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Guide to Improving Your Finnish Conversation Skills

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Have you ever started a conversation, fully trained and prepared, only to blurt out a bunch of inarticulate words? Or have you ever asked a beautifully phrased question, but when the other person answered, you couldn’t make anything out of it?

This guide will teach you all the French words and phrases to improve your conversation skills, not just general French-speaking skills but specifically how to deal with French conversations: It all starts with making your own unique conversation “cheat sheet”, then identifying the words and sentences YOU need the most.

The Art of conversation is one you can’t learn from academic teaching, books, and French vocabulary lists. You need to learn about specific ‘oral’ tricks such as filler words, reaction phrases, or conversation starters. 

Once you’ve got it all lined up, there will be nothing stopping you from making new friends among French native speakers and starting conversations with fellow students, coworkers, or random strangers, allowing you to learn to speak French much faster.

Four Friends Chatting with Coffee Beverages

Discuter entre amis (“To chat with friends”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Make Your Own Conversation Cheat Sheet
  2. French Reactions Words and Expressions
  3. French Filler Words
  4. Questions and Answers
  5. French Conversation Starters
  6. Bonus: 4 Tips to Improve your Conversation Skills
  7. Le mot de la fin

1. Make Your Own Conversation Cheat Sheet

1- What’s a cheat sheet?

A conversation cheat sheet It’s a list of words, phrases, and conversation lines that are relevant to YOU.

There is no one-size-fits-all ready-made cheat sheet that you’d find online, and you certainly won’t find one in this article. We’re talking about something personal that you will assemble based on your background, age, lifestyle, and interests.

2- Why would I need one?

We all introduce ourselves and talk about ourselves when meeting new people. There is a reason why writing a self-introduction is typically one of the first things you should do when you start learning a new language. 

But it doesn’t stop there! Being able to answer questions about your story, hobbies, and what motivates you to learn the language will go a long way in building relationships. 

Not only will it make the conversation smoother if you’re already prepared and know the vocabulary that’s relevant to what you have to say, but it will also make you more confident when meeting people: confident in your ability to answer personal questions.

3- How do I make one?

Every conversation cheat sheet is unique. If you’re 40 years old, with family and kids, working toward buying your house, and a lover of electronic music, your conversation cheat will be very different from a 20 years old photography student who loves traveling and watching horror movies.

You can start with writing your own self-introduction, then quickly write about your hobbies and interests. Here are a few examples of how it could look like:

Bonjour, je m’appelle Jack, je suis Irlandais et j’ai 32 ans. En ce moment, j’étudie la psychologie à l’université de la Sorbonne. Avant ça, j’ai habité au Japon pendant 5 ans, où j’étais programmeur. J’aime les films de science fiction, cuisiner, et jouer de la guitare.
“Hello, my name is Jack, I’m Irish and I’m 32 years old. At the moment, I’m studying psychology at the Sorbonne university. Before that, I lived in Japan for 5 years, where I worked as a programmer. I love science fiction movies, cooking, and playing guitar.”

Then, you can elaborate on individual parts and imagine how you would answer specific questions by gathering phrases and words specifically tailored to your needs:

  • Je vis à Paris depuis deux ans. (“I’ve been living in Paris for 2 years.”)
  • Je suis parti au Japon en 2012. (“I have left for Japan in 2012.”)
  • J’avais envie de découvrir de nouveaux pays. (“I wanted to discover new countries.”)

  • Une reconversion (“A career change”)
  • Reprendre mes études (“To resume my studies”)
  • Cinq ans d’études (“Five years of studies.”)

  • Aller au cinéma (“To go to the movies”)
  • Mon film préféré est Blade Runner (“My favorite movie is Blade Runner.”)
  • Un directeur photo (“A director of photography”)

  • J’ai appris à jouer quand j’étais petit. (“I learned how to play when I was little.”)
  • Une guitare électrique (“An electric guitar”)
  • Jouer de la basse (“To play bass”)

4- Getting off to a good start

If you’re a beginner, this might look like a daunting task, but it’s not! There are plenty of resources you can use, depending on your level:

  1. Online translators are still carrying a bad reputation, but nowadays, they’re truly doing wonders. They can occasionally struggle with slang and idiomatic expressions, but for your first draft, they’ll do just fine. Google translate is the most popular option, but I’d personally recommend DeepL.

  2. Other online tools such as Reverso context can help you with idioms and expressions. They’re really not flawless but still a nice resource to tap into.

  3. FrenchPod101 has tons of free content, blog articles, and vocabulary lists you can use. The lists are especially useful if you’re looking for a specific topic, as they’ll provide sentences and vocabulary that suit your specific needs. For example, if you’re a law student, you can check this one out.

  4. A personal teacher is the ultimate weapon for learning fast and hard. Your teacher can guide you through the process of writing your conversation cheat sheet and fix any tiny mistakes. Be sure to check our private coaching service from our Premium PLUS offer.

A Woman Taking Notes

You can start your French conversation sheet anytime!

2. French Reactions Words and Expressions

Have you ever talked to someone who remained completely silent until it got awkward and you couldn’t tell if they were still paying attention? This is what reaction words and expressions are meant to prevent.

In this chapter, let’s see how to react to a statement by expressing excitement, curiosity, annoyance, or disbelief. It will help make your conversations smoother and more lively, as well avoiding awkward silences that would make the other person uncomfortable.

That’s Great!

Q: Je prends des cours de guitare. (“I take guitar lessons.”)

A: C’est cool, moi aussi ! (“That’s great, me too!”)
A: Génial ! Tu prends des cours particuliers ? (“Amazing! Are you taking private lessons?”)

I’m sorry…

Q: Elle est allergique aux produits laitiers. (“She’s allergic to dairy products.”)

A: Oh, désolé, je ne savais pas. (“Oh, sorry, I didn’t know.”)

Unbelievable!

Q: Je n’aime pas le chocolat. (“I don’t like chocolate.”)

