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An Overview of the Finnish Culture

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Are you thinking of visiting Finland? Or have you heard about Finland in the news recently and wanted to know more about the country? Whatever brought you here, know that we’ll do our best to satisfy your curiosity about the Finnish culture!

Geographically, Finland lies between Scandinavia and Russia. While the country has been culturally influenced by its neighbors on either side, it has a very distinctive cultural identity of its own with many interesting quirks and unique traditions.

Read on to learn more about Finland’s culture and traditions, from Finnish values and attitudes to popular sports, foods, and holidays. Trust us, there’s much more to Finnish culture than the sauna!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Finnish Character and Values
  2. Religion in Finland
  3. Sports and Recreation
  4. Finnish Art and Entertainment
  5. Finnish Food and Drink
  6. Holidays and Celebrations
  7. Lopuksi

1. Finnish Character and Values

To really understand the culture of Finland, you must first begin to understand the core values of Finnish society. Here are a few key points on the character and values of Finns!

A- Finnish Stereotype vs. The Reality

Finns have a reputation for being quiet and reserved, or even taciturn and unapproachable. Finns themselves may perpetuate this stereotype by telling self-deprecating jokes about their social awkwardness—a good example of this is the popular comic Finnish Nightmares created by the artist Karoliina Korhonen.

But is Finland really a country full of shy and withdrawn introverts? While there’s probably a grain of truth in every stereotype—in general, Finns do value their personal space and prefer meaningful conversations over idle chit chat—you’ll find that once you get to know them, Finnish people are usually very warm and open. Many have a charmingly dry sense of humor, and very talkative, highly extroverted Finns do exist!

A Smiling Little Girl Hides Under Her Hat.

A smiling little girl hides under her hat.

B- Finnish Core Values 

The fairly liberal Finnish culture values freedom of speech, individualism, and tolerance. Finns believe in fairness and equal opportunities, especially when it comes to gender and women’s rights. Recently, Finland has attracted a lot of attention internationally for being led by an all-female coalition government.

Finns generally trust the authorities and they tend to be very honest and law-abiding. This is for a good reason: corruption is very low in Finland. The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Finland as the third most transparent country in the world after Denmark and New Zealand.

In Finland, everyone has access to a free, world-class education, and the country was ranked the world’s most literate nation in 2016. Reading for pleasure as well as keeping up with the news are important to many Finns.

Finally, Finnish people have a very close connection to nature, and spending time outdoors is an essential aspect of living a high-quality life. There are forty national parks across the country, and conservation and environmental issues are taken seriously in Finland.

Sunlight Seeps Through Trees in a Forest

Sunlight seeps through trees in a forest.

C- Subcultures in Finland

Of course, Finland is not completely homogenous culturally. Notable subcultures with their own distinct characteristics and traditions include the Swedish-speaking Finns (suomenruotsalaiset), the Sami (saamelaiset), and the Finnish Gypsies (Suomen romanit). Head over to Wikipedia to learn more about these subcultures.

2. Religion in Finland

Before Christianity spread to Finland in the eleventh century, the country’s primary religion was Finnish paganism, which involved things like song magic and the worship of a variety of deities, including Ukko, the god of thunder.

The majority of Finnish people today consider themselves Christian, with roughly 69% of the population belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The Orthodox Church of Finland is the second-largest religious community in the country (a little over 1% of the population are members), while around 29% of Finns don’t consider themselves affiliated with any particular religion.

According to the Finnish Constitution, the Church and the State are separate entities, and Finns are free to practice any religion (or none). However, the Lutheran Church and the Finnish Orthodox Church enjoy certain privileges in the country, including the right to tax their members.

Typically, Finnish people are fairly secular in their views and religion does not play a major role in everyday life. Most Lutherans attend church only on special occasions (such as for weddings and funerals) or on major Christian holidays (such as Easter and Christmas).

A Couple on Their Wedding Day

A couple on their wedding day.

3. Sports and Recreation

Every culture has its favorite sports and preferred recreational activities. So how do sports and recreation come into play in Finnish culture and traditions?

A- Popular Sports in Finland

Both participating in and watching sports are popular pastimes in Finland. The national game is called pesäpallo (“Finnish baseball”), and the sports that get the most media coverage include jääkiekko (“ice hockey”), jalkapallo (“football”), and Formula 1 (“Formula One”).

Professionally, Finns have often excelled in winter sports, which isn’t surprising considering the long winters in Finland! Matti Nykänen was arguably the best ski jumper to have ever competed, and Finland’s national ice hockey team is among the best in the world, having won their third world championship title in 2019.

Finland is also the home of some very unique sports, including eukonkanto (“wife-carrying”) which originated in Sonkajärvi, and suopotkupallo (“swamp football”) which was initially an exercise activity for athletes and soldiers.  


B- Recreational Activities

Finns enjoy many outdoor activities in their free time. Some typical hobbies include cross-country skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, Nordic walking, camping, and foraging for wild berries and mushrooms. Wild swimming is very popular in summer, but the most enthusiastic wild swimmers continue their hobby even during the coldest months of the year by creating a hole in the ice and going for a dip in the icy water!

Many Finns also enjoy relaxing activities, such as reading, cooking, playing music, and various arts and crafts from photography to knitting.

Wild Swimming in Winter

Wild swimming in winter.


4. Finnish Art and Entertainment

As can be said of many cultures, the culture in Finland is largely represented through its variety of artwork and entertainment mediums.

The most representative Finnish visual art style is known as Romantic Nationalism. The Kalevala-inspired paintings of Akseli Gallen-Kallela are among the most famous examples of this style. Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen) is possibly the most recognized Finnish artist internationally—his once-controversial drawings of gay men are today seen as symbols of open-mindedness and tolerance.

There is a distinct design tradition in Finland. Some of the most notable names in Finnish design include Alvar Aalto, Marimekko, and Iittala. Finnish architecture is particularly known for its extensive use of wood as material.

The most famous writers from the early days of Finnish literature include the novelist Aleksis Kivi and the poet Eino Leino. After Finland gained independence, modernist writers such as Mika Waltari and Frans Eemil Sillanpää (the only Finnish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature to date) rose to fame, while the Second World War inspired the best-selling novel Tuntematon sotilas (“The Unknown Soldier”) by Väinö Linna. Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories are among the most beloved Finnish children’s books of all time.

While Hollywood films are very popular in Finland, Finnish cinema is alive and well. Known for his extremely minimalistic style, Aki Kaurismäki is the best-known Finnish film director outside of his home country. His award-winning works include The Man Without a Past and Le Havre.

Many different styles of home-grown music are popular in Finland, including folk, rock, hip hop, dance, and pop. Internationally, Finland is perhaps best known for the classical composer Jean Sibelius as well as the prominent heavy metal music scene. The gothic rock band HIM is among the most commercially successful Finnish groups of all time and the first one to have received a gold record in the States.

Video and mobile games are considered a valued part of Finnish culture, with over twenty educational institutions providing instruction in game design. Some of the most acclaimed games developed by Finnish studios include the hit titles Max Payne, Angry Birds, and Clash of Clans.

Sculpture of Composer Jean Sibelius

Sculpture of composer Jean Sibelius.

5. Finnish Food and Drink

A flavorful window into Finnish culture, food here is hearty, simple, and prepared with fresh ingredients. Meat, fish, dairy products, potatoes, and whole grains feature heavily in the Finnish diet. Wild mushrooms and berries are also commonly used when in season.

A- Top 5 Finnish Dishes

 Are you curious about traditional Finnish food? Here are five delicious dishes to try:

  1. Lohikeitto (“Salmon soup”)

    This comforting soup with potatoes, cream, and fresh dill is one of the best ways to enjoy salmon.

  1. Poronkäristys (“Sautéed reindeer”)

    Prepared with thinly sliced reindeer meat seasoned with salt and pepper, this is a must-try traditional dish from the Finnish Lapland.

  1. Karjalanpaisti (“Karelian hot pot”)

    Another dish proving that simple doesn’t mean bland! Meat, onion, and root vegetables are flavored with peppercorns and cooked for several hours in the oven.

  1. Kaalilaatikko (“Cabbage casserole”)

    To prepare this dish, a mixture of cabbage, meat, and rice (or barley) is baked in the oven until perfectly tender.

  1. Kalakukko (“Fish pie”)

    This traditional Savonian dish is prepared by baking fish (usually vendace or European perch) and pork wrapped inside a thin rye crust.

Finnish Salmon Soup

Finnish salmon soup.

B- Popular Products in Finland

If you get a chance to visit Finland, you’ll very quickly notice that certain food products are ubiquitous. The undisputed number-one bread in Finland is rye bread, Finnish cinnamon rolls can be found in almost every café, and a type of salty liquorice known as salmiakki (“salmiac liquorice”) is by far the most popular kind of sweet in the country.

What about drinks? Finns drink *a lot* of coffee—in fact, Finnish people consume more coffee per capita than any other nation! In addition to the strong Finnish coffee culture, Finns also have a reputation for being heavy drinkers. The level of alcohol consumption here is not that far off from the European average, but instead of having a drink with their meals, Finns tend to do most of their drinking on the weekends! Spirits, beer, and cider are some of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the country.

A Cup of Coffee

A cup of coffee.


6. Holidays and Celebrations 

There are several traditions of Finland directly associated with the major holidays and celebrations. Take a look!

A- Finnish Holidays

Both Christian and non-Christian holidays are celebrated in Finland. These are among the most important holidays in Finland:

  1. Vappu (“May Day”) – May 1

    Vappu has its origins in ancient spring festivities, but today it’s celebrated most prominently by students. They gather in parks for a picnic after a night of hard partying, donning colorful overalls and a white graduation cap known as ylioppilaslakki. Balloons, serpentine throws, party-poppers, and sweet treats are also a part of the festivities.

  1. Juhannus (“Midsummer”) – June

    Juhannus takes place at the height of summer when the nights are at their lightest in Finland. Celebrations typically involve spending time with family and friends at a summer cottage, a sauna, barbecues, and bonfires. Midsummer open-air music festivals are also popular.

  1. Itsenäisyyspäivä (“Independence Day”) – December 6

    Traditional Finnish Independence Day activities include lighting candles at home, student torch cavalcades, and watching the Presidential Independence Day reception on TV.

  1. Joulu (“Christmas”) – December 24

    Christmas is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year in Finland. The main Finnish Christmas celebration takes place on Christmas Eve. The sauna, Christmas dinner, and presents are essential parts of the celebration. Joulupukki (“Santa Claus”) himself may visit families with young children in person.

Santa Claus

Joulupukki (“Santa Claus”)

B- Other Celebrations

Liputuspäivä (“flag day”)

In Finland, there are also a number of flag days. Some are official flag days during which, according to law, the national flag must be flown from public buildings. An example of such a day is äitienpäivä (“Mother’s Day”). There are also a number of other days during which flying the flag is recommended, such as on March 19 (which is the birthday of the author Minna Canth) and tasa-arvon päivä (“Day of Equality”). 

Nimipäivä (“name day”)

Finns celebrate not only birthdays, but also name days. Each day of the year in the Finnish calendar (except New Year’s Day, Christmas Day, and February 29) has a name, or several names, assigned to it. A typical way to celebrate one’s name day is with a cup of coffee and a sweet treat.


7. Lopuksi

In this guide, you’ve learned a lot about the Finnish culture. We’ve discussed Finnish characteristics, popular sports and hobbies, arts, and food. Did anything here surprise you or make you want to know more?

Even this guide is only scratching the surface though—there is simply too much to discover about Finland and the Finnish people to fit it all onto one page! If you’re hungry for more, one of the best and most exciting ways to immerse yourself in Finnish culture is to learn the language.

Whether you already speak some Finnish or are thinking about making the leap, FinnishPod101 offers a lot of free resources that can help you conquer Finnish grammar and pick up new vocabulary fast. Our Finnish vocabulary lists, for example, come with handy recordings to make it easy for you to perfect your pronunciation.

We look forward to seeing you around!

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An Insider Look At Finnish Food

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Finnish cuisine may not be the most popular, but there’s much to be said about the hearty, simple foods that Finns favor. Fresh seasonal ingredients, fish, meat, potatoes, dairy, and whole grains feature heavily in the Finnish diet, as do wild berries and mushrooms when they’re available. For the more adventurous, there are plenty of unusual Finnish foods to sample, too!

In this article, we’ll take a look at some must-try Finnish dishes and delicacies, and go over key vocabulary for talking about Finnish food.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Must-Try Finnish Dishes
  2. Unusual Finnish Food Products
  3. Food Vocabulary
  4. Lopuksi

Baked Salmon

Uunilohi (“Baked salmon”)

1. Must-Try Finnish Dishes

If you haven’t tried Finnish food yet, here are five traditional dishes to start with. Watch for them when visiting Finland—or try cooking them at home!

1 – Lohikeitto (Salmon Soup)

When a country is nicknamed “the land of a thousand lakes” (in fact, there are roughly 188,000 lakes in Finland!) and has a coastline, it’s no surprise that fish features heavily in the local cuisine. Salmon is considered a special treat, and lohikeitto (“salmon soup”) is a traditional way to enjoy it. Cooked with potatoes, cream, and fresh dill, this soup makes for a hearty and comforting meal. If you’re a fan of salmon, keep your eyes peeled for savulohi (“smoked salmon”) and graavilohi (“gravlax”), too.


Salmon Soup

Lohikeitto (“Salmon soup”)

2 – Karjalanpaisti (Karelian Hot Pot)

Here’s a dish that will stick to your ribs! Karjalanpaisti (“Karelian hot pot”) is a traditional meat stew from Karelia that takes a long time to cook (ideally several hours), but the result is worth waiting for. Very simple but highly enjoyable, this stew is typically prepared with beef, pork, onions, and root vegetables, and seasoned with peppercorns.


Karelian Hot Pot

Karjalanpaisti (“Karelian hot pot”)

3 – Kalakukko (Fish Pie)

Somewhat confusingly, kalakukko literally means “fish rooster,” though no birds of any sort are involved in the preparation of this traditional Savonian dish! It’s possible that the moniker is derived from the word kukkaro (“purse”) rather than kukko (“rooster”). 

To make kalakukko, rye flour dough is stuffed with either muikku (“vendace”) or ahven (“European perch”) and pork, and then baked for several hours. To make your meal even more authentic, be sure to enjoy it with a glass of piimä (“buttermilk”).


Fish Pie

Kalakukko (“Fish pie”) (Photo by Rst2000, under CC BY-SA 3.0)

4 – Poronkäristys (Sautéed Reindeer)

Fancy sampling some traditional fare from the Finnish Lapland? Then you need to try poronkäristys (“sautéed reindeer”), a no-frills dish of thinly sliced reindeer meat seasoned with salt and pepper. For the complete experience, serve the dish with mashed potatoes and lingonberries.


Sautéed Reindeer

Poronkäristys (“Sautéed reindeer”)

5 – Kaalilaatikko (Cabbage Casserole)

We can’t talk about traditional Finnish foods without mentioning casseroles. 

Finns are very fond of hearty oven-baked casseroles, and kaalilaatikko (“cabbage casserole”) is a perfect example. Cabbage is combined with rice (or pearl barley) and ground meat, sweetened slightly with syrup or molasses, and finally baked to tender perfection and served with lingonberries.

Other casserole dishes that are very popular in Finland include makaronilaatikko (“macaroni casserole”), perunalaatikko (“potato casserole”), lanttulaatikko (“rutabaga casserole” or “Swede casserole”), and porkkanalaatikko (“carrot casserole”), to mention but a few!


Cabbage Casserole

Kaalilaatikko (“Cabbage casserole”)


2. Unusual Finnish Food Products

There are many wonderful Finnish flavors to discover besides the traditional recipes mentioned above. Next, we’ll be exploring some unique food products you can find in Finland. But be warned: some of them are not for the faint of heart!

1 – Salmiakki (Salmiac Liquorice)

‘Salty’ is not a quality that most people look for in their sweets, but in Finland salmiakki (a type of salty liquorice flavored with sal ammoniac) is extremely popular. In fact, Finns young and old love the stuff so much that it’s more or less considered a part of the Finnish national identity. Salmiakki is available in a vast number of different shapes and is also used to flavor other products, including chewing gum, ice cream, chocolate, biscuits, and alcoholic beverages.

And if you’ve already tried salmiakki and are ready for something even stranger, look for sweets and other products flavored with terva (“tar”)!

Salmiac Liquorice

Salmiakki (“Salmiac liquorice”) (Photo by Tiia Monto, under CC BY-SA 4.0)

2 – Ruisleipä (Rye Bread)

Many different types of bread are eaten in Finland, but none are nearly as popular as ruisleipä (“rye bread”). Alongside salmiakki, proper rye bread is what Finns living abroad are most likely to miss from home.

Finnish rye bread is dark and sour and not to be mistaken for the sweeter, moister German-style rye bread. It’s available in many shapes and textures, such as the rounded limppu (“loaf”), flat reikäleipä (literally “hole bread”), rectangular ruispalat (literally “rye pieces”), and crunchy näkkileipä (“crispbread”).

