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Essential Finnish Telephone Phrases

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For language learners, having a telephone conversation in Finnish is always going to be more challenging than having a face-to-face chat. When you’re talking on the phone, you can’t pick up clues from your conversation partner’s facial expressions or body language. And if the connection is terrible, trying to make out what the other person is saying can be extra-frustrating.

However, if you find yourself afraid of making phone calls, there are ways to build your confidence and make phone conversations in Finnish easier. The first thing you should do is pick up some Finnish phone call phrases and expressions; then, you’ll need to get some real-life practice in (sorry!). 

We’ll leave the practice part up to you, but we can teach you some of the most common Finnish phone call expressions for both formal and informal contexts. 

  • One more thing: Did you know that mobile phone throwing is an actual sport? It was invented in Finland nearly two decades ago.

A Smiling Woman on the Phone

Talk on the phone with confidence!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Picking up the Phone
  2. Saying Who You Are
  3. Stating the Reason for Your Call
  4. Asking to Speak to Someone
  5. Asking Someone to Wait
  6. Leaving a Message
  7. Asking for Clarification
  8. Ending a Phone Call
  9. Sample Phone Conversations
  10. Lopuksi

1. Picking up the Phone

Let’s start with the absolute basics: How to answer the phone in Finnish! What should you say when you pick up the phone?

When you don’t know who’s calling you (or if you don’t know the caller well), it’s common to state your name when picking up. You can use your first name, your last name, or your full name. 

  • Minna
  • Miettinen
  • Minna Miettinen

Alternatively, you can answer with haloo (“hello”). Note that this is a “hello” that’s only used on the phone:

  • Haloo (“Hello”)

When a friend or a family member is calling, you can answer by using a variation of “hi,” such as:

  • Hei
  • Moi
  • Terve

To refresh your memory, here are more common ways to say hello in Finnish.

When answering a phone call at work, it’s customary to state the name of your workplace. You can also add your own name, a greeting, or a question.

  • Keskuskirjasto Oodi, Minna Miettinen. (“Central Library Oodi, Minna Miettinen.”)
  • Keskuskirjasto Oodi, hyvää päivää. (“Central Library Oodi, good day.”)
  • Keskuskirjasto Oodi, kuinka voin auttaa? (“Central Library Oodi, how can I help?”)

A Woman in an Office Setting Picking Up the Phone and Taking Notes

Kuinka voin auttaa? (“How can I help?”)

2. Saying Who You Are

When you’re calling someone, it’s natural to start by introducing yourself. Note that tässä and täällä both mean “here.”

  • Terhi tässä. (“Terhi here.”)
  • Terhi Salonen täällä hei. (“Terhi Salonen here, hi.”)

When answering the phone in Finnish, remember that some people like to place their last name in the genitive case in front of their first name:

  • Salosen Terhi täällä, terve. (“Terhi Salonen here, hi.” Or literally: “Salonen’s Terhi here, hi.” ) 

When introducing yourself in a professional capacity on the phone, you would typically state the name of your workplace as well:

  • Terhi Salonen Kallion Apteekista, päivää. (“Terhi Salonen from Kallio Pharmacy, good day.”)

If you didn’t catch the other person’s name, you can ask who they are using this phrase:

  •  Anteeksi, kenen kanssa puhun? (“I’m sorry, who am I talking to?”)

3. Stating the Reason for Your Call

After the greetings and introductions, the next step is to state your reason for calling. You can use these example sentences as you practice constructing your own:

  • Soittelin sellaista asiaa, että lähtisitkö kanssani elokuviin perjantaina. (“I was calling to see if you’d go to the movies with me on Friday.”)
  • Soitin kysyäkseni onko teillä yhtään avoimia työpaikkoja tällä hetkellä. (“I called to ask if you have any job openings at the moment.”)
  • Haluaisin tietää onko myymälänne jouluaattona auki. (“I’d like to know if your store is open on Christmas Eve.”)
  • Minulla olisi muutama kysymys pääsykokeesta. (“I have a couple of questions about the entrance exam.”)
  • Asiani koskee eilistä palaveria. (“I’m calling about yesterday’s meeting.”)
  • Tästä numerosta soitettiin minulle. (“I got a missed call from this number.”)
  • Yritittekö soittaa minulle aiemmin? (“Did you try to call me earlier?”)
  • Haluaisin varata ajan lääkärille. (“I’d like to book an appointment to see a doctor.”)
  • Haluan tehdä tilauksen. (“I want to make an order.”)

Visit FinnishPod101.com to listen to a sample phone call to a doctor’s office.

A Woman Is Making a Call to Order from a Catalogue.

Haluan tehdä tilauksen. (“I want to make an order.”)

4. Asking to Speak to Someone

Are you trying to get hold of a specific person? Use one of these phrases to explain who you want to talk to:

  • Voisinko puhua Eemelin kanssa? (“Could I speak to Eemeli?”)
  • Haluaisin puhua Tuijan kanssa. (“I’d like to speak to Tuija.”)
  • Minulla on asiaa Jaakolle. (“I need to speak to Jaakko.”)
  • Onko Virtanen paikalla? (“Is Virtanen there?”)
  • Onko Pertti Virtanen tavattavissa? (“Is Pertti Virtanen available?”)

Learn how to say “Sorry, wrong number,” in Finnish by visiting our vocabulary list Useful Phrases for a Phone Call.

5. Asking Someone to Wait

Sometimes you need a moment while on the phone, perhaps to look something up. Use these phrases to ask the other person to wait:

  • Odottakaa hetki, olkaa hyvä. (“Please wait a moment.”)
  • Hetkinen, tarkistan asian. (“Just a moment, I’ll check.”)
  • Katsotaanpa, pikku hetki. (“Let’s see, just a moment.”)
  • Yhdistän puhelun, pysykää linjalla. (“I’ll connect the call, stay on the line.”)

6. Leaving a Message

If you didn’t manage to reach the person you wanted to talk to, you can ask the other person to leave a message or a call request for you:

  • Kertoisitko hänelle, että soitin? (“Could you tell him/her that I called?”)
  • Voisinko jättää soittopyynnön? (“Could I leave a call request?”)
  • Voitko pyytää häntä soittamaan minulle takaisin? (“Can you ask him/her to call me back?”)
  • Voinko jättää viestin? (“Can I leave a message?”)

A Woman on the Phone Takes Notes.

Voinko jättää viestin? (“Can I leave a message?”)

7. Asking for Clarification

As a non-native speaker making a call in Finnish, you might fail to understand some of what the other person is saying. In addition, a poor connection or similar issue sometimes makes it hard to communicate on the phone. Here are phrases to use when you’re struggling:

  • Haloo, kuuluuko? (“Hello, can you hear me?”)
  • En kuule sinua selvästi. Yhteys on huono. (“I can’t hear you clearly. The connection is bad.”)
  • En ymmärrä sinua. Voisitko puhua hitaammin? (“I don’t understand you. Could you speak more slowly?”)
  • Anteeksi, voisitko toistaa? (“Sorry, could you repeat?”)

8. Ending a Phone Call

There are lots of different ways to end a phone call in Finnish. For example: 

  • Asia tuli selväksi, kiitos. (“Everything’s clear, thank you.”)
  • Kiitos paljon, kuulemiin! (“Thanks a lot, goodbye.”)
  • Mukavaa päivänjatkoa. (“Have a nice day.”)
  • Minun pitää mennä. Puhutaan lisää myöhemmin. (“I have to go. Let’s talk more later.”)
  • Kiva kun soitit. Hei hei! (“It was nice that you called. Bye bye!”)
  • Oli hauska jutella. (“It was nice to chat.”) 
  • Hei hei. Kerro terveisiä Sarille! (“Bye bye. Send my love to Sari.”)
  • Moi moi, soitellaan! (“Bye bye, let’s talk again!”)

Note that just like haloo (“hello”), kuulemiin (“goodbye”) is only really used on the phone; this is because it refers specifically to hearing. In contrast, näkemiin (“goodbye”) refers to seeing.


9. Sample Phone Conversations

In this last section, you’ll see some of the Finnish phone phrases that you’ve learned in action.

In this first casual Finnish phone conversation, two friends—Sanni and Tuukka—make a plan for the weekend.

  • Sanni. (“Sanni.”)
  • Tuukka tässä, moi! (“Tuukka here, hi!”)
  • Hei Tuukka! Mitä kuuluu? (“Hi Tuukka! How are you?”)
  • Ihan hyvää, kiitos. Soittelin vaan sellaista, että oletko vapaa tänä viikonloppuna? (“I’m good, thanks. I was calling to see if you’re free this weekend?”)
  • Olen vapaa lauantaina. Miksi? (“I’m free on Saturday. Why?”)
  • Hienoa. Tavataanko brunssin merkeissä? (“Great. Shall we meet up for brunch?”)
  • No mikä ettei, tavataan vain. Onko sinulla jo paikka mielessä? (“Sure, why not, let’s meet up. Do you already have a place in mind?”)
  • Joo, Mikko suositteli minulle Korjaamoa Töölössä. Sopiiko sinulle kello yksitoista? (“Yes, Mikko recommended Korjaamo in Töölö to me. Does 11 o’clock suit you?”)
  • Kello yksitoista käy minulle hyvin. (“11 o’clock is good for me.”)
  • Loistavaa, teen meille varauksen. Nähdään lauantaina, hei hei! (“Awesome, I’ll book for us. I’ll see you on Saturday, bye bye!”)
  • Hei hei! (“Bye bye!”)

 In this second, more formal conversation, Tuukka reserves a table at a restaurant.

  • Korjaamolla, hyvää päivää. (“At Korjaamo, good day.”)
  • Tuukka Varonen täällä, hei. Haluaisin varata pöydän tälle lauantaille. (“Tuukka Varonen here, hi. I’d like to book a table for this Saturday.”)
  • Kuinka monelle henkilölle? (“For how many people?”)
  • Kahdelle henkilölle, kiitos. (“For two people, please.”)
  • Ja mihin aikaan? (“And for what time?”)
  • Kello yksitoista sopisi hyvin. (“11 o’clock would be good.”)
  • Eli pöytä kahdelle tänä lauantaina kello yksitoista. Nimellä Tuukka Varonen? (“So, a table for two this Saturday at 11 o’clock. Under the name Tuukka Varonen?”)
  • Täsmälleen. Kiitos paljon! (“Exactly. Thank you very much!”)
  • Kiitos varauksesta, hyvää päivänjatkoa! (“Thank you for the reservation, have a nice day!”)

A Staff Member Takes a Booking on the Phone.

Kuinka monelle henkilölle? (“For how many people?”)


Lopuksi

In this guide, you’ve learned lots of formal and casual Finnish phone call expressions. We’ve covered how to answer a call, introduce yourself, state your reason for calling, end a phone conversation, and more. We hope that the idea of having a telephone conversation in Finnish feels a lot less daunting to you now!

Are there any other phrases that you think should have been covered here? Have you ever made a call in Finnish? Tell us all about it in the comments!

FinnishPod101 has a lot of free resources for learners, so be sure to stop by and explore everything we have to offer. Our Finnish vocabulary lists cover a vast range of topics and are especially helpful for practicing your pronunciation thanks to the audio recordings.

Happy learning!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish

200+ Finnish Words for Beginners You Need to Learn

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In this article, we’ll cover the most common Finnish words for beginners. We’ve gathered in one place all the most important pronouns, numbers, nouns, verbs, adjectives, and conjunctions that you’ll need in order to navigate simple, everyday situations in Finnish. Since our focus is on essential vocabulary, we won’t linger too much on grammar here, but we will point you in the right direction where appropriate!

Although this guide is aimed at beginners, we also warmly welcome any intermediate learners who are looking for a core vocabulary refresher. The more the merrier, so let’s get started.


Three Friends Chatting in a Cafe

A smile and a few words in Finnish could lead to new friendships.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Pronouns
  2. Numbers
  3. Nouns
  4. Verbs
  5. Adjectives
  6. Conjunctions
  7. Cultural Vocabulary: Finnish Holidays
  8. Lopuksi

1. Pronouns

The first set of words you should add to your Finnish vocabulary are the pronouns. There are three pronoun categories we’ll look at today—personal, demonstrative, and interrogative—and it’s a good idea to learn them sooner rather than later. 

Personal Subject Pronouns

Personal subject pronouns replace a noun as the subject of a sentence:

  • Tero puhuu suomea. (“Tero speaks Finnish.”)
  • Hän puhuu suomea. (“He speaks Finnish.”)

PersonFinnish pronounEnglish
1st person sg.minäI
2nd person sg.sinä / teyou (casual / formal)
3rd person sg.hänhe / she
1st person pl.mewe
2nd person pl.teyou
3rd person pl.hethey

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns “point” to specific inanimate objects and non-human animate objects. (However, note that in colloquial Finnish se and ne are often used to refer to people too).

SingularPlural
tämä (“this”)nämä (“these”)
tuo (“that”)nuo (“those”)
se (“it” / “that”)ne (“they” / “them”)


Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are used in questions. There are three Finnish interrogative pronouns that are still in common use today:

  • kuka (“who”)
    Kuka tuo on? (“Who is that?”)
  • mikä (“what”)
    Mikä sinun nimesi on? (“What is your name?”)
  • kumpi (“which”)
    Kumpi on parempi? (“Which is better?”)

But wait, what about those other common question words? The following are interrogative adverbs rather than pronouns, but we’ll include them here as a bonus. Why not?

  • miksi (“why”)
  • missä (“where”)
  • milloin (“when”)
  • miten (“how”)

A Woman Covering Her Face with a Question Mark

Kuka minä olen? (“Who am I?”)

2. Numbers

Another key component of the Finnish language for beginners are the numbers. At the beginner level, you’ll be able to get by with the numbers from one to ten most of the time. If you’re ready for some bigger numbers though, you can always head over to our Finnish Numbers vocabulary list to learn more!

  • 1      yksi
  • 2      kaksi
  • 3      kolme
  • 4      neljä
  • 5      viisi
  • 6      kuusi
  • 7      seitsemän
  • 8      kahdeksan
  • 9      yhdeksän
  • 10    kymmenen

3. Nouns

First, the good news: Finnish nouns have no gender and there are no articles to worry about. Hurrah! Furthermore, forming the plural in the nominative case can be as simple as adding a -t:

  • auto (“a car” / “the car”)
  • autot (“cars” / “the cars”)

Now, the not-so-good news: The full story is a bit more complicated than that (and involves things like consonant gradation)! We’re not getting into all of that here, but if you’re feeling lost, we recommend getting started with our absolute beginner lesson Do All Finns Have Blue Eyes? and then working your way up to the more challenging grammar lessons.

That said, let’s go ahead and learn some more Finnish beginner words!

Time

  • tunti (“hour”)
  • minuutti (“minute”)
  • aamu (“morning”)
  • päivä (“day”)
  • ilta (“evening”)
  • (“night”)
  • viikko (“week”)
  • kuukausi (“month”)
  • vuosi (“year”)

Days of the Week

  • maanantai (“Monday”)
  • tiistai (“Tuesday”)
  • keskiviikko (“Wednesday”)
  • torstai (“Thursday”)
  • perjantai (“Friday”)
  • lauantai (“Saturday”)
  • sunnuntai (“Sunday”)

 Note that the days of the week are not capitalized in Finnish!

People

  • nainen (“woman”)
  • mies (“man”)
  • tyttö (“girl”)
  • poika (“boy”)
  • äiti (“mom”)
  • isä (“dad”)
  • lapsi (“child”)
  • ystävä (“friend”)

Occupations 

  • lääkäri (“doctor”)
  • opettaja (“teacher”)
  • poliisi (“police officer”)
  • myyjä (“sales person”)

Not enough occupations for you? You’ll find the Finnish words for “poet,” “engineer,” and more on our list titled 20 Common Words for Occupations.

Several People Dressed in the Work Attire of Different Occupations

Mikä on sinun ammattisi? (“What is your occupation?”)