A: Sérieusement ? (“Seriously?”) [Formal or Casual]
A: C’est pas vrai ! (“No way!”) [Formal or Casual]
A: Tu rigoles ? (“Are you kidding?”) [Casual]

That’s too bad

Q: Je dois annuler mes vacances. (“I have to cancel my vacations.”)

A: Oh, c’est dommage. (“Oh, that’s a shame.”) [Formal or Casual]
A: Ah, c’est nul ! (“Ah, that sucks!”) [Mainly Casual]

Keep me updated!

Q: Je ne pense pas pouvoir terminer à temps. (“I don’t think I can finish in time.”)

A: OK, tiens-moi au courant ! (“Alright, keep me posted!”) [Casual]
A: OK, tenez-moi au courant ! (“Alright, keep me posted!”) [Formal]


A Guy Expressing Victory

C’est génial ! (“That’s great!”)

3. French Filler Words

Now that you have the foundations of your conversation sheet, let’s change the tempo and talk about something slightly weirder. Academic studies can prepare you for many things, but when you start a real conversation, you’ll hear a lot of strange sounds and words that don’t ring any bells.

French Filler words are these short useless sounds and words that locals use to fill the gaps. They exist in every language I know, and you don’t necessarily have to use them unless you want to sound genuinely local. However, learning about them so you can filter them out is very important.

Here are some of the most common French filler words:

French: Euh…English equivalent: “Uh…”
Je voudrais une baguette et, euh… du lait. (“I would like to buy a baguette and, uh… some milk.”)
Euh… je ne sais pas par quoi commencer. (“Uh… I don’t know where to start.”)

French: BahEnglish equivalent: “Well”
Q: Tu reprendras du vin ? (“Will you have more wine?”)

A: Bah bien sûr ! (“Well of course!”)
A: Du vin ? Bah… je ne peux pas, je conduis. (“Wine? Well… I can’t, I’m driving.”)

French: En faitEnglish equivalent: “Actually”
En fait, j’y mange tous les samedis. (“Actually, I eat there every Saturday.”)
J’y suis allé mais en fait, c’était trop tard. (“I went there but actually, it was too late.”)

French: BonEnglish equivalent: “Well” or “So”
Bon, qu’est-ce que t’en penses ? (“So, what do you think?”)
Bon, on y va ? (“Well, shall we go?”)

French: Tu voisEnglish equivalent: “You know” or “You see”
C’est pas facile, tu vois. (“It’s not easy, you know.”)
Je veux juste lui parler, tu vois. (“I just want to talk to him, you see.”)

    ➜ For more words, example sentences, and how to use them in your conversations, make sure to stop by our blog article on Filler Words on FrenchPod101.

A Woman Unsure of What to Say

Euh… je ne sais pas quoi dire. (“Hu… I don’t know what to say.”)

4. Questions and Answers

We literally spend our days asking questions and answering them. This is truly the bread and butter of human interaction. That’s how we learn about each other, how we organize our lives, and how we gain insight into all sorts of things.

Do you already know the golden rules of French questions: what are the 3 French question patterns, as well as the most important question words? If you need a refresher, head to our complete article on Questions & Answers on FrenchPod101.

Otherwise, let’s dive into it and have a look at some common questions and answers you might want to add to your conversation sheet. Once again, you should pick sentences that feel relevant to your personal story and interests.

“Where are you from?”

Q: Tu viens d’où ? [Casual]
Q: Vous venez d’où ? [Formal]

A: Je viens de Colombie. (“I’m from Colombia.”)
A: Je suis Colombienne. (“I’m Colombian.”)

“Do you speak English?”

Q: Tu parles anglais ? [Casual]
Q: Vous parlez anglais ? [Formal]

A: Je parle un peu anglais. (“I speak English a little.”)
A: Je parle anglais couramment (“I speak English fluently.”)

“What do you study?”

Q: Tu étudies quoi ? [Casual]
Q: Vous étudiez quoi ? [Formal]

A: Je fais des études de psychologie. (“I study psychology.”)
A: J’étudie la photographie. (“I’m studying photography.”)

“What kind of music do you like?”

Q: Tu aimes quel genre de musique ? [Casual]
Q: Vous aimez quel genre de musique ? [Formal]

A: J’aime la musique classique. (“I love classical music.”)
A: J’écoute surtout du métal progressif. (“I mostly listen to progressive metal.”)

“What’s your job?”

Q: Tu bosses dans quoi ? [Casual]
Q: Vous travaillez dans quoi ? [Formal]

A: Je suis plombier. (“I’m a plumber.”)
A: Je travaille dans l’informatique. (“I work in IT.”)

A Woman Holding a Map while Traveling

Vous parlez anglais ? (“Do you speak English?”)

5. French Conversation Starters

Unless you’re a social animal, it’s not always obvious to start a conversation with random strangers. It gets a little easier when you’re among fellow students, coworkers, or friends of friends, but you’ll still have to come up with a good opening line.

Starting a conversation in a foreign language adds another layer of complexity, but it definitely helps if you’re well prepared. Add some good conversation starters to your cheat sheet, and you’ll be just fine!

Here are a few examples for various situations:

  • Je vais reprendre un verre, je te prends quelque chose ?
    “I’m going for another drink. Can I get you something?”

  • Comment ça va depuis la dernière fois ?
    “How is it going since the last time?”

  • Tu travailles ici depuis combien de temps ?
    “For how long have you been working here?”

  • Tu as bientôt des examens ?
    “Are you having exams soon?”

  • Tu fais quoi de tes soirées, habituellement ?
    “What do you usually do in the evening?”
    ➜ There are countless conversation starters for every situation: strangers, people you already know, colleagues, schoolmates, romantic dates. For many more examples, you could stop by our full guide on Conversation Starters on FrenchPod101.

Bonus: 4 Tips to Improve your Conversation Skills

1- Use every opportunity to practice

Yes, thank you, Captain Obvious. But seriously, you’d be surprised how many students keep stacking up on grammar and vocabulary “until they’re ready” but never use it in a real-life situation. 

The truth is: you don’t need more than little basics to get out there and talk to someone. It might not go spectacularly far, but you’ll learn more about conversations in a minute of real conversation than during one hour of traditional studies.