Rye Bread

Different types of Finnish rye bread (Photo by Hellahulla, under CC BY-SA 3.0).

3 – Karjalanpiirakka (Karelian Pasty)

Karjalanpiirakka (“Karelian pasty”) is a distinctly shaped savory pie from the region of Karelia. A typical Karelian pasty today consists of a rye crust filled with rice, though you may also come across versions filled with potato, barley, or millet, for example. The traditional accompaniment to karjalanpiirakka is munavoi (“egg butter”), which is exactly what it sounds like: boiled egg mixed with butter.

Karelian Pasty

Karjalanpiirakka (“Karelian pasty”)

4 – Korvapuusti (Cinnamon Roll)

Here’s another linguistic—and culinary—delight. Korvapuusti is a popular variety of a sweet cinnamon roll filled with spiced butter, but the word can also be translated as “an ear slap.” So if someone offers you one, make sure it’s baked goods they’re talking about!

So what sets korvapuusti apart from other types of cinnamon rolls eaten in Finland and further afield? It’s the peculiar shape that is achieved by cutting diagonally through the rolled-up dough and pressing down the middle of each piece. If you fancy trying one in Finland, you’ll find them in pretty much every café. Or you can try making them at home:


Cinnamon Roll

Korvapuusti (“Cinnamon roll”) (Photo by Neurovelho, under CC BY-SA 3.0)

5 – Leipäjuusto (Bread Cheese)

Leipäjuusto (“bread cheese”) is a mild-flavored cheese made from cow’s milk. It looks like a rounded flat disk with black spots and is sometimes also called narskujuusto (“squeaky cheese”) due to its texture. There are many ways to enjoy bread cheese. For example, fried and topped with cloudberries or dunked in coffee!

Bread Cheese

Leipäjuusto (“Bread cheese”) (Photo by Teemu Rajala, under CC BY-SA 3.0)

6 – Viili (Finnish Curd Milk)

Viili (“curd milk”) is a thick, viscous type of yogurt cultured with lactic acid bacteria. A mold called Geotrichum candidum grows on it too, giving the product a velvety surface. Viili has a very fresh and pleasant taste, and it makes for a great breakfast when sprinkled with some fresh fruit or berries—that is, if you can get over the slimy texture!

7 – Vispipuuro (Whipped Porridge) 

Vispipuuro (“whipped porridge”) is a light Finnish berry dessert made from wheat semolina and lingonberries  (though other berries can be used) which give it its pink color. The porridge is whipped vigorously to create an airy texture. It’s typically eaten cold with a splash of milk.

Whipped Porridge

Vispipuuro (“Whipped porridge”) (Photo by Minanla, under CC BY-SA 4.0)

8 – Mämmi (Finnish Rye Pudding)

Mämmi is a traditional Finnish Easter dessert made from rye flour and eaten chilled. It’s sweetened either naturally through a very slow cooking process, or—as is often the case with commercially produced mämmi—with dark molasses. Famously, mämmi is a bit like Marmite: you either love it or hate it, and you’ll find Finns in both camps!

Finnish Rye Pudding

Mämmi, a Finnish Easter dessert.

3. Food Vocabulary

Now that you’re good and hungry for some traditional Finnish cuisine, it’s time to go over key Finnish food vocabulary!

1 – Talking About Food

  • Minulla on nälkä. (“I’m hungry.”)
  • Olen kylläinen. (“I’m full.”)

  • Pidän juustosta. (“I like cheese.”)
  • En pidä sienistä. (“I don’t like mushrooms.”)
  • En syö punaista lihaa. (“I don’t eat red meat.”)
  • Olen allerginen pähkinöille. (“I’m allergic to nuts.”)
  • Lempiruokani on lohikeitto. (“My favorite dish is salmon soup.”)

2 – All About Cooking

Basic Ingredients

  • Suola (“Salt”)
  • Pippuri (“Pepper”)
  • Sokeri (“Sugar”)
  • Vesi (“Water”)
  • Maito (“Milk”)
  • Öljy (“Oil”)
  • (Kanan)muna (“Egg”)
  • Jauho (“Flour”)
  • Hedelmä (“Fruit”)
  • Marja (“Berry”)
  • Vihannes (“Vegetable”)
  • Liha (“Meat”)
  • Kala (“Fish”)
  • Sieni (“Mushroom”)
  • Pähkinä (“Nut”)

Mushrooms and Vegetables

Mushrooms and vegetables.

Find more Finnish words related to ingredients on our free fruits and vegetables vocabulary list!

Utensils

  • Kattila (“Saucepan”)
  • Paistinpannu (“Frying pan”)
  • Uuni (“An oven”)
  • Veitsi (“A knife”)
  • Leikkuulauta (“A cutting board”)

 To learn the Finnish words for cutlery and more, turn to our food utensils and tableware vocabulary list.

Cooking verbs

  • Laittaa ruokaa (“To cook”)
  • Keittää (“To boil”)
  • Hauduttaa (“To stew”)
  • Paistaa (“To fry”)
  • Uppopaistaa (“To deep-fry”)
  • Paloitella (“To cut into pieces”)
  • Viipaloida (“To slice”)
  • Kuoria (“To peel”)
  • Raastaa (“To grate”)

Turn to our list of cooking words to further expand your Finnish vocabulary.

3 – Ordering in a Restaurant

  • Ruokalista (“The menu”)
  • Pöytä kahdelle. (“A table for two.”)

  • Alkupala (“A starter”)
  • Pääruoka (“A main course”)
  • Jälkiruoka (“A dessert”)
  • Tarjoilija (“Waiter”)
  • Lasku (“The bill”)
  • Tippi (“Tip”)

Learn how to pronounce jälkiruoka and other Finnish restaurant vocabulary and phrases on FinnishPod101.com.

4. Lopuksi

In this guide, we explored the world of Finnish flavors, from traditional recipes to unusual delicacies. We also covered some essential food-related vocabulary. 

Have you already tried any of the dishes on our list? Have you had a chance to talk about food with a Finn? Let us know how you got on in the comments below!

Visit FinnishPod101.com for more vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other free resources, or sign up for a Premium PLUS account for effective one-on-one learning and personalized learning content.

Until next time, happy eating!

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Finnish Grammar Overview

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Whether you’ve just started learning Finnish or have a lot of lessons under your belt already, grammar is something you’ll keep coming back to throughout your studies. Finnish grammar, in particular, is best learned in smaller chunks through continuous exposure and lots of repetition.

If you’re a beginner, our guide will give you a thorough introduction to Finnish grammar. Don’t worry about taking everything in at once—just focus on a few of the most relevant rules and take it from there! And if you’re more advanced in your studies, you can use our guide as a handy summary page to revisit whenever you need a refresher on a certain grammar point.

We’ll introduce you to the most important Finnish grammar rules, from verb conjugation to noun cases. After a quick overview, we’ll move on to more-specific aspects of the language. Feel free to skip the first section if you’re already familiar with basic Finnish grammar.


Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Finnish Grammar for Beginners
  2. Vowel Harmony and Consonant Gradation
  3. Mastering Finnish Verbs
  4. Noun Cases
  5. Lopuksi

1. Finnish Grammar for Beginners

So, what can you expect when you begin learning Finnish grammar? 

For starters, Finnish is a Finno-Ugric language, and thus not related to Indo-European languages like English, French, and German. This means that many aspects of Finnish grammar may come as a surprise to new learners. For example, Finnish has no definite or indefinite articles, grammatical gender, or future tense.

Finnish is an Agglutinative Language

“What is an agglutinative language?” I hear you ask. 

It means that a lot of information in Finnish is conveyed by inflecting words (adding one or more suffixes to the word stem), instead of relying extensively on grammatical particles such as “of” and “from.” Inflection applies to all nominals (nouns, adjectives, numerals, and pronouns) as well as verbs.

Take a look at this example:

  • Juoksentelisinkohan. (“I wonder if I should run around.”)

Thanks to a bunch of suffixes, this single Finnish word can convey all the information expressed by an entire English sentence. However, you’ll be glad to know that this example is rather extreme. Typically, you only need to worry about one or two suffixes at a time.

Introduction to Finnish Verbs

We’ll revisit verbs later on this page, but for now, this is what you need to know about Finnish verbs:

  • Finnish verbs are conjugated.
  • There are six persons corresponding to six personal suffixes.
  • There are four tenses.
  • There are four moods.
  • There are two voices: active and passive.
  • Verbs are usually divided into six types based on how they look in their basic form and how they behave when inflected.

The Basic Word Order

The basic word order in Finnish is the very same one you’re already familiar with as an English speaker: subject-verb-object (SVO).

Here’s the subject verb object order in action:

  • Heikki juo kahvia. (“Heikki drinks coffee.”)

In English, the word order (usually) allows you to identify the subject and the object of a sentence. In contrast, the subject and object are identified by their case markings in Finnish sentences. This makes the Finnish sentence structure much more flexible.

You can add strong emphasis to a specific word by placing it at the beginning of your sentence. For example, you could stress that Heikki is drinking coffee as opposed to tea:

  • Kahvia Heikki juo. (“Heikki drinks coffee.”)

We talk more about Finnish word order in our Talking Nationality in Finnish lesson on FinnishPod101.com.

A Man Drinking Coffee Straight from the Coffee Pot.

“Heikki drinks coffee” is an example of the SVO word order.

2. Vowel Harmony and Consonant Gradation

Certain Finnish grammar rules exist to make the pronunciation easier, and it’s good to be aware of these rules from the beginning.

Vowel Harmony

There are three Finnish vowel groups: front, back, and neutral.

Front vowelsBack vowelsNeutral vowels
Ä, Ö, YA, O, UI, E

The rule of thumb: Neutral vowels will happily hang out with any other vowel within a word, while front and back vowels wouldn’t be caught dead in each other’s company. This rule applies to individual words as well as to any suffixes that are added.

As you can see in these examples, each word contains only front or back vowels:

  • Käärme (“Snake”)
  • Ankkuri (“Anchor”)

If your word contains only neutral vowels, choose the suffix with front vowels:

  • Tie (“Road”)
  • Tiestä (“Of the road”)

There are a few exceptions to vowel harmony: both front and back vowels can appear in compound words and loanwords: 

  • Silmälasit (“Eyeglasses”), A compound word
  • Synonyymi (“Synonym”), A loanword

When inflecting a compound word, look at the last individual word—lasit (“glasses”) in the above example—to choose the correct suffix.

Consonant Gradation

This is a difficult concept in Finnish grammar for foreigners, so we’ll go into some detail on this.

When words are inflected, the word stem may change: consonants may disappear, be doubled, or be replaced with other consonants. This phenomenon is called consonant gradation (or the KPT rule), and it applies to nominals and certain verb types. While it may seem unnecessarily cruel from a language learner’s point of view, the changes are actually there to make the Finnish words easier to pronounce!

The basic rule: Consonants in open syllables (syllables that end in a vowel) are “strong.” Consonants in closed syllables (syllables that end in a consonant) are “weak.”

For example, words with plosives (k, p, t) often change from strong (-kk-, -pp-, -tt-) to weak grade (-k-, -p-, -t-) when words are pluralized:

  • Takki, Takit (“Jacket,” “Jackets”)
  • Kaappi, Kaapit (“Closet,” “Closets”)
  • Rotta, Rotat (“Rat,” “Rats”)

The table below shows the different types of changes that can take place when you inflect Finnish words. Note that the changes can happen in either direction. For example, the nominative of osoite (“address”) is weak but becomes strong in the t-plural: osoitteet (“addresses”).

StrongWeakExample (nominative, t-plural)
-kk--k-kakku, kakut (“cake,” “cakes”)
-pp--p-nappi, napit (“button,” “buttons”)
-tt--t-hattu, hatut (“hat,” “hats”)
-k-sika, siat (“pig,” “pigs”)
-p--v-leipä, leivät (“a loaf of bread,” “loaves of bread”)
-t--d-taito, taidot (“skill,” “skills”)
-nk--ng-kaupunki, kaupungit (“town,” “towns”)
-mp--mm-lampi, lammet (“pond,” “ponds”)
-lt--ll-silta, sillat (“bridge,” “bridges”)
-nt--nn-ranta, rannat (“beach,” “beaches”)
-rt--rr-parta, parrat (“beard,” “beards”)

You can read about Finnish consonant gradation in more detail on Wikipedia.

A Close-up of a Mouth.

Vowel harmony and consonant gradation streamline Finnish pronunciation.

3. Mastering Finnish Verbs

You can’t have a complete sentence without verbs! Here, we’ll cover several Finnish language grammar rules related to verbs and their usage. Buckle up. 

Conjugation Basics

Six personal suffixes are used in Finnish. These suffixes are added to the verb stem. The best thing about personal suffixes is that they’re exactly the same in all tenses and moods!

Let’s conjugate the verb muistaa (“to remember”). The personal endings are added to the verb stem muista-.

PersonSuffixExample
minä (“I”)-nMinä muistan. (“I remember.”)
sinä (“you”)-tSinä muistat. (“You remember.”)
hän (“he” / “she”)-v orHän muistaa. (“He/she remembers.”)
me (“we”)-mmeMe muistamme. (“We remember.”)
te (plural “you” / formal “you”)-tteTe muistatte. (“You remember.”)
he (“they”)-vat or -vätHe muistavat. (“They remember.”)

The third person singular (hän) is marked by a long vowel. If there are already two vowels at the end of the stem, the third person form equals the verb stem. For example, the stem of the word juoda (“to drink”) is juo- which is also the third person singular form:

  •  Hän juo. (“He/she drinks.”)

Because the personal endings tell us who is performing the action, it’s possible to drop the personal pronouns in first and second person. For example:

  •  (Minä) opiskelen suomea. (“I study Finnish.”)

The Six Verb Types

While the personal endings of verbs never change, the same is not true about verb stems. Typically, verbs are divided into six types depending on their basic form and the changes they undergo when conjugated. Knowing which verb type you’re looking at will help you work out how to conjugate it!

Verb TypeInfinitive endingExample
Type 1-va/-välukea (“to read”)
Type 2-da/-däsyödä (“to eat”)
Type 3-la/-lä, -na/-nä, -ra/-rä, -sta/-statulla (“to come”)
Type 4-vta/-vtäsiivota (“to clean”)
Type 5-ita/-itävalita (“to choose”)
Type 6-eta/-etävanheta (“to age”)

When conjugating verbs, follow these steps:

1. Identify the verb type. For example, rakastaa (“to love”) has a -va ending and is a Type 1 verb.

2. Follow the rules for this verb type to derive the verb stem. For Type 1 verbs, you need to remove the final -a or . Therefore, the stem of rakastaa is rakasta-.

3. Add your personal ending to the stem. For first person singular, add -n: rakastan (“I love”).

4. Remember that consonant gradation applies to verb types 1, 3, and 4.

You can dive deeper into Finnish verb types and conjugation on Wikipedia.

A Man Snowboarding

Lumilautailla (“to snowboard”) is a Type 3 verb.

Tense

In Finnish grammar, verbs also conjugate for the four indicative tenses: present, imperfect, perfect, and pluperfect.

1. The Finnish present tense describes timeless, continuing, and future actions. It’s formed by adding a personal ending to the verb stem.

  • Minä ostan (“I buy”)

2. The imperfect tense corresponds to the English simple past tense. It is formed by adding the affix -i- (sometimes -si-) before the personal suffix.
  • Minä ostin (“I bought”)

3. The perfect tense corresponds to the English present perfect. It’s formed using the verb olla (“to be”) as an auxiliary verb and the past active participle form of the main verb.
  • Minä olen ostanut (“I have bought”)

4. pluperfect tense corresponds to the English past perfect. We use olla (“to be”) as an auxiliary verb again, but in its past form.
  • Minä olin ostanut (“I had bought”)

An Ornamental Sundial.

Tenses deal with the timing of actions.

Moods

There are four moods in modern Finnish: indicative, conditional, imperative, and potential.

1 . Indicative is the ‘basic’ form used in most statements and questions.

2. Conditional corresponds to actions that may or may not happen, and it appears in conditional sentences and polite requests. The affix that marks a conditional form is -isi-.

  • Tulisin, jos pyytäisit. (“I would come, if you asked.” / Literally: “I would come, if you would ask.”)
  • Haluaisin teetä. (“I would like some tea.”)

3. Imperative expresses commands. The most commonly used forms of the imperative are the active, second person imperatives.
  • Juokse! (“Run!”) Singular
  • Älä juokse! (“Don’t run!”) Singular
  • Juoskaa! (“Run!”) Plural
  • Älkää juosko! (“Don’t run!”) Plural

4. Potential expresses actions that are likely but not certain. It isn’t used mu4. ch in modern Finnish, but may appear in newspaper articles and such. The typical conditional affix is -ne-, added before the personal ending. 
  • Minä laulanen. (“I will probably sing.”)

