Thursday, October 19, 2017

Figuring out the Finnish verb stems

When talking about verbs, we often talk about the basic form, and then there's the stem after which you add the different markers and endings. The Finnish verbs can have one or two stems.

Only one stem:

Verb types 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, and verb type 1 verbs without the consonant change have only one stem. The stem is easiest to figure out by making the 1st person singular (minä) form, and dropping the n:

  • ASUA, to live: Minä asun. He asuvat. > The stem is ASU-.
  • SYÖDÄ, to eat: Minä syön. He syövät. > The stem is SYÖ-.
  • OPISKELLA, to study: Minä opiskelen. He opiskelevat. > The stem is OPISKELE-.
  • AJATELLA, to think: Minä ajattelen. He ajattelevat > The stem is AJATTELE-
  • PELATA, to play: Minä pelaan. He pelaavat. > The stem is PELAA-.
  • TYKÄTÄ, to like: Minä tykkään. Sinä tykkäät. > The stem is TYKKÄÄ-.
  • VALITA, to choose: Minä valitsen. He valitsevat. > The stem is VALITSE-.
  • VANHETA, to become older: Minä vanhenen. Sinä vanhenet. > The stem is VANHENE-.
  • LÄMMETÄ, to become warmer: Minä lämpenen. Sinä lämpenet. > The stem is LÄMPENE-

Two stems:

Verb type 1 verbs with consonant change have two stems. I have a separate post about those verbs here:

  • The weak stem is easiest to figure out by making the 1st person singular (minä) form, and dropping the n.
  • The strong stem is easiest to make from the third person plural (he) and dropping the vat or vat ending.

  • LUKEA, to read: Minä luen. He lukevat. > The weak stem is LUE-, and he strong stem is LUKE-.
  • NUKKUA, to sleep: Minä nukun. He nukkuvat. > The weak stem is NUKU-, and the strong stem is NUKKU-.

When to use the strong stem: 

(In case it's the verb type 1 verb. If not, just use the only stem that the verb has before adding the markers and endings. ) 

1. Third persons in verb type 1, if the verb has a consonant change:

  • Hän lukee. - He reads.
  • He lukevat. - They read

2. Conditional:

  • Lukisin enemmän, jos minulla olisi aikaa. - I would read more if I had time.

3. MA-infinitive:

  • Olin koko päivän rannalla lukemassa. - I spent the whole day reading on the beach
  • Menen kirjastoon lukemaan. - I'm going to the library to read. 
  • Mihin aikaan sinä tulet lukemasta? - At what time will you come from reading?
  • En voinut olla lukematta tätä. - I could not be without reading this. 
  • Opiskelen ruotsia lukemalla ruotsinkielisiä blogeja. - I'm studying Swedish through reading blogs in Swedish.

4. Agent participle:

  • Onko tämä sinun kirjoittama? - Is this written by you?

5. A noun made out of a verb:

  • Lukeminen on hauskaa! - Reading is fun!

When to use the weak stem:

1. Negative present tense

  • Minä en lue. - I don't read. 

2. Imperative:

  • Lue! - Read!

3. Verb type 1 passive:

  • Luetaan! - Let's read!

When to start from the basic form: 

1. Plural imperative

  • Lukekaa! - Read! (for many people)
  • Ajatelkaa! - Think! (for many people)
  • Pakatkaa! - Pack! (for many people)

2. Passive

  • Suomessa syödään ruisleipää. - In Finland, people eat rye bread.
  • Opiskellaan. - Let's study.
  • Pakataan. - Let's pack. 
  • Mitä me tarvitaan? - What do we need? (spoken language)

3. Past participle active:

  • Minä en lukenut tätä eilen. - I didn't read this yesterday. 
  • Mitä sinä olet tehnyt? - What have you done?
  • Tulin tänne oppiakseni Suomea. - I came here to learn Finnish. 
  • Istuin junassa kirjaa lukien. - I sat on the train reading a book. 

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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