Traveling, language meet-ups, or online chats are all valid ways to practice, as long as you get to talk to a native speaker and experiment on what you’ve learned. You can also repeat what you hear, talk to your mirror, or to your pet: whatever floats your boat as long as you speak up!

2- Grammar and vocabulary are overrated

Like I just said, you don’t need that much grammar and vocabulary and you should not get too obsessed with accumulating abstract knowledge or gobbling up any random vocabulary list.

Instead, I’d recommend that you aim for quality over quantity: pick the topics that you need, get some basics and immediately start practicing by any means necessary. If you can’t use it right away in a conversation, then build sentences, read them out loud, rephrase and repeat. Instead of learning new words, you can often mix up what you already know and make new phrases out of it.

3- Get as much exposure as possible

If you’ve been reading this blog before, you may have read this mantra a few times already, but I’ll keep repeating it: exposure is everything. Listen to French podcasts and music, watch French movies, read French books, and make French friends.

Exposure will help you learn the language without it feeling like tedious work. It will solidify everything you’re learning, as you’ll get to experience words and structures in their ‘natural habitat’ and not just in grammar lessons. 

Sure, you’ll need some basics before you can get started, but there’s no need to wait for too long: recordings can be slowed down, and videos can be subtitled.

4- Get some feedback

Practicing is one thing, but getting valuable feedback is even better. Without feedback, we always run the risk of getting stuck in our mistakes and never being able to spot and correct them.

Finding a language partner (online or in person) is one way to go. If your partner is interested in your native language, you’ll both benefit from the relationship, and it could quickly flourish into a lasting friendship.

Languages coaches are also very effective, as a private teacher will be able to set you on the right path, guide you toward fluency and correct your grammar mistakes or your pronunciation. You can likely find private teachers or classroom-based sessions in your area or subscribe to an online service such as our Premium PLUS coaching on FrenchPod101.

A Woman Standing in Front of a Bathroom Mirror in Her Pajamas

Elle parle à son miroir. (“She talks to her mirror.”)

Le mot de la fin

In this guide, you have learned how to improve your French-speaking skills. It all starts with making your own cheat sheet, then learning about various types of words and expressions specific to conversations: filler words, reaction phrases, questions, and answers.

On top of our bonus tips to improve your conversation skills, FrenchPod101 has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and Free resources to boost your studies and keep your French learning fresh and entertaining!

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching and have your own private teacher to practice with BLEP words and more. 

Along with assignments, personalized exercises, and recording audio samples just for you, your teacher will review your work and help improve your pronunciation. Happy learning on FrenchPod101!

About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

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

50+ Finnish Conversation Starters to Help You Talk to Anyone

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Have you ever wanted to talk to a Finn but weren’t sure how to start a conversation in Finnish? Even if you’re usually a chatty person, talking to new people in a foreign language can be nerve-wracking. But fear not! If you’ve ever been at a loss for words and wished you had some go-to Finnish phrases to fall back on, we’re here to help!

 Learning and practicing a selection of conversation starters is a great way to overcome your nerves and ensures that you’ll always have something to say to break the ice. Once you’ve started, your conversation partner will (hopefully!) pull their weight in keeping the conversation going, and you can relax a bit.

This Finnish lesson collects useful Finnish phrases for a range of different situations, from parties and first dates to the first day at a new job or school. So let’s dive right in and learn Finnish conversation starters!

A Smiling Woman Waves Her Hand

Are you ready to meet new people?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Conversation Starters for Mingling and Socializing
  2. Conversation Starters at Work
  3. Conversation Starters at School
  4. Conversation Starters for a First Date
  5. Conversation Starters to Reconnect with a Friend
  6. Lopuksi

1. Conversation Starters for Mingling and Socializing

Whether you’re at a house party, a nightclub, or some other event where you’re around a lot of people you don’t know, often the easiest way to start a conversation is to ask a question! Why? Research shows that people love talking about themselves. If you can’t think of anything, a natural place to start is to ask about a mutual friend, such as the host of a party. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Miten sinä tunnet Antin? (“How do you know Antti?”)
  • Missä sinä tutustuit Elisaan? (”Where did you get acquainted with Elisa?”)
  • Oletko tuntenut Miisan pitkään? (”Have you known Miisa for a long time?”)
  • Oletko Ismon työtoveri / opiskelukaveri / kämppäkaveri / ystävä? (”Are you a co-worker / college friend / roommate / friend of Ismo?”)

 If food and drink is served, you’ve got another potential conversation topic! Try one of these: 

  • Mitä sinä juot? Tuo näyttää tosi hyvältä. (“What are you drinking? That looks really good.”)
  • Mitä ruokaa sinulla on? Se tuoksuu herkulliselta. (”What food do you have? It smells delicious.”)
  • Menen hakemaan juoman. Haluaisitko sinä jotakin juotavaa? (”I’m going to get a drink. Would you like to have something to drink?”)
  • Haen lisää syötävää. Tuonko sinullekin jotain? (”I’m going to get more to eat. Shall I bring you something too?”)

 If you’re at a venue, you could talk about that:

  • Oletko täällä ensimmäistä kertaa? (”Are you here for the first time?”)
  • Oletko käynyt täällä aiemmin? Näytät tutulta.  (“Have you been here before? You look familiar.”)
  • Mitä pidät tästä paikasta? (“How do you like this place?”)


People Dancing at a Party

It’s easy to meet new people at parties!

2. Conversation Starters at Work

Have you landed a job in Finland? Congratulations! First impressions matter, and your first day at your new job is sure to go smoother if you’ve got some Finnish conversation starter practice under your belt.

 Introducing yourself to your new colleagues is a great place to start: 

  • Hei, olen Sirpa Mattila. Olen täällä ensimmäistä päivää töissä. (“Hi, I’m Sirpa Mattila. It’s my first day working here.”)
  • Emme ole tainneet vielä tavata? Olen Kari-Pekka Ruotsalainen. Aloitin juuri markkinointiosastolla.  (“I don’t think we’ve met yet? I’m Kari-Pekka Ruotsalainen. I just started in the marketing department.”)