Voice

In Finnish, there are two voices: active and passive. Active verbs are linked to the six persons and always have a personal ending, while there is only one form of the passive. Passive is used in Finnish when the agent is a human who is either unknown or unimportant:

  • Koulussa opetetaan matematiikkaa. (“Math is taught in school.”)

Passive can also be used when making suggestions:

  • Mennäänkö rannalle? (“Shall we go to the beach?”)

Finally, passive can replace the first person plural active form in informal, spoken Finnish:

  • Me asutaan Kotkassa. (“We live in Kotka.”)

Negation

In Finnish, the word ei (“no”) behaves like a verb (hence, it’s called a negative verb). It gets the same personal endings as regular verbs:

  • en, et, ei, emme, ette, eivät

To form a negative sentence, use the negative verb with the stem of the main verb. For example:

  • Minä en puhu. (“I don’t speak.”)

In the imperfect, perfect, and pluperfect tenses, the negative verb is paired with the past active participle form of the main verb. The auxiliary verb stem ole is also added to the negative imperfect and ollut (singular) or olleet (plural) to the negative pluperfect.

The negative imperfect: 

  • Minä en puhunut. (“I didn’t speak.”)
  • Me emme puhuneet. (“We didn’t speak.”)

The negative perfect: 

  • Minä en ole puhunut. (“I haven’t spoken.”)
  • Me emme ole puhuneet. (“We haven’t spoken.”)

The negative pluperfect: 

  • Minä en ollut puhunut. (“I hadn’t spoken.”)
  • Me emme olleet puhuneet. (“We hadn’t spoken.”)

A Man with Tape Over His Mouth.

Hän ei puhu. (“He doesn’t speak.”)

The First Finnish Verb to Learn

Olla (“to be”) is an essential verb to learn because you’ll be using it again and again. It also happens to be a very rare example of a Finnish irregular verb! This is how to conjugate it:

  • minä olen, sinä olet, hän on, me olemme, te olette, he ovat
    • For example: Minä olen iloinen. (“I am happy.”)

Olla can also be used as an auxiliary verb in a compound tense, as we’ve seen:

  •  Sinä olet asunut Suomessa. (“You have lived in Finland.”)

There is no separate possession verb in Finnish, so olla performs double-duty as “to be” and “to have.” When we want to say “to have” in a sentence, we use the adessive case of a noun with the third person singular form of olla. Like this:

minulla onsinulla onhänellä onmeillä onteillä onheillä on
“I have”“you have”“he/she has”“we have”“you have”“they have”

For example: Minulla on kissa. (“I have a cat.” / Literally: “On me is a cat.”)

You’ll also come across the verb olla used this way when talking about certain states of being. For example:

  • Sinulla on nälkä. (“You are hungry.” / Literally: “On you is hunger.”)
  • Meillä on jano. (“We are thirsty.” / Literally: “On us is thirst.”)

Can’t get enough of Finnish verbs? Look up all those lovely affixes and conjugation rules on Wikipedia, and check out our list of Vocabulary for the 25 Most Commonly Used Verbs.

4. Noun Cases

Finnish noun cases have a reputation of being fiendish to learn, but all you really need is a lot of patience.

Types of Noun Cases

There are fifteen total Finnish noun cases. In Finnish grammar, cases are divided into subgroups: grammatical, locative, role, and marginal. 

Grammatical cases

NameEnding(s)Example
Nominativekoti (“home”)
Genitive-nkodin (“home’s” / “of a home”)
Accusative-, -t, -nkoti/kodin (“home”)
Partitive-(t)a/-(t)äkotia (“home”)

The nominative is the basic (dictionary) form of a noun, the genitive indicates possession, accusative is used when we refer to an object as a whole, and partitive is used when we refer to a part of an object.

Internal locative cases

NameEnding(s)Example
Inessive-ssa/-ssäkodissa (“in a home”)
Elative-sta/-stäkodista (“out of a home”)
Illative-vnkotiin (“into a home”)

External locative cases

NameEndingExample
Adessive-lla/-lläkodilla (“on a home”)
Ablative-lta/-ltäkodilta (“from a home”)
Allative-llekodille (“onto a home”)

As the names suggest, internal location cases generally indicate ‘interior’ spatial positions (in, into, and from within), while external locative cases generally indicate ‘surface’ positions (on, onto, and from on top of).

Role cases

NameEndingExample
Essive-na/-näkotina (“as a home”)
Translative-ksikodiksi (“into a home”)

The translative case indicates transformation (into something).

Marginal cases

NameEndingExample
Instructive-nkodein (“with the aid of homes”)
Abessive-ttakoditta (“without a home”)
Comitative-ne-koteineen (“together with their homes”)

The marginal cases are rarely used in modern Finnish. The comitative is usually replaced with the postposition kanssa (“with”) and the abessive is usually replaced with the preposition ilman (“without”). You might run into the instructive case in expressions such as omin avuin (“with one’s own help”).

The Basics of Using Noun Cases

The most important things to remember about the use of noun cases are:

1. All nominals (nouns, adjectives, numerals, pronouns) are inflected. For example:

  • se yksi nopea auto (“that one fast car”) Nominative
  • sitä yhtä nopeaa autoa (“that one fast car”) Partitive

2. Nouns are inflected by adding the correct suffix to the word stem. A lot of the time, the word stem is the same as the nominative, but not always! For example, the stem of the word kaunis (“beautiful”) is kaunii- in most of the cases.

3.   Remember consonant gradation!

A Drawing of a Treasure Map.

Use locative cases to find the treasure.

5. Lopuksi

In this guide, we’ve touched on many Finnish grammatical delights, from the negative verb to consonant gradation. Are there any particular Finnish grammar rules you would like to see covered in more detail?

To help you learn Finnish grammar organically, many of our audio lessons on FinnishPod101.com include essential grammar information in easy-to-understand chunks. We’ve also built a lesson around some simple tricks to learn grammar. And if you would like to have access to a professional Finnish teacher who can answer even your trickiest grammar-related questions, our Premium PLUS account with one-on-one tutoring is perfect for you.

By the way, if you enjoy learning by watching, check out our videos 4 Ways to Improve Your Finnish Grammar and Fix Your Finnish Grammar in 30 Minutes on the FinnishPod101 YouTube Channel.

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The Top 20 Finnish Quotes About Life, Love, and More

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Inspirational quotes are popular for a reason—in just a few memorable words, they can uplift, motivate, soothe, or simply make us laugh or nod in recognition. For a language learner, studying famous Finnish quotes is also a great way to gain insight into the Finnish culture and mindset while learning new vocabulary in a fun way.

We’ve put together a collection of inspirational quotes by Finns from different times and different walks of life. Our picks for the top Finnish quotes cover a range of subjects, from life and love to living with courage and raising children. We hope that they will inspire and entertain you, and perhaps even spark a deeper interest in all things Finland.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Finnish Quotes About Wisdom
  2. Finnish Quotes About Courage
  3. Finnish Quotes About Creative Work
  4. Finnish Quotes About Love
  5. Finnish Quotes About Children
  6. Finnish Quotes About Life
  7. Finnish Quotes About Happiness
  8. Finnish Quotes About Health
  9. Finnish Quotes About Aging
  10. Finnish Quotes About Tough Situations
  11. Lopuksi

1. Finnish Quotes About Wisdom

What does it mean to be wise, and how is wisdom attained? We’ll start our list with a couple of the best Finnish quotes about wisdom. 

#1

FinnishYleensä elämässä on viisasta luottaa siihen, että kaikki menee hyvin.
Translation“In life it’s generally wise to trust that everything will turn out well.”
Who said it?Mauno Koivisto (former President of Finland)
This quote was part of the last-ever interview given by Mauno Koivisto in 2013. Koivisto’s words clearly demonstrate that he believed in the power of an optimistic outlook.

#2

FinnishMuutamat hädän hetket opettavat ihmiselle viisautta enemmän, kuin vuosikymmenien tasaiset olot.
Translation“A few moments of distress teach a person more wisdom than decades of stable circumstances.”
Who said it?Maria Jotuni (writer)
Maria Jotuni knew a thing or two about distress—or at least it’s been claimed that her novel Huojuva talo (Tottering House) was based on the challenges she faced in her own life. However it was acquired, her wisdom is visible in her many novels, plays, and short stories.


2. Finnish Quotes About Courage

Courage is something that can be hard to muster up, but it’s always worth the effort. Here are a couple of quotes by Finnish writers on the topic. 

#3

FinnishEpäröinnin kynnyksellä kysy kuinka paljon rohkeutta uskallat tänään jättää käyttämättä.
Translation“On the threshold of hesitation, ask yourself how much courage you’ll dare not use today.”
Who said it?Tommy Tabermann (poet, politician, journalist)
Tommy Tabermann was best known for his love poetry, and he was sometimes referred to as rakkauden apostoli (“the apostle of love”). This quote is a well-loved verse from Tabermann’s poem Kysymys ilman numeroa (“A question without number”). Tabermann certainly practiced what he preached: he threw himself into many new challenges in his life, including politics.

#4

FinnishKahdesta vaihtoehdosta koetan valita aina sen, joka pelottaa enemmän.
Translation“Out of two options, I always try to choose the one that scares me more.”
Who said it?Jouko Turkka (theatrical director, teacher, writer, polemicist)
Jouko Turkka had a long and impressive career in theatre, and was famous for his intense teaching methods and highly physical approach to theatre. Though he spoke of feeling fear, Turkka gave an impression to many of being completely fearless. He never shied away from conflicts or expressing controversial opinions.

A Cat Casting a Shadow of a Lion.

3. Finnish Quotes About Creative Work

Are you an artist, musician, writer, or other creative person? Then we think you’ll benefit from these Finnish motivational quotes concerning creative work! 

#5

FinnishÄlkää kiinnittäkö huomiota siihen, mitä kriitikot sanovat. Kriitikoille ei ole koskaan pystytetty yhtään patsasta.
Translation“Do not pay attention to what the critics say. Critics have never been honored with a statue.”
Who said it?Jean Sibelius (composer)
Many consider Jean Sibelius to be Finland’s greatest composer. His most famous piece is Finlandia, a tone poem about triumphing over adversity and overcoming enemies. Sibelius’s strategy for dealing with his own enemies—critics—was to ignore them.

#6

FinnishRauha, lepoaivojen suursiivous luovaa työtä varten!
Translation“Peace, rest—a spring clean for the brains for creative work!”
Who said it?Aino Kallas (writer)
Aino Kallas was a prolific writer of poems, short stories, novels, and plays, so her recipe for increasing creativity must have worked pretty well!

A Close-up of Hands and a Musical Composition in Progress.

4. Finnish Quotes About Love

Are you madly in love with someone? Or maybe you’re a hopeless romantic? Either way, we think you’ll enjoy these Finnish love quotes!

#7

FinnishMuutaman sopivan ominaisuuden nähtyään rakkaus leimahtaa. Se on voima, joka kärkkyy mahdollisuuksia toteuttaa itseään.
Translation“Upon seeing a few suitable qualities, love ignites. It is a power that seeks opportunities to express itself.”
Who said it?Markku Envall (writer)
Markku Envall has written essays, poems, and a novel, but he’s probably best known for his award-winning collections of aphorisms. This quote will resonate with anyone who has ever fallen head-over-heels in love.

#8

FinnishRakkauden tunnustaminen naiselle: vaikein tehtävä mitä luonto on miehelle järjestänyt.
Translation“Declaring your love to a woman: the most difficult task that nature has arranged for a man.”
Who said it?Vilho Lampi (painter)
Vilho Lampi may have struggled with expressing love (he had a reputation of being an eccentric loner), but he is celebrated today for his powerful self-portraits and depictions of life in his home municipality of Liminka.

A Beach with a Pair of Hearts Drawn in the Sand.

5. Finnish Quotes About Children

Family is a cornerstone of any society, and its children are the future. Here are a couple of Finnish quotes about family, focusing on its youngest members.

#9

FinnishLapsi ja elämä hymyilevät sinulle, kun annat niille aikaasi.
Translation“A child and life will smile at you when you give them your time.”
Who said it?Jouko Varonen (writer, teacher)
If you’re after wisdom about children, you could do worse than ask Jouko Varonen, a school teacher and an author of numerous young adult books.

#10

FinnishJos tahdomme olla lasten kasvattajia, niin antakaamme lastenkin meitä kasvattaa.
Translation“If we want to raise children, let us allow children to raise us as well.”
Who said it?J.H. Erkko (poet, aphorist, playwright)
Most Finns will have come across the work of J.H. Erkko primarily in popular songs, such as Jouluaatto (Christmas Eve), which was originally a poem. However, Erkko also excelled in writing aphorisms, including this gem about being raised by children.


A Group of Children Running on Grass.

6. Finnish Quotes About Life

What is life all about, and how should a person live? People have been trying to answer these questions for a long time. Here are a couple of Finnish quotes about life to give you an idea of how a Finn may answer!

#11

FinnishElämä ei ole koekappale tai odotushuone parempia aikoja varten.
Translation“Life is not a test piece or a waiting room for better times.”
Who said it?Soile Yli-Mäyry (painter)
Soile Yli-Mäyry is known for her bold and colorful paintings. Here, she reminds us in her own words to stop wasting time and to “seize the moment.”

#12

FinnishElämä on ihmisen parasta aikaa.
Translation“Life is man’s best time.”
Who said it?Matti Nykänen (ski jumper)
This humorous remark might well be one of the most famous Finnish quotes of all time. The words were uttered by Matti Nykänen, a record-breaking ski jumper. His eventful life also involved a sporadic singing career, five marriages, and a few stints in prison.


7. Finnish Quotes About Happiness

We all want to be happy, but how do we get there? These Finnish quotes about happiness can be a good place to start. 

#13

FinnishKell’ onni on, se onnen kätkeköön.
Translation“He who has happiness should hide it.”
Who said it?Eino Leino (poet, journalist)
This quote is the famous first verse of Eino Leino’s poem Laulu onnesta (A Song of Happiness), penned over a century ago. The poem also advises us to head into the woods to rejoice over our blessings—quietly and alone.

The fact that this verse is still widely known today offers a glimpse into the Finnish mindset: Finns value modesty and dislike bragging. This is why you probably won’t hear Finns boasting about their homeland being ranked as the World’s Happiest Country by The World Happiness Report for a third time in a row.

#14

FinnishEi se ole rikas, joka omistaa kultaa ja hopeaa, vaan se on rikas, joka tyytyy vähään.
Translation“It is not the man with silver and gold who is rich, but the man who is content with little.”
Who said it?Mika Waltari (writer)
In other words: Happiness doesn’t come from riches, but rather from being happy with what you have. This quote appears in Mika Waltari’s most successful novel, Sinuhe egyptiläinen (The Egyptian).

A Smiling Woman in a Green Dress.

8. Finnish Quotes About Health

You should always prioritize your health, because only in good health can you achieve other goals and live life to the fullest. Here are some Finnish words of wisdom on the topic!

#15

FinnishRunous tuottaa iloa, ilo runoutta. Ja ilo on välttämätön, terveellinen sekä sielulle että ruumiille.
Translation“Poetry generates joy, joy poetry. And joy is a necessity, healthy for soul and body alike.”
Who said it?Minna Canth (writer, entrepreneur, social activist)
Minna Canth was a writer, a journalist (the first Finnish woman to work as one), an entrepreneur, and a social activist—as well as the mother of seven children. Though she wrote mostly plays, novellas, short stories, and articles herself, we’re willing to take her word on the health-boosting properties of poetry.

#16

FinnishLepo, toivo, tyytyväisyys ja kohtuullinen ilo pitävät ihmisen terveenä ja vielä toisinaan parantavat sairaankin.
Translation“Rest, hope, contentment, and moderate joy keep a person healthy and at times even heal the sick.”
Who said it?Elias Lönnrot (physician, philologist)
Elias Lönnrot is remembered by all Finns as the person who collected the traditional oral poetry that makes up the Finnish national epic, Kalevala. However, Lönnrot was also a physician and had some wise words of his own to share about staying healthy.

9. Finnish Quotes About Aging

Even in today’s world of advanced medicine and products that promise to keep us young, aging is an inevitable part of life. Here are a couple of Finnish quotes on aging. 

#17

FinnishVanheneminen on hiljaista irtautumista monesta asiasta, jonka ennen koki tärkeänä. Vanheneminen on keskittymistä olennaiseen.
Translation“Aging is quietly letting go of many things that you used to consider important. Aging is focusing on the essential.”
Who said it?Matti Kurjensaari (writer)
Matti Kurjensaari was a Finnish author, journalist, and political influencer primarily known for his essays and newspaper columns. His thoughts on growing old were a far cry from his biting political commentary.

