Saturday, September 20, 2014

A post about the Finnish verbs 'voida, 'pystyä, 'saada' and 'osata'

Here's a post about four verbs that are very common and useful, but also a bit confusing. 


Voida (voin, voin, voinut) is to be able to, to can. 

  • Mä voin auttaa sua. - I can help you. I have the skill and the time, and there's nothing stopping me from helping you. 
  • Voinko mä tuoda jotain? - Can I bring something?
  • Voitko odottaa vähän aikaa? - Can you wait for a while?
  • Voisitko sä avata oven? - Could you open the door?

Notice that we usually use pystyä (pystyn, pystyin, pystynyt) in the past tense, because voida is the same in present and past. Pystyä and voida are the same, but sometimes pystyä sounds a little bit stronger. Notice the use of MA infinitive.

  • Mä en pysty vielä kävelemään. - I cannot walk yet.
  • Minä pystyin kävelemään. - I was able to walk.
  • En pysty tähän! - I can't do this! I can't take this!


Saada (saan, sain, saanut) as to get, to receive:

  • Keneltä sä sait tämän? - From whom did you get this?
  • Mä en saanut sitä sähköpostia. - I didn't receive that email. 

Saada (saan, sain, saanut) as to have a permission:

  • Saanko mä sanoa jotain? - May I say something?
  • Saatko sä jo uida? - Are you allowed to swim already?
  • Te ette saa tulla tänne! - You are not allowed to come here.
  • Miksi mä en saa koskaan tehdä mitään kivaa?! - Why can't I ever do anything fun?!


Osata (osaan, osasin, osannut) is to know how to do something.

  • Mä osaan auttaa sua. - I can help you. I know what to do. 
  • Miksi mä en osaa tehdä tätä? - Why can't I do this?
  • Osaatteko te tulla meille? - Do you know how to get to my place?
  • Osaatko sä ranskaa? - Do you know French?

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. 

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