Naturally, at a workplace there’s always work to talk about! From asking for directions to enquiring what your colleagues are working on, here are some ideas:

  • Anteeksi, mistä löydän kokoushuoneen? (”Sorry, where can I find the conference room?”)
  • Teetkö töitä Anna-Liisan kanssa? (”Do you work with Anna-Liisa?”)
  • Oletko Santerin tiimissä? (”Are you in Santeri’s team?”)
  • Kuinka kauan olet ollut täällä töissä? (“How long have you been working here?”)
  • Minkä projektin parissa työskentelet tällä hetkellä? (”What project are you working on at the moment?”)
  • Miten projekti edistyy? (“How is the project progressing?”)

If you’d like to socialize with your colleagues outside work and get to know them a bit better, why not join them for lunch or suggest after-work drinks?

  • Voitko suositella hyvää lounaspaikkaa? (”Can you recommend a good lunch spot?”)
  • Voisinko liittyä seuraasi lounaalla? (”Could I join you for lunch?”)
  • Lähdetäänkö kahvitauolle? (”Shall we take a coffee break?”)
  • Kuka haluaa lähteä drinkille töiden jälkeen? (”Who wants to go out for a drink after work?”)

    ➜ Our Workplace vocabulary list with example sentences and recordings will help you understand new work-related terms and expressions you’re sure to come across.

Smiling co-Workers Looking Towards the Camera

Get to know your new colleagues.

3. Conversation Starters at School

Are you planning to study in Finland? Making friends is an important part of the student experience, so come prepared and learn a handful of conversation openers to help you find your tribe.

 On your first day, you’re bound to find other people looking a bit lost. It’s a great opportunity to start making connections, so go ahead and talk to them!

  • Terve, olen Mika. Olen juuri aloittanut opinnot. Entä sinä? (”Hello, I’m Mika. I’ve just started my studies. How about you?”)
  • Moi, olen Minna. Oletko sinäkin ensimmäisen vuoden opiskelija? (”Hi, I’m Minna. Are you also a first year student?”)
  • Hei, olen Anneli. Olemme samalla kurssilla. (“Hi, I’m Anneli. We’re in the same course.”)

 With introductions out of the way, you can get more specific about your studies:

  • Opiskelen tietotekniikkaa. Mitä sinä opiskelet? (”I study information technology. What are you studying?”)
  • Tunnetko Maaretin? Hänkin opiskelee historiaa. (”Do you know Maaret? She studies history too.”)

 And here are a few more questions to ask your fellow students:

  • Anteeksi, tiedätkö missä rakennuksessa kirjasto on? (”Excuse me, do you know which building the library is in?”)
  • Menikö tentti hyvin? (”Did the exam go well?”)
  • Mitä mieltä olit luennosta? (“What did you think of the lecture?”)
  • Haluaisitko opiskella yhdessä tänään? (“Would you like to study together today?”)


Students Sitting on the Grass and Studying Together

Living the student life.

4. Conversation Starters for a First Date

 There are many ways in which a first date can go wrong, but we’re going to make sure that running out of things to say is not going to be one of them!

 Before we get to the more interesting conversation topics, let’s start with some basic Finnish language conversation starters to get things going. A compliment is never a bad place to start!

  • Näytät hyvältä! Pidän kampauksestasi / asustasi. (“You look good! I like your hairdo / outfit.”)
  • Mistä olet kotoisin? (”Where are you from?”)
  • Oletko asunut Helsingissä pitkään? (”Have you been living in Helsinki for a while?”)
  • Millä alalla olet töissä? (”What field you do work in?”)

What is your date into? Talking about your hobbies and favorite things and finding out if your tastes match is never a bad idea on a first date.

  • Mitä teet vapaa-ajallasi? (“What do you do in your free time?”)
  • Onko sinulla lemmikkejä? (“Do you have pets?”)
  • Mikä on lempielokuvasi? (”What is your favorite book / favorite movie?”)
  • Mitä sarjoja katsot? (”Which series do you watch?”)
  • Mitä kirjaa suosittelisit minulle? (“Which book would you recommend to me?”)
  • Millaista musiikkia kuuntelet? (”What kind of music do you listen to?”)
  • Pidätkö urheilusta? (”Do you like sport?”)
  • Oletko hyvä kokki? (”Are you a good cook?”)
  • Matkustatko paljon? (”Do you travel a lot?”)
  • Mikä saa sinut nauramaan? (”What makes you laugh?”)

Or perhaps you want to go straight into the kind of random questions that can reveal a lot about your date’s personality?

  • Mikä on uskomattomin asia, mitä sinulle on tapahtunut? (”What’s the most unbelievable thing that has happened to you?”)
  • Millainen olisi mielestäsi täydellinen päivä? (”What would be a perfect day in your opinion?”)
  • Mistä ammatista haaveilit lapsena? (“What was your dream job when you were a child?” Literally: “What occupation did you dream of as a child?”)
  • Jos voisit tavata kenet tahansa historiallisen henkilön, kenet valitsisit? (”If you could meet whichever historical figure, who would you choose?”)


A Man Meeting a Woman Holds a Bouquet of Flowers Behind His Back

ensitreffit (“first date”)

5. Conversation Starters to Reconnect with a Friend

 Finally, we’ll teach you phrases you can use when you want to reconnect with a friend. Maybe you haven’t seen them in a while and want to share some news, or you simply want to hang out again. The conversation starters in this section work as text messages or emails.

 You can always start by asking your friend how they are. Here are several ways to do that:

  • Mitä kuuluu? (”How are you?”)
  • Mitä sinulle ja Ristolle kuuluu? (”How are you and Risto?”)
  • Miten menee? (”How’s it going?”)
  • Mitä olet puuhaillut viime aikoina? (”What have you been up to lately?”)
  • Sinusta ei ole kuulunut aikoihin. Onko kaikki hyvin? (”I haven’t heard from you in ages. Is everything ok?”)