#18

FinnishOn vanhuudessa yksi hyvä puolikin sentään. Näkee enemmän, kun on pakko kulkea hitaasti.
Translation“There is one good thing about old age at least. You see more because you’re forced to walk slowly.”
Who said it?Pentti Linkola (philosopher, writer, polemist, environmentalist, fisherman)
Pentti Linkola was one of the foremost proponents of deep ecology and famous for his extreme views and scything criticism of modern life. This quote on aging, from an interview in 2016, reveals a more mellow side of this radical thinker.

Four Smiling Elderly People.

10. Finnish Quotes About Tough Situations

We all encounter those circumstances that seem impossible to navigate. The following Finnish quotes touch on this with words of inspiration and wit. 

#19

FinnishVoimallinen tahto vie miehen läpi harmaan kiven.
Translation“A strong will takes a man through a gray rock.”
Who said it?Aleksis Kivi (writer)
This famous line appears in Aleksis Kivi’s Seitsemän veljestä (The Seven Brothers), the first significant novel published in the Finnish language. The words are uttered by Aapo, one of the titular brothers, while they consider undertaking the difficult task of learning to read.

This quote is often linked to the Finnish concept of sisu, a characteristic akin to grit, perseverance, and determination. In fact, the official sisu emoji depicts a determined Finn breaking through a gray rock.

#20

FinnishMinä juon nyt kahvia.
Translation“I’m drinking coffee now.”
Who said it?Harri Holkeri (former prime minister of Finland)
“When in doubt, drink coffee,” could well be the motto of Finns, the most dedicated coffee drinkers in the world. It may also be what the former prime minister of Finland was thinking when he was relentlessly questioned by journalists about his intentions regarding the presidential elections in 1990.

A Gray Rock.

11. Lopuksi

In this guide, we’ve explored the world of Finnish wisdom and have covered quotes on a variety of topics, from cultivating creativity to leading a healthy life. Did any of the quotes stand out to you or make you interested in finding out more about the person behind the words? Do you know any serious or funny Finnish quotes that we should have included here? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

If you’d like more insight into the Finnish language and culture, take a moment to explore all of our free resources, including our extensive collection of vocabulary lists, on FinnishPod101.com. And if you’ve been with us for a while, do come back on a regular basis to check out all of our newest lessons!

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The Top Finnish Business Phrases and Vocabulary

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We live in an increasingly global world, and you may well be doing business or working with Finnish people at some point in your life. Learning Finnish business phrases is an excellent way to make a favorable impression on your Finnish business partners and colleagues. Perhaps your mastery of Finnish will even land you your dream job in Finland one day?

In this guide, we’ll cover a range of topics, from interviewing for a job and socializing with coworkers to writing emails and dealing with invoices. Sound good? Then let’s get down to business!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Essential Business and Work Vocabulary
  2. Nailing a Job Interview
  3. Interacting with Coworkers
  4. Sounding Smart in a Meeting
  5. Business Phone Calls and Emails
  6. Dealing with Money Matters
  7. Lopuksi

1. Essential Business and Work Vocabulary

Before we look at specific situations and common business phrases in Finnish, let’s go over some core work and business vocabulary. Be sure to watch our video on Finnish Business Language on YouTube, too!

A- Work

 First, here are some basic Finnish words related to work and employment:

  • Työ (“Work”)
  • Työpaikka (“Job” / “Workplace”)
  • Ammatti (“Occupation” / “Profession”)
  • Ura (“Career”)
  • Työharjoittelu (“Internship”)
  • Etätyö (“Remote work”)
  • Ylityö (“Overtime work”)

 There are a few different ways to say “to work” in Finnish:

  • Työskennellä (“To work”)
  • Tehdä töitä (“To do work”)
  • Käydä töissä (“To go to work”)

 Here are a few other useful verbs related to work:

  • Etsiä työtä (“To look for work”)
  • Hakea työpaikkaa (“To apply for a job”)
  • Palkata (“To hire”)
  • Irtisanoa (“To fire”)
  • Irtisanoutua (“To quit”)
  • Jäädä eläkkeelle (“To retire”)

B- The Company

 Here are the Finnish words for “company” that you’re most likely to come across:

  • Yritys
  • Yhtiö
  • Firma

Each term has a different legal definition. If you’re curious, you can find out more about the legal definitions of Finnish business types on Wikipedia.

  • Nokia Oyj on tietoliikennealan yhtiö. (“Nokia corporation is a telecommunications company.”)

Here are a few other useful terms you might want to learn:

  • Osakeyhtiö (“A joint-stock company”)
  • Monikansallinen yritys (“A multinational company”)
  • Pk-yritykset – pienet ja keskisuuret yritykset (“SMB – small- and medium-sized businesses”)
  • Mikroyritys (“A micro business”)
  • Suuryritys (“A large company”)

C- The People

 Now let’s take a look at words for the different roles that people play in work and business:

  • Henkilöstö / Henkilökunta (“The staff”)
  • Työnantaja (“Employer”)
  • Työntekijä (“Employee”)
  • Työharjoittelija (“Intern”)
  • Yrittäjä (“Entrepreneur”)
  • Pomo (“The boss” Casual)
  • TJ – Toimitusjohtaja (“The CEO”) 
  • Esimies (“Superior”)
  • Päällikkö (“Manager”)

Head over to FinnishPod101’s dialogue about A Great Business Idea in Finland, and then listen to recordings of essential workplace vocabulary.

You can also find a list of occupational titles on Bab.la.

Job Interview

2. Nailing a Job Interview

Do you dream of working in Finland? Then visit This is Finland for more information about getting a job in the country. And if you’ve already set your sights on a job, we’ll guide you through some business Finnish for your työhaastattelu (“job interview”), from greetings to sending a thank-you message afterwards.

A- Greetings and Introducing Yourself

Make a good impression even before your interview starts! Use an appropriate greeting and your full name when you arrive. Here are two examples:

  • Huomenta, olen Pirjo Hänninen. Minulla on työhaastattelu kymmeneltä. (“Morning, I’m Pirjo Hänninen. I have a job interview at ten o’clock.”)
  • Hyvää päivää! Nimeni on Tapio Pääkkönen, tulin työhaastatteluun. (“Good day! My name is Tapio Pääkkönen, I’ve come for the job interview.”)

Do you need a refresher on greetings and self-introductions in Finnish? Take a look at our complete guide to Finnish greetings on FinnishPod101 or read more about introducing yourself in Finnish.

A Woman Offers Her Hand for a Handshake.

B- Talking About Your Experience and Strengths

Be ready to highlight the most relevant information about yourself during your interview. Following are some examples to help you talk about your achievements.

 Here’s how to talk about your opinnot (“studies”):

  • Minulla on kauppatieteiden maisterin tutkinto Aalto-yliopiston kauppakorkeakoulusta. (“I have a Master’s degree in economic science from the Aalto University School of Business.”)
  • Opiskelin tietotekniikkaa Oulun yliopistossa. (“I studied information technology in the University of Oulu.”)

 Here’s how to talk about your työkokemus (“work experience”):

  • Olin työharjoittelijana Nokialla neljä kuukautta. (“I was an intern at Nokia for four months.”)
  • Olen ollut Nesteellä töissä kolme vuotta. (“I have been working for Neste for three years.”)

Here’s how you could describe your professional vahvuudet (“strengths”):

  • Vahvuuksiani ovat kommunikaatio, yhteistyökyky ja joustavuus. (“My strengths are communication, ability to cooperate, and flexibility.”)
  • Olen ahkera, nopea oppimaan ja pidän asiakaspalvelusta. (“I’m hard-working, a quick learner, and enjoy customer service.”)

C- Common Job Interview Questions

Let’s face it, job interviews can be really stressful. You can take a lot of the pressure off by thinking of answers to common interview questions well ahead of time. Here are a few very common questions you might be asked:

  • Miksi hait tätä työpaikkaa? (“Why did you apply for this job?”)
  • Mikä on suurin saavutuksesi? (“What’s your greatest achievement?”)
  • Missä näet itsesi viiden vuoden kuluttua? (“Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”)
  • Miksi meidän pitäisi palkata sinut? (“Why should we hire you?”)

 What if you didn’t quite catch the question? No problem! You can ask the interviewer to repeat what they said:

  • Anteeksi, en kuullut mitä sanoitte. (“Sorry, I didn’t hear what you said.”)
  • Voisitteko toistaa, kiitos? (“Could you repeat, please?”)

D- Asking Your Own Questions

Don’t miss your chance to ask your own questions! You’ll learn more about the position while also demonstrating that you’re genuinely interested in the opportunity. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • Voisitteko kertoa lisää yrityksen kulttuurista? (“Could you tell me more about the company culture?”)
  • Mitkä ovat tämän työtehtävän suurimpia haasteita? (“What are the greatest challenges of this job?”)
  • Millainen perehdytysprosessi teillä on? (“What is your induction program like?”)

E- Sending a Thank-You Email

When possible, sending a short thank-you email is a good way to reiterate your interest in a position and keep you in the recruiter’s mind!

  • Kiitos eilisestä! Oli mukava tutustua ja jutella työpaikasta. Olen edelleen erittäin kiinnostunut, ja toivon että kuulen teistä pian. (“Thank you for yesterday! It was nice to meet you and talk about the job. I’m still very interested and hope to hear from you soon.”)

Why not head over to FinnishPod101’s lesson about a job interview in Finnish? You can also check out our vocabulary lists—how many of these Finnish HR and recruitment words and job titles did you already know?

3. Interacting with Coworkers

Now that you’ve got that job, it’s time to get to know your työkaverit (“coworkers”). Whether you’re expressing an opinion in a meeting or socializing after work, these are the phrases you’ll need for doing business with Finnish people in your new workplace.

Asking a Colleague for Help 

Your kollegat (“colleagues”) will be happy to help, especially when you’ve just started at a new job. Here are a few ways to ask for assistance:

  • Voitko auttaa minua? (“Can you help me?”)
  • Voisitko näyttää minulle miten…? (“Could you show me how…?”)
  • Tiedätkö kuinka tätä ohjelmistoa käytetään? (“Do you know how to use this software?”)

 Here’s how you can thank someone for their help—or praise them for a job well done:

  • Kiitos! (“Thank you!”)
  • Kiitos avustasi. (“Thank you for your help.”)
  • Hyvää työtä. (“Good work.”)
  • Erinomaista työtä! (“Excellent work!”)
A group of coworkers having a chat.

A- Raising Concerns

Effective communication in the workplace is so important, and that includes telling someone when there’s a problem. 

  • Anteeksi, mutta minua ei ole vielä koulutettu tähän tehtävään. (“I’m sorry, but I haven’t been trained for this task yet.”)
  • Mielestäni määräaika on liian lyhyt. (“The deadline is too short in my opinion.”)
  • Tässä asiakirjassa näyttäisi olevan virhe. (“There seems to be a mistake in this document.”)

B- Apologizing

Being able to admit when you’re wrong or have made a mistake is an important interpersonal skill, whether at work or at home. Let’s take a look at a couple of ways to apologize:

  • Anteeksi, olin väärässä. (“Sorry, I was wrong.”)
  • Haluaisin pyytää anteeksi. (“I would like to apologize.”)
  • Olen pahoillani. (“I’m sorry.”)

 In case you ever feel that you’ve really messed up, here are even more ways to say sorry

C- Socializing with Coworkers

Getting to know your coworkers in an informal setting can show you a whole new side of them! These are some common ways to spend time with coworkers outside the office:

  • Tavata lounaalla (“To meet over lunch”)
  • Käydä kahvilla (“To go for a coffee”)
  • Viettää iltaa (“To socialize in the evening”)

After work (afterworkit or afterit) isn’t an established phenomenon in Finland. However, where the concept is gaining ground, Friday is by far the most popular day for after work get-togethers.

Not sure what to say to your colleagues out of the office? Get the conversation started by asking questions:

  • Millä osastolla olet töissä? (“In which department do you work?”)
  • Työskenteletkö Pekan tiimissä? (“Do you work in Pekka’s team?”)
  • Kuinka pitkään olet ollut täällä töissä? (“How long have you been working here?”)

After the ice is broken, you may be able to move on to more personal topics. For more help with keeping a conversation going in Finnish, take a look at our list of the Top 15 Questions You Should Know for Conversations

Business Phrases

4. Sounding Smart in a Meeting

Meetings are a regular part of life in many workplaces. To help you get the most out of your upcoming Finnish business meetings, we’ve included some key vocabulary as well as phrases that you can use to express your opinions.

First, there are several words in Finnish for “a meeting”:

  • Kokous
  • Palaveri
  • Neuvottelu
  • Virtuaalikokous (“A virtual meeting”)

The first three are often used interchangeably, although kokous may be considered a more formal event with specific roles assigned to participants; palaveri and neuvottelu tend to be shorter in duration and more informal.

Here are a few phrases to help you participate in a discussion:

  • Saisinko puheenvuoron? (“May I speak?”)
  • Mielestäni… (“In my opinion…”)
  • Ehdottaisin, että… (“I would suggest that…”)
  • Olen täysin samaa mieltä. (“I agree completely.”)
  • Pelkään, että minun on oltava eri mieltä. (“I’m afraid I have to disagree.”)

If you want to dive even deeper into this topic, we recommend listening to our lessons on Preparing for a Finnish Business Meeting and a Finnish Business Presentation. To learn more useful phrases and improve your pronunciation, visit our handy list of Phrases for Doing Business Successfully.

 A Business Meeting.

5. Business Phone Calls and Emails

In our professional lives, we may interact with people via email and phone just as often as we talk to others face-to-face. Therefore, composing professional emails and following the correct phone etiquette are professional skills not to be neglected. In this section, we’ll talk about the best practices for conducting business in Finnish over the phone or through email.

A- Business Phone Calls

Making phone calls has been partially replaced by new communication technologies. However, phones are still around, so let’s run through how to start and end phone calls in a professional setting.

At home, Finns typically answer their phone by saying Haloo? (“Hello?”). When answering a work call, though, state your name (or company and name, when sharing a phone with others). If you take phone calls for a superior, state their name as well as yours:

  • Johtaja Matikaisen sihteeri Elli Nieminen. (“Director Matikainen’s secretary Elli Nieminen.”)

Here’s how to introduce yourself when you’re making a business call. If calling a stranger, state who you are and the company you’re working for:

  •  Täällä on Kaarina Hämäläinen Suomalaisesta Kirjakaupasta, hyvää päivää. (“It’s Kaarina Hämäläinen from Suomalainen Kirjakauppa, good afternoon.”)

 If you’re calling someone you already know well, you can be more informal:

  • Täällä on Milla Salo, terve. (“It’s Milla Salo, hi.”)
  • Milla täällä, hei. (“Milla here, hi.”)

 Here’s how you can ask to speak to another person:

  •  Voisinko puhua toimistopäällikkö Mäkiselle? (“Could I speak to office manager Mäkinen?”)

 Before getting down to business, it’s polite to ask the person you’ve called if it’s a good time for them to speak:

  •  Sopiiko puhua? (“Is this a good time to talk?”)

You can use these phrases to indicate that you’re ready to finish the phone call:

  • Hyvä, tämä tuli selväksi. (“Good, this has been sorted.”)
  • Kiitos, ei ollut muuta. (“Thank you, that was all.”)
  • Puhutaan toiste lisää. (“Let’s talk more another time.”)

 And finally, here is how you can end a phone call:

  • Kuulemiin. (“Goodbye.” Polite)
  • Kiitos, kuulemiin. (“Thank you, goodbye.”)
  • Heihei. (“Bye-bye.” Informal.)
  • Terve. (“Bye.” Informal.)

If you want a more in-depth guide to phone etiquette in Finnish, take a look at Kielikello’s guide on the topic. At FinnishPod101, you’ll also find more useful phrases for talking on the phone and a lesson on talking to family and friends on the phone.

An Office Worker Talks on the Phone.

B- Business Emails

Next, let’s focus on emails. We’ll take a look at how to open and close emails, as well as the common phrases you’re likely to need when composing a professional message.

First, begin your email by addressing the recipient by their title and name :

  • Toimistopäällikkö Matti Meikäläinen (“Office Manager Matti Meikäläinen”)
  • Toimistopäällikkö Matti Meikäläinen,
    tervetuloa….  (“Office Manager Matti Meikäläinen, welcome to…”)
  • Hei Matti, (“Hello Matti,”)

In more formal situations, you can open your email with the following examples: 

  • Hyvä Herra (“Dear Sir”)
  • Hyvä Rouva (“Dear Madam”)
  • Hyvä herra Keskinen (“Dear Mr. Keskinen”)
  • Hyvä rouva Kokkola (“Dear Mrs. Kokkola”)
  • Hyvä neiti Jokinen (“Dear Miss Jokinen”)
  • Hyvät vastaanottajat (“To whom it may concern” Multiple recipients)

Here are phrases you can use in the body of the email to explain the reason you’re writing or to make a request:

  • Kirjoitamme teille liittyen… (“We are writing to you regarding…”)
  • Kirjoitan tiedustellakseni… (“I am writing to inquire about…”)
  • Olisin kiitollinen, jos voisitte… (“I would be grateful, if you could…”)
  • Voisitteko ystävällisesti lähettää minulle… (“Would you be kind and send me…”)

 Finally, here are a couple of ways to end an email politely:

  • Ystävällisin terveisin… (“Kind regards…”)
  • Kunnioittavasti (“Respectfully”)
  • Parhain terveisin (“Best regards”)
  • Terveisin (“Regards”)

For more Finnish phrases to use in business emails and letters, take a look at these phrase lists on Bab.la.