Shops and Services

  • sairaala (“hospital”)
  • koulu (“school”)
  • pankki (“bank”)
  • posti (“post office”)
  • kauppa (“shop”)
  • hotelli (“hotel”)
  • ravintola (“restaurant”)

School and Office Essentials

  • kynä (“pen” / “pencil”)
  • (pyyhe)kumi (“eraser”)
  • teroitin (“pencil sharpener”)
  • vihko (“notebook”)
  • kirja (“book”)
  • tietokone (“computer”)

Body Parts

  • pää (“head”)
  • silmä (“eye”)
  • nenä (“nose”)
  • suu (“mouth”)
  • korva (“ear”)
  • käsi (“hand”)
  • jalka (“leg” / “foot”)

For a more comprehensive list, head over to our lesson All Parts of the Body.

Food

  • ruoka (“food”)
  • vihannes (“vegetable”)
  • hedelmä (“fruit”)
  • liha (“meat”)
  • kala (“fish”)
  • kana (“chicken”)
  • muna (“egg”)
  • leipä (“bread”)

Several Healthy Food Items

Terveellistä ruokaa (“Healthy food”)

Animals

  • koira (“dog”)
  • kissa (“cat”)
  • hevonen (“horse”)
  • lehmä (“cow”)
  • lammas (“sheep”)
  • sika (“pig”)
  • lintu (“bird”)

Home

  • koti (“home”)
  • talo (“house”)
  • ovi (“door”)
  • ikkuna (“window”)
  • pöytä (“table”)
  • tuoli (“chair”)
  • sänky (“bed”)

Transport

  • taksi (“taxi”)
  • Linja-auto / bussi (“bus”)
  • juna (“train”)
  • lentokone (“airplane”)
  • laiva (“ship”)

Nature

  • metsä (“forest”)
  • järvi (“lake”)
  • meri (“sea”)
  • joki (“river”)
  • vuori (“mountain”)

Saimaa Lake in Finland

Saimaa on Suomen suurin järvi. (“Saimaa is Finland’s largest lake.”)

4. Verbs

In this section, we’ve listed 50 must-know Finnish verbs for beginners. Don’t worry if you don’t know much about how Finnish verbs work yet! You can quickly grasp the basics—from adding personal endings to the use of the negative verb—on FinnishPod101.com. You can also dive deeper into Finnish verb conjugation on Wikipedia or try Cooljugator to instantly conjugate common Finnish verbs!

Daily Routine Verbs

  • herätä (“to wake up”)
  • nousta ylös (“to get up”)
  • pukeutua (“to dress”)
  • tulla (“to come”)
  • mennä (“to go”)
  • työskennellä (“to work”)
  • opiskella (“to study”)
  • syödä (“to eat”)
  • juoda (“to drink”)
  • nukkua (“to sleep”)

A Sleepy Man Reaching for His Alarm Clock

En halua nousta vielä ylös. (“I don’t want to get up yet.”)

Conversation Verbs

  • puhua (“to speak”)
  • sanoa (“to say”)
  • kysyä (“to ask”)
  • vastata (“to answer”)
  • ymmärtää (“to understand”)
  • kuunnella (“to listen”)
  • hymyillä (“to smile”)
  • nauraa (“to laugh”)

Other Common and Useful Verbs

  • olla (“to be”)
  • tehdä (“to do”)
  • ostaa (“to buy”)
  • antaa (“to give”)
  • saada (“to get”)
  • ottaa (“to take”)
  • etsiä (“to look for”)
  • löytää (“to find”)
  • pitää (“to like”)
  • tuntea (“to feel”)
  • katsoa (“to watch”)
  • nähdä (“to see”)
  • lukea (“to read”)
  • kirjoittaa (“to write”)
  • oppia (“to learn”)
  • muistaa (“to remember”)
  • voida (“to be able to”)
  • osata (“to know how to”)
  • tietää (“to know”)
  • sulkea (“to close”)
  • avata (“to open”)
  • haluta (“to want”)
  • kävellä (“to walk”)
  • juosta (“to run”)
  • ajaa (“to drive”)
  • laittaa (“to put”)
  • käyttää (“to use”)
  • matkustaa (“to travel”)
  • soittaa (“to call”)
  • odottaa (“to wait”)
  • saapua (“to arrive”)
  • palata (“to return”)

Listen to our recordings and learn how to pronounce many of the above verbs like a native speaker on FinnishPod101.com.

A Mother and Two Children Enjoying a Story

Äiti lukee kirjaa. (“Mom is reading a book.”)

5. Adjectives

An adjective describes what something is like. These are essential beginner Finnish words to pick up, as they can add depth to your speech and help you better express yourself. Finnish adjectives must agree in number and case with the nouns they modify.

Describing Objects

  • pieni (“small”)
  • suuri (“large”)
  • painava (“heavy”)
  • kevyt (“light”)
  • uusi (“new”)
  • vanha (“old”)
  • likainen (“dirty”)
  • puhdas (“clean”)
  • kuiva (“dry”)
  • märkä (“wet”)

Describing People

  • kaunis (“beautiful”)
  • komea (“handsome”)
  • ruma (“ugly”)
  • pitkä (“tall”)
  • lyhyt (“short”)
  • laiha (“thin”)
  • lihava (“fat”)
  • nuori (“young”)
  • rikas (“rich”)
  • köyhä (“poor”)

Describing Emotions

  • iloinen (“joyful”)
  • onnellinen (“happy”)
  • surullinen (“sad”)
  • vihainen (“angry”)
  • yllättynyt (“surprised”)
  • kyllästynyt (“bored” / “annoyed”)
  • hämmentynyt (“confused”)

A Woman Raising Her Arms above Her Head and Smiling

Onnellinen nainen hymyilee. (“A happy woman smiles.”)

Describing the Weather

  • aurinkoinen (“sunny”)
  • pilvinen (“cloudy”)
  • sateinen (“rainy”)
  • sumuinen (“foggy”)
  • luminen (“snowy”)

Describing Colors

  • sininen (“blue”)
  • punainen (“red”)
  • keltainen (“yellow”)
  • vihreä (“green”)
  • oranssi (“orange”)
  • violetti (“purple”)
  • valkoinen (“white”)
  • musta (“black”)
  • harmaa (“gray”)

Visit our Most Common Adjectives list to expand your Finnish vocabulary even more.

Colorful Stationery

Värikkäät kirjoitustarvikkeet (“Colorful stationery”)

6. Conjunctions

Conjunctions are words that link other words or phrases together. You can get pretty far with the commonly used Finnish conjunctions below. 

  • ja (“and”)

    tyttö ja poika (“a girl and a boy”)

  • tai / vai (“or”)

    Haluatko teetä vai kahvia? (“Do you want tea or coffee?”)

    Otatko sokeria tai kermaa? (“Do you take sugar or cream?”)

    When asking questions, use vai when you expect the listener to choose one of the options. Use tai when the listener can pick any, all, or none of the options. When making statements, you can only use tai.

  • jos (“if”)

    Soita minulle, jos haluat jutella. (“Call me if you want to chat.”)

  • koska (“because”) When asking questions, use vai when you expect the listener to choose one of the options. Use tai when the listener can pick any, all, or none of the options. When making statements, you can only use tai.

    Juoksen, koska minulla on kiire. (“I’m running because I’m in a hurry.”)

  • mutta (“but”) When asking questions, use vai when you expect the listener to choose one of the options. Use tai when the listener can pick any, all, or none of the options. When making statements, you can only use tai.

    Tunnen hänet, mutta en kovin hyvin. (“I know him/her, but not very well.”)

  • että (“that”) When asking questions, use vai when you expect the listener to choose one of the options. Use tai when the listener can pick any, all, or none of the options. When making statements, you can only use tai.

    Olen varma, että pystyt siihen. (“I am sure that you can do it.”)

A Guy Running in the Forest

Juoksen, koska minulla on kiire. (“I’m running because I’m in a hurry.”)

7. Cultural Vocabulary: Finnish Holidays

Finally, the home stretch. So, let’s get festive and learn the names of some of the most popular holidays and celebrations in Finland!

  • uusivuosi (“New Year”)
  • laskiainen (“Shrovetide”)
  • ystävänpäivä (“Valentine’s Day”)
  • pääsiäinen (“Easter”)
  • vappu (“May Day”)
  • juhannus (“Midsummer”)
  • pyhäinpäivä (“All Hallows Day”)
  • itsenäisyyspäivä (“Independence Day”)
  • joulu (“Christmas”)

If you’re curious about Finnish holiday traditions, make sure you check out our Video Culture Class!

Santa Claus Holding Presents at His Feet

Joulupukki vierailee lasten luona jouluaattona.
(“Santa Claus visits children on Christmas Eve.”)

8. Lopuksi

In this guide, we covered over 200 useful words in Finnish for beginners, from essential pronouns and common nouns to the most important everyday verbs. If you can memorize the core vocabulary included here, you’ll create a solid foundation for all your further studies. Tip: Repetition is vital to committing vocabulary to long-term memory, so feel free to bookmark this page!

Did we miss any words that you expected to see here? Your questions and comments help other learners too, so feel free to share your thoughts with us below.

FinnishPod101 has a lot of free resources for you to explore, including vocabulary lists that cover a vast range of topics. If you’re not sure where to start, you can’t go wrong with our curated lesson pathways for Absolute Beginners and Beginners.

Happy learning on FinnishPod101.com!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish

The Top 10 Finnish Filler Words

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If you’ve spent some time learning another language, you’ll know that spoken language can be very different from the standard form. Finnish learners in particular quickly notice how many words are shortened and “streamlined” in informal Finnish.

Spoken Finnish is also often littered with small, seemingly meaningless words. These “filler words” are rarely included in any academic curriculums, but they do matter—it can be hard to follow a conversation in Finnish if you’re not familiar with them.

In this article, we’ll introduce some of the most common Finnish filler words and phrases so that you can start spotting them when listening to native speakers. We’ll also guide you on how to use them yourself to make your spoken Finnish sound more natural. And finally, we’ll discuss the cons of filler words and the situations in which it’s best to avoid them.

A Woman with a Thoughtful Look on Her Face.

Using filler words gives you time to think.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Why do we use filler words?
  2. The Top 10 Finnish Filler Words
  3. The Pros and Cons of Filler Words
  4. Lopuksi

1. Why do we use filler words?

In this section, we’ll discuss what filler words are and why they’re used in spoken language.

1 – What are filler words?

When we take part in a discussion, we rarely plan the exact sequence of words that we’re going to use before we open our mouths. Therefore, it’s natural to pause briefly from time to time as we search for the right words while speaking.

Täytesanat (“filler words”) is a term used to classify all those relatively meaningless sounds, words, and small phrases that people use to fill the pauses in their speech. In fact, they can be removed from a sentence without changing its meaning. But that’s not to say that they serve no real purpose at all—as you’ll see below.

2 – Why do we use them?

Filler words can do a lot of things! For example:

  • They can give you a moment to think about what you’re going to say next, while signaling to others that you haven’t finished talking yet.
  • They can be used to let others know that you want to say something while someone else is still talking—a bit like putting your hand up in a classroom!
  • They can give others clues about how to interpret what you’re saying by indicating enthusiasm or uncertainty, for example.
  • They can help you be more diplomatic and polite when expressing your views.

Are you eager to get better at conversing in Finnish? Then let us teach you the Top 10 Conversational Phrases, Must-Know Expressions for Agreeing and Disagreeing, and How to Use Small Talk Phrases. You’re welcome.

2. The Top 10 Finnish Filler Words

In this section, we’ll introduce ten commonly used Finnish conversation filler words. While there is good correspondence between many Finnish and English filler words, it’s not an exact science, and the meaning of a filler word can change depending on the context. We’ll give alternative English translations and demonstrate different uses in our example sentences where possible.

Note that since filler words are primarily a part of spoken Finnish, they may have quite a few variations. Don’t worry; we’ll alert you when this is the case! And speaking of spelling, since spoken Finnish can be confusing to the uninitiated (by bending grammar rules, for instance), our example sentences are in standard Finnish.

#1 Öö (“Um” / “Uh” / “Err”)

Öö (“um” / “uh” / “err”) is the sound Finns often use when they aren’t sure what they want to say or are searching for the right word. It can also be used to express confusion or disbelief. This filler can appear at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence.

  • Mitä syötäisiin tänään? (“What should we eat today?”)
  • Syödään vaikka, öö… makaronilaatikkoa. (“How about we eat, um… macaroni casserole.”)
  • Näin viime yönä kummituksen! (“I saw a ghost last night!”)
  • Öö… oletko ihan varma? (“Err… are you absolutely sure?”)
Finnish Macaroni Casserole.

Syödään vaikka, öö… makaronilaatikkoa. (“How about we eat, um…macaroni casserole.”)

#2 Tuota (“Well” / “Actually”)

Tuota has a lot of variations. For example: tuota noin, tota, tota noi, tota nii, and so on…

As a filler word, tuota doesn’t mean anything, but it usually serves the same function as the English filler words “well” and “actually.” That is, it fills a pause when you’re thinking about what to say. Note that tuota is also the partitive form of the demonstrative pronoun tuo (“that”), though a pause or hesitation will usually make it clear that tuota is being used as a filler.

  • Tykkäsitkö eilisestä elokuvasta? (“Did you like yesterday’s film?”)
  • Se oli, tuota, parempi kuin mitä oletin. (“It was, well, better than what I expected.”)
  • Voisimmeko jutella? (“Could we talk?”)
  • Tuota… minulla on aika kiire juuri nyt. (“Actually… I’m a bit busy just now.”)

#3 Niinku (“Like”)

Niinku is the colloquial form of niin kuin (“like”). You can use this ubiquitous Finnish filler when you’re thinking of what to say next or to emphasize what you’re saying.

  • Se oli niinku huonoin kirja minkä olen ikinä lukenut. (“It was like the worst book I’ve ever read.”)

A word of caution: niinku appears on the MeNaiset magazine’s 2019 list of the most annoying words in the Finnish language. In fact, some people abhor the liberal use of niinku so much that there’s now a term to describe its overuse: ninkutus.

Excessive use of niinku would look something like this:Naapurin kissa käveli niinku suoraan ovesta sisään ja meni niinku nukkumaan meidän sohvalle. Nauroin niinku ainakin viisi minuuttia. (“The neighbor’s cat walked like straight in through the door and like went to sleep on our sofa. I laughed for like five minutes at least.”)

Woman Covers Her Ears

Beware, some Finns can’t stand niinku.

#4 Noni

Noni (also: no niin, nonni, nonnih, nonii, nonnii, and so on) is such a wonderful and versatile Finnish filler word that it should really have its own article. Alas, we’re only going to scratch the surface here.

The most fun thing about noni is that it can be used in almost any context. Whether you’re delighted or frustrated, proud or disappointed, you can begin with noni to set the tone of what you’re about to say.

  • Noni, pitihän se arvata! (“Right, should’ve guessed!”)
  • Noni, minähän sanoin sinulle! (“See, I told you!”)
  • Noni, yritähän keskittyä. (“Come on, try to focus.”)
  • Noni, hienosti tehty! (“Awesome, well done!”)
  • Noni, aloitetaan. (“Alright, let’s get started.”)

Using this Finnish filler is an art form, and once you’ve mastered it, you’ve reached the next level of Finnish! Listening to and imitating native Finns is the best way to get the stress and vowel length just right, but to help you get started, see our handy little infographic on using noni or watch stand-up comedian Ismo Leikola explain it.

#5 Siis (“So” / “Actually” / “Wait”)

Siis is another Finnish filler word with a variety of potential uses and it could be translated as “so,” “actually,” or “what” depending on the context. It can be used when you need to repeat yourself or clarify something, to emphasize what you’re saying, or to express disbelief.

  • Siis Esa lähti jo? (“So Esa left already?”)
  • Meillä on siis ihan hyvä syy olla täällä. (“We actually have a pretty good reason to be here.”)

Siis mitä?! (“Wait, what?!”)

A Surprised Boy with His Mouth Open

Siis mitä?! (“Wait what?!”)

#6 Kato (“Look”)

Kato is a colloquial form of katso (“look”). It’s commonly used when expressing an opinion or pointing out something the other person may not have considered. 

The particles -han and -pa are commonly attached to kato. In the examples below, -han expresses surprise while -pa softens the directness of the imperative.