Sometimes asking someone how they are by text only leads to a brief exchange of pleasantries, so why not suggest catching up by phone or meeting up?

  • Minulla on uutisia! Milloin olet vapaa? (“I have news! When are you free?”)
  • Onko sinulla suunnitelmia viikonlopulle? Olisi kiva nähdä. (“Do you have plans for the weekend? It would be nice to see you.”)
  • Soita minulle kun ehdit. Olisi hauska vaihtaa kuulumisia. (”Call me when you have the time. It would be fun to catch up.”)
  • Olen Joensuussa ensi viikolla. Onko sinulla aikaa käydä kahvilla? (”I’ll be in Joensuu next week. Do you have time to go for a coffee?”)

Two Smiling Women

Pidetään yhteyttä! (“Let’s keep in touch!”)

6. Lopuksi

This guide collects over 50 Finnish phrases to help you start a conversation with just about anyone in a variety of situations. From making friends and getting to know a date to chatting with colleagues and fellow students, we hope you’re feeling more confident about talking to new people in Finnish.

Is there a specific situation you wish we had covered, or do you know of a particularly good question to ask someone on a first date? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

FinnishPod101 has lots of Finnish language resources to help you become confident in speaking Finnish. Start by exploring our Free resources, learn Finnish words using our vocabulary lists, then look out for our audio and video lessons tailored to different skill levels, from absolute beginner to advanced. Our premium service, MyTeacher, is ideal for anyone who wants to practice Finnish conversations in 1-on-1 sessions with a private teacher!

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Countries and Nationalities in Finnish

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Are you planning to spend time traveling, studying or working in Finland? Maybe a Finnish citizenship is in your sights? Then it’s likely that you will talk about your background sooner or later. Even if you’re just interacting with Finns (or other Finnish learners!) online, the topic may well come up, so it’s not a bad idea to be prepared and learn how to talk about countries and their nationalities in Finnish.

In this article we’ll walk you through some basic grammar rules, teach you useful questions and answers about countries and nationalities, and take a look at who the top expats and foreign visitors in Finland are. Read on to find out if your home country is on the list!

A Lot of Flags

Paljon lippuja (“A lot of flags”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Nationalities: A Quick Look at Grammar
  2. Top Nationalities in Finland
  3. Talking About Nationality
  4. Country, City, Nationality & Language
  5. Lopuksi

1. Nationalities: A Quick Look at Grammar

 Before we learn how to say ‘What is your nationality?’ in Finnish, let’s see how we can derive the word for a nationality from the name of a country. In short, simply take the name of a country and add the ending –lainen or –läinen. To choose the correct ending, you need to apply the vowel harmony rule. As you can see in the following examples, the –lainen ending is used when the country name contains back vowels (a, o, u), while the –läinen ending is used when it contains front vowels (y, ä, ö) or only neutral vowels (e, i). Note that while the names of countries are capitalized in Finnish, nationalities are not!

  • Japani (“Japan”)
  • japanilainen (“Japanese”)
  • Egypti (“Egypt”)
  • egyptiläinen (“Egyptian”)
  • Belize (”Belize”)
  • belizeläinen (”Belizean”)

If the country name ends in a consonant, add i before the nationality ending. For example:

  • Wales (“Wales”)
  • walesilainen (“Welsh”)

Although most nationalities are straightforward to form, there are a few exceptions to the rule, including:

  • Venäjä (“Russia”)
  • venäläinen (“Russian”)
  • Ruotsi (“Sweden”)
  • ruotsalainen (“Swedish”)
  • Suomi (“Finland”)
  • suomalainen (“Finnish”) 

By the way, you can also use the –lainen or –läinen ending to refer to someone from a specific region or city! For example:

  • eurooppalainen (“European”)
  • afrikkalainen (“African”)
  • helsinkiläinen (”Helsinkian”)
  • pariisilainen (”Parisian”)
  • brooklyniläinen (“Brooklynian”)

Glasses on Top of a Map

Puola on eurooppalainen maa. (”Poland is a European country.”)

2. Top Nationalities in Finland

Quick Finnish immigration statistics: According to 2020 figures from Statistics Finland, 8% of the permanent residents in Finland are of foreign background. The proportion of expats is greatest in the 30 to 34 age group, in which every seventh person living in Finland is of foreign background.

The top 10 expat nations in Finland at the end of 2020 were:

RankCountryNationality
1.Viro (“Estonia”)virolainen (“Estonian”)
2.Venäjä (“Russia”)venäläinen (“Russian”)
3.Irak (“Iraq”)irakilainen (“Iraqi”)
4.Kiina (“China”)kiinalainen (“Chinese”)
5.Ruotsi (“Sweden”)ruotsalainen (“Swedish”)
6.Thaimaa (“Thailand”)thaimaalainen (“Thai”)
7.Intia (“India”)intialainen (“Indian”)
8.Afganistan (“Afghanistan”)afganistanilainen (“Afghan”)
9.Syyria (“Syria”)syyrialainen (“Syrian”)
10.Vietnam (“Vietnam”)vietnamilainen (“Vietnamese”)

What about travelers? According to Statista, the top 10 foreign visitors in Finland in the first half of 2021 were from these countries:

RankCountryNationality
1.Saksa (“Germany”)saksalainen (“German”)
2.Ruotsi (“Sweden”)ruotsalainen (“Swedish”)
3.Viro (“Estonia”)virolainen (“Estonian”)
4.Yhdysvallat (“United States”)
Amerikka (”America” informal)
yhdysvaltalainen(“citizen of USA”)
amerikkalainen (”American”)
5.Alankomaat (“Netherlands”)
Hollanti (“Holland”, informal)
alankomaalainen (“Dutch”)
hollantilainen (“Dutch”)
6.Ranska (“France”)ranskalainen (“French”)
7.Norja (“Norway”)norjalainen (“Norwegian”)
8.Yhdistynyt kuningaskunta (”United Kingdom”)
Iso-Britannia ja Pohjois-Irlanti (”Great Britain and Northern Ireland”)
Englanti (“England”)
brittiläinen (“British”)
englantilainen (“English”, “Englishman”)
9.Sveitsi (“Switzerland”)sveitsiläinen (“Swiss”)
10.Italia (“Italy”)italialainen (“Italian”)

Estonia on a Map and Estonian Flag

Many Estonians visit and live in Finland.