6. Dealing with Money Matters

Does money make the world go round? Perhaps—but it definitely keeps businesses going! The topics we’ll look at in this section are: making orders, invoicing, and asking for a raise.

First, here’s a selection of essential Finnish vocabulary related to money:

  • Raha (“Money”)
  • Palkka (“Salary”)
  • Lasku (“Invoice”)
  • Maksu (“Payment”)
  • Vero (“Tax”)
  • Pankkitiedot (“Bank details”)
  • Voitto (“Profit”)
  • Liikevaihto (“Turnover”)
  • Osake (“Share”) 

A- Making Orders

A lot of companies buy from or sell to other companies. These are Finnish business phrases that will be useful if you’re handling business-to-business orders: 

  • Haluaisimme tehdä tilauksen. (“We would like to make an order.”)
  • Voisitteko vahvistaa hinnan ja toimituspäivän sähköpostitse? (“Could you please confirm the price and dispatch date by email?”)
  • Tilauksenne käsitellään niin nopeasti kuin mahdollista. (“Your order will be processed as fast as possible.”)
  • Tilauksenne on lähetetty. (“Your order has been dispatched.”) 

B- Invoicing

Do you need to deal with invoices at work? Then you’ll need to learn these key phrases in Finnish:

  • Liitteenä lasku sovituista palveluista. (“Enclosed is an invoice for the services agreed.”)
  • Maksettavissa 30 (kolmessakymmenessä) päivässä. (“Payable within thirty days.”)
  • Maksettava summa on 450 euroa. (“The total amount payable is 450 euros.”)
  • Kirjanpitomme mukaan oheinen lasku on edelleen maksamatta. (“According to our records, the attached invoice is still unpaid.”)
  • Jos olette jo lähettäneet maksun, olkaa hyvä ja jättäkää tämä viesti huomioimatta. (“If you have already sent a payment, please disregard this message.”)
A Man Looks at an Invoice.

C- Asking for a Raise

Have you been taking on a lot more responsibilities at work? It may be time to ask for palkankorotus (“a raise”)! Let’s look at Finnish phrases you can use when negotiating a new salary:

  • Haluaisin keskustella palkastani. (“I would like to discuss my salary.”)
  • Palkkatoiveeni on 3,000 euroa kuukaudessa. (“My desired salary is 3,000 euros per month.”)
  • Mitä mieltä olette pyynnöstäni? (“What do you think of my request?”)
  • Tarjouksenne kuulostaa hyvältä. (“Your offer sounds good.”)

Even if your request is declined this time, it’s important to remain polite—there’s always the next time! It may also be worth asking if there are any other benefits you could get if a raise is not possible. 

  • Kiitos kun harkitsitte pyyntöäni. (“Thank you for considering my request.”)
  • Voisimmeko ehkä keskustella muista eduista? (“Could we perhaps discuss other benefits?”)

 Visit Bab.la for more Finnish business phrases you can use when making orders and dealing with invoices.

7. Lopuksi

In this guide, you’ve learned a lot of Finnish business phrases and vocabulary, from asking your coworkers for help to negotiating a raise. Which phrases are you going to use first? 

Also remember that we have a wealth of learning materials on FinnishPod101.com. Whether you’re determined to become a fluent Finnish speaker or are just learning the language for fun, we’re continuously adding new lessons and resources for all levels, so do visit us on a regular basis.

As always, we love reading your comments, so let us know if there are any other topics you would like to see us cover!

Happy learning, and good luck with your business endeavors!

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Learn Finnish: YouTube Channels You’ll Love Learning With!

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Have you ever considered using YouTube to take your Finnish learning to the next level? Chances are you’re already spending some time on the site (YouTube is the second most visited website after Google, after all), so why not combine pleasure with learning by watching a few videos in Finnish?

Whether you’re in the mood for something educational or silly, there are so many great Finnish YouTube channels out there with interesting content—trust us, you won’t run out of things to watch anytime soon! And since most YouTube videos tend to be short and sweet, watching a bit here and there is something that you can easily fit into a busy schedule.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Learning Finnish Using FinnishPod101 and YouTube
  2. Warner Music Finland
  3. Filminurkka
  4. Suomen Stand Up Club
  5. Lasten Uutiset
  6. Visit Finland
  7. K-Ruoka
  8. Sinä osaat! Suomen kieltä kaikille
  9. Finnished
  10. Learn Finnish with Finking Cap
  11. FinnishPod101
  12. Lopuksi

1. Learning Finnish Using FinnishPod101 and YouTube

Listening practice is one of the cornerstones of language learning, and you’ll quickly notice that the more you watch and listen to videos in Finnish, the faster you pick up the rhythm of the language—not to mention all the vocabulary you’ll learn. In fact, watching video content featuring native Finns could be the next best thing after actual interactions with Finnish people. And best of all, you can watch YouTube right from the comfort of your home!  

The sheer number of videos and channels on YouTube can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start looking. Fret not: we’ve done some of the legwork for you by picking ten of the best Finnish language YouTube channels for language learners. We’ve covered several channels aimed specifically at language learners (including our very own FinnishPod101 YouTube channel) as well as a range of other channels featuring music, comedy, travel, politics, and much more.

2. Warner Music Finland

Category: Music
Level: All

Listening to music is a highly enjoyable way to immerse yourself in a new language, whether you’re a complete beginner or an advanced learner. 

If you’re looking for popular Finnish songs, YouTube has no better destination than Warner Music Finland. You’ll find many of today’s most popular Finnish artists on Warner Music Finland, and new content is uploaded on a regular basis for your listening pleasure. This channel caters mainly for fans of Finnish pop music, but keep your eye out for rap and rock artists too. And if you really like a specific artist, such as Jenni Vartiainen or Antti Tuisku, you’ll find links to their individual channels here, as well.

Make sure to watch for lyriikkavideot (“lyric videos”) while on the channel. These are especially helpful for Finnish learners since you can look at the lyrics while you’re listening to them. We recommend singing (or just humming) along to the best of your ability; studies show that it can really enhance your language learning!

3. Filminurkka

Category: Films
Level: Intermediate & Advanced

Attention, film buffs! Filminurkka is the place to go if you want to combine your passion for the big screen with Finnish learning. Here you’ll find weekly videos discussing the latest blockbusters, videos documenting Finnish film festivals (e.g. Sodankylän Elokuvajuhlat and Rakkautta ja Anarkiaa), and interviews with top Finnish actors. This may just be the best place to find commentary and discussion about Finnish movies on YouTube! 

The only subtitles you’ll see are the Finnish ones provided for trailers in other languages, so the content is best suited to intermediate and advanced learners.

4. Suomen Stand Up Club

Category: Comedy
Level: Intermediate & Advanced

If comedy is your thing, you’ll find hours of laugh-out-loud performances by talented Finnish stand-up comedians (including the internationally celebrated Ismo Leikola) on Suomen Stand Up Club. Besides laughs, the material also provides a glimpse into Finnish culture and mentality—and of course, a fabulous opportunity to practice your listening skills.

No subtitles are provided, so the content won’t be easy for beginners to follow. However, if you’re looking for something more challenging to listen to, or want to get more used to spoken Finnish, this is the perfect channel for you.

5. Lasten Uutiset

Category: News, Culture, Science, Politics
Level: Beginner & Intermediate

Lasten Uutiset (“Children’s News”) is aimed at “children who want to know” (lapsille, jotka haluavat tietää). The channel also happens to be a brilliant resource for inquisitive and curious Finnish learners of all ages! Here, you’ll find weekly videos discussing recent news as well as a range of videos on topics such as science, politics, and culture. 

Because the channel is geared toward kids, the language doesn’t get very complicated or technical. Still, it’s a fantastic way to pick up topical vocabulary. And while there are no subtitles, key phrases do appear as text in the videos.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=55J-FpnMMc4
  • Learning the Finnish words for school subjects could come in handy while watching this channel!

6. Visit Finland

Category: Travel & Culture
Level: All

Visit Finland is not just a channel for travelers aspiring to spend some time in Finland. Yes, you’ll find plenty of inspiration here for a future trip or two to this lovely country, but the channel also provides fascinating insights into Finnish culture. 

From a language-learning point of view, you’ll definitely want to check out the videos where Finns from diverse backgrounds talk about their lives—head straight to the Symphony of Extremes and Finnish People playlists. Using English subtitles will help you with comprehension while you get used to hearing dialects from different parts of Finland.

7. K-Ruoka

Category: Cuisine
Level: Intermediate & Advanced

Cooking can be a really fun way to make Finnish a part of your daily life. Try it for yourself; follow a recipe in Finnish and see just how quickly you pick up key vocabulary related to cooking and food. 

Whether you like your meals vegetarian or meaty (or if you’re craving something sweet), there’s a playlist with exciting recipes for you to try on the Finnish food YouTube channel K-Ruoka. Not sure what you fancy? Start with the Mitä tänään syötäisiin? (“What shall we eat today?”) playlist.

No subtitles are provided, but you can work out a lot by just watching as each ingredient and step is shown. You can also find the recipes on the K-Ruoka website if you want to see the written versions in Finnish.

8. Sinä osaat! Suomen kieltä kaikille

Category: Language
Level: Beginner & Intermediate

Sinä Osaat! Suomen kieltä kaikille (“You can do it! Finnish language for everyone”), hosted by a Finnish teacher named Jenni, is a great source of Finnish lessons on YouTube. We highly recommend this channel for beginners and intermediate level learners looking to take their language skills to the next level.

If you’ve just started learning Finnish, head to the Suomen kielen alkeet (Basic Finnish) playlist with English subtitles, and if you’re a bit further along in your studies, you might want to watch Jenni’s videos on Finnish verbs and grammatical cases.

9. Finnished

Category: Language
Level: Everyone

The idea behind the Finnished YouTube channel is simple: The more you listen to the Finnish (or any other) language, the more you begin to “just get it.” The emphasis is completely on developing a solid intuitive understanding of the language through repeated exposure to common vocabulary and grammar structures.

The Finnish you’ll hear on Finnished is spoken Finnish rather than standard written Finnish. The speech is slow (super-slow in absolute beginner videos!), and there are subtitles in Finnish as well as English to make it as easy as possible for viewers to understand the content.

10. Learn Finnish with Finking Cap

Category: Language
Level: Beginner & Intermediate

We haven’t forgotten about you grammar enthusiasts, either—Finking Cap is for you! Emmi’s bite-sized lessons (all you need is one to five minutes per video) discuss Finnish grammar in a straightforward and easy-to-digest way. Everything is explained in English, so you can benefit from Finking Cap’s friendly introductions to topics like vowel harmony and the partitive as soon as you feel ready to dive into Finnish grammar.

11. FinnishPod101

Category: Language
Level: Everyone

Last but not least, we’re proud to introduce the FinnishPod101 YouTube channel. You’ll find an unrivalled range of Finnish learning content on our channel, from listening practice and language learning tips to essential grammar and vocabulary.

Our videos are compiled into handy playlists so that you can easily find whichever topic you’re after, at the correct level for you. Try our short and sweet Finnish in 3 minutes videos if you’re in a hurry, or join us on our epic 24/7 lesson stream if you’ve got some time to spare. We’re constantly uploading fresh content, so be sure to click that subscribe button to get notified of new videos!

12. Lopuksi

In this round-up, we’ve given you a brief tour of some of the best YouTube channels for Finnish learners in a variety of categories, from stand-up comedy to cookery. Whatever your level of Finnish, we hope that you’ve found something here that gets you really excited about practicing your listening skills. 

While our YouTube channel is full of free content, you’ll find even more free resources on our website. In particular, we recommend our vocabulary lists (here’s one for Talking about YouTube!) to the Ultimate Finnish Pronunciation Guide, so be sure to take a moment to explore everything we have to offer.

Which Finnish YouTube channel interests you the most? Have we left out your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

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10 Different Ways to Say Goodbye in Finnish

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Once you’ve learned how to say hello, mastering how to say goodbye in Finnish should be really high up on your list of essential language skills to pick up. Knowing a few key parting phrases will help you navigate formal and informal social situations with finesse, and using the right expressions is guaranteed to leave a favorable impression.

We’ll start off with the most important Finnish words for goodbye, and then walk you through a number of other expressions that Finns use when parting in different contexts. These include phrases that emphasize your desire to see someone again and phrases that you can use to wish someone well. Once you’ve learned a couple of your favorites, it will be easy to mix and match them to get your message across!

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Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. The Most Common Ways to Say Goodbye in Finnish
  2. Specific Ways to Say Goodbye
  3. Goodbye Gestures in Finland
  4. Lopuksi

1. The Most Common Ways to Say Goodbye in Finnish

Most Common Goodbyes

If you’re just after a quick translation for the word goodbye in Finnish, look no further. We’ll cover the most common formal and informal ways to say goodbye before moving on to other useful expressions. However, we really recommend sticking around until the end—there are numerous phrases to learn that are guaranteed to come in handy!

1 – Goodbye

When saying goodbye, there’s one word that you can safely use in almost any situation:

  • Näkemiin. (“Goodbye.”)

This expression is derived from the word nähdä (“to see”), and its literal meaning is “until seeing.” It’s a polite way to say goodbye, so you can use it whenever you’re talking to older people or those you don’t know very well.

The equivalent expression to use when ending a phone call is:

  • Kuulemiin. (“Goodbye.”)

 This one is derived from the word kuulla (“to hear”) and literally means “until hearing.”

2 – Bye

Now that we’ve covered the formal way to say goodbye, let’s see how to say a more informal “bye.” Actually,  the words in this section embody how to say hello and goodbye in Finnish—they can be used for both purposes! 

  • Hei (“Hi” / “Bye”)
  • Moi (“Hi” / “Bye”)

However, the words above can sound a little abrupt when parting, and it’s more common to use these longer variants when taking leave:

  • Hei hei (“Bye-bye”)
  • Moi moi (“Bye-bye”)

These Finnish phrases for goodbye are neutral expressions and are very common in Finland. They can be used in a variety of situations, from business meetings to coffee dates with friends.

And finally, these two words are more casual versions of hei and moi:

  • Heippa (“Hi” / “Bye”)
  • Moikka (“Hi” / “Bye”)
A Boy and a Girl Waving

Hei hei, nähdään koulun jälkeen. (“Bye-bye, see you after school.”)

2. Specific Ways to Say Goodbye

Now you know the most essential expressions, but let’s not leave it there! Now we’re going to learn a number of phrases that will take your goodbyes to the next level.

1 – See you!

The Finnish equivalent to the casual expression “see you” is the verb nähdä (“to see”) in its passive form:

  • Nähdään! (“See you!”)
  • Nähdään taas. (“See you again.”)

You can use this expression with people you know well, and whom you expect to see again sometime. Here are a few different variations you can use in case you want to be a bit more specific about when you plan to see them again:

  • Nähdään pian. (“See you soon.”)
  • Nähdään myöhemmin. (“See you later.”)
  • Nähdään huomenna. (“See you tomorrow.”)
  • Nähdään ensi viikolla. (“See you next week.”)
  • Nähdään maanantaina. (“See you on Monday.”)

You can customize that final phrase by using any other day of the week—just add the ending -na to the name of the weekday. In case you need a refresher on how to say the days of the week in Finnish, you’ll find them all on this vocabulary list.

Other verbs can also be used in a similar way. Take, for example, the humorous phrase below, using the verb törmäillä (“to repeatedly bump into something”) in the passive form:

Törmäillään! (“See you!”)

Learn more about the passive voice in Finnish on Wikipedia.

A Circled Date on a Calendar

It’s a date!

2 – Until next time!

Here are some more examples of how to say goodbye in Finland when you expect to meet someone again. In these expressions, the noun is in the illative case.

  • Ensi kertaan! (“Until next time!”)
  • Seuraavaan kertaan! (“Until next time!”)

Note that the word ensi can mean either “the first” or “the next,” depending on the context. For example, ensi-ilta refers to the premiere or opening (i.e. the first) night of a film or theater production. In contrast, seuraava always means “the next.”

Using the same form, you can also refer to meeting someone the next day, for example:

  • Huomiseen! (“Until tomorrow!”)
  • Ensi viikkoon! (“Until next week!”)

3 – Keep well.

It’s nice to wish somebody well when saying goodbye! Let’s take a look at a couple of ways to do just that.

The verb voida is used to express how someone is feeling or doing. Using the imperative mood, you can use this verb to wish someone well, particularly when you’re not going to see them for a while:

  • Voi hyvin. (“Keep well.”)