  • Kato, makuasioista ei voi kiistellä. (“Look, there’s no accounting for taste.”)
  • Katohan, olin oikeassa sittenkin. (“Look, I was right after all.”)
  • Katopa, jos haluat menestyä, sinun pitää tehdä töitä sen eteen. (“Look, if you want to succeed, you have to work for it.”)

Read more about the uses of the Finnish particles -han and -pa on Wiktionary.

#7 Kuule (“Listen” / “Listen up”)

Kuule literally means “hear,” but it’s used like the English word “listen” and is more or less interchangeable with kato (“look”). The particles -pa and -han can also be attached to kuule.

  • Kuule, minua ei voisi vähempää kiinnostaa. (“Listen, I couldn’t care less.”)
  • Kuulepa, nyt on aika toimia! (“Listen up, now’s the time to act.”)
  • Kuulehan Sirpa, älä vertaa itseäsi muihin. (“Listen Sirpa, don’t compare yourself to others.”)

#8 Ootas ny (“Hold on”)

Ootas ny is a colloquial form of odota nyt (literally: “wait now”). You can use it when you’re trying to remember something or when you’re considering the answer to a question, for example.

  • Milloin kesäloma alkaa? (“When does the summer holiday begin?”)
  • Ootas ny… Oliko se 28. (kahdeskymmeneskahdeksas) päivä? (“Hold on… Was it the 28th?”)
  • Missä sakset ovat? (“Where are the scissors?”)
  • Ootas ny… Käytin niitä vasta vähän aikaa sitten. (“Hold on… I used them only a little while ago.”)

#9 Tiiäkkö (“You know” / “You know what”)

Tiiäkkö and tiätsä are colloquial forms of tiedätkö and tiedätkö sinä (literally: “Do you know?”). As a filler word, they can be used to emphasize a statement or to get someone’s attention.

  • Sukeltaminen on tosi hauskaa, tiiäkkö! (“Diving is really fun, you know!”)
  • Tiiäkkö, olen päättänyt muuttaa maalle. (“You know what, I’ve decided to move to the country.”)

Tiätsä Panu, ei kannata odottaa liian pitkään. (“You know what Panu, it’s not good to wait too long.”)

Two People Diving

Sukeltaminen on tosi hauskaa, tiiäkkö. (“Diving is really fun, you know.”)

#10 Tai jotai (“Or something”)

Tai jotai is the colloquial form of tai jotain (“or something”). It’s usually tagged at the end of a statement to indicate a sense of vagueness. You may also hear a longer version: tai jotai sinne päi (literally “or something in that direction”).

  • Lähetä minulle tekstiviesti tai jotai. (“Send me a text message or something.”)
  • Ehkä Tertulla oli kiire tai jotai? (“Maybe Terttu was busy or something?”)

3. The Pros and Cons of Filler Words

Now that you’ve learned some of the most popular Finnish filler words, should you try to use them as much as you can? The answer is not a simple “yes” or “no,” so let’s take a look at some pros and cons of using filler words as well as when it’s appropriate to use the occasional filler in Finnish.

1 – Use Filler Words to Sound More Authentic and Considerate

In a relaxed setting, a native Finnish speaker is very likely to use filler words. Therefore, using Finnish filler words can help your Finnish sound significantly more natural and authentic. This, in turn, could really boost your confidence as you’re honing your conversational skills.

And that’s not all: Science suggests that using filler words and discourse markers helps you come across as a more considerate and thoughtful participant in a conversation.

  • If you’re working on sounding more like a native Finnish speaker, learning these Essential Idioms will come in handy!

2 – Why You Should Not Overuse Filler Words

Now for the reasons why you shouldn’t use filler words with wild abandon in just any situation…

Remember how niinku is considered one of the most irritating words in the Finnish language? Going overboard with any filler word can rub someone you’re chatting with the wrong way.

In formal situations, the use of filler words is often thought to signal insecurity or lack of knowledge, and can distract from your message. So if you’re in a job interview or giving an important presentation, it’s best to avoid them! You could simply embrace those silent pauses instead (which may admittedly take some practice), or learn some alternative phrases that sound far better than öö (“um”) while still buying time to think. For example:

  • Pieni hetki (“Just a moment”)
  • Katsotaanpa… (“Let’s see…”)

 And while we’re on the topic of things to avoid, here are five Finnish language mistakes you don’t want to make.

A Woman being Interviewed for a Position

Työhaastattelussa. (“At a job interview.”)

4. Lopuksi

In this guide, we explored the fascinating world of Finnish filler words; you learned what they are, why people use them, and which ones are most popular. However, our list of Finnish filler words is not exhaustive by any means. Which other ones do you know of? Leave a comment below and help your fellow learners!

The best way to master using Finnish filler words is to listen to native Finnish speakers as much as possible. This will improve your ability to understand the nuances in meaning. Then pick one or two of your favorites and practice using them in real life! FinnishPod101 is designed to make learning Finnish as fun and effective as possible. Our vocabulary lists and other free Finnish resources are a great place to start if you’re new to FinnishPod101. And if you’d like access to 1-on-1 coaching with a native Finnish teacher (to improve your understanding of spoken Finnish, for example), the doors to a Premium PLUS subscription are open to you!

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How to Say “I Love You,” in Finnish

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We don’t choose who we fall in love with. Therefore, it’s entirely possible that one day, while you’re busy minding your own business, you’ll be swept off your feet by a charming Finn. Or perhaps this has already happened to you, and that’s how you discovered this guide? In any case, if you want to learn Finnish love phrases, you’ve come to the right place.

This article will teach you how to say “I love you,” in Finnish, as well as all the key phrases you’ll need at different stages of a romantic relationship—from asking a Finnish cutie out to planning your marriage proposal. We’ll also cover the most commonly used Finnish endearment terms and give you some cultural insights regarding love and romance in Finland.

By the way, if you’re already deeply in love with a Finn, you’ll be happy to know that falling in love can help you learn Finnish faster!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Confess Your Affection
  2. Fall in Deeper
  3. Take it One Step Further
  4. Endearment Terms
  5. Must-know Love Quotes
  6. Lopuksi

A Pair of Heart-shaped Balloons

1. Confess Your Affection

Has a beautiful stranger caught your eye? Have you got a crush on a handsome acquaintance? In this section, you’ll learn how to let someone know that you’re interested in them. Note that we’ll use the casual sinä (informal “you”) rather than the polite te (formal and plural “you”) throughout this guide.

Finnish people aren’t quite as taciturn as the national stereotype would have you believe, but you can expect them to be more reserved than, say, your typical American or Italian. Don’t let that discourage you—just be honest and real (and prepared to carry the conversation for a bit) when you approach a Finn, and you’re likely to make a favorable first impression. And ladies: It’s considered fine for a woman to make the first move!

Here’s how to ask someone to join you on the dance floor, tell them that you like their smile, or ask them if they’re already taken:

  • Haluaisitko tanssia kanssani? (“Would you like to dance with me?”)
  • Voinko tarjota sinulle drinkin? (“Can I get you a drink?”)
  • Sinulla on kaunis hymy / kauniit silmät. (“You have a beautiful smile / beautiful eyes.”)
  • Olet todella mukava / kaunis / komea. (“You’re really nice / beautiful / handsome.”)
  • Onko sinulla poikaystävää / tyttöystävää? (“Do you have a boyfriend / a girlfriend?”)
  • Oletko sinkku / varattu? (“Are you single / taken?”)

How did it go? If you’ve been having a good time together, go ahead and tell them that you’d like to see them again:

  • Olisi kiva nähdä sinut uudestaan. (“It would be nice to see you again.”)
  • Haluaisin viettää enemmän aikaa kanssasi. (“I’d like to spend more time with you.”)
  • Haluaisin tutustua sinuun paremmin. (“I’d like to get to know you better.”)
  • Vaihdetaanko numeroita? (“Shall we exchange numbers?”)
  • Voinko soittaa sinulle? (“Can I call you?”)
  • Oletko vapaa huomenna? (“Are you free tomorrow?”)
  • Lähtisitkö joskus kanssani syömään / kahville / kävelylle? (“Would you like to go out for a meal / a coffee / a walk with me sometime?”)

Finally, to ensure that you and your love interest are on the same page, here are a few Finnish dating verbs defined:

  • Käydä treffeillä (“to go on dates”)
  • Tapailla (“to see each other casually”)
  • Seurustella (“to be in a relationship,” or literally “to socialize” / “to date”)

Be thoroughly prepared for that all-important first date by learning the Most Common Phrases You’ll Need for a Date and the 10 Most Romantic Ideas for a Date in Finnish.

A Man and a Woman Having a Drink Together

Vaihdetaanko numeroita? (“Shall we exchange numbers?”)

2. Fall in Deeper

Have you got butterflies in your belly when you think of that special someone? Perhaps you’re falling in love… Before you go and confess your feelings, it’s good to know that the Finnish word for “love”—rakkaus—is not used lightly. Just look at that strong rolled ‘r’ at the beginning, that terse double ‘k’ in the middle, and that sibilant ‘s’ at the end…it makes sense that such a powerful word is used only when it’s really meant! 

With that in mind, let’s first look at alternatives to saying “I love you.”

  • Pidän sinusta todella paljon. (“I like you a lot.”)
  • Olen ihastunut sinuun. (“I have a crush on you.”)
  • Olen hulluna sinuun. (“I’m crazy about you.”)
  • Minulla on ikävä sinua. (“I miss you.”)
  • En voi olla ajattelematta sinua. (“I can’t stop thinking about you.”)

If things get more serious and you’re ready to declare your love, there are a few different ways to say “I love you,” in Finnish (and to ask if they love you, too).

  • Minä rakastan sinua. (“I love you.”)
  • Minä rakastan sinua myös. (“I love you too.”)
  • Rakastatko sinä minua? (“Do you love me?”)
  • Olen rakastunut sinuun. (“I’ve fallen in love with you.”)
  • Rakastan sinua koko sydämestäni. (“I love you with all my heart.”)

To keep things interesting, here are some alternative ways to express your love in Finnish: 

  • Teet minut onnelliseksi. (“You make me happy.”)
  • En voisi elää ilman sinua. (“I could not live without you.”)
  • Olet todella tärkeä minulle. (“You are really important to me.”)

Did you know that the Finnish ystävänpäivä (“Valentine’s Day,” or literally “friend’s day”) is primarily a celebration of friendship? Discover more about how Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Finland on our YouTube channel in the video below (and learn 15 Finnish Love Phrases for Valentine’s Day while you’re at it).

A Couple Gazes into Each Other’s Eyes

Rakastatko sinä minua? (“Do you love me?”)

3. Take it One Step Further

If things are going really well with your Finnish sweetheart and you’re ready to take the next step in your relationship, this section is for you.

Let’s start with some key vocabulary:

  • Asua yhdessä (“To live together”)
  • Avopuoliso (“Live-in partner”)
  • Kosia (“To propose”)
  • Mennä kihloihin (“To get engaged”)
  • Mennä naimisiin (“To get married”)
  • Vaimo (“Wife”)
  • Aviomies (“Husband”)
  • Aviopuoliso (“Spouse”)
  • Perustaa perhe (“Start a family”)

Do you want to tell someone that you’d like them to meet your parents, or to suggest moving in together? Here’s what you can say:

  • Haluaisin esitellä sinut vanhemmilleni. (“I’d like to introduce you to my parents.”)
  • Haluatko tavata vanhempani? (“Do you want to meet my parents?”)
  • Haluan muuttaa yhteen kanssasi. (“I want to move in with you.”)
  • Muutetaan yhteen. (“Let’s move in together.”)

Are you ready to make the ultimate commitment and get married? In Finland, it’s more common for a man to propose to a woman than vice-versa. That said, if you’re a woman, you might want to pop the question on a leap day—according to a Finnish tradition, if a man rejects your proposal on a leap day, he’s obliged to buy you enough fabric for a skirt as compensation! Those in a same-sex relationship also have the option to get married if they wish, as Finland legalized same-sex marriage in 2017.

Here are a few different ways to propose:

  • Tuletko vaimokseni / aviomiehekseni / aviopuolisokseni? (“Will you marry me?” Literally: “Will you be my wife / husband / spouse?”)
  • Suotko minulle kunnian tulla vaimokseni / aviomiehekseni / aviopuolisokseni? (“Will you give me the honor of becoming my wife / husband / spouse?”)
  • Mennäänkö naimisiin? (“Shall we get married?”)
  • Vietetään loppuelämämme yhdessä. (“Let’s spend the rest of our lives together.”)

Visit FinnishPod101.com for even more Finnish Marriage Proposal Lines.

Many people in Finland start a family before they get married, and some couples with children never make their relationship official. Whatever you and your partner decide to do, here are two ways to express your desire to have children together:

  • Haluaisin hankkia lapsia kanssasi. (“I’d like to have children with you.”)
  • Perustetaan perhe yhdessä. (“Let’s start a family together.”)

What if things aren’t going well and you want to part ways? Bite the bullet and let them know with one of these common Finnish break-up lines.

A Man Kneels to Propose to a Woman

Tuletko vaimokseni? (“Will you be my wife?”)

4. Endearment Terms

The Finnish word for “endearment term” or “pet name” is hellittelynimi, which is derived from the words hellitellä (“to care for” / “to fuss over” / “to fondle”) and nimi (“name”). If you’re looking for the perfect Finnish pet name for your beloved, you’ll find both serious and silly ones to pick from in this section. Which of these sweet love words in Finnish do you like the most?

  • Rakas (“Dear” / “Beloved”)
  • Rakkaani (“My dear” / “My beloved”)
  • Kulta (“Gold”)
  • Muru (“Crumb”)
  • Höpönassu (“Silly face”)
  • Höppänä (“Silly”)
  • Söpöliini (“Cutie”)
  • Possunen (“Piggy”)
  • Pupu (“Bunny”)
  • Aarre (“Treasure”)
  • Sydänkäpy (“Sweetheart” / Literally: “Heart pinecone”)

It’s also common to create pet names by adding certain endings to your beloved’s name. The possibilities are endless! For example: 

  • Tommi + -liini = Tommiliini
  • Tessa + -kka = Tessukka

To discover more Finnish endearment terms and ways to create new ones, check out this article (in Finnish) on Ilta-Sanomat.

A Couple Embraces on a Beach

Oma pikku höpönassuni. (“My little silly face.”)

5. Must-know Love Quotes

Now that you’ve learned lots of useful love sentences in Finnish to help you navigate the key moments of your own love story, let’s see what Finnish proverbs and famous quotes say about romantic love.

1. Finnish Love Proverbs

  • Nauru nuorentaa, rakkaus kaunistaa. (“Laughter makes one younger, love makes one prettier.”)
  • Rakkaus on kuin sipuli: mitä pitemmälle kuorit, sitä enemmän itket. (“Love is like an onion, the further you peel, the more you cry.”)
  • Yskää ja rakkautta ei voi salata. (“One can’t hide a cough or love.”)

2. Finnish Love Quotes

  • “Minä en äiteliä puheita suvaitse. Rakkaus on tekemistä. Rakkaus on sitä, että pitää sanansa ja tulee ajallaan syömään.” (“I cannot abide sappy talk. Love is doing. Love is keeping your word and coming to eat on time.”)

    Arja Tiainen, author
  • “Rakkauden salaisuus on sama kuin uskonnon: molemmat ovat yhtä käsittämättömiä ulkopuolella oleville.” (“The secret of love is the same as that of religion: both are equally incomprehensible to those on the outside.”)

    Aino Kallas, author
  • “Miten paljon rakastettuasi rakastat, tiedät vasta, kun olet hänet menettänyt.” (“You will know how much you love your beloved only when you have lost them.”)

    Maria Jotuni, author

Do you agree with any of these statements? If you’re looking for more Finnish Quotes about Love, FinnishPod101 has got you covered.

A Happy Elderly Couple

6. Lopuksi

In this guide, you’ve learned how to say “I love you,” in Finnish. We’ve also explored how to flirt, how to ask someone out, and even how to propose marriage in Finnish. Do you know any other useful Finnish love phrases or cute endearment terms that we didn’t include? Leave a comment below and share them with the community!

If romance and love have gotten you interested in learning Finnish, we invite you to explore everything that FinnishPod101 has to offer. Why not get started with our free resources or learn how to pronounce words with our handy Finnish vocabulary lists? Remember that we also have a YouTube channel, a mobile app, and a Premium PLUS program that provides expert 1-on-1 tutoring to help you succeed in your studies.

