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.

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. 

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:

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.

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. 

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About the author of this blog:

My name is Hanna Männikkölahti. I am a professional Finnish teacher who gives private online lessons and simplifies books into easy Finnish. You can contact me through You can subscribe to this blog from the right-hand banner. 

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