3. Talking About Nationality

It’s time to mingle and get to know people! The first part of this section shows you several ways you can ask other people about their nationality in Finnish. In the second part, you’ll learn different ways to talk about your nationality.

1- How to Ask Someone Their Nationality

Most of the time it’s perfectly acceptable to use the casual questions, but we’ve included formal versions too, just in case you want to be extra polite, for example when talking to someone elderly. 

Remember that including the words sinä (“you” casual) and te (“you”, formal) in the following questions is optional. 

English[Casual][Formal]
Where are you from?Mistä (sinä) olet kotoisin?Mistä (te) olette kotoisin?
Which country are you from?Mistä maasta (sinä) olet kotoisin?Mistä maasta (te) olette kotoisin?
What is your nationality?Minkämaalainen (sinä) olet?Minkämaalainen (te) olette?
Are you from Peru?Oletko (sinä) kotoisin Perusta?Oletteko (te) kotoisin Perusta?
Are you South African?Oletko (sinä) eteläafrikkalainen?Oletteko (te) eteläafrikkalainen?

If you want ask the same thing someone else has asked you, instead of repeating the question you can say:

  •  Entä sinä? (“How about you?”)

2- How to Tell Someone Your Nationality

 Next we will cover several ways to tell others about your background. The most straightforward ways are to state your nationality or say which country you’re from.

  • Olen brasilialainen. (“I’m Brazilian.”)
  • Olen kotoisin Islannista. (“I’m from Iceland.”)

To emphasize your citizenship status, you can say:

  • Olen Suomen kansalainen. (“I’m a Finnish citizen.”)

Did you know that Finland allows dual citizenship? In other words, you can have citizenship of Finland and another country at the same time.

Of course, there are situations that are more complex than that, for example if you’re a citizen of two countries.

  • Olen kreikkalainen ja tanskalainen. (“I’m Greek and Danish.”)
  • Olen sekä Irlannin, että Marokon kansalainen. (”I’m a citizen of both Ireland and Morocco.”)

We’ll look at even more example phrases in the last section!

  • Watch our 3-minute video lesson What is your Nationality? to practise asking and answering simple questions about nationality in Finnish.

A Female Student with a Globe.

Olen kotoisin täältä. (”I come from here.”)

4. Country, City, Nationality & Language

 In this final section, we will put the vocabulary we’ve learned into good use by making a self introduction.

 But first, a quick recap, with a language and an adjective added. Remember that only the names of countries (and cities and continents, etc.) are capitalized in Finnish!

  • Country: Suomi (“Finland”)
  • Nationality / citizen: suomalainen (“Finnish”, “Finn”)
  • Language: suomi (“Finnish”)
  • Adjective: suomalainen (“Finnish”), for example suomalainen ruoka (“Finnish food”)

 Now, let’s go back our list of the top 10 foreign travelers in Finland and expand it a little:

CountryLanguageNationalityMajor City
Saksa
(“Germany”)
saksa
(“German”)
saksalainen
(“German”)
Berliini
(“Berlin”)
Ruotsi
(“Sweden”)
ruotsi
(“Swedish”)
ruotsalainen
(“Swedish”)
Tukholma
(“Stockholm”)
Viro
(“Estonia”)
viro
(“Estonian”)
virolainen
(“Estonian”)
Tallinna
(“Tallinn”)
Yhdysvallat
(“United States”)
amerikanenglanti
(“American English”)
englanti
(“English”)
yhdysvaltalainen
(“citizen of USA”)
amerikkalainen
(“American”)
Washington, D.C.
Alankomaat
(“Netherlands”)
hollanti
(“Dutch”)
alankomaalainen
(“Dutch”)
Amsterdam
Ranska
(“France”)
ranska
(“French”)
ranskalainen
(“French”)
Pariisi
(“Paris”)
Norja
(“Norway”)
norja
(“Norwegian”)
norjalainen
(“Norwegian”)
Oslo
Yhdistynyt kuningaskunta
(“United Kingdom”)
brittienglanti
(“British English”)
englanti
(“English”)
brittiläinen
(“British”)
Lontoo
(“London”)
Sveitsi
(“Switzerland”)
saksa
(“German”)
ranska
(”French”)
italia
(“Italian”)
retoromaani
(”Romansh”)
sveitsiläinenZürich
Italia
(“Italy”)
italia
(“Italian”)
italialainen
(“Italian”)
Rooma
(“Rome”)

 Here are more example phrases to help you introduce yourself and talk about your background:

  • Olen saksalainen. Synnyin Berliinissä, mutta asun nykyään Italiassa. Puhun sekä saksaa, että italiaa. (”I’m German. I was born in Berlin, but I live in Italy these days. I speak both German and Italian.”)
  • Synnyin Varsovassa, Puolassa, mutta vartuin Skotlannissa. (”I was born in Warsaw, Poland, but I grew up in Scotland.”)
  • Olen kotoisin Japanista. Muutin perheeni kanssa Uuteen Seelantiin neljä vuotta sitten. (”I’m from Japan. I moved to New Zealand with my family four years ago.”)
  • Vanhempani ovat kotoisin Portugalista, mutta olen asunut koko ikäni Kanadassa. Olen kaksikielinen. (”My parents are from Portugal, but I have lived my whole life in Canada. I’m bilingual.”)
  • Asun Singaporessa, mutta juureni ovat Espanjassa. Espanja on äidinkieleni. (”I live in Singapore, but my roots are in Spain. Spanish is my mother tongue.”)
  • Olen kotoisin Ghanasta, mutta vietän paljon aikaa ulkomailla työni vuoksi. Minulla on usein ikävä ghanalaista ruokaa ja musiikkia. (”I’m from Ghana but spend a lot of time abroad because of my work. I often miss Ghanain food and music.”)
  • Olen yhdysvaltalainen. Muutin Suomeen noin kolme kuukautta sitten. En puhu suomea vielä kovin hyvin. (”I’m American. I moved to Finland about three months ago. I don’t speak Finnish very well yet.”)