 Until next time, happy learning and good luck! 

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Finnish Negation: How to Form the Finnish Negative

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It’s no wonder that toddlers learn the magic word “no” early on—being able to say what you don’t want is as vital as being able to communicate what you do want. Of course, learning about negation in the Finnish language has a lot more uses than just the ability to confirm your dislike of, say, mämmi. You can also use negation to warn others or to add nuance to your questions, for example.

Finnish negation works in a different manner than English negation, but once you’re comfortable using the Finnish negative verb, you’ve already won half the battle. In addition to the negative verb (and its partner in crime, the connegative), this guide will cover some other important negative vocabulary as well as how to use the most important negative affixes.

Let’s not delay any longer. It’s time to learn all about negation in the Finnish language!

Woman Shows Her Hand with the Word No Written on It.

Ei. (“No.”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Forming a Negative Statement in Finnish
  2. Negative Imperative
  3. Giving a Negative Answer to a Question
  4. Asking Negative Questions
  5. Other Useful Negative Words
  6. Negative Prefixes and Suffixes
  7. Negative Conjunctions
  8. Lopuksi

1. Forming a Negative Statement in Finnish

Okay, let’s start with the basics: how to make a positive statement negative in Finnish. In the following sections, we’ll discuss the Finnish negative verb and how negatives are formed in different tenses.

1 – The Finnish Negative Verb

Say hello to the negative verb! You’ll come across it again and again, so it’s the first thing to learn about negation in the Finnish language.

The Finnish negative verb corresponds to the English words “no” and “not.” But unlike the English “no,” the Finnish “no” behaves like a verb. And like other verbs in Finnish, it needs to be conjugated. Thankfully, this isn’t too hard! Watch for the personal endings in the table below:

PersonSingularPlural
1.enemme
2.etette
3.eieivät

In negative statements, the negative verb is paired with the connegative form of the main verb. Let’s see how that’s done next!

2 – Negative Present Tense

So how do we form the present connegative? 

Take the first person singular form of the verb in the present tense, for example Minä puhun (“I speak”). Then remove the personal ending -n. The present connegative for the verb puhua (“to speak”) therefore is puhu.

Creating a simple negative statement looks like this:

  • Minä en puhu. (“I don’t speak.”)
  • Sinä et puhu. (“You don’t speak.”)
  • Hän ei puhu. (“He/she doesn’t speak.”)
  • Me emme puhu. (“We don’t speak.”)
  • Te ette puhu. (“You don’t speak.”) [Plural / polite singular]
  • He eivät puhu. (“They don’t speak.”)

3 – Negative Past Tense

In the past tense, the connegative is the active past participle. The formation of the connegative varies according to verb type.

The singular active past participle is formed by modifying the infinitive form of the verb:

Verb typeTake awayReplace with
1-a/-ä-nut/-nyt
2-da/dä-nut/-nyt
3-Ca/-Cä-Cut/-Cyt
4, 5, 6-ta/-tä-nnut/-nnyt

In the plural form, replace -ut/-yt in the table above with -eet.

Puhua (“to speak”) is a Type 1 verb. Therefore, the active past participle is puhunut (singular) or puhuneet (plural). 

  • Minä en puhunut. (“I didn’t speak.”)
  • Sinä et puhunut. (“You didn’t speak.”)
  • Hän ei puhunut. (“He/she didn’t speak.”)
  • Me emme puhuneet. (“We didn’t speak.”)
  • Te ette puhuneet. (“You didn’t speak.”)
  • He eivät puhuneet. (“They didn’t speak.”)

4 – Negative Perfect Tense

 In the perfect tense, a negative statement is formed using the negative verb + ole + the active past participle.

  • Minä en ole puhunut. (“I haven’t spoken.”)
  • Sinä et ole puhunut. (“You haven’t spoken.”)
  • Hän ei ole puhunut. (“He/she hasn’t spoken.”)
  • Me emme ole puhuneet. (“We haven’t spoken.”)
  • Te ette ole puhuneet. (“You haven’t spoken.”)
  • He eivät ole puhuneet. (“They haven’t spoken.”)

5 – Negative Past Perfect Tense

In the past perfect tense, a negative statement is formed using the negative verb + ollut + the active past participle.

  • Minä en ollut puhunut. (“I hadn’t spoken.”)
  • Sinä et ollut puhunut. (“You hadn’t spoken.”)
  • Hän ei ollut puhunut. (“He/she hadn’t spoken.”)
  • Me emme olleet puhuneet. (“We hadn’t spoken.”)
  • Te ette olleet puhuneet. (“You hadn’t spoken.”)
  • He eivät olleet puhuneet. (“They hadn’t spoken.”)

6 – Negative Passive

Sometimes it simply doesn’t matter who performs an action—or doesn’t perform an action—and in those cases, we use the passive voice. A negative passive statement is formed by using ei + the connegative.

The present passive connegative is derived from the affirmative passive form of the main verb: simply remove the -an/-än from the end. (For all verb types except for Type 1, this looks the same as the verb’s infinitive form.)

  • Affirmative passive: puhutaan (“is spoken”)
  • Present negative passive: ei puhuta (“isn’t spoken”)

In the past, perfect, and past perfect tenses, the connegative is the passive past participle, which has a -tu/-ty or a -ttu/-tty ending. 

  • ei puhuttu (“wasn’t spoken”)
  • ei ole puhuttu (“hasn’t been spoken”)
  • ei oltu puhuttu (“hadn’t been spoken”)

Finally, it’s good to know that the object in negative statements is in the partitive case. The partitive form of suomi (“Finnish”) in the example below is suomea.

  •  En ole puhunut suomea tänään. (“I haven’t spoken Finnish today.”)

Are you looking for more practice forming negative Finnish sentences? Dive into the following FinnishPod101 lessons:


A Man with Tape Over His Mouth.

En sanonut sanaakaan. (“I didn’t say a word.”)

2. Negative Imperative

One day, you might find yourself in a situation that calls for an effective warning! Let’s be prepared and learn how to form the negative imperative in Finnish.

When addressing one person, simply put älä in front of the main verb in the imperative mood. For example, the negation of Puhu! (“Speak!”) is Älä puhu! (“Don’t speak!”). 

  • Älä tule yhtään lähemmäksi! (“Don’t come any closer!”)
  • Älä poimi sieniä, joita et tunne! (“Don’t pick mushrooms that you don’t know!”)

When addressing more than one person, put älkää in front of the main verb in the imperative mood, but replace the main verb ending -kaa/-kää with -ko/-kö. The negation of Puhukaa! (“Speak!”) for more than one person is therefore Älkää puhuko! (“Don’t speak!”). 

  • Älkää uskoko kaikkea mitä kuulette! (“Don’t believe everything you hear!”)
  • Älkää matkustako ilman matkavakuutusta! (“Don’t travel without travel insurance!”)

Just in case you find yourself in a really frustrating situation, you might want to learn some Angry Phrases in Finnish as well!

A Mother Scolding a Toddler.

Älä! (“Don’t!”)

3. Giving a Negative Answer to a Question

When someone asks you a yes-or-no question, there are a few different ways you could answer it negatively. All of them involve using the Finnish negative form of a verb in its correct conjugation.

  • Haluatko lisää mämmiä? (“Do you want more mämmi?”)

In first person singular, your answer could look like this:

  • En. (“I don’t.”)
  • En halua. (“I don’t want.”)
  • Ei, en halua. (“No, I don’t want.”)

If you want to decline an offer politely, you could say:

  • Ei kiitos. (“No, thank you.”)

Head over to our Finnish Manners lesson to learn more polite phrases in addition to “No, thank you.”

A Woman Rejects Dessert.

Ei kiitos. Olen syönyt tarpeeksi. (“No, thank you. I’ve eaten enough.”)

4. Asking Negative Questions

An affirmative sentence, an affirmative question, a negative sentence, and a negative question walk into a bar… Okay, not really, but let’s compare the four anyway! 

  • Puuro on terveellistä. (“Porridge is healthy.”)
  • Onko puuro terveellistä? (“Is porridge healthy?”)
  • Puuro ei ole terveellistä. (“Porridge is not healthy.”)
  • Eikö puuro ole terveellistä? (“Isn’t porridge healthy?)

You’ll notice that the negative question begins with the negative verb, which has a -kö ending. Easy-peasy!

Here are a few more examples: 

  • Etkö halua tulla sisälle? (“Don’t you want to come inside?”)
  • Emmekö ole ystäviä? (“Aren’t we friends?”)
  • Enkö ole jo auttanut tarpeeksi? (“Haven’t I already helped enough?”) 

5. Other Useful Negative Words

Now that you’ve seen the negative verb so many times that you’ll be dreaming of it at night, let’s add some other useful Finnish negative words into the mix. Just remember that these words still need the help of the negative verb in statements—they can only appear without it in questions.

 For example: 

  • (ei) koskaan (“never” / “ever”)
  • Ette ole koskaan käyneet Suomessa. (“You have never been to Finland.”)
  • Oletteko koskaan käyneet Suomessa? (“Have you ever been to Finland?”)

 Here are more words to learn:

  • (ei) kukaan (“nobody” / “anybody”)
  • Kukaan ei tiedä missä Toni on. (“Nobody knows where Toni is.”)
  • (ei) yhtään (“no” / “any”)
  • Kaupassa ei ollut yhtään vessapaperia. (“There was no toilet paper in the shop.”)
  • (ei) enää (“no longer”)
  • Tero ei asu enää Porissa. (“Tero no longer lives in Pori.”)
  • (ei) edes (“even”)
  • Edes Seppo ei tiennyt vastausta. (“Even Seppo didn’t know the answer.”)
  • (ei) ollenkaan (“at all”)
  • En ole ollenkaan varma. (“I’m not sure at all.”)
  • (ei) missään (“nowhere” / “anywhere”)
  • En tunne oloani kotoisaksi missään. (“I don’t feel at home anywhere.”)
  • (ei) mikään (“nothing” / “anything”) [used as a subject]
  • Mikään ei ole pysyvää. (“Nothing is permanent.”)
  • (ei) mitään (“nothing” / “anything”) [used as an object]
  • En pyydä sinulta mitään. (“I’m not asking you for anything.”) 

From “disappointed” to “annoyed,” grow your Finnish vocabulary even more by learning the Top 21 Words for Negative Emotions.

A Woman in a Yellow Top Looks Uncertain.

En ole ollenkaan varma. (“I’m not sure at all.”)

6. Negative Prefixes and Suffixes

This wouldn’t be an ultimate guide to Finnish negation if we didn’t discuss a few negative affixes, too!

1 – Prefixes

Just like in English, there are a couple of Finnish prefixes that can be used to flip the meaning of a word. 

The most common prefix used in Finnish-language negation is epä-, which performs the same function as the English prefixes “un-,” “im-,” and “-a,” for example.

  • epäonnekas (“unlucky”)
  • epämukava (“uncomfortable”)
  • epäkohtelias (“impolite”)
  • epäkäytännöllinen (“impractical”)
  • epätyypillinen (“atypical”)

Ei- is also used as a negative prefix: 

  • ei-toivottu (“unwanted”)
  • ei-uskonnollinen (“non-religious”)

2 – Suffixes

Suffixes can be used for emphasis in negative statements. For example, if you ever need to deny something or counter an outrageous claim, you can use the suffixes -päs or -kä with the negative verb to emphasize it:

  • Olet myöhässä. (“You’re late.”)
  • Enpäs ole! (“No, I’m not!”)
  • Suomi on vaikea kieli oppia. (“Finnish is a difficult language to learn.”)
  • Eikä ole! (“No, it’s not!”)

The suffixes -kaan/-kään can correspond to “neither” or “either,” or even “not after all,” depending on the context:

  • En osaa uida. – En minäkään. (“I can’t swim.” – “Me neither.”)
  • Ystävänikään ei halua lähteä. (“My friend doesn’t want to leave either.”)
  • Ystäväni ei haluakaan lähteä. (“My friend doesn’t want to leave after all.”)

A Man with an Umbrella.

Onko perjantai 13. oikeasti epäonnekas päivä? (“Is Friday the 13th really an unlucky day?”)

7. Negative Conjunctions

Finally, let’s take a quick look at a couple of negative Finnish conjunctions.

The pattern [ negative verb + -kä ] corresponds to “or” or “nor.”

  • En voi auttaa sinua enkä perhettäsi. (“I can’t help you or your family.”)
  • Emme aio mennä ulos tänään emmekä huomenna. (“We are not planning to go out today or tomorrow.”)

Eikä can also mean “and…not.”

  • Anna-Liisa on sairas eikä voi tulla kouluun. (“Anna-Liisa is ill and can’t come to school.”)
  • Lapset olivat väsyneitä, eivätkä halunneet nousta sängystä. (“The children were tired and didn’t want to get out of bed.”)

Then we have ettei (“that…not”), which is an example of a Finnish contraction that combines että (“that”) and the negative verb. 

  • Toivon, ettet ole vihainen. (“I hope that you are not angry.”)
  • Anne kertoi minulle, ettemme ole vieraslistalla. (“Anne told me that we are not on the guest list.”)

Lopuksi

In this in-depth guide to Finnish negation, we’ve explored both basic and advanced rules and vocabulary used to form negative statements, questions, and answers in Finnish. Did we miss any useful negative words or phrases that you know of? Do you have any tips or questions? We’d love to hear from you—leave a comment below!

If you’re ready to learn some more Finnish, FinnishPod101 has plenty of free resources for you to discover, including vocabulary lists with handy audio recordings. Or why not take Finnish lessons with you wherever you go with our free app?

Happy learning!

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Why study Finnish? 10 reasons to start learning today.

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Why learn Finnish? Are there any benefits to studying Finnish beyond that lovely sense of accomplishment you get when you master a new skill? There definitely are, and we’re going to discuss no fewer than 10 reasons to start learning Finnish.

To mention just a few, learning Finnish will expose you to a different way of seeing the world, provide opportunities to develop yourself, and open many doors—it might even help keep your brain healthy and make you happier!

Intrigued? Read on to discover even more perks of learning Finnish and whether studying it could be for you.

The Finnish Flag and Hands Forming the Shape of a Heart.

Will you fall in love with the Finnish language?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Gain insights into a fascinating culture.
  2. Connect and communicate with Finnish people.
  3. Enjoy Finnish entertainment on a whole new level!
  4. Have more fun traveling in Finland.
  5. Live in the happiest country in the world.
  6. Get a world-class education in Finland.
  7. Build a successful career in Finland.
  8. Give your brain a good workout.
  9. Have a giggle learning funny words and phrases.
  10. Get in on a secret: Finnish is easier to learn than you think.
  11. Lopuksi

1. Gain insights into a fascinating culture.

To have another language is to possess another soul. 

This quote is attributed to Charlemagne—and he may have been on to something. Learning a new language can open our eyes to help us see the world from a different perspective and expose us to new ways of thinking. Language is also the gateway into the heart of a culture, and if you’re fascinated by the land of sauna, sisu, and salmiakki (“salmiak liquorice”), learning Finnish is the most effective and rewarding way to truly understand this unique northern country.

For example, to learn Finnish is to appreciate snow in a whole new way. Finns have come up with quite a few specific terms for different types of snow. There’s the snow that you can mold into a snowman or snowballs (nuoska), the snow that clings to trees (tykky), the snow that covers the ground in a thick layer (hanki), and the snow that whips you in the face when it’s windy outside (tuisku). These are just a few examples, but curiously there is no Finnish term for “to snow.” Finns say sataa lunta (“to rain snow”) instead.


A Family Having a Snowball Fight

2. Connect and communicate with Finnish people.

This is one of the more obvious reasons why you should learn Finnish, but if you have Finnish-speaking family, friends, colleagues, or business partners, learning Finnish can improve your communication with them dramatically. This is true even if you’re interacting with Finns who speak excellent English, because—as we’ve already seen—learning a language makes it easier to understand different perspectives.

But what if you don’t know any Finnish people? Then maybe it’s time to remedy this situation and get to know a few! There’s no better ice-breaker than speaking a bit of Finnish when you meet a Finn, whether in Finland or elsewhere.

