätys."

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

Minusta sun blogi on todellinen helmi! :)

Melinda said...

What is the difference in "mild command" between -pa/pä and -hän? Or is it any?

Unknown said...

Hi! What about - VA? In sauna people say often heitävä, laitava.

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

Hei Julia! You have probably heard "Heitä vaan", which in standard Finnish would be "Heitä vain", which would translate as "Just go agead and throw (water)." Other common expressions would be "Ota vaan" - Go ahead and take it and "Sano vaan" - Go ahead and say it.