A Smiling Woman Holds a Globe in Front of Her.

Olen maailmankansalainen. (“I’m a citizen of the world.”)

5. Lopuksi

 In this article, we’ve traveled around the world (figuratively speaking) and learned how to ask and answer questions about countries and nationalities. If you’ve made it to the very end, you should now have several options for what to say about your nationality in Finnish when the topic comes up! Remember that you can always start simple and gradually include more information as you get more confident. The comments section is always open if you have any questions or suggestions.

FinnishPod101 offers plenty of Free resources for learners, including a growing library of Finnish vocabulary lists with recordings of native speakers. We have lessons for all levels from absolute beginner to advanced, and our premium service, MyTeacher, is perfect for anyone who wants to progress fast with the help of a personalized lesson plan and 1-on-1 coaching with a private teacher. Cultural insights form an integral part of our teaching approach, so you are sure to learn about Finnish nationality too as you practise your language skills with us.

Happy learning on FinnishPod101!

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40 Useful Advanced Finnish Phrases to Master

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Are you at that point in your language learning where you find everyday communication in Finnish a breeze but would like to make further progress? Once you have the basics down, a logical next step is to learn some advanced Finnish phrases for professional and formal contexts. Reaching the advanced level in Finnish can be a slow journey, but the effort is worth it, especially if you’re dreaming of pursuing studies or a career in Finland.

A common stumbling block on the way to fluency is a lack of confidence in being able to use the target language. This can be true even if you’re able to understand quite a lot of what you hear and read. Memorizing and making an effort to use a range of advanced Finnish words and phrases can help you get over that hurdle faster.

Read on to learn several advanced Finnish phrases to use in academic writing, cover letters, and business meetings. And be sure to stick around until the end to learn some fun and colorful idiomatic expressions.

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It takes effort to reach the advanced level, but it’s worth it!

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Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Useful Phrases for Academic Writing
  2. Power Phrases for Your Cover Letter
  3. Smart Phrases for Business Meetings
  4. Advanced Idioms for Everyday Use
  5. Lopuksi

1. Useful Phrases for Academic Writing

The aim of academic writing is to aid the reader’s understanding, so this style of writing should be clear, focused, and well-structured. Student or not, you can use the advanced Finnish words and phrases below to express your thoughts and ideas more clearly and confidently.

  • Tarkoituksemme on (“Our purpose is”)
    • Tarkoituksemme on analysoida eri menetelmien tehokkuutta. (“Our purpose is to analyze the effectiveness of different methods.”)
  • Vastatakseni tähän kysymykseen (“In order to answer this question”)
    • Vastatakseni tähän kysymykseen, selvennän aluksi käsitettä lyhyellä esimerkillä. (“In order to answer this question, I will start by clarifying the concept with a brief example.”)
  • Verrattuna (“Compared to”)
    • Havaintomme olivat yllättäviä aiempiin tutkimustuloksiin verrattuna. (“Our observations were surprising compared to earlier research results.”)
  • Päinvastoin kuin (“Contrary to”)
    • Päinvastoin kuin usein uskotaan, kahvin juonti ei aiheuta nestehukkaa. (“Contrary to popular belief, drinking coffee does not cause dehydration.”)
  • Yleisesti ottaen (“Generally speaking”)
    • Yleisesti ottaen suomalaisten terveys on kohentunut uuden tutkimuksen mukaan. (“Generally speaking, the health of Finnish people has improved according to new research.”)
  • Tilastojen mukaan (“According to statistics”)
    • Tilastojen mukaan noin puolet Suomen väestöstä harrastaa sienestystä. (“According to statistics, around half of the population of Finland enjoys mushroom picking as a hobby.”)
  • On tunnettu tosiasia (“It’s a well-known fact”)
    • On tunnettu tosiasia, että unen laatu vaikuttaa hyvinvointiin monin tavoin. (“It’s a well-known fact that sleep quality affects well-being in many ways.”)
  • On tärkeää painottaa (“It’s important to emphasize”)
    • On tärkeää painottaa, että korrelaatio ei todista syy-seuraussuhteen olemassaoloa. (“It’s important to emphasize that correlation does not prove the existence of causality.”)
  • Tarkoitan tällä (“By this, I mean”)
    • Tarkoitan tällä, että lisätutkimukset ovat yhä tarpeen. (“By this, I mean that additional research is still needed.”)
  • Vastustan vahvasti ajatusta (“I’m firmly opposed to the idea”)
    • Vastustan vahvasti ajatusta varotoimenpiteiden vähentämisestä. (“I am firmly opposed to the idea of reducing precautionary measures.”)

Dive deeper into the world of higher education by learning Finnish words and phrases related to academia and living on a school campus.

A Smiling Graduate with a Scroll Diploma in Hand

2. Power Phrases for Your Cover Letter

Are you hoping to find a job in Finland? Then you’ll want to make sure that your cover letter is on point and covers all the essential information about your strengths, experience, and interest in the position.

You can use the following advanced Finnish phrases as a starting point for crafting your very own cover letter.