3. Enjoy Finnish entertainment on a whole new level!

Whether you’re into music, cinema, TV, or books, Finland has a lot to offer. 

Fans of heavy metal and hard rock know Finland for its music scene, which has produced numerous notable bands, from Ajattara to Stam1na. (Did you know that there’s even a heavy metal band—Hevisaurus—that’s specifically geared toward children?!) Nordic Noir aficionados will likewise be well-aware of Finland’s contributions to the genre, including the nail-biting TV series Deadwind and Bordertown as well as crime fiction penned by Antti Tuomainen and Kati Hiekkapelto. Film buffs may already have seen a number of Finnish films, such as Rare Exports and The Man Without a Past.

While it’s entirely possible to rely on subtitles when you watch a film, listen to music without understanding the lyrics, and wait for an English translation to hit the market before reading a book, you’re bound to get a lot more out of Finnish entertainment when you learn some Finnish. Incidentally, reading, watching, or listening to something in Finnish is also an excellent way to speed up your language learning!


A Rock Band with Four Members

Understanding the lyrics makes listening to music more meaningful.

4. Have more fun traveling in Finland.

Are you thinking of visiting Finland? If you are, learning some Finnish will make your trip easier, more immersive, and more rewarding. Finding your way around will be much simpler when you can read Finnish on signs and maps, decipher timetables, and ask people for directions. Likewise, you can feel more confident when ordering food, making reservations, and shopping for souvenirs.

Of course, interacting with locals is one of the most fun parts of traveling, and Finns will find it delightful if you speak even a little bit of Finnish. Knowing some Finnish will also help you navigate situations like going to a sauna for the first time. For example, if someone says Lisää löylyä! (“More steam!”), you’ll know that it’s your cue to get out quickly if you’re not ready to get any warmer!

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport

5. Live in the happiest country in the world.

Have you ever considered living abroad? Then you could do a lot worse than choose Finland: In 2020, Finland was ranked the happiest country for the third consecutive year. What exactly makes Finland such a happy place? It could have something to do with the following:

Safety

According to the Global Peace Index, Finland is ranked the 14th safest country in the world. Things that make Finland a safe place include low levels of organized crime, high political stability, and a lack of natural disasters.

Tolerance

Finland is also ranked the 2nd most liberal country in the world. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and equality are all important Finnish values.

Healthy Environment

Finland excels in the Environmental Performance Index as well: The country is ranked the 7th most environmentally friendly country in the world, while air quality and drinking water quality in Finland are the best in the world.

Are you ready to pack your bags and settle in Finland? In order to get a Finnish citizenship, you’ll need to get your hands on a National Certificate of Language Proficiency (YKI). And of course, you’ll find life in Finland much easier if you can speak Finnish.


A Smiling, Excited Woman

Feeling happy

6. Get a world-class education in Finland.

Perhaps you’re not quite ready to move to Finland permanently, but would like to experience living in the country nonetheless. In that case, studying in Finland could be for you!

Finland is a fantastic place for students, featuring one of the best higher education systems in the world and nine universities ranked among the top 3% in the world.

Other perks of studying in Finland include:

English-taught Degrees

Finland offers over 400 English-taught bachelor’s and master’s programs as well as doctoral degree options. 

Tuition Fees

If you’re a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen, studying in Finland is free for you! For other international students, course fees range between 5,000 and 18,000 euros per year, but most universities offer scholarships that help cover the fees.

Cost of Living

As a student in Finland, you’ll have access to affordable student housing, cheap meals on campus, and a plethora of generous student discounts, including significantly cheaper travel on public transport across the country.

Career Services

Most Finnish universities offer help with job searching and career planning to international students. A student visa allows one to work part-time and a one-year post-study visa allows graduates to stay in Finland while searching for a job.

Now you may be asking: “Why should I learn Finnish if I can study in English in Finland?” Well, you’ll have access to a wider range of courses if you know Finnish, and it will no doubt look good on your application form. And of course, you’ll also have an easier time throwing yourself into the fun aspects of student life, such as participating in extracurricular activities and making new friends.


Students High-five in a Library

Studying in Finland could be the best experience of your life.

7. Build a successful career in Finland.

Are your student days already behind you? Then working in Finland might appeal to you more. Here are just a few reasons to build a career in Finland: 

High Demand for International Labor

Many sectors in Finland are in need of more workers, and international recruits are in high demand in the healthcare and service sectors, for example. Visit the Occupational Barometer to see if your skills are currently sought after in Finland.

Support for Immigrants

New employees from abroad can often access support with integration. Language training is also usually offered by local authorities and/or employers, either for free or at a low cost.  

Great Working Conditions

In Finland, employment security is high, and both equality and cooperation at the workplace are considered important. Employers also tend to invest in their employees, and further training and skill development are encouraged.

So what is the best way to secure a job in Finland? To learn Finnish! Almost all jobs in Finland require at least some knowledge of Finnish. However, once you’ve learned Finnish, your native language could be a great asset too, depending on the position!

Remember too that Finland is home to many internationally successful companies, such as Nokia, KONE, and Supercell, and learning Finnish could well give you an advantage in making connections and building business relationships with Finnish companies in your own country as well.


A Man with a Suitcase Climbing a Set of Pillars

Get ahead in your career.

8. Give your brain a good workout.

Want to keep your brain healthy? Then put away that brain training app and learn Finnish instead. Why?  Because learning a new language is to your brain what lifting weights is to your muscles. Activities like wrestling with grammar and memorizing vocabulary activate various parts of your brain, and they’re a fantastic way to improve and preserve your cognitive skills. A number of studies have suggested that learning and using a second language has multiple benefits for brain health, including:

Increased Brain Volume

Speaking more than one language has been shown to correlate with denser gray matter that has a higher number of neural connections, which are signs of a healthy, resilient brain.

Greater Cognitive Skills

Learning a new language can improve various cognitive skills, such as concentration, listening, attention span, multi-tasking, problem-solving, and recalling information.

Protection Against Degenerative Diseases

People who actively use a second language are likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later than their monolingual counterparts, and they typically also cope much better with the damage.

Finnish may be known as a challenging language to learn, but that makes studying it an even better brain workout!

A Brain Surrounded by Sketches

Learn Finnish—your brain will thank you for it.

9. Have a giggle learning funny words and phrases.

Here’s a reason to learn Finnish that’s not serious at all: Finnish can be really funny! The language is full of words that are either really fun to say or are so literal that they’re hilarious.

Try saying these words out loud and see if it brings a smile to your face:

  • lämpimämpi (“warmer”)
  • yökyöpeli (a person who stays up late, literally: “night ghost”)
  • herkkukurkku (a type of pickle, literally: “delicacy cucumber”)
  • pumpuli (“cotton wool”)
  • pöperö (“food,” colloquial)
  • töppönen (“bootie”)
  • pupu (“bunny”)

If you need help pronouncing any of the words above, take a look at The Only Finnish Pronunciation Guide You’ll Ever Need!

Now see if you can work out what these Finnish compound words refer to based on their literal meaning:

  • lentokone (“flight machine”)
  • hammasraudat (“tooth irons”)
  • huutokauppa (“shout shop”)
  • aamuyö (“morning night”)
  • tulivuori (“fire mountain”)
  • sukkahousut (“sock trousers”)
  • rannerengas (“wrist ring”)
  • vesinokkaeläin (“water beak animal”)

Finally, there are some pretty incomprehensible sayings in Finnish that might make you laugh. The exclamation Kauhistuksen kanahäkki! (“Chicken cage of terror!”) is definitely one of these gems.

A Woman Laughing while Reading a Book

Warning: Learning Finnish might cause bouts of giggling.

10. Get in on a secret: Finnish is easier to learn than you think.

Finnish is often said to be a difficult language to learn. But those who have already learned Finnish could tell you that it’s actually easier than you think in many ways!

For example:

Pronunciation

Learning to pronounce Finnish is a breeze. Finnish is a phonetic language, so there’s an almost perfect correspondence between different sounds and the letters of the alphabet.

Tenses

When studying Finnish, you don’t need to learn a ton of different tenses. In fact, Finnish even does away with the future tense—Finns simply use the present tense when talking about the future. 

Grammar

Okay, Finnish grammar is a bit of a beast—but it’s also a very well-behaved beast. In other words, Finnish grammar is usually very logical and there are few exceptions to grammar rules.

11. Lopuksi

In this article, we’ve given you 10 different answers to the question: “Why learn Finnish?” 

What do you think, have we convinced you that it’s worth the effort? One thing is for sure: We can’t think of a single downside to learning Finnish!

If you have decided to study Finnish and are wondering where to learn Finnish online, FinnishPod101 has all the resources you’ll need to master the language. Our teaching material covers grammar and vocabulary, and everything in between. Why not get started right away with our free resources? Our mobile app helps you take your Finnish lessons anywhere you go, while a Premium PLUS subscription gives you access to 1-on-1 tutoring with an experienced teacher and personalized learning content to help you get fluent fast.

Happy learning on FinnishPod101.com!

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An Introduction to Finnish Tenses

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Conjugating verbs is something that Finnish learners need to tackle very early on in their studies. At first glance, it can look really hard, especially if you’re a beginner and have just started wrapping your head around those personal endings. Just thinking about learning different tenses might make you feel, well, a little tense!

But there’s good news! The Finnish tenses are very similar to their English counterparts, so they should feel quite familiar. What’s even better: Most of the time you’ll be using only two of them. 

In this guide, we’ll take a quick look at the fundamentals of Finnish verb conjugation before focusing on tenses.  Are you excited to start talking about the past, the present, and the future in Finnish?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Finnish Verb Conjugation Basics
  2. Preesens (The Present Tense)
  3. Talking About the Future in Finnish
  4. Past Tenses
  5. A Quick Conjugation and Auxiliary Verb Summary
  6. Lopuksi

1. Finnish Verb Conjugation Basics

In a nutshell, verb conjugation is the act of making changes to a verb in order to convey who is doing the action, when the action is taking place, and even how the speaker feels about the action.

Tense is what we use to convey when an action is taking place. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s quickly review how to convey who is doing the action. In Finnish, the verb ending changes according to person. These personal endings are added to the stem of the verb.

The personal endings are -n (first singular), -t (second singular), -mme (first plural), -tte (second plural), and -vat/-vät (third plural). For the third singular, depending on the verb, we either use the stem of the word or duplicate the vowel at the end of the word. When using third person verbs, you must remember the vowel harmony.

Conjugating the verb puhua (“to speak”) in the present tense looks like this when the personal endings are added to the verb stem puhu-:

  • Minä puhun. (“I speak.”)
  • Sinä puhut. (“You speak.”)
  • Hän puhuu. (“He/she speaks.”)
  • Me puhumme. (“We speak.”)
  • Te puhutte. (“You speak.”)
  • He puhuvat. (“They speak.”)

Verbs with a personal ending are in the active voice. In other words, we know who is doing the action. In contrast, the passive voice is used in Finnish when it’s not known (or when it’s unimportant) who performs the action. The passive looks like this in the present tense:

  • puhutaan (“is spoken”)

In this guide, we’ll stick to the active voice.

1 – How Many Tenses are Used in Finnish?

In Finnish, tenses are called aikamuodot (literally: “time forms”) and they modify a verb according to when the action takes place. There are four tenses in Finnish:

  • Preesens (“Present”)
  • Imperfekti (“Past”)
  • Perfekti (“Perfect”)
  • Pluskvamperfekti (“Past-perfect” or “Pluperfect”)

As you can see, there’s no future tense in the list above. We’ll talk more about this later in the ‘future’ section of this guide.

The most important tenses to learn are the present and the past. You can get by reasonably well in everyday conversations using just these two tenses.

Alarm Clocks Showing Different Times.

Tense is all about the timing of actions.

2 – Grammatical Moods

When we conjugate verbs, we also need to take the mood into account. The mood concerns the speaker’s attitude toward the action. These are called tapaluokat in Finnish (literally: “manner classes”), and there are four:

  • Indikatiivi (“Indicative”) is used when an action is considered factual.
  • Imperatiivi (“Imperative”) is used when making requests and giving orders.
  • Konditionaali (“Conditional”) is used when an action depends on a condition.
  • Potentiaali (“Potential”) is used when an action is probable but not certain.

By far, the mood you’ll use most often is the indicative. It’s also the most straightforward of the four, because there’s no indicative mood marker to worry about! The potential, on the other hand, is very rarely used in standard Finnish and should not be a priority to learn.

3 – Simple Tenses & Compound Tenses

What do we mean by ‘simple’ and ‘compound’ tenses? Simple tenses require just a main verb, while a compound tense is formed with the help of an auxiliary verb. In Finnish, they’re known as apuverbit (literally: “help verbs”) and the two main ones are: olla (“to be”) and ei (the negative verb).

When forming compound tenses, the auxiliary verbs are conjugated:

PersonOlla – presentOlla – pastThe negative verb
Minä (“I”)OlenOlinEn
Sinä (“You”)OletOlitEt
Hän (“He” / “She”)OnOliEi
Me (“We”)OlemmeOlimmeEmme
Te (“You”)OletteOlitteEtte
He (“They”)OvatOlivatEivät

Let’s look at a few examples, using the verb puhua (“to speak”).

Simple tense (one verb):

  • Minä puhun. (“I speak.”)
  • Minä puhuin. (“I spoke.”)

Compound tense (auxiliary verb[s] + main verb):

  • Minä olen puhunut. (“I have spoken.”)
  • Minä olin puhunut. (“I had spoken.”)
  • Minä en puhu. (“I don’t speak.”)
  • Minä en puhunut. (“I didn’t speak.”)
  • Minä en ole puhunut. (“I have not spoken.”)
  • Minä en ollut puhunut. (“I had not spoken.”)

In this guide, we won’t delve any deeper into the use of the negative verb, but you can learn more about the negation of verbs on Wikiwand.

4 – Finnish Verb Types

One more important note before we move on to explore Finnish tenses! Finnish verbs are usually divided into six categories based on what the infinitive form of the verb looks like and how the verb behaves when it’s conjugated.

Type 1 is the most common verb type in Finnish, so we’ll stick to Type 1 verbs—ajaa (“to drive”) and ostaa (“to buy”)—in this guide to keep things simple. If you want to familiarize yourself with all the different Finnish verb types, take a look at a quick overview on Wikipedia.


2. Preesens (The Present Tense)

Preesens, or the Finnish present tense, is used just like the English present tense to talk about actions that are currently taking place as well as habitual actions.

1 – Present Tense, Indicative Mood

The indicative mood, as we’ve discussed, is used when we talk about actions that we consider factual.

Here are a few examples:

  • Ajan autoa. (“I’m driving a car.”)
  • Ajamme yleensä varovaisesti. (“We usually drive carefully.”)
  • Ostan vain leipää tänään. (“I’m buying bread today.”)
  • Ostamme luomuvihanneksia aina kun mahdollista. (“We buy organic vegetables whenever possible.”)

Note that there’s no visual difference in Finnish between “I drive” (English simple present) and “I’m driving” (English continuous present). Minä ajan can mean either.

A Hand on a Steering Wheel.

Ajan autoa. (“I’m driving a car.”)

2 – Present Tense, Imperative Mood

You’ll recall that the imperative mood is about making requests, giving orders, and providing instructions.

For example:

  • Aja hitaammin. (“Drive slower.” – 2nd person singular)
  • Ajakaa oikealla. (“Drive on the right.” – 2nd person singular)
  • Osta netistä, nouda myymälästä. (“Buy online, pick up from store.” – 2nd person singular)
  • Ostakaa liput ennakkoon. (“Buy tickets in advance.” – 2nd person plural)

The singular imperative is formed by taking off the personal marker -n from the first person singular form of the verb. The plural imperative is formed by adding -kaa/-kää to the infinitive stem of the verb.

3 – Present Tense, Conditional Mood

To recap, the conditional is used to talk about things that could or would happen under certain circumstances. It can also be used to make a polite request and to express wishes or doubt.

  • Ajaisin autoa, jos minulla olisi ajokortti. (“I would drive a car, if I had a driving license.”)
  • Ajaisitko mieluummin Ferrarilla vai Porschella? (“Would you rather drive a Ferrari or a Porsche?”)
  • Ostaisin kesämökin, jos olisin rikas. (“I would buy a summer cottage, if I were rich.”)
  • Ostaisinko uuden mekon juhliin? (“I wonder if I should buy a new dress for the party?”)