You can also use the word pärjäillä (“to be fine” / “to do okay”) when you want to wish someone well. These expressions are especially relevant when the other person is going through challenging times (though the first one can also be neutral):

  • Pärjäile. (“Hang in there.”)
  • Koita pärjätä. (“Try to hang in there.”)

Want to wish them all the best? Say this:

  • Kaikkea hyvää. (“All the best.”)

Holding Hands

Koita pärjätä. (“Try to hang in there.”)

4 – It was nice to see you.

Here’s how to tell someone that you’ve enjoyed your time with them:

  • Oli kiva nähdä. (“It was nice to see you.”)

Note that the Finnish sentence doesn’t actually include the words “it” (se) and “you” (sinä). A literal translation would be: “Was nice to see.”

Here are a couple of similar expressions:

  • Oli hauska tutustua. (“It was fun to meet you.”)
  • Oli mukava jutella. (“It was lovely to chat with you.”)

Would you like to construct more sentences like those above to suit a specific situation? Look up more verbs in Finnish on our most common verbs list.

5 – Let’s keep in touch.

Have you made a nice Finnish friend and want to chat again? Here are a few Finnish goodbye phrases you can use to say so. Remember nähdään (“see you”)? Again, we’re going to use the passive form of our chosen verb:

  • Pidetään yhteyttä. (“Let’s keep in touch.”)
  • Palataan asiaan. (“Let’s get back to it.”)
  • Palaillaan. (“Let’s get back to it.” – A casual alternative to the phrase above.)
  • Soitellaan. (“Let’s keep calling.”)
  • Kirjoitellaan. (“Let’s keep writing.”)
A Woman on the Phone

Soitellaan. (“Let’s keep calling.”)

6 – Have a nice day.

Here are a few different ways to tell someone to have a nice time as you part ways:

  • Hyvää päivän jatkoa. (“Have a nice day onwards.”)
  • Hauskaa iltaa. (“Have a fun evening.” – Used especially when the other person has special plans.)
  • Hyvää illan jatkoa. (“Have a nice evening onwards.”)
  • Hyvää yötä. (“Goodnight.”)
  • Hyvää viikonloppua. (“Have a nice weekend.”)
  • Hyvää lomaa. (“Have a nice vacation.”)

Note that the word jatko in päivän jatkoa and illan jatkoa refers to a “continuation” of the day or evening. You can use the word jatko by itself, too. This expression is suited for situations when you’re not going to see the other person for a while:

  • Hyvää jatkoa. (“All the best in the future.”)

A Smiling Older Woman at a Door.

Hyvää yötä! (“Goodnight!”)

7 – Farewell.

Tread carefully! This is an expression that you should only really use if you never expect (or intend) to see someone again:

  • Hyvästi. (“Farewell.”)

This word is derived from the word hyvä (“good”), and it’s used as a common way to wish someone well when parting. So why does it have a somewhat negative connotation now? The meaning of the word changed during wartime—because you couldn’t be sure if you would ever see your loved ones again, the expression became associated with a permanent parting of ways. Nowadays, hyvästi is rarely used in Finland, and it sounds fairly formal.

An Unhappy Couple Facing Away From Each Other.

Hyvästi means goodbye forever.

8 – Saying goodbye in an email or letter

What about saying goodbye in writing? Here are a couple of ways to close an email or letter in Finnish:

  • Terveisin. (“Best wishes.”)
  • Ystävällisin terveisin. (“Kind regards.”)
  • Rakkaudella. (“Much love.”)
  • Kiittäen. (“Thanks.”)

You can learn more Finnish expressions to use in emails and letters on here.

3. Goodbye Gestures in Finland

So now you’ve learned a lot of goodbye expressions, but what about goodbye gestures?

A simple wave of the hand works in any casual situation, whereas a brief and firm handshake is commonplace when saying goodbye in formal situations. Hugging is common among close friends, family members, and romantic partners, while French-style cheek kisses are not used in Finland.

Want to learn more about Finnish customs and manners? Read more about the topic on This is Finland.

Two Women Shaking Hands.

If in doubt, shake hands!

4. Lopuksi

In this article, you’ve learned numerous ways to say goodbye in Finnish, so you’ll never be at a loss for words when taking your leave! If you’re unsure about how to pronounce these expressions, you can find recordings of many of them on our list of the most common ways to say goodbye in Finnish, available for free on FinnishPod101.com.

While on our website, be sure to explore our other vocabulary lists (we frequently add new ones), our convenient three-minute video lessons, and our entertaining audio lessons. You can sign up for a free account to keep track of the lessons you’ve taken, or go for a Premium PLUS account to reach fluency fast with the help of an experienced Finnish teacher.

Which expressions are your favorites? Are there any other ways to say goodbye in Finnish you’ve heard that we didn’t cover? As always, we love to hear from you, so join the discussion by leaving a comment!

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Is Finnish Hard to Learn?

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Finnish has a reputation of being a difficult language to learn. But is Finnish hard to learn, really? 

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has come up with a difficulty ranking for language-learning based on how different each language is from English. Using this system, FSI has placed Finnish in category IV. In other words, an English-speaker would need approximately forty-four weeks (or 1,100 hours) to reach general professional proficiency in Finnish (speaking and reading).

In general, it’s the Finnish grammar that tends to put learners off. However, there are many aspects of the language that learners also find very straightforward and simple! So perhaps we should reframe the question: How easy is it to learn Finnish?

Let’s take a closer look at each side of the coin so you can decide for yourself!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Why Finnish is a Lot Easier to Learn Than You Think!
  2. What are the Challenging Parts of Learning Finnish?
  3. I Want to Learn Finnish. Where Should I Start?
  4. A Few More Quick Tips for New Finnish-Learners
  5. Why is FinnishPod101 Great for Learning Finnish?

A Boy Having Difficulties in His Study

Does Finnish deserve its reputation as a difficult language?

1. Why Finnish is a Lot Easier to Learn Than You Think!

1 – The pronunciation is highly regular.

If you’ve ever struggled with unpredictable pronunciation and silent letters while learning a new language, you’re going to love Finnish! In general, each sound in the Finnish language corresponds to a specific letter in the alphabet. Learn these sounds and you can simply “say what you see” (with very few exceptions).

The Finnish stress pattern is also a gift to language-learners: the primary stress always falls on the first syllable of a word. So forget about awkward accent marks—you’ll find none in Finnish. 

Why not learn the Finnish alphabet from A to Z with our free eBook?

The Alphabet

Most sounds used in Finnish correspond to a specific letter.

2 – There’s no grammatical gender or articles.

If you were learning a language like French or Spanish, having to memorize the gender of each noun would certainly slow you down. Finnish-learners rejoice: You can forget all about that nonsense! There are no gendered nouns in Finnish. Even the third person singular pronoun hän (“he” / “she”) is gender-neutral, so there’s no risk of offending anyone by accidentally using the wrong pronoun.

There are no articles either. Whether you’re talking about “a dog” or “the dog,” in Finnish, it’s the same: koira.

A Male and Female Symbol

You’ll find no gendered nouns in Finnish!

3 – It’s easy to expand your vocabulary fast.

At first glance, Finnish can look completely alien to an English-speaker. However, learning new words can be surprisingly easy.

Loanwords

It won’t take long until you start spotting familiar words. Finnish has borrowed many words from other languages, and according to lexicographers, the number of English loanwords entering Finnish is growing every year. A relatively recent addition is internetti (“internet”), or netti for short. 

Compound words

Another reason you’ll be able to expand your Finnish vocabulary faster than you thought is the large number of compound words in the language. It’ll often be a breeze to work out the meaning of a compound word if you’re already familiar with the component words. 

  • jääkaappi (“fridge” – “ice + cupboard”)
  • tietokone (“computer” – “knowledge + machine”)

Derivative suffixes

Another thing that can help you pick up Finnish words quickly is to learn related words in groups. All the words in the list below are derived from the same word stem:

  • kirja (“book”)
  • kirjain (“letter” / “character”)
  • kirjasto (“library”)
  • kirjanen (“pamphlet”)
  • kirjoitus (“text” / “writing” – noun)
  • kirjailija (“writer”)
  • kirjaimellinen (“literal”)
  • kirjallisuus (“literature”)
  • kirjoittaa (“to write”)

Many of these words have been created by attaching a suffix to the word stem. For example, the word for “library” is created by applying the suffix -sto, which signifies a collection of things (books, in this case). Familiarizing yourself with some of the more common suffixes can really speed up your vocabulary learning!

Learn more about Finnish noun-forming suffixes here and find more derivational suffixes here.

A Little Girl in the Library

Kirjasto (“library”) literally means ‘a collection of books.’

 4 – There’s no future tense.

Could Finnish be any more streamlined? Yes! Because there’s no future tense. Why overcomplicate things? 

Future actions in Finnish are usually expressed using the present tense. You can work out the difference from the context or from the use of adverbs like huomenna (“tomorrow”) or ensi vuonna (“next year”).

A Woman with Artificial Intelligence

Talking about the future? Just use the present tense!

 5 – The grammar is consistent.

Few things about language-learning are as frustrating as learning a rule by heart only to trip over one exception after another. We’ll get to the challenging aspects of Finnish grammar in due course, but for now, let us just say this: Finnish grammar is typically very consistent and regular. Yes, it may take you a while to become ‘besties’ with Finnish grammar, but once you do, you’ve found yourself a very good friend that you can rely on!

 2. What are the Challenging Parts of Learning Finnish?

We’re never going to lie and say that learning Finnish is all easy. There are aspects of the language that can feel very frustrating at first—but the same is true about any language, right? The trick is to know what you’re in for, take it step-by-step, and keep the faith!

Here are a few things that make Finnish hard to learn…

1 – The notorious noun cases

English-speakers are used to relying on lots of little words, like prepositions, to convey information. In Finnish, the same is usually achieved by inflecting words. While only three noun cases are used in modern English (the subjective, the objective, and the possessive), there’s a grand total of fifteen noun cases in Finnish.

Understandably, this can make prospective Finnish-learners nervous. To illustrate the difficulties, let’s talk about cake.

  • Minä pidän kakusta. (“I like cake.”)
  • Minä haluan kakkua. (“I want cake.”)
  • Minulla on kakku. (“I have a cake.”)
  • Minä söin kakun. (“I ate a cake.”)
  • Minä olen kyllästynyt kakkuun. (“I’m sick of cake.”)

You’ve just seen five different cases (elative, partitive, nominative, genitive, and illative) in action! Wherever you turn, you’re bound to run into noun cases. But while it may take you a while to learn the rules, remember that Finnish grammar is consistent and logical. You’ve got this!

A Slice of Cake

Sick of cake—or noun cases?

2 – Say hello to even more word endings

As if noun cases weren’t enough, there are even more endings for you to learn. You have a choice of seven different clitics. They can often be combined, like this:

  •  Onkohan se totta? (“I wonder if it’s true?”)

In the example above, the ending -ko turns the verb on (“is”) into a question, while the ending -han changes the tone, making the question less pressing and direct (“I wonder if”). If using more than one clitic, you need to get the order right!

Learn more about Finnish clitics and their uses here.

A Woman with Lots of Questions on Her Head

Onkohan se totta? (“I wonder if it’s true?”)

3 – Verb conjugation

Verb conjugation is another thing that can make the Finnish language hard to learn and induce feelings of dread in new learners! In Finnish, there are six main types of verbs that all behave somewhat differently. In order to inflect verbs correctly, you’ll need to be able to recognize the different verb types and remember what changes take place when the verb is inflected.

However, we’ve got some good news, too. You’ll be glad to know that irregular verbs are very rare in Finnish! The main offenders are the verb olla (“to be”), juosta (“to run”), tehdä (“to do”), and nähdä (“to see”). Once you’ve dealt with those, you’re unlikely to come across another irregular verb.

Find a concise introduction to Finnish verbs on our website, learn more about the six different Finnish verb types in this lesson, and dive deeper into Finnish verb conjugation on Wikipedia.

Children Happy Running

Juosta (“to run”): a rare example of an irregular verb in Finnish.

4 – Consonant gradation

Consonant gradation has to do with spelling changes that affect the stem of a noun when an ending is added. It’s also considered one of the most tedious aspects of learning Finnish! However, the rules of consonant gradation are logical, so there’s no doubt that you’ll master this skill—as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.

Learn about consonant gradation here, and see more examples in this lesson.

5 – Finnish is full of long words

The Finns’ love for compound words can get out of hand sometimes. In theory, it’s possible to coin massive word monsters by combining any number of words (though four words is typically the maximum you’ll see). From a learner’s point of view, this can make some Finnish words a nightmare to make sense of.

Here are some long Finnish compound words that you might come across: 

  • käsipyyherullajärjestelmä (“hand towel roll system”)
  • pyyhkäisyelektronimikroskooppi (“scanning electron microscope”)
  • elintarviketurvallisuusvirasto (“food safety authority”)
  • kolmivaihekilowattituntimittari (“three phase kilowatt hour meter”)

As you can imagine, these are not only hard to spell, but they’re also some pretty hard Finnish words to pronounce! 

Thankfully, most compound words consist of only two words! And once you’re more comfortable with compound words, you can even start having fun with them. That is, you can create your very own compound words in Finnish, and no one will bat an eyelid as long as they make sense!

A Woman Making Funny Face

Is that a word or a tongue-twister?!

3. I Want to Learn Finnish. Where Should I Start?

1 – Define your goal.

First of all, be clear about why you want to learn Finnish! Do you want to learn a little conversational Finnish in preparation for a trip to Finland? Are you dreaming of living in Finland one day and want to pass the YKI exam? Or are you addicted to Nordic Noir and desperate to read Finnish crime novels that haven’t been translated yet?

Your learning strategy will depend on what you want to achieve, so define your goal and keep it in mind to stay motivated!

A Dart Bullseye

Stay focused on your learning target.

2 – Start with the vocabulary that you need the most.

If you’re planning to learn Finnish, you’ll want to start using the language as quickly as possible. To do just that, make sure you prioritize learning the most relevant vocabulary and expressions. Of course, what’s most relevant depends on you! Are you planning to travel around Finland? Get started with some essential travel vocabulary. Or perhaps you’re dating a Finn? Learn how to compliment him or her.

You can create personalized flashcards to help you learn your chosen words. Alternatively, get started with the 100 most common Finnish words.

A Man Travelling with Suitcase

Plan to travel in Finland? Start learning travel vocabulary, like matkalaukku (“suitcase”).

 3 – Break grammar into manageable chunks.

Finnish grammar can feel overwhelming at times, but you don’t need to take it all in right away! Focus on practicing just a few noun cases at first, and tackle the conjugation of one verb type at a time. And if you do get frustrated, remember that Finnish is a very logical and methodical language. Remain patient, and you’ll get there!

4 – Speak from day one.

You may think of speaking as one of the last steps you take in the process of learning a new language. You wouldn’t want to embarrass yourself by mispronouncing words or making grammar mistakes, right? No—we passionately advocate the exact opposite! Start speaking Finnish as soon as possible, and use every opportunity to use the words and phrases that you’re learning. This will boost your confidence and also help you learn by trial and error. Don’t ever let the fear of making mistakes hold you back.

Get started right away with these Finnish key phrases.

Friends Chatting with Each Other while Drinking

Don’t be shy! Speak Finnish from day one.

4. A Few More Quick Tips for New Finnish-Learners 

1 – Don’t give up!

Learning a language takes time and effort. If it didn’t, we’d all be polyglots! Therefore, you’re likely to get frustrated at times. If this happens to you, take a break from whatever you’re struggling with and focus on something easier (like learning new vocabulary) for a bit. And if you ever get really stuck, you can always reach out to an experienced Finnish tutor for extra help and guidance.

2 – Immerse yourself.

Boost your learning by taking every opportunity to expose yourself to Finnish. Find Finnish music and podcasts to listen to (you’re getting used to the sounds and the rhythm of the language, even if you understand very little to start with!). You should also watch YouTube videos and films in Finnish, and start reading articles and books as soon as possible. Seeing and hearing Finnish used in real life helps solidify the lessons you’ve learned in a fun and exciting way.

3 – Team up with other learners.

Sharing your triumphs and struggles, and exchanging language-learning tips with other people, can be really motivating! Why not chat with other Finnish learners on social media? Check out our Instagram and Facebook pages to engage with other learners.

4 – Make language-learning a part of your routine.

If you can make time for language-learning on a regular basis, you’ll make progress a lot faster. The best way is to schedule time to study Finnish each day. Could you fit in a lesson or two during your morning commute or your lunch break? Our language apps allow you to access Finnish lessons anywhere, and are the perfect way to incorporate Finnish-learning effortlessly into your life, no matter how busy you are!

A Man Listening Something with His Headphone

Use our app to access Finnish lessons on-the-go.

5. Why is FinnishPod101 Great for Learning Finnish?

If you’re keen to learn Finnish, FinnishPod101 has an effective learning system for learners at every level.  

1 – An integrated approach

One of the strengths of our method is combining multiple skills into a single lesson. Combining grammar notes with a listening exercise, for example, makes our lessons more organic and powerful, helping you progress faster.

