Sunday, January 24, 2021

When to put an i in the middle of (or after) a word in Finnish

Finnish has eight vowels, but i it is definitely the most popular one when it comes to functioning as a marker, being used for making new words or joining Finnish endings to foreign names. Please leave a comment if I forgot something.

1. Making loan words

Loan words are often among the first words that students learn, because they are so easy to remember! Just ad an i at the end of the word in another language, and it might be a real word in Finnish. Sometimes we also change or double the consonant. (With verbs, the ending is -ata. I'll write about that later.)

  • posti - a post office, mail
  • kahvi - coffee
  • presidentti - a president 

Loan words can also end with other vowels, but i is the most common one. You can read more in my post about the loan words. 

2. A glue between a consonant and an ending when declinating names

If a name ends with a vowel, we just add the ending: 

  • Hanna > Hannan kanssa - with Hanna

If a name ends with a consonant, we add an i and then the ending: 

  • Max > Maxin kanssa - with Max
  • Charles > Charlesin kanssa - with Charles
  • Exception: Matias > Matiaksen kanssa - with Matias (also Topias, Markus and other names ending with as, us or os can behave like this.)

Notice that if a word ends with a consonant but is pronounced with a vowel, we add an apostrophe, heittomerkki, and then the ending:

3. Past tense marker

We put an i or si between the verb stem and a personal ending to express that something happened in the past. 

  • sanon > sanoin  - I say > I said
  • pelaan > pelasin - I play > I played

Sometimes vowels disappear or change, but there's always an i in the positive past tense.

  • olen > olin - I am > I was
  • maksan > maksoin - I pay > I paid

You can read more in my post called Past tense in a nutshell.

4. Plural marker

The nominative plural marker is t:

  • talo > talot - a house > houses
  • laukku > laukut - a bag > bags
  • kissa > kissat - a cat > cats
  • nainen > naiset - a woman > women

However, in all other cases, the marker is i. 

  • laukussa > laukuissa - in a bag > in bags
  • kadulla > kaduilla - on a street > on streets

When i is placed between two vowels, it becomes j. This happens sometimes with plural genitive and with plural partitive. 

  • talo > taloja - a house > houses
  • kissan kanssa > kissojen kanssa - with a cat > with cats

Sometimes the last vowel of the stem changes or disappears before the i: 

  • Minä tykkään kissasta. > Minä tykkään kissoista. - I like a/the cat. I like cats. 
  • Tykkään suomalaisesta oluesta ja suomalaisista. - I like Finnish beer and Finns.

Read all my posts about the plural forms: 

I know. The plural is quite tricky, so I should write more about it. 

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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