The conditional marker is -isi-. Ajaisin (“I would drive”) is composed of aja (stem) + isi (conditional marker) + -n (personal ending).

4 – Present Tense, Potential Mood

The potential mood is rarely used, so we won’t linger on it here. However, if you’re curious, it looks like this:

  • Ajanen kohta kotiin. (“I will probably drive home soon.”)
  • Lasse ostanee asunnon Kertun kanssa. (“Lasse will probably buy an apartment with Kerttu.”)

In a conversation, it’s more natural to use the indicative mood and a word like varmaan or todennäköisesti (they both mean “probably”):

  • Ajan varmaan kohta kotiin. (“I will probably drive home soon.”) 

5 – Time Phrases Used with the Present Tense

Let’s get more specific. Here’s a selection of time phrases that are commonly used with the present tense:

  • Tänään (“Today”)
  • Nyt (“Now”)
  • Juuri nyt (“Right now”)
  • Tällä hetkellä (“At this moment”)

These time phrases often appear in statements describing habitual actions:

  • Joka päivä (“Everyday”)
  • Yleensä (“Usually”)
  • Usein (“Often”)
  • Aina (“Always”)
  • Joskus (“Sometimes”)
  • Harvoin (“Seldom”)

For even more words and phrases you can use, head over to our vocabulary list of essential adverbs of frequency and time or learn how to talk about time in Finnish on our blog! 

3. Talking About the Future in Finnish

As mentioned previously, there’s no separate future tense in Finnish. Instead, the present tense is normally used for both. So how do you know if someone is talking about the present or the future?

1 – The Context

 Imagine that your friend says:

  • Ostan Ronjalle kukkia.

This could mean:

  • “I’m buying Ronja flowers.”
  • “I buy Ronja flowers.”
  • “I will buy Ronja flowers.”

You can often figure out the meaning from the context:

  • Ostan Ronjalle kukkia. Luuletko, että hän pitäisi näistä ruusuista? (“I’m buying Ronja flowers. Do you think she would like these roses?”)
  • Ostan Ronjalle kukkia vähintään kerran kuukaudessa. (“I buy Ronja flowers at least once a month.”)
  • Ostan Ronjalle kukkia, jos hän suostuu lähtemään treffeille kanssani. (“I will buy Ronja flowers, if she agrees to go on a date with me.”)

Red Roses

2 – Time Phrases Used When Talking About the Future

We can also make it clear that we’re talking about the future by using time phrases. Common ones include:

  • Huomenna (“Tomorrow”)
  • Ylihuomenna (“The day after tomorrow”)
  • Ensi viikolla (“Next week”)
  • Ensi vuonna (“Next year”)
  • Kuukauden päästä (“In a month’s time”)

4. Past Tenses

There are three past tenses in Finnish, so let’s take a closer look at each one.

1 – Imperfekti (The Simple Past Tense)

Imperfekti corresponds to the simple past tense in English. It’s the most commonly used past tense in everyday conversations. It describes actions that were completed at some point before the present moment.

For example:

  • Ajoin autoa eilen ensimmäistä kertaa. (“I drove a car yesterday for the first time.”)
  • He ajoivat kotiin sanomatta sanaakaan. (“They drove home without saying a word.”)
  • Ostimme kaksi paitaa yhden hinnalla. (“We bought two shirts for the price of one.”)
  • Petra osti värityskirjan hetken mielijohteesta. (“Petra bought a coloring book on the spur of the moment.”)

The marker for the past tense is usually -i-, though it can also appear as -oi- or -si-, depending on the verb.

Time Phrases Used When Talking About the Past

Common time phrases that are often used with the Finnish past tense include:

  • Eilen (“Yesterday”)
  • Toissapäivänä (“The day before yesterday”)
  • Viikko sitten (“A week ago”)
  • Viime vuonna (“Last year”)
  • Vuonna 2000 (“In the year 2000”)

2 – Perfekti (The Perfect Tense)

Perfekti corresponds to the English perfect tense. It can describe actions that started in the past and are still happening, or actions that took place in the past but are still relevant to the present moment.

The Finnish perfect tense is a compound tense. It’s formed with the help of the auxiliary verb olla (“to be”), which is conjugated in the present tense, while the main verb takes the active past participle (also known as the NUT-participle) form.

 Examples:

  • Risto on ajanut taksia työkseen kymmenen vuotta. (“Risto has been driving a taxi for a living for ten years.”)
  • Olemme ostaneet vihanneksia ja leipää. Mitä muuta tarvitsemme? (“We have bought vegetables and bread. What else do we need?”)

In the first example, the action continues (Risto is still driving a taxi for a living). In the second example, the past (what was bought) is relevant to the present (what still needs to be bought).

A Couple Shopping in a Supermarket

3 – Pluskvamperfekti (The Past Perfect Tense)

Pluskvamperfekti corresponds to the English past perfect tense. The past perfect tense is usually paired with the past tense, conveying a relationship between two separate past actions.

The past perfect tense is also a compound tense. It’s formed by conjugating the auxiliary verb olla (“to be”) in the past tense, while the main verb takes the active past participle form again.

For example:

  • Olin ajanut noin kolme tuntia, kun päätin pitää kahvitauon. (“I had driven for about three hours when I decided to have a coffee break.”)
  • Reetta oli ostanut lipun ennakkoon, koska hän ei halunnut jonottaa. (“Reetta had bought a ticket in advance, because she didn’t want to queue.”)

People Standing in a Line

5. A Quick Conjugation and Auxiliary Verb Summary

Finally, let’s look at those four tenses side by side for comparison. In this table, we’ve conjugated the verb ostaa (“to buy”). The verb is conjugated in the active voice and in the indicative mood.

 PersonTense
Simple TenseCompound Tense
PresentPastPerfectPast perfect
Minä (“I”)OstanOstinOlen ostanutOlin ostanut
Sinä (“You”)OstatOstitOlet ostanutOlit ostanut
Hän (“He” / “She”)OstaaOstiOn ostanutOli ostanut
Me (“We”)OstammeOstimmeOlemme ostaneetOlimme ostaneet
Te (“You”)OstatteOstitteOlette ostaneetOlitte ostaneet
He (“They”)OstavatOstivatOvat ostaneetOlivat ostaneet

If you’d like to see all the different ways you can conjugate ostaa at a glance, try out the handy Cooljugator.

6. Lopuksi

In this guide, we’ve discussed the many ways that Finnish verbs can be conjugated, with a focus on the four Finnish tenses (preesens, imperfekti, perfekti, and pluskvamperfekti). Were you surprised that there’s no future tense in Finnish?

If you’re a beginner, we recommend prioritizing the present tense and the past tense. It’s also a good idea to learn how to conjugate each verb type one at a time, starting with Type 1, which is the most common Finnish verb type. Once you’re comfortable with the basics, it’ll be easier to expand your conjugating skills! And if you’re further along in your Finnish studies, we’d love to hear about your experiences with Finnish tenses so far, especially if you have any good learning tips to share with the community!

Don’t forget that FinnishPod101 has plenty of free resources to help you at every stage of your learning journey. Our vocabulary lists come with audio recordings to help you with pronunciation, and our grammar section is the place to visit if you want to master the Finnish alphabet, for example! Furthermore, doors to our Premium PLUS subscription are always open, so get in touch if you think you could benefit from one-on-one coaching. Our experienced teachers are more than happy to help you with verb conjugation or any other aspect of Finnish that you’re struggling to grasp.

Happy learning!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Finnish?

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If you’re like most aspiring language learners, this question has likely crossed your mind: How long does it take to learn Finnish? 

The answer is, of course: It depends! 

In order to work out a realistic estimate, there are many factors to consider. These include your native tongue, how experienced you are at learning languages, and your learning environment, for example. We’ll look at each of these factors to help you work out how much time you might need; we’ll also give you some tips on how to learn the Finnish language more effectively! 

Another thing to consider is what proficiency level you’re talking about. Is your goal to master the basics of the Finnish language, to become a fluent Finnish speaker, or something in-between? Whether it’s the beginner, intermediate, or advanced proficiency level you’re aiming for, there are several tips and tricks you can utilize right from the start to learn Finnish faster.

Close-up of a Stopwatch.

Ready, steady, learn Finnish!


Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. The Factors That Influence Your Learning Speed
  2. How Long Does it Take to Achieve a Beginner Level?
  3. How Long Does it Take to Achieve an Intermediate Level?
  4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve an Advanced Level?
  5. Lopuksi

1. The Factors That Influence Your Learning Speed

The FSI (Foreign Service Institute) has ranked Finnish as a Category III language. This means that, based on the differences between English and Finnish, Finnish is one of the harder languages for English speakers to learn. According to this ranking, it should take approximately 1100 hours or 44 weeks on average for an English-speaking learner to reach a general proficiency level in Finnish. This corresponds to the level B2 in CEFR, Level 3 on FinnishPod101, and Level 4 of YKI (the official Finnish language proficiency test).

Naturally, we’re not all going to progress at the exact same speed. In this section, we’ll consider the most important variables to take into account when working out your own estimate. Keep these in mind when we move on to the next section, where we’ll discuss what skills you should have mastered by the time you reach levels A1, B1, and C1, and what you can do to reach these proficiency levels a bit faster!

Your Language Background 

While you’re reading this article in English, perhaps it’s not your native tongue. Or maybe you are a native English speaker, but have also learned another language or two. The languages you know can potentially make a huge difference in how fast you can learn Finnish.

For example, if you speak Turkish or Indonesian, the fact that Finnish is an agglutinative language will not baffle you. Or if you know Hungarian or Estonian—languages that share roots with Finnish—you’ll have no trouble with the concept of using a large number of grammatical cases. In other words, the more linguistic aspects Finnish shares with the languages you already know, the easier it will be for you to learn the language. 

  • Curious about how closely related the languages you speak are to Finnish? This language family tree beautifully illustrates the relationships between different languages.

Your Language Learning Experience  

How strong is your language learning game?

Research shows that language learning skills are transferable. Therefore, even if the languages that you’ve studied before are not exactly similar to Finnish, those past learning experiences will have developed and strengthened many cognitive skills that will also help you with your Finnish studies.

Furthermore, having a language learning success already under your belt, you’ll feel more confident in your own abilities and will know which learning methods work best for you.

A Woman Looks Up from Her Books to Think.

Your Motivation Levels

Why do you want to study Finnish?

The goal you have in mind matters and can make a real difference in how fast you’ll progress. The more passionate you feel about learning Finnish, the easier it will be to motivate yourself to put in the necessary effort and carve out the time to keep at it even when life gets busy.

So what are your reasons? Do you want to travel or live in Finland? Have you fallen in love with the Finnish language—or a Finn? Are you simply looking for something fun and challenging to do, and learning Finnish seems to fit the bill? Whatever it is, be prepared to remind yourself why you’ve decided to do this on a regular basis, especially if you ever find yourself frustrated and unmotivated. Keeping that passion alive is important in learning Finnish faster!

Your Learning Environment

How, where, and with whom you’re studying all play a role in how long it takes to learn Finnish.

There are many ways to learn a language, and your choices can influence how quickly and efficiently you’ll develop your skills. You could learn in a formal setting under the guidance of a qualified teacher, enroll in an online course, or teach yourself using books or an app, for example.

The more independent your approach to learning Finnish, the more self-motivated you need to be to make steady progress. It’s always a good idea to mix various learning tools, and to try connecting with other learners even if you’re otherwise studying by yourself. And if it’s an option, completely immersing yourself into the language by spending time in Finland is the best way to really speed up your Finnish learning. We’ll talk more about that later!

A Group of Students in a Class.

Connect with other language learners for mutual support.

2. How Long Does it Take to Achieve a Beginner Level?

So you’d like to reach a beginner level in Finnish? Let’s see what that involves.

The beginner level A1 in CEFR corresponds to YKI 1.

At this level, you will have learned…

  • …basic vocabulary such as common nouns, colors, numbers, and days of the week.
  • …everyday expressions, such as hei (“hi”), kiitos (“thank you”), and näkemiin (“goodbye”).
  • …how to ask and answer basic personal questions and how to form very simple sentences.
  • …how to conjugate common verb types in the present tense.
  • …how to form the t-plural.
  • …the basics of using the most common grammatical cases.

How quickly can you expect to reach level A1 in Finnish? It should take roughly 140 to 180 hours.

Tips for Reaching the A1 Level in Finnish Faster

Wondering how to learn basic Finnish easily? 

First piece of advice: Keep it fun! Now is not the time to get bogged down in complex grammar concepts. Focus on the basics—pronunciation, key vocabulary, and simple phrases—to build your confidence. Start talking as soon as you can, and don’t be too afraid of making mistakes.

Frequent repetition is key when you’re learning a completely new language, so rather than scheduling a marathon session once a week, try to incorporate Finnish learning into your daily life as much as you can. Using a language learning app is a fun way to turn frequent downtime (like your morning commute or waiting for a friend) into an opportunity to pick up a couple of new words or to practice introducing yourself in Finnish. And using flashcards is always a neat way to memorize essential phrases and core vocabulary faster.

FinnishPod101 Beginner Lessons

Our curated pathway for Level 1 Finnish is a great place to start learning Finnish. The 32 lessons included in the pathway make up about 5 hours of audio, and you can test your skills along the way with 12 interactive assignments.

In the first lesson, Welcome to Finland, you’ll learn simple dialogue, vocabulary, and grammar. You’ll have access to audio recordings, comprehensive lesson notes, and a lesson transcript. You have the option of listening to the recordings at either normal or slow speed, and you can also record yourself to improve your pronunciation. The lesson notes introduce you to essential grammar points and the Finnish alphabet. Finally, the section on cultural insights helps you put your new skills into use in real life!

A Smiling Woman on the Street Looks at Her Phone.

Take Finnish lessons with you anywhere with a mobile app.


3. How Long Does it Take to Achieve an Intermediate Level?

The intermediate level B1 in CEFR corresponds to YKI 3. This is the level that you would need to reach if you wanted to pass a Finnish language exam in order to apply for a Finnish citizenship.

At this level, you should be able to…

  • …pronounce Finnish clearly and understandably.
  • …write everyday vocabulary without mistakes.
  • …use adverbs, as well as comparative and superlative adjectives.
  • …read and understand simple news articles.
  • …express opinions and describe how you’re feeling.
  • …ask for and give directions and advice.
  • …use common idioms.
  • …conjugate verbs in different tenses.
  • …use most grammatical cases.

How quickly can you expect to reach level B1 in Finnish? It should take roughly 630 to 730 hours.

Tips for Reaching the B1 Level in Finnish Faster

It’s quite a jump from absolute beginner to intermediate! To reach this level quickly, you’ll want to make sure that you’re covering all the different language learning bases: grammar, vocabulary, reading and listening comprehension, and writing and speaking skills. If you can, take progress tests on a regular basis to identify which areas need more work.

At this point, you’ll also want to immerse yourself in Finnish as much as you can. Listen to Finnish music, watch Finnish films and TV shows with subtitles, and find interesting things to read (anything from short news stories to web comics). To hone your writing skills, try keeping a simple journal in Finnish, or write to your language learning buddies or Finnish friends.

Check out our guide on must-watch Finnish TV shows to get started with your immersion!

FinnishPod101 Intermediate Lessons

Our curated pathway for Level 3 Finnish will build your confidence and help you express yourself in a range of situations, from ordering food to opening a bank account. It will also deepen your understanding of grammatical cases and different tenses.

The first lesson, A Finnish Job Interview, introduces work-related vocabulary, which you can add to a personalized flashcard deck or a word bank. The grammar notes walk you through how to use the present tense to discuss your qualities as a candidate and the past perfect tense to describe your work history. You can take a quiz after the lesson to see how well you can remember the new vocabulary!

A Woman Watches a Show on a Tablet.

Find something enjoyable to watch in Finnish to accelerate your learning.

4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve an Advanced Level?

The advanced level C1 in CEFR corresponds to YKI 5.