2 – Plenty of free resources

Whether you’re just dipping your toes into Finnish-learning to see if it’s really for you, or are already fully committed to becoming fluent, we have a huge collection of suitable learning materials for you. Even better, a lot of our content is completely free to use.

3 – Customizable content

From customized vocabulary flashcards to lesson pathways tailored to your specific needs, our system is designed to support you and help you reach your personal learning goals, whatever they are.

4 – Extra help from a Finnish tutor

If you ever need extra support or want to take your language learning to the next level, our Premium PLUS program gives you access to a private Finnish tutor. Your tutor can help you with all aspects of language-learning, such as giving you feedback on your pronunciation and providing personalized assignments to help you test your knowledge.

A Woman Hands Up in the Air

We’ll help you succeed!

So how hard is it to learn Finnish? In this guide, we’ve discussed the notorious noun cases (among other stumbling blocks that Finnish-learners face), as well as the many ways in which Finnish can be surprisingly straightforward. Our final verdict is this: The language has its challenges, but learning Finnish is definitely doable—and also very rewarding!

What are your thoughts? Are you feeling more hesitant or reassured? Feel free to reach out to us if you want to know more about how we can help you learn Finnish!

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The 10 Most Common Finnish Mistakes That Learners Make

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Learning a new language is a great adventure. On your journey, you’ll come across many tricky sounds, some confusing grammar, and many words that seem to behave strangely for no good reason… 

But all good adventurers come prepared, and we’re here to help you prepare! That is, we’ll shine our spotlight on the ten most common Finnish mistakes, so that your journey will go that much more smoothly. In addition, knowing what Finnish mistakes to watch out for will give you an easier time making yourself understood when speaking with locals.

We’ll be looking at common pronunciation mistakes for Finnish-learners, typical mistakes in Finnish grammar, and a few other things that Finnish-learners often struggle with. Be sure to read to the end of this guide, where we’ll reveal the biggest mistake of all!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Long Vowels and Double Consonants
  2. Tricky Sounds
  3. Common Homonyms
  4. The Many Meanings of No niin!
  5. Postpositions
  6. The Object Trilemma: Partitive, Nominative, or Accusative?
  7. Vowel Harmony
  8. Consonant Gradation
  9. Repeating Things Unnecessarily
  10. Not Preparing for Spoken Finnish
  11. The Biggest Mistake!

A Little Boy Frustrated with His Homework

Älä huoli, kaikki tekevät virheitä! (“Don’t worry, everybody makes mistakes!”)

1. Long Vowels and Double Consonants

Have you noticed how many Finnish words sound extremely similar to each other? Often, the only difference is a double letter, so it’s very easy to mix up similar words. However, taking time to tune your ear to the sound of long vowels and double consonants—and getting your pronunciation right—is very important. A single letter can change the meaning of a word drastically.

Consider these very similar-sounding statements:

  • Tapaan Esan huomenna! (“I’m meeting Esa tomorrow!”)
  • Tapan Esan huomenna! (“I’m killing Esa tomorrow!”)

Poor Esa will surely hope you meant the first one! Here are other examples of words that look and sound very similar:

  • tuli / tuuli / tulli (“fire” / “wind” / “customs”)
  • muta / mutta / muuttaa (“mud” / “but” / “to move”)
  • tili / tiili / tilli (“account” / “brick” / “dill”)

 Here’s the rule of thumb when it comes to pronunciation: Double equals longer and stronger.

Flames Against a Dark Background

Tuli, ei tuuli! (“Fire, not wind!”)

2. Tricky Sounds

While most sounds in Finnish will present no problems for English-speakers, there are a couple that can be challenging and require some practice to get right. Trust us, with enough practice and exposure, you’ll be able to avoid an embarrassing pronunciation mistake in Finnish later on down the line.

 Let’s take a closer look at the Finnish ä, ö, y, and r!

Ä

Ä: pronounced like “a” in “that” and “cat”

Ää: pronounced like the “a” in “bad” and “sad”

Go ahead and say these words out loud:

  • äkkiä (“quickly”)
  • äiti (“mother”)
  • ääni (“sound”)
  • häät (“wedding”)

Ö

 Ö: Pronounced like “e” in “better”

Öö: Pronounced like “ea” in “earn” or “u” in “turn”

 A few words for you to practice with:

  • öinen (“nightly”)
  • ötökkä (“bug”)
  • lööppi (“headline”)
  • söötti (“cute” – colloquial) 

Y

The “y” sound is one of the trickiest for Finnish-learners to master, because it isn’t found in English. The best way to get the sound just right is to listen to recordings of Finnish words with y and repeat those words until you feel confident. 

For example, listen to the recording of tyttärentytär (“granddaughter”) on this vocabulary list.

Here are a few more words for you to practice with:

  • yksi (“one”)
  • nyt (“now”)
  • kyynel (“teardrop”)
  • tyyny (“pillow”)

R

If you’re struggling with the Finnish “r,” take heart—even many Finns get help from a speech therapist to correct their ärrävika (saying “r” incorrectly) while growing up!

If you’ve ever studied Spanish, you’ll have an advantage because the Finnish “r” is similar to the “r” sound in Spanish. The key to getting the clear sound is to really roll the “r.” You can literally feel your tongue vibrating when you’re doing it right!

Note that the Finnish “r” is made at the front of the mouth (the same place where you make the “d” sound!), while the English “r” is made further back in the mouth.

Here’s a selection of Finnish words to practice rolling your “r” with. Remember to make the sound longer when you see a double “r”!

  • ravintola (“restaurant”)
  • radio (“radio”)
  • suuri (“big”)
  • murre (“dialect”)

If you’re feeling especially brave, try this Finnish tongue-twister:

  •  Ärrän kierrän ympäri orren. (“I wrap the ‘r’ around the perch.”)

Would you like more help with your pronunciation? FinnishPod101.com has a comprehensive guide to Finnish sounds and how to master them, a Finnish alphabet page, and a relevant audio lesson.

A Little Kid Holding Snow in Hands

The Finnish sound “y” is made with rounded lips.

3. Common Homonyms

Alright, so we’ve gone on quite a bit about Finnish words that are similar to each other. Now we’re going to talk about homonyms—words that sound and look the same but have different meanings. They’re very common in Finnish!

Being aware of common homonyms means that you’re less likely to trip over them, so let’s take a look at some examples, starting with the classic kuusi palaa.

The word kuusi can mean any of these things: 

  • “Six”
  • “A fir tree” 
  • “Your moon” (kuu + the possessive suffix -si)

The word palaa can mean any of these things: 

  • “Pieces” (in the partitive case)
  • “Burns” 
  • “Returns”

Therefore, kuusi palaa can mean a fair number of things, including “six pieces” and “the fir tree is burning”!

Here are a few more words with different meanings:

  • Tuli (“fire” or “came” in third person singular)
  • Keksi (“biscuit” or “invented” in third person singular)
  • Kurkku (“cucumber” or “throat”)

Discover more Finnish homonyms on this list.

4. The Many Meanings of No niin!

If you’re spending time in Finland, you’ll probably hear no niin (or noni) uttered a lot. Many Finnish-learners are confused by the sheer range of meanings that this simple utterance can have. It can signal enthusiasm, disappointment, and irritation, for starters. You can’t simply decide that no niin means “well” or “now” and be done with it. The Finnish stand-up comedian Ismo Leikola went so far as to claim that no niin is the most important Finnish expression there is!

 Here are a few examples of no niin in action.

  • No niin, ruoka on valmista! (“Okay, the food is ready!”)
  • No niin, hieno homma! (“That’s great, well done!”)
  • No niin, taas mennään. (“Oh dear, here we go again.”)
  • No niin, aika näyttää. (“Well, time will tell.”)

5. Postpositions

In general, you’ll find that Finnish word order is not that dissimilar from the English one. Take this basic declarative sentence:

  • Mies söi omenan. (“A man ate an apple.”) 

It follows the subject + verb + object order that you’re already familiar with. 

However, there are still a few word order surprises for Finnish-learners. A case in point is Finnish postpositions, which express place, cause, time, consequence, or relation. While in English, you would say “behind the sofa” or “after school,” in Finnish, you’ll put the adposition after your noun, hence the term postposition. Note that the noun will usually be in the genitive case.

Look at these examples with the postposition underlined:

  • Sohvan takana (“Behind the sofa”)
  • Pöydän päällä (“On top of the table”)
  • Maton alla (“Under the rug”)
  • Laatikon sisällä (“Inside the box”)
  • Koulun jälkeen (“After school”)

You can learn more Finnish postpositions on Wiktionary.

Though far less common, there are a few prepositions in Finnish as well. The most useful ones to memorize are ennen (“before”) and ilman (“without”). Note that the noun is now in the partitive case.

  • Ennen joulua (“Before Christmas”)
  • Ilman apua (“Without help”)

Wait! Then we have a couple of words that can be either, such as keskellä (“in the middle of”) and lähellä (“near”)! Remember that the order affects the case of the noun. 

  • Keskellä kaupunkia (“In the middle of the city”)
  • Kaupungin keskellä (“In the middle of the city”)

Learn more vocabulary related to positions and directions on our website.

A Man Crossing His Fingers Behind His Back

Selän takana (“Behind the back”)

6. The Object Trilemma: Partitive, Nominative, or Accusative?

One aspect of Finnish grammar that scares prospective learners (and frustrates the current ones) the most is the use of numerous noun cases. We agree, it’s a lot to wrap your head around. But on the bright side, once you’ve mastered your noun cases, you’ll be well on your way to Finnish fluency!

The best approach to learning the noun cases is to focus on a few at a time and practice them a lot (and then practice them some more). Right now, we’ll focus on the tricky trilemma of choosing whether to put the object of your sentence into the nominative, accusative, or partitive case. Getting it wrong is one of the easiest mistakes in Finnish to make, but we know that you can do this!

1. The object in the partitive case

Choose the partitive when:

  • The object follows a partitive verb, such as rakastaa (“to love”), vihata (“to hate”), or odottaa (“to wait for”).
  • The object is a part of a negative sentence.
  • The object follows a number.
  • The action is taking place now and may not be fully completed.
  • The object is uncountable.

 Examples:

  • Minä rakastan sinua. (“I love you.”)
  • En halua koiraa. (“I don’t want a dog.”)
  • Sanna lukee kirjaa. (“Sanna is reading a book.”)
  • Arto juo kahvia. (“Arto is drinking coffee.”)

 2. The object in the nominative case

Choose the nominative when:

  • The object follows a verb that’s in the passive form.
  • The object follows a necessive, such as minun on pakko (“I have to”), minun täytyy (“I must”), or minun pitää (“I need”). 
  • The object follows a command.

Examples:

  • Tänään siivotaan keittiö. (“Today, the kitchen is cleaned.”)
  • Minun täytyy pedata sänky. (“I must make the bed.”)
  • Ota puhelin. (“Take the phone.”) 

3. The object in the accusative case

Finally, choose the accusative case when: 

  • The action has been fully completed.
  • The intention is to fully complete the action.

Examples:

  • Ostin kesämökin. (“I bought a summer cottage.”)
  • Aion sulkea oven. (“I’m going to close the door.”)

No niin, you’ve probably already spotted a problem here. What if several of these rules apply to the same sentence? Well, in situations like that, the partitive trumps the nominative, and the nominative trumps the accusative. So, the hierarchy looks like this:

Partitive > Nominative > Accusative

Can you think of a mnemonic to help you remember the correct order? Things get more complicated when you add things like plurals or possessive suffixes into the mix, but that is a lesson for another day! For now, keep your eye on objects and cases whenever you’re reading Finnish sentences, and see if you can work out which rule is being followed.

A Girl Reading a Book

Tyttö lukee kirjaa. (“A girl is reading a book.”)

7. Vowel Harmony

Compared to the difficulty of wrestling with the Finnish noun cases, figuring out vowel harmony is a walk in the park. Still, forgetting about vowel harmony is a common mistake in the Finnish language, so let’s take a closer look.

What exactly is vokaaliharmonia (“vowel harmony”), and why does it matter? In Finnish, vowels are grouped into front, back, and neutral vowels. 

  • Front vowels: A, O, U
  • Back vowels: Y, Ä, Ö
  • Neutral vowels: E, I

Normally, you can’t mix front and back vowels in the same word, while neutral vowels can mix with either front or back vowels. Knowing this will help you with your spelling, but more importantly, it will help you choose the right endings when you inflect words.

For example, talo (“house”) in the partitive case becomes taloa, but mörkö (“ghost”) inflected in the partitive case becomes mörköä. Words containing only neutral vowels generally take the same ending as words with back vowels. For example: vintti (“attic”) becomes vinttiä in the partitive case.

Note that there are some words that don’t follow the rules, including many loanwords.

  • konduktööri (“conductor”)
  • Olympialaiset (“Olympics”)
Olympic Rings on White Background

Vokaaliharmonia ei päde olympialaiset-sanaan.
(“Vowel harmony doesn’t apply to the word ‘Olympics’.”)

8. Consonant Gradation

Another type of error Finnish-learners make quite often has to do with astevaihtelu (“consonant gradation”). It’s something you’ll come across a lot in your Finnish studies, so it’s good to learn about it sooner rather than later!

Consonant gradation comes into play when we add an ending to a noun or a verb. There are “strong” and “weak” grades of words, and these grades determine whether the word changes or not. As you probably guessed, “strong” words don’t change while “weak” words do.

We’ll look at simple consonant gradation affecting words with the consonants K, P, and T.

Examples of words in the nominative case (the basic form), which is always strong:

  • pankki (“bank”)
  • kuppi (“cup”)
  • katto (“roof”)

The same words are also strong in the following cases:

  • Partitive: pankkia, kuppia, kattoa
  • Illative: pankkiin, kuppiin, kattoon
  • Essive: pankkina, kuppina, kattona

See? No changes there. However, when the same words are in the following cases, they become weak and drop a letter:

  • Plural: pankit, kupit, katot
  • Genitive: pankin, kupin, katon
  • Inessive: pankissa, kupissa, katossa
  • Elative: pankista, kupista, katosta
  • Adessive: pankilla, kupilla, katolla
  • Ablative: pankilta, kupilta, katolta
  • Allative: pankille, kupille, katolle
  • Translative: pankiksi, kupiksi, katoksi

That was so easy that you’ll no doubt want to know more about Finnish consonant gradation. Luckily, there’s a lot more to learn! You could start by reading this Wikipedia article or listening to this audio lesson.

A Woman with a Large Stack of Papers in Front of Her

Just doing some light reading on Finnish consonant gradation.

9. Repeating Things Unnecessarily

One mistake that many Finnish-learners make is putting a lot of effort into things like memorizing correct verb conjugation but not taking advantage of what they’ve learned! Whatever do we mean? Well, conjugating like a pro allows you to become “lazy.” That is, you can start dropping unnecessary words like minä (“I”)!

Take a look at this introduction:

  • Hei, minä olen Helena! Minä asun Oulussa. (“Hi, I’m Helena! I live in Oulu.”)

Our example is grammatically correct. However, the conjugated verb already tells us that the subject of the sentence is “I.” Therefore, you can drop it and no one will miss it!

  • Hei, olen Helena! Asun Oulussa.

Leaving out words that aren’t strictly necessary sounds more natural to Finnish ears. The same applies when you’re asking questions. Feel free to drop sinä (“you”) as well. For example:

  • Puhutko sinä suomea? (“Do you speak Finnish?”)
  • Puhutko suomea?

Listen to this audio lesson, where we chat more about this common mistake.

10. Not Preparing for Spoken Finnish

For many Finnish-learners, their first time talking to a Finn in real life comes as a shock. Why? Spoken Finnish can sound very different from standard Finnish!

In general, spoken Finnish is simply more economical than standard Finnish.

Here are some common features of spoken Finnish:

  • Syllables are dropped. 
    • e.g. mutta (“but”) becomes mut.
  • Words are ‘squished’ together. 
    • e.g. Tuutsä? (“Are you coming?”) instead of Tuletko sinä?
  • The word se (“it”) replaces hän (“he” / “she”).
  • The verb is in the passive form in the first person plural. 
    • e.g. Me ollaan koulussa. (“We are in school.”) instead of Me olemme koulussa.
  • The possessive suffix is dropped. 
    • e.g. Minun koira (“My dog”) instead of Minun koirani.

Learn more about colloquial Finnish on Wikipedia.

Two Women Chatting with Each Other on a Park Bench

Wait, are we speaking Finnish?

11. The Biggest Mistake!

No niin, we’ve finally made it to the big reveal! So, what is the biggest mistake a Finnish-learner could make? Being afraid of making mistakes! That’s right; mistakes are a part of your learning journey, so embrace them.

We certainly don’t expect you to never make any of the mistakes mentioned in this article. What we do hope, though, is that you’ve become more aware of the common pitfalls, so that you’ll notice more easily when you might have stumbled. In order to learn from our mistakes, we need to be able to notice them first!