At this level, you’ll feel very comfortable communicating in Finnish and can…

  • …speak fluently and spontaneously about a large range of topics in both personal and professional contexts.
  • …follow discussions, TV shows, and films with ease.
  • …understand literary texts and specialized vocabulary.
  • …compose detailed and well-structured texts on a wide range of topics.
  • …use complex grammar correctly.

So how long does it take to learn Finnish fluently? You’re probably looking at about 1550 to 1650 hours.

Tips for Reaching the C1 Level in Finnish Faster

It takes commitment to take your language skills to the advanced level. The best way to get there faster, of course, is to spend time in Finland. Your language skills will be reinforced constantly and you’ll absorb new vocabulary quickly when you’re hearing, seeing, and speaking Finnish on a daily basis.

What if spending time in Finland is not an option for you? In that case, find other ways to make Finnish an integral part of your daily life. If you don’t know any native Finnish speakers, try an online conversation exchange to practice talking in Finnish. If you’re on social media a lot, follow interesting Finnish people and organizations to see Finnish content on your timeline—make sure to leave some comments in Finnish, too! Combine your favorite hobbies with your language learning by listening to Finnish podcasts, playing games in Finnish, or cooking your next meal following a recipe in Finnish.

To make sure that your grammar and pronunciation are up to scratch, it’s a good idea to seek detailed feedback from an experienced teacher.

FinnishPod101 Advanced Lessons

Our curated pathway for Level 5 Finnish focuses on growing your vocabulary, boosting your reading and listening skills, familiarizing you with complex grammar, and immersing you deeper in Finnish culture.

In the first lesson, Top 10 Finnish Tourist Destinations: Inari, you can hear or read about this northern destination in both Finnish and English to hone your comprehension skills.

A Dinner Party.

At an advanced level, you can easily participate in real-life conversations.

Lopuksi

In this article, we’ve considered the various factors that can make learning Finnish easier, discussed the different levels of Finnish proficiency, and shared various language learning tips to help you reach your learning goals faster. We hope that this information has been useful to you!

Or perhaps you already know Finnish? If so, share your experiences with the community in the comments below! How long did it take you to learn Finnish? What proficiency level have you reached? Which tools have you found especially useful?

Whether you’re an absolute beginner or have already mastered an intermediate level of Finnish, we have lots of resources and tools for you at FinnishPod101. Get started with free resources, or learn new words and correct pronunciation with our vocabulary lists. For a personalized lesson plan and one-on-one tutoring with an experienced Finnish teacher to fast-track you to Finnish fluency, try our Premium PLUS account.

Happy learning, and good luck!

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The Top 30 Finnish Proverbs and Sayings

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Proverbs: every language has these little nuggets of wisdom that everyone seems to know and use on a regular basis. Finnish is no exception—there are lots of Finnish proverbs that are commonly used in everyday conversations. Some of them are borrowed from other languages, while others are unique to Finnish. Those in the latter category create a particularly fascinating window into the Finnish mindset and culture!

For a language learner, studying proverbs can be a really fun way to build language skills and pick up new vocabulary. In this article, we’ll teach you some of the best Finnish proverbs and their equivalents in English (where applicable).

Let’s get started!

Four Young People Chatting

Impress your Finnish friends by learning proverbs in Finnish.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Proverbs About Wisdom
  2. Proverbs About Caution
  3. Proverbs About Learning
  4. Proverbs About Family
  5. Proverbs About Love
  6. Proverbs About Courage
  7. Proverbs About Being Home and Abroad
  8. Miscellaneous Proverbs
  9. Lopuksi

1. Proverbs About Wisdom

Proverbs are known for their ability to deliver little bundles of wisdom in a brief (and often witty) phrase. Below are a few popular Finnish sayings about wisdom and how to live life well. 

FinnishParempi pyy pivossa kuin kymmenen oksalla.
Literally“Better a hazel grouse in fist than ten on a branch.”
EquivalentA bird in hand is worth two in the bush.
What you already have is of greater benefit to you than things that are more valuable but out of reach. Note that pivo is an archaic Finnish word for koura (“fist”) or kourallinen (“fistful”).

Joonas on aina ollut varovainen sijoittaja. Parempi pyy pivossa kuin kymmenen oksalla, hän sanoo usein. 
“Joonas has always been a careful investor. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush, he often says.”

FinnishEi auta itku markkinoilla.
Literally“It’s no use crying at the marketplace.”
EquivalentIt’s no use crying over spilled milk.
The world is tough, and tears won’t help. This proverb is used when something doesn’t go according to plan and nothing can be done about it.

Pihla myöhästyi linja-autosta. Ei auta itku markkinoilla—hänen täytyy vaan kävellä kotiin. 
“Pihla missed the bus. It’s no use crying over spilled milk—she simply has to walk home.”

FinnishÄlä nuolaise ennen kuin tipahtaa.
Literally“Do not lick before it drops.”
EquivalentDon’t count your chickens before they hatch.
Avoid celebrating too soon or making plans based on a future event that may or may not happen.

Älä nuolaise ennen kuin tipahtaa—finaali on vielä edessä. 
“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch—the final is still ahead.”

FinnishHiljaa hyvä tulee.
Literally“Slowly it’ll go well.”
EquivalentSlow and steady wins the race.
Proceed slowly and carefully if you want good results.

Kiirehtiminen johtaa virheisiin. Hiljaa hyvä tulee.
“Rushing leads to mistakes. Slow and steady wins the race.”

A Tortoise

Hiljaa hyvä tulee. / “Slow and steady wins the race.”


2. Proverbs About Caution

When was the last time you got hurt or made a poor decision because you didn’t practice caution? It happens to all of us, but can definitely be avoided! The following Finnish expressions talk about the importance of caution in everyday life. 

FinnishEi savua ilman tulta.
EquivalentThere’s no smoke without fire.
Rumors often have some truth behind them.

En halua uskoa kaikkia huhuja, mutta ei savua ilman tulta. 
“I don’t want to believe all the rumors, but there’s no smoke without fire.”

FinnishParempi katsoa kuin katua.
Literally“It’s better to look than to regret.”
EquivalentBetter safe than sorry.
A cautious approach can save you from harm.

Riskinotto ei kiinnosta minua. Parempi katsoa kuin katua. 
“Risk-taking doesn’t interest me. Better safe than sorry.”

FinnishItku pitkästä ilosta.
Literally“Tears after long-lasting joy.”
EquivalentIt’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.
A rather gloomy proverb, this one is often used to warn children about playing too roughly.

Kohta käy huonosti, jos ette leiki vähän varovaisemmin. Itku pitkästä ilosta! 
“Soon something bad will happen if you don’t play a bit more carefully. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye!”

FinnishValheella on lyhyet jäljet.
Literally“A lie has short tracks.”
EquivalentA lie has no legs.
According to this proverb, lying isn’t worth it because falsehoods get exposed quickly. (Though this might actually not be true: according to a study by MIT researchers, false news spreads far more rapidly than true stories, at least on Twitter.)

Pekka ei ole vieläkään oppinut että valheella on lyhyet jäljet. 
“Pekka has still not learned that a lie has no legs.”

A Sign Warns of Danger.

A sign warns of danger.


3. Proverbs About Learning

Are you feeling discouraged with your Finnish studies, thinking about taking on a new hobby, or about to start classes at university? It sounds like you’re in need of some motivation and practical advice! Here are the best Finnish proverbs about learning to give you just that… 

FinnishKukaan ei ole seppä syntyessään.
Literally“No one is a blacksmith when they are born.”
EquivalentPractice makes perfect.
You need to put effort into learning new skills.

Älä huoli, Antero! Jatka vaan harjoittelua—kukaan ei ole seppä syntyessään. 
“Don’t worry, Antero! Just keep practicing—no one is a blacksmith when they are born.”

FinnishKertaus on kaikkien opintojen äiti.
EquivalentRepetition is the mother of all learning.
Every language learner knows this! Repetition really helps you remember things, whether you’re learning grammar rules or new vocabulary.

Sallan opettaja muistutti oppilaitaan aina ennen kokeita, että kertaus on kaikkien opintojen äiti. 
“Salla’s teacher always reminded her students before tests that repetition is the mother of all learning.”

FinnishOppia ikä kaikki
Literally“To learn at any age”
EquivalentLive and learn.
Learning new things never ends! This proverb is especially apt when you come across a piece of information that you find surprising.

En tiennyt, että Australiassa on pingviinejä. Oppia ikä kaikki. 
“I didn’t know that there are penguins in Australia. Live and learn.”

A Woman Looks Up from Her Studies.

4. Proverbs About Family

The relationship we have with our family is precious, and it’s one of the most important relationships we’ll have in life. That said, here are a few Finnish proverbs on the topic of family! 

FinnishEi omena kauas puusta putoa.
EquivalentAn apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Children get not only their physical appearance from their parents, but often their character traits too—for good or for ill!

Näyttää että Erkistä on tulossa yhtä taitava jääkiekonpelaaja kuin isästään. Ei omena kauas puusta putoa. 
“It looks like Erkki is becoming as talented an ice hockey player as his father. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

FinnishVeri on vettä sakeampaa.
EquivalentBlood is thicker than water.
Familial ties are stronger than any other bonds we make throughout life.

Vaikka tappelemme usein, olen aina valmis puolustamaan veljeäni, sillä veri on vettä sakeampaa. 
“Even though we fight often, I’m always ready to defend my brother, because blood is thicker than water.”

A Family Enjoys a Walk in the Woods.

A family enjoys a walk in the woods.


5. Proverbs About Love

Whether you have a Finnish sweetheart or just want to learn some lighthearted quips on the topic of romance, these Finnish proverbs about love are exactly what you need!  

FinnishTie miehen sydämeen käy vatsan kautta.
EquivalentThe way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
According to this proverb, cooking a delicious dinner may be the surest way to win a man’s affections.

Kati on aina sanonut, että tie miehen sydämeen käy vatsan kautta. Ja ehkä hän on oikeassa—Katin oma mies kosi syötyään hänen lohikeittoaan! 
“Kati has always said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. And perhaps she’s right—Kati’s own husband proposed after eating her salmon soup!”

FinnishRakkaudesta se hevonenkin potkii.
Literally“The horse kicks out of love too.”
This proverb claims that people sometimes show their love in very strange ways!

Kaarina väittää, että Eemeli aina kiusaa Tanjaa siksi koska tykkää hänestä. Rakkaudesta se hevonenkin potkii, hän sanoi! 
“Kaarina claims that Eemeli is always teasing Tanja because he likes her. The horse kicks out of love too, she said!”

FinnishVanha suola janottaa.
Literally“Old salt makes one thirsty.”
This saying refers to a situation where one still harbors romantic feelings for someone from the past.

Kuulitko, että Katri on taas nähty Esan kanssa? Taitaa vanha suola janottaa. 
“Did you hear that Katri has been seen with Esa again? Seems that old salt is making her thirsty.”

A Couple Enjoys a Romantic Dinner.

A couple enjoys a romantic dinner.


6. Proverbs About Courage

Some of the best things in life are only achieved after facing one’s fears or making a bold move. Here are a couple of Finnish proverbs on the topic of courage. 

FinnishRohkea rokan syö.
Literally“The brave will eat the soup.”
EquivalentFortune favors the bold.
If you want to achieve something great, you need to be brave and go for it. Why rokka (“soup” colloquial), though? Possibly because it alliterates with rohkea (“brave”)! According to the Tiede magazine, this Finnish proverb might be over a thousand years old. The brave one gets the catch and can fill his stomach. 

The proverb used to continue with …ujo kuolee nälkään, kaino ei saa kaaliakaan (“…the shy one will die of hunger, the coy one won’t get even a cabbage”).

Rohkea rokan syö, ajatteli Salli mennessään pyytämään palkankorotusta. 
“Fortune favors the brave, thought Salli on her way to ask for a raise.”

FinnishYrittänyttä ei laiteta.
Literally“Who has tried will not be scolded.”
EquivalentNothing ventured, nothing gained.
You won’t get anything if you don’t try—and according to this proverb, a Finn will not judge you if you’ve done at least that much! (Note that “to scold” is an archaic meaning for the verb laittaa.)

Tommia ärsyttää, jos joku luovuttaa yrittämättä—‘yrittänyttä ei laiteta’ on hänen mottonsa. 
“Tommi finds it annoying if someone gives up without trying—‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ is his motto.”

A Skydiver.

A skydiver.


7. Proverbs About Being Home and Abroad

Do you love to travel or are you more of a homebody? (Or maybe a little bit of both?) In either case, here are some proverbs in Finnish that discuss travel and home time. 

FinnishOma koti kullan kallis.
Literally“One’s own home is worth gold.”
EquivalentHome sweet home.
Home: the best place in the world!

Oma koti kullan kallis, Erja huokaisi laskiessaan matkalaukkunsa lattialle. 
“Home sweet home, Erja sighed as she put her suitcase down on the floor.”

FinnishMaassa maan tavalla.
Literally“In a country according to its customs.”
EquivalentWhen in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Anyone who’s traveled a lot knows to follow this golden rule! Adapting to local customs when abroad makes for richer experiences.

Näytin varmaan hassulta kun yritin käyttää syömäpuikkoja, mutta maassa maan tavalla. 
“I probably looked silly when I tried to use chopsticks, but when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

FinnishOma maa mansikka, muu maa mustikka.
Literally“One’s own country (is) a strawberry, another country a blueberry.”
Equivalent“There’s no place like home.”
This proverb tells us that one’s own country is the best place in the world.

Ulkomailla on aina kiva käydä, mutta en haluaisi asua missään muualla kuin Suomessa. Oma maa mansikka, muu maa mustikka, eikö totta? 
“It’s always nice to go abroad for a visit, but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but Finland. There’s no place like home, right?”

A Family Sits in Front of Their Home.

A family sits in front of their home.


8. Miscellaneous Proverbs

To wrap up, let’s look at a few more Finnish proverbs on a variety of topics… 

FinnishMikä laulaen tulee, se viheltäen menee.
Literally“What comes singing, goes whistling.”
EquivalentEasy come, easy go.
Things that are easy to come by tend to be just as easy to lose. Or perhaps we simply don’t care that much about losing them!

Kuulitko, että Kirsi voitti ison summan rahaa mutta kulutti sen kokonaan kahdessa kuukaudessa? Tyypillistä—mikä laulaen tulee, se viheltäen menee. 
“Did you hear that Kirsi won a great sum of money but spent it all in two months? Typical—easy come, easy go.”

FinnishLoppu hyvin, kaikki hyvin.
EquivalentAll’s well that ends well.
Often, it’s all about the happy ending—no matter what trials we had to get through first.

Terhi myöhästyi omista häistään, mutta se ei onneksi pilannut juhlaa. Loppu hyvin, kaikki hyvin! 
“Terhi was late for her own wedding, but luckily it didn’t ruin the celebration. All’s well that ends well!”

FinnishKolmas kerta toden sanoo.
Literally“Third time speaks the truth.”
EquivalentThird time’s a charm.
This one is slightly mysterious. Why are we more likely to succeed on our third try? Perhaps failing twice at something makes for an effective learning experience.

Teppo oli pettynyt, kun hän ei läpäissyt ajokoetta toisellakaan yrittämällä. ’Kolmas kerta toden sanoo’, muistutin häntä. 
“Teppo was disappointed when he didn’t pass the driving test even on his second attempt. ‘Third time’s a charm,’ I reminded him.”

FinnishParempi myöhään kuin ei milloinkaan.
EquivalentBetter late than never.
Even if it takes a long time to achieve something, it’s still better than not succeeding at all.

Tuula kertoi minulle, että hän on vihdoin valmistunut. Niinkö? Parempi myöhään kuin ei milloinkaan! 
“Tuula told me that she has finally graduated. Really? Better late than never!”

FinnishHätä ei lue lakia.
Literally“An emergency does not read the law.”
EquivalentNecessity knows no law.
Similar to the proverb “desperate times call for desperate measures,” this proverb asserts that in a dire situation, it may be necessary to break the law.

Olen aina ollut lainkuuliainen, mutta kiperässä tilanteessa minäkin rikkoisin sääntöjä, sillä hätä ei lue lakia. 
“I have always been law-abiding, but in a tricky situation even I would break rules, because necessity knows no law.”

FinnishTarkoitus pyhittää keinot.
Literally“The purpose sanctifies the means.”
EquivalentThe end justifies the means.
Similar to the previous proverb, this proverb claims that unethical actions can be forgiven if the outcome is beneficial.

A: ‘Sinä siis varastit auttaaksesi vähäosaisia?’ B: ‘Kyllä, tarkoitus pyhittää keinot, eikö niin?’ 
A: “So you stole to help the poor?”B: “Yes, the end justifies the means, doesn’t it?”

FinnishPaistaa se päivä risukasaankin.
Literally“The day will shine even into a pile of twigs.”
EquivalentEvery dog has his day.
Do you ever feel like everything is going wrong for you? This proverb is here to assure us that even the most unfortunate will enjoy success at times!

Sanoin Petterille ettei pidä koskaan luovuttaa, koska paistaa se päivä risukasaankin. 
“I told Petteri that one should never give up, because every dog has his day.”

FinnishVaihtelu virkistää.
Literally“Change refreshes.”
EquivalentVariety is the spice of life.
Big or small, changes can indeed be refreshing.

Janne ja Elina päättivät yhtäkkiä muuttaa maalle. Kun kysyin heiltä miksi, he sanoivat vain että vaihtelu virkistää. 
“Janne and Elina suddenly decided to move to the country. When I asked them why, they simply said that variety is the spice of life.”

FinnishHädässä ystävä tunnetaan.
Literally“In an emergency, a friend is known.”
EquivalentA friend in need is a friend indeed.
True friends will support you when you’re in trouble, while fair-weather friends quickly disappear.

Sirpa ei epäröinyt hetkeäkään kun pyysin apua. On totta, että hädässä ystävä tunnetaan! 
“Sirpa didn’t hesitate even for a moment when I asked for help. It’s true that a friend in need is a friend indeed!”

FinnishAika parantaa haavat.
Literally“Time heals wounds.”
EquivalentTime heals all wounds.
According to folk wisdom, even the bitterest disappointment and the worst kind of heartbreak will heal over time.

Avioero on usein tuskallinen kokemus, mutta aika parantaa haavat. 
“A divorce is often a painful experience, but time heals all wounds.”

Have you experienced heartbreak? Read our list of Finnish Break-Up Quotes to read what others have to say about it.

A Friend Extends a Helping Hand.

Hädässä ystävä tunnetaan. / “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”


9. Lopuksi

In this guide, we dived deep into Finnish wisdom and learned some of the most commonly used Finnish proverbs about a variety of topics, from courage to love. Were there any that you particularly liked or had heard before? If you know any other Finnish proverbs, feel free to share with the community by leaving a comment below! 

We have a lot for you to explore on FinnishPod101.com if you’re interested in learning more about the Finnish language and culture. Get started with our free Finnish resources, or take a look at our expansive collection of Finnish vocabulary lists with audio recordings. Have fun learning with FinnishPod101!

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Visit Helsinki: Top 10 Places in the Daughter of the Baltic

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As a travel destination, Helsinki is still a bit of a hidden gem, unspoiled by mass tourism. But while it may be considered ‘out of the way’ by many, Finland’s quirky capital has enough charm to rival any European metropolis. Expect a vibrant seaside city graced with stunning Art Nouveau architecture, plenty of tranquil green spaces and islands, world-class attractions, and a lively cultural scene.

Whether you’re into history, art, shopping, or nature, or simply love to stroll around and soak in the atmosphere, Helsinki has much to offer. But before you visit Helsinki, we recommend you learn all you can about the area and prepare. In this Helsinki travel guide, we’ll cover general information about the city before moving on to the top ten sights and experiences not to miss when visiting. 

The Finnish City of Helsinki

Helsinki is a vibrant northern seaside city with plenty of character.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Travel Tips
  2. Must-See Places in Helsinki for a 1-3 Day Trip
  3. Highly Recommended Attractions in Helsinki for a Longer Trip
  4. Survival Finnish for Travelers
  5. Lopuksi

1. Travel Tips

Helsinki lies on the southern coast of Finland by the Baltic Sea. It’s Finland’s capital and the country’s largest city, with over 600,000 inhabitants. The city was founded in 1550 by King Gustavus Vasa of Sweden, though it wasn’t until 1812 (while Finland was an autonomous Grand Duchy of Russia) that Helsinki became the capital city.

The city is called Helsingfors in Swedish, which is Finland’s other official language.

When to Visit

When determining the best time to visit Helsinki, weather and tourist trends are both important considerations.

Most people choose to visit Helsinki in summer (from June to August), and for good reasons: the days are long, the weather is at its warmest, and all of the tourist attractions are open. On the flipside, the cost of accommodation is also at its highest and you’re more likely to run into crowds and long lines.  

If you don’t mind the cold and darkness, visiting Helsinki in the winter (from December to February) is a more budget-friendly option. This is also a great season to enjoy the capital’s nightlife. In winter, you could even try your hand at ice skating or cross-country skiing! 

It’s also worth checking out the capital’s festival diary when planning a trip—there are a lot of quirky events and festivities taking place in Helsinki throughout the year.

Getting Around

Thanks to the city’s compact size, many of Helsinki’s key attractions can be easily reached on foot or by bicycle (you can rent one for up to five hours for a small fee). The city also boasts one of the best public transportation systems in the world: the metro, trams, buses, local trains, and the Suomenlinna ferry are all operated by the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL) with Nordic efficiency.

If you’re planning to see a lot during your visit, it may be worth it to purchase a Helsinki Card, which includes free travel on the city’s public transportation during the card’s validity period.

Language

Finland is a bilingual country, and both Finnish and Swedish will typically feature on maps and signs. However, most people you’ll come across in Helsinki will speak Finnish as their mother tongue and usually aren’t fluent in Swedish. Most people here can communicate reasonably well in English though, and they’re usually happy to do so. This makes it possible to get by using only English in Helsinki, but learning even a little bit of Finnish ahead of your trip is highly recommended—locals will appreciate the effort and it will make your travel experience far more immersive!

Sleeping

Mid-range chain hotels make up a large portion of the accommodation options on offer in Helsinki, and you can expect to pay an average of 114 euros for a twin room per night. The cheapest dorm beds will cost around 23 euros per night, while you could also splash out and stay at the prestigious Hotel Kämp, where their most modest rooms will set you back by 265 euros per night. For a truly unique experience, look for Hotel Katajanokka, which is a former prison!

Eating

Eating out at an inexpensive restaurant (you’ll usually have to head out of the city center to find them) will cost about 12 euros per person, while you can grab a meal at most fast food joints for 8 euros or less. Helsinki also has several Michelin Star restaurants: a fine dining experience with drinks at Restaurant Olo, for example, will cost 261 euros per guest.

A Plate Containing the Finnish Dish Gravlax

You’re likely to see a lot of fish on the menu in Helsinki.

2. Must-See Places in Helsinki for a 1-3 Day Trip

Are you in Helsinki for only a day or two, but still want to fit in the most essential experiences the city has to offer? Then look no further than our list of the top five things to see and do in Helsinki on a very short trip!

1 – Helsingin Tuomiokirkko (“Helsinki Cathedral”)

No trip to Helsinki would be complete without taking a peek at the city’s iconic landmark, with its large green central dome and luminous white-washed walls towering above Senaatintori (“The Senate Square”). Modeled after St. Isaac Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, the beautiful Helsinki Cathedral was built in honor of the Grand Duke of Finland, Tzar Nicholas, in 1852. If you have the time, it’s worth climbing up the steps for lovely views over the surrounding area!


Helsinki Cathedral above the Senate Square

Helsinki Cathedral above the Senate Square

2 – Suomenlinna (“Suomenlinna Fortress”)

Suomenlinna literally means “castle of Finland.” However, it isn’t an actual castle but rather an atmospheric sea fortress built on a cluster of rocky islands in the Baltic Sea. The military base was constructed in the eighteenth century and has since been held by Swedish, Russian, and Finnish forces in turn and has many fascinating tales to tell!

Today, this unique site is one of the most popular attractions in Helsinki (drawing close to a million visitors every year) as well as the home of around 800 local residents. Suomenlinna has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1991.

Suomenlinna is free to enter and can be easily reached by ferry. There’s enough to see here for an entire day trip, if you can spare the time. In addition to all the historic military structures, you’ll find…

  • …six museums.
  • …Finland’s only remaining WWII-era submarine.
  • …a church doubling as a lighthouse.
  • …artists’ workrooms.
  • …souvenir shops.
  • …a brewery.
  • …cafés.
  • …many tranquil spots that are perfect for enjoying a relaxing picnic.


Suomenlinna Fortress

Suomenlinna Fortress

3 – Kauppatori (“The Market Square”)

While you’re checking out the Helsinki Cathedral and the Suomenlinna Fortress, be sure to take some time to explore the nearby Market Square too. The square’s been a busy trading spot for hundreds of years, and it continues to attract both locals and visitors in large numbers. 

This is the perfect place to shop for fresh produce as well as arts and crafts. If you time your visit just right, you could catch a themed market or a special event, such as the famous Baltic Herring Market in October. Summer is by far the busiest time at the Market Square, but even in winter it’s worth coming here for a steaming cup of coffee with a sea view. 

The nearby Kauppahalli (“The Old Market Hall”) is a must for foodies: a great variety of merchants, from chocolatiers and bakers to butchers and cheesemongers, sell their products in this eye-catching building that’s been in use since 1889. 


4 – Suomen Kansallismuseo (“The National Museum of Finland”)

Finland’s history is complex and interesting, and you can experience it in an entertaining, interactive way at the National Museum of Finland. Your journey begins with the prehistoric era, continues through the centuries spent under Swedish and Russian rule, goes on to illustrate Finland’s struggle for independence, and finally ends in present-day Finland.

If you’ve ever wondered why Finns are so into saunas, heavy metal, and the Moomins, you’ll find many clues here, all presented with a touch of self-deprecating Finnish humor. You’re guaranteed to walk away from your experience understanding Finns a bit better!


5 – Visit a Public Sauna

You haven’t truly experienced Finland until you’ve spent some time sweating in a small, steam-filled room—also known as going to a sauna—so please make sure to leave enough time in your Helsinki itinerary for this experience when planning your trip!

There are lots of saunas to choose from in the capital. For a traditional sauna, try Kotiharjun Sauna, Sauna Arla, Sauna Hermanni, or Kaurilan Sauna. The latter is a wooden sauna dating back to the nineteenth century—you won’t even find electric lights here to mar the authentic old-school sauna experience.

For a more modern sauna visit, check out the celebrated Löyly in the Hernesaari district, or the Allas Sea Pool by the Market Square. Both offer multiple sauna rooms as well as a chance to dip in the Baltic Sea to cool down. 

And finally, if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to sit in a sauna and a ferris wheel at the same time, you can do just that at Helsinki’s SkySauna!

    Nervous? Read helpful tips for first-time sauna-goers.

      A Woman Enjoying a Finnish Sauna

      3. Highly Recommended Attractions in Helsinki for a Longer Trip

      If you have a bit longer to spend in Helsinki, there’s no shortage of other great attractions to check out on your trip. Here’s what to visit around Helsinki for a longer visit. 

      6 – Nykytaiteen Museo Kiasma (“The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma”)

      Part of the Finnish National Gallery, alongside the Ateneum Art Museum and the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Kiasma is the place to go see contemporary Finnish art. The name of the art museum—a term that describes the crossing of nerves, tendons, or chromosome strands—symbolizes the museum’s intention to provide meaningful and memorable encounters with art for their visitors.

      Kiasma offers something for all ages, with plenty of fun, interactive elements, guided tours, art workshops, and live performances featuring experimental drama, music, and dance. The building itself is worth seeing, too. Designed by Steven Holl, the art museum is one of Helsinki’s most striking examples of modern architecture. 


      An Aerial View of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

      An aerial view of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

      7 – Seurasaaren Ulkomuseo (“Seurasaari Open-Air Museum”)

      If the bustle of the city gets tiring at any point, we recommend stepping back in time to experience Finland’s rural past in a peaceful woodland setting on the island of Seurasaari. The open-air museum features a collection of authentic timber buildings dating back up to 400 years from different parts of Finland, including a church, a manor house, cottages, and workshops, complete with traditional furniture and objects.

      During the summer season, there are frequent arts and crafts markets and other events, and you can join a tour to learn more about rural life in Finland over the past centuries. During the winter months, entry to the site is free but the buildings are closed to visitors.


      An Old Wooden Building in the Snow

      An old wooden building in the snow

      8 – Linnanmäki (“Linnanmäki Amusement Park”)

      Linnanmäki Amusement Park was founded by several child welfare organizations in 1950 and it continues to raise funds for children in need to this day. The park is hugely popular, attracting over a million visitors per year who flock here to enjoy thrilling rides, arcade games, and live shows.

      The most iconic ride in Linnanmäki is its old wooden roller coaster. Opened in 1951, it’s one of the few roller coasters in the world that’s still operated by brakemen! Adjacent to the amusement park, you’ll also find Sea Life, an aquatic wonderland where you can meet a large variety of marine creatures, from starfish to sharks.


      Linnanmäki Amusement Park

      9 – Korkeasaaren Eläintarha (“Korkeasaari Zoo”)

      Did you know that you can run into forest reindeer and brown bears in Helsinki? Well, you do need to head over to the Korkeasaari Zoo for that experience, but if you’re interested in seeing these famous Finnish animals with your own eyes, a visit to Korkeasaari is a must. Other indigenous species on the island (yes, Korkeasaari is another island!) include elk and wolverine.

      The zoo houses 150 different animal species in total, including many exotic inhabitants, such as pygmy marmosets and Amur tigers. Korkeasaari is among the oldest zoos in the world, and it’s known for its successful breeding programs for endangered species and onsite conservation work to protect key habitats around the world.

      Korkeasaari is open every day of the year, and its heated tropical houses are a particularly lovely place to enjoy on chilly winter days!


      A Reindeer

      Meet reindeer in Korkeasaari.

      10 – Temppeliaukion Kirkko (“Temppeliaukio Church”)

      Also known as “The Rock Church,” Temppeliaukio Church is one of Helsinki’s most curious buildings. Most of the building lies underground, with the interior of the church carved directly out of bedrock; only the central dome is fully visible from the outside. The unique idea for the church was conceived by the architect brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, who won a design competition in the 1960s.

      To see the church from the inside, check the opening times in advance to avoid disappointment—the church is used for worship and is therefore not always open to visitors. Temppeliaukio Church is also the only church in Helsinki that collects a small entrance fee (this is due to its popularity among visitors to Finland).


      Temppeliaukio Church

      4. Survival Finnish for Travelers

      While you can (probably) get by in Helsinki without speaking any Finnish, you’ll make a great first impression by taking the time to learn at least a few key phrases, starting with a friendly greeting!

      Here are the top ten Finnish travel phrases to learn before your trip to Helsinki:

      • Hei. (“Hello.”)
      • Kiitos. (“Thank you.”)
      • Näkemiin. (“Goodbye.”)
      • Anteeksi. (“Sorry.”)
      • Oikein hyvä. (“Very good.”)
      • En ymmärrä. (“I don’t understand.”)
      • Missä on vessa? (“Where is the restroom?”)
      • Kuinka paljon se maksaa? (“How much is it?”)
      • Haluan tämän. (“I want this.”)
      • Apua! (“Help!”)

      You can find much more useful travel-related vocabulary on FinnishPod101.com:

      All of our vocabulary lists come with recordings, so you can practice your pronunciation with confidence. For a more comprehensive guide, refer to our article on the Must-Know Finnish Travel Phrases.

      Lopuksi

      In this guide, we’ve talked about the best places and experiences that Helsinki has to offer, from intriguing historic sites and quirky buildings to fascinating museums and the most note-worthy public saunas. We hope that you’re feeling excited about visiting “the Daughter of the Baltic”! If you could spend as long as you wanted in Helsinki, what would you add to our list? Share your own travel tips with us in the comments!

      Take some time to explore FinnishPod101.com while you’re preparing for your trip, and be sure to make use of all our free resources. We have an ever-growing collection of vocabulary lists to help you learn new Finnish words on almost any subject you could think of, while our lessons are specially designed to get you talking Finnish fast. Happy learning!

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