FinnishPod101 is full of free resources to help you with your Finnish studies, so remember to make full use of them! For example, a brilliant way to perfect your pronunciation of tricky Finnish sounds is to listen to the audio recordings that accompany our vocabulary lists and repeat each word out loud!

And if you’d like an experienced teacher to help you wrap your head around consonant gradation or any other grammar rules, our Premium PLUS one-on-one coaching is perfect for you. 

However you prefer to learn, we’re cheering you on!

Before you go, let us know in the comments how many of these mistakes you’ve made before. We look forward to hearing from you!

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10 Essential Finnish Language Questions & How to Answer Them

Have you ever stopped to think just how often we ask questions on a daily basis? Questions are incredibly helpful in our everyday lives—and doubly so when we’re speaking a foreign language! Learning Finnish conversational questions and answers will not only help you navigate practical situations (like finding a bank) while you’re in Finland, but it’ll also allow you to converse more naturally with Finns in social situations.

This guide will introduce you to the basics of forming questions in Finnish. After that, we’ll cover the ten most useful questions in Finnish for beginners. And of course, we’ll go over a number of ways to answer each question, so that you can always be ready with a reply!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. How to Ask Questions in Finnish
  2. The 10 Most Common Questions in Finnish
  3. Conclusion

Asking and answering questions keeps a conversation going!

1. How to Ask Questions in Finnish

Before you learn the ten most common Finnish language questions, we’ll take a brief look at the two main ways to form questions in Finnish.

A – Creating closed questions

Closed questions—questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”—are very easy to form in Finnish! All you need to do is take a statement, place the verb at the beginning, and add -ko or -kö to the end of the verb.

The correct ending is determined by vowel harmony. The rule of thumb is: if the word contains back vowels (a, o, u), choose -ko; if the word contains front vowels (ä, ö, y) or only neutral vowels (i, e), choose -kö.  

Here are a few examples:

  • Se on totta. (“It is true.”)

Now, begin the question with the verb (on) and add the correct ending (-ko) to the verb.

  • Onko se totta? (“Is it true?”)

Another example:

  • Sinä pidät kahvista. (“You like coffee.”)
  • Pidätkö sinä kahvista? (“Do you like coffee?”)

Let’s see how you can answer this important question!

i- Affirmative Answers

When the answer is “yes,” you can simply use the word kyllä (“yes”), or the colloquial joo. It’s also common to simply repeat the verb and drop the word kyllä altogether—just remember to conjugate the verb correctly!

  •  Pidätkö sinä kahvista? (“Do you like coffee?”)

    Kyllä. (“Yes.”)
    Pidän. (“Yes.” Literally: “I like.”)

ii- Negative Answers

When the answer is ei (“no”), things get a little bit trickier. It’s important to remember that the negative verb in Finnish is conjugated in the six personal forms, like this: en, et, ei, emme, ette, eivät. We’ll take a look at three different ways to say that you don’t like coffee.

1. Use ei (“no”), the conjugated form of the negative verb, and the main verb:

    Ei, en pidä kahvista. (“No, I don’t like coffee.”)

2. Use the conjugated form of the negative verb and the main verb:

    En pidä. (“No.” Literally: “I don’t like.”)

3. Use just the conjugated form of the negative verb:

    En. (“No.” Literally: “I don’t.”)

Ei, en pidä kahvista. (“No, I don’t like coffee.”)

B – Finnish Question Words

Finnish question words (we’re sorry to say) are not as straightforward as the English ones. One reason for this is that some of the Finnish question words are inflected and have multiple cases. For a beginner, it’s best to focus on the most common question words first. You can dive into the deep end after you’ve mastered the basics!

 1. Kuka? / Ketkä? (“Who?” Singular / Plural)

  •  Kuka on Suomen pääministeri? (“Who is Finland’s prime minister?”)
    Sanna Marin. (“Sanna Marin.”)
  •  Ketkä ovat tulossa mukaan? (“Who is coming along?”)
    Sini ja Pekka. (“Sini and Pekka.”)

 2. Mikä? / Mitä? (“What?”)

  •  Mikä se on? (“What is it?”)
    Se on kissanpentu. (“It’s a kitten.”)
  • Mitä sinä sanoit? (“What did you say?”)
    Sanoin, että haluan mennä ulos. (“I said that I want to go out.”)

(Note that mikä usually refers to defined, concrete things, while mitä usually refers to uncountable, abstract things.)

 3. Missä? (“Where?”)

  •  Missä sinä asut? (“Where do you live?”)
    Asun Oulussa. (“I live in Kallio.”)

 4. Miksi? (“Why?”)

  •  Miksi et soittanut minulle? (“Why didn’t you call me?”)
    Koska unohdin, että lupasin soittaa. (“Because I forgot that I promised to call.”)

 5. Milloin? (“When?”)

  •  Milloin lentokone laskeutuu? (“When does the airplane land?”)
    Puolen tunnin päästä. (“In half an hour.”)

6. Kuinka? / Miten? (“How?”)

  •  Miten voin auttaa? (“How can I help?”)
    Voit auttaa viemällä roskat ulos. (“You can help by taking the trash out.”)
  •  Kuinka kuumaa saunassa on? (“How hot is it in the sauna?”)
    Saunassa on 80 astetta. (“It’s 80 degrees in the sauna.”)

Note that in most cases, kuinka and miten are interchangeable with no difference in meaning. So pick your favorite!

Mitä sinä sanoit? (“What did you say?”)

2. The 10 Most Common Questions in Finnish

With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to form endless closed Finnish language questions. In addition, learning the most important question words by heart will be of great help in all of your Finnish interactions. Pretty neat, huh?

Now we’ll focus on the ten most common Finnish conversational questions and answers that you’re bound to use sooner or later.

1 – What’s your name?

You’ve met a Finnish person—wonderful! Let’s get to know them. This is how you ask “What’s your name?” in Finnish, and how you can answer the same question.

  •  Mikä sinun nimesi on? (“What’s your name?”) – Casual
  • Mikä teidän nimenne on? (“What’s your name?”) – Formal

To answer this Finnish question, you could simply state your name. But to give a full answer, say: Minun nimeni on… (“My name is…”). You can also drop the word minun because the possessive suffix in nimeni  already communicates whose name you’re talking about.

    Minun nimeni on Anna. (“My name is Anna.”) 
    Nimeni on Anna. (“[My] name is Anna.”)

 On our website, you can find more handy Finnish phrases to use when introducing yourself.

2 – Where are you from?

Finns will be curious about where you’re from—and perhaps you’re curious about which city your Finnish friend comes from. This question covers both situations:

  • Mistä sinä olet kotoisin? (“Where are you from?”) – Casual
  • Mistä te olette kotoisin? (“Where are you from?”) – Formal

Note: In Finnish language questions, the pronouns are sometimes left out, as the verb already gives information about the pronoun. For example, “Where are you from?” can simply be expressed as Mistä olet kotoisin? or Mistä olette kotoisin?

 You can also be more specific:

  • Mistä maasta (sinä) olet kotoisin? (“Which country are you from?”)
  • Mistä päin Suomea sinä olet kotoisin? (“Which part of Finland are you from?”)
  • Mistä kaupungista sinä olet kotoisin? (“Which city are you from?”)

Answers to the previous questions start with Olen kotoisin… (“I’m from…”). The place (country, region, or city) will usually be in the elative case (-sta/-stä), although the names of some towns may be in the adessive case instead (-lta/-ltä).

    Olen kotoisin Saksasta. (“I’m from Germany.”)
    Olen kotoisin Pohjois-Karjalasta. (“I’m from North Karelia.”)
    Olen kotoisin Tampereelta. (“I’m from Tampere.”)

Mistä maasta sinä olet kotoisin? (“Which country are you from?”)

What about India and Argentina? Learn the Finnish names of some other countries on FinnishPod101.com.

3 – Do you speak Finnish?

Here’s another question you may find yourself asking and answering a lot when meeting new people:

  • Puhutko sinä suomea? (“Do you speak Finnish?”) – Casual
  • Puhutteko te suomea? (“Do you speak Finnish?”) – Formal
  • Puhutko sinä englantia? (“Do you speak English?”)

Remember those tips we covered about answering closed questions? Now’s a good time to review them! Simple answers look like this:

    Kyllä, puhun suomea. (“Yes, I speak Finnish.”)
    Ei, en puhu englantia. (“No, I don’t speak English.”)

These answers indicate how well you speak the language in question:

    Kyllä, mutta vain vähän. (“Yes, but only a little.”)
    Kyllä, jonkin verran. (“Yes, some.”)
    Kyllä, puhun suomea sujuvasti. (“Yes, I speak Finnish fluently.”)
    Kyllä, englanti on äidinkieleni. (“Yes, English is my mother tongue.”)

Look up the Finnish names of thirty-eight different languages with our free vocabulary list

4 – How are you?

Vaihdetaan kuulumisia! (“Let’s exchange news!”) 

When we ask someone how they are in Finnish, we use the verb kuulua (“to be heard”).

  • Mitä sinulle kuuluu? (“How are you?”) – Casual
  • Mitä teille kuuluu? (“How are you?”) – Formal
  • Mitä kuuluu? (“How are you?”)

The typical answer that suits most situations is simply composed of kiitos (“thank you”) and Minulle kuuluu hyvää (“I’m good”). With close friends and family, you can go into more detail!

    ► Kiitos, minulle kuuluu hyvää. (“I’m good, thank you.”)
    Kiitos ihan hyvää. Entä sinulle? (“Pretty good, thank you. What about you?”)

Here’s an alternative way to ask the question:

  • Miten menee? (“How’s it going?”)

    ► Hyvin, kiitos. (“I’m well, thank you.”)
    ► Ei hassummin. Entä sinulla? (“Not bad. How about you?”)

Learn more relevant Finnish phrases, and listen to this audio lesson to learn how to give a vague answer when you don’t feel like sharing!

5 – What do you do for a living?

When talking with someone, work will often come up as a topic. Here are a few different ways you can ask someone about their work or profession:

  • Mikä sinun ammattisi on? (“What’s your profession?”) – Casual
  • Mikä teidän ammattinne on? (“What’s your profession?”) – Formal

Answering this one is easy! Just put together Olen (“I am”) and your profession. For example:

    Olen valokuvaaja. (“I’m a photographer.”)
    Olen myyntiapulainen. (“I’m a sales assistant.”)
  • Mitä (sinä) teet työksesi? (“What do you do for a living?”) – Casual
  • Mitä (te) teette työksenne? (“What do you do for a living?”) – Formal

The answer to this one is also pretty straightforward. Note that the subject in these answers is in the partitive case. 

    Opetan ruotsia. (“I teach Swedish.”)
    Kävelytän koiria. (“I walk dogs.”)
  • Millä alalla (sinä) olet töissä? (“What field do you work in?”) – Casual
  • Millä alalla (te) olette töissä? (“What field do you work in?”) – Formal

Begin your answer with Olen töissä (“I work [in]”) followed by your ala (“field”) in the adessive case.

    Olen töissä muotialalla. (“I work in fashion.”)
    Olen töissä IT-alalla. (“I work in IT.”)

Olen valokuvaaja. (“I’m a photographer.”)

Learn even more Finnish words for different occupations on our website! 

6 – What are your hobbies?

Meet the verb harrastaa. It refers to doing something you’re interested in on a regular basis, usually in your free time. All of that packed into one little word! Think of it as “enjoy something (as a hobby).” (By the way, the word for “a hobby” is harrastus.)

  • Mitä sinä harrastat? (“What do you enjoy as a hobby?”) – Casual
  • Mitä te harrastatte? (“What do you enjoy as a hobby?”) – Formal
  • Mitä harrastuksia sinulla on? (“What hobbies do you have?”) – Casual
  • Mitä harrastuksia teillä on? (“What hobbies do you have?”) – Formal
  • Mitä (sinä) teet vapaa-ajallasi? (“What do you do in your free time?”) – Casual
  • Mitä (te) teette vapaa-ajallanne? (“What do you do in your free time?”) – Formal

To answer any of the above questions, you can use the verb harrastan (“I enjoy as a hobby”) or another verb like pelaan (“I play”), followed by the activity in the partitive case. For example:

    Harrastan kansantanssia ja maalausta. (“I enjoy folk dancing and painting.”)

    Pelaan jääkiekkoa. (“I play ice hockey.”)

Pelaan jääkiekkoa. (“I play ice-hockey.”)

Learn more Finnish words for different hobbies, and ace your pronunciation with the help of the audio recordings.

7 – What time is it?

Imagine that you’ve just landed at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport after a long flight and want to double-check the local time. Or maybe someone just asks you what the time is! No problem. If that happens, you’ll already have learned how to ask and answer questions about time in Finnish.

Note that when talking about the time, Finns say kello (“clock”) instead of aika (“time”).

These three questions are interchangeable:

  • Mitä kello on? (“What time is it?”)
  • Kuinka paljon kello on? (“What time is it?”)
  • Paljonko kello on? (“What time is it?”)

You can begin with Kello on (“The time is”) or Se on (“It is”), but it’s also fine to simply state the time!

    Kello on kymmenen aamulla/illalla. (“It’s ten a.m./p.m.”)
    Kello on tasan kaksitoista. (“It’s exactly twelve o’clock.”)
    Se on puoli neljä. (“It’s half past three.” Literally: “It’s half four.”)
    Se on varttia vaille kuusi. (“It’s a quarter to six.”)
    Viisi minuuttia yli yhdeksän. (“Five minutes past nine.”)

Pay close attention to puoli (“half”) here. While in English, 3:30 is “half past three,” in Finnish it’s puoli neljä (“half four”)!

Here’s more useful Finnish vocabulary related to time, and here’s another list for numbers in Finnish.

Kello on tasan 12 (kaksitoista). (“It’s exactly twelve o’clock.”)

8 – What are you doing? 

Here’s how you can ask somebody what they’re doing in Finnish, and how to answer the question yourself.

  • Mitä sinä teet? (“What are you doing?”) – Casual
  • Mitä te teette? (“What are you doing?”) – Formal or plural

You could answer this with just one word, for example Juoksen (“I’m running”), but your answer will often consist of a verb and an object in the partitive case.

    Opiskelen suomea. (“I’m studying Finnish.”)
    Katson televisiota. (“I’m watching TV.”)
    Syömme aamupalaa. (“We’re eating breakfast.”)

    Suunnittelemme huomista retkeä. (“We’re planning tomorrow’s trip.”)

Syömme aamupalaa. (“We’re having breakfast.”)

 9 – How do you say this in Finnish? 

Can’t remember a word in Finnish? Want to learn a new expression? Here’s how you can ask your Finnish friends to teach you specific words and phrases!

  • Mitä tämä on suomeksi? (“What is this in Finnish?”)
  • Mitä on “parliament” suomeksi? (“What is ‘parliament’ in Finnish?”)
  • Miten sanotaan “it’s complicated” in Finnish? (“How do you say ‘it’s complicated’ in Finnish?”) 

The key words to remember here are on suomeksi (“is in Finnish”). Not complicated at all!

    ► “Parliament” on suomeksi eduskunta. (“‘Parliament’ is ‘eduskuntain Finnish.”)
    ► “It’s complicated” on suomeksi “se on monimutkaista.” (“‘It’s complicated’ is ‘se on monimutkaista’ in Finnish.”)

10 – How much is it? 

If you’re spending any amount of time in Finland, you’ll most likely need to buy (ostaa) something, so it’ll be useful to know how to ask for prices! 

Confusingly, the verb we’re using this time, maksaa, means both “to cost” and “to pay”! To ask “how much,” you can use the words kuinka paljon or mitä or paljonko.

  • Kuinka paljon se maksaa? (“How much does it cost?”)
  • Anteeksi, mitä tämä maksaa? (“Excuse me, what does this cost?”)
  • Paljonko maksaa kuppi kahvia? (“How much does a cup of coffee cost?”)

The phrase you’ll want to memorize is Se maksaa… (“It costs…”). However, it’ll be useful to be aware of a few alternatives too:

    Se maksaa 5 (viisi) euroa. (“It costs 5€.”)
    Se tekee yhteensä 10 (kymmenen) euroa. (“It’s 10€ altogether.”)
    Hinta on 12 (kaksitoista) euroa/päivä. (“The price is 12€/day.”)

Watch this short video on FinnishPod101.com to learn more about the Finnish currency (euro) and how to talk about prices.

Kuinka paljon se maksaa? (“How much is it?”)

3. Conclusion

In this guide, we’ve covered a simple way to turn a statement into a question, the basic Finnish question words, and the ten most common questions you’ll want to memorize before your next Finnish conversation.

To practice, try writing a Finnish question and answer from this article in the comments section. We look forward to seeing how you do! 

We hope you’re feeling more confident asking and answering questions and that you’re just buzzing to go out there and use your skills in real life. Keep practicing—we’ll see you back at FinnishPod101.com soon for another Finnish lesson!

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