  • Hakea paikkaa (“To apply for a position”)
    • Olen kiinnostunut hakemaan vastaanottovirkailijan paikkaa yrityksessänne. (“I’m interested in applying for the position of a receptionist in your company.”)
  • Viitata ilmoitukseen (“To refer to an advertisement”)
    • Viittaan Helsingin Sanomissa julkaistuun ilmoitukseenne, jossa etsitte kokenutta myyntiavustajaa. (“I’m referring to your advertisement in Helsingin Sanomat in which you’re looking for an experienced sales assistant.”)
  • Olla erityisen kiinnostunut (“To be especially interested”)
    • Olen erityisen kiinnostunut tästä työstä, koska ympäristönsuojelu on lähellä sydäntäni. (“I’m especially interested in this job because conservation is close to my heart.”)
  • Vahvuudet (“Strengths”)
    • Vahvuuksiani ovat projektien johtaminen ja kyky motivoida toisia. (“My strengths are leading projects and the ability to motivate others.”)
  • Sopia hyvin tehtävään (“To be well suited for a position”)
    • Sopisin hyvin tähän tehtävään, koska olen tehokas ongelmien ratkaisija ja nautin haasteista. (“I would be well suited for this position because I’m an efficient problem solver and I enjoy challenges.”)
  • Liitteenä oleva ansioluettelo (“Enclosed resume”)
    • Kuten liitteenä olevasta ansioluettelostani näkyy, tunnen muotialan kuin omat taskuni. (“As you can see from my enclosed resume, I know the fashion industry like the back of my hand.” / Literally: “As you can see from my enclosed resume, I know the fashion industry like my own pockets.”)
  • 5 vuotta kokemusta (“5 years of experience”)
    • Minulla on yli 5 vuotta kokemusta työskentelystä terveydenhuoltoalalla. (“I have over 5 years of experience working in the field of healthcare.”)
  • Olla tarjottavaa (“To have something to offer”)
    • Keskustelisin mielelläni enemmän tästä työpaikasta sekä siitä, mitä tarjottavaa minulla on yrityksellenne. (“I would love to talk more about this job and what I have to offer to your company.”)
  • Olla valmis kertomaan lisää (“To be ready to tell more”)
    • Olen valmis kertomaan haastattelussa lisää siitä miksi sopisin erityisen hyvin juuri tähän tehtävään. (“I’m ready to tell in an interview more about why I would be suited to this position especially.”)
  • Kiitos ajastanne ja harkinnastanne. (“Thank you for your time and consideration.”)

Do you want more help with job hunting in Finland? We recommend visiting our free vocabulary list Words and Phrases for Writing Your Resume and the audio lesson A Finnish Job Interview on FinnishPod101.com.

Someone Looking Over a Cover Letter

Make sure your cover letter stands out for the right reasons.

3. Smart Phrases for Business Meetings

Do you want to put your best foot forward in a business meeting? Then preparation is essential. In addition to learning in advance about Finnish business culture and etiquette, you’ll also want to memorize key phrases and learn appropriate ways to express your ideas confidently in a business setting. The following list of advanced Finnish words and phrases will help you get started.

  • Ottaa asia esille (“Raise a point”)
    • Haluaisin ottaa esille seuraavan asian. (“I would like to raise the following point.”)
  • Laatia strategia (“Devise a strategy”)
    • Haluamme laatia strategian, jonka kaikki osapuolet voivat hyväksyä. (“We want to devise a strategy that all parties can agree on.”)
  • Esitys sisältää (“The submission contains”)
    • Esitykseni sisältää erittelyn projektin kustannuksista. (“My submission contains a breakdown of the project’s expenses.”)
  • Olla huomautuksia (“To have objections”)
    • Onko kenelläkään tähän ehdotukseen liittyviä huomautuksia? (“Does anyone have any objections to this proposal?”)
  • Ehdottaa (“To propose”)
    • Ehdotan kohdan 4 muuttamista. (“I propose an amendment to item 4.”)
  • Kannattaa (“To second”)
    • Kannatan esitystä. (“I second the motion.”)
  • Vastustaa (“To oppose”)
    • Vastustan esitystä. (“I oppose the motion.”)
  • Siirtyä seuraavaan kohtaan (“To move on to the next item”)
    • Siirrymme seuraavaan päiväjärjestyksen kohtaan. (“We will move on to the next item on the agenda.”)
  • Kerrata yhteenvedoksi (“To repeat” / “To sum up”)
    • Kertaan yhteenvedoksi tähän mennessä käsitellyt pääkohdat. (“To sum up, I will repeat the main points raised so far.”)
  • Loppuun käsitelty (“Closed,” or literally: “handled to the end”)
    • Asia on loppuun käsitelty. (“The matter is closed.”)

For more help, visit our vocabulary list Phrases for Doing Business Successfully or listen to our lesson Preparing for a Finnish Business Meeting.

A Smiling Woman Speaking Standing Up in a Meeting

Master key phrases in advance to feel more confident in a business meeting.

4. Advanced Idioms for Everyday Use

Idioms can be particularly baffling for language learners since they tend not to make much sense when translated word for word. However, learning idioms is an amusing and rewarding undertaking for the very same reason. What’s more, mastering idioms gives you a unique insight into the culture of your target language and is a significant step on your journey to fluency. Below are several Finnish phrases for advanced learners who would like to sound more natural in everyday conversations and familiarize themselves with Finnish culture. 

  • vetää herne nenään (literally: “to pull a pea up one’s nose” / meaning: “to get upset about something insignificant” / equivalent: “to get one’s knickers in a twist”)
    • Se oli vain vitsi! Älä vedä hernettä nenään. (“It was just a joke! Don’t get your knickers in a twist!”)
  • vääntää rautalangasta (literally: “to wrench from iron wire” / meaning: “to explain in simple terms” / equivalent: “to spell out”)
    • Täytyykö minun vääntää joka ikinen asia rautalangasta? (“Do I have to spell out every single thing?”)
  • sopia kuin nyrkki silmään (literally: “to fit like a fist to an eye” / meaning: “to fit or suit perfectly” / equivalent: “to fit like a glove”)
    • Punainen hiusväri sopii sinulle kuin nyrkki silmään. (“Red hair dye suits you perfectly.”)
  • ymmärtää yskä (literally: “to understand the cough” / meaning: “to get the hint,” “to understand”)
    • Jouko ymmärsi heti yskän ja jätti meidät kahden. (“Jouko immediately got the hint and left us alone.”)
  • ei ole kaikki muumit laaksossa (literally: “to not have all the Moomins in the valley” / meaning: “crazy” / equivalent: “to have a screw loose”)
    • Olen alkanut epäillä ettei naapurillani ole kaikki muumit laaksossa. (“I’ve started to suspect that my neighbor has a screw loose.”)
  • kaivaa verta nenästään (literally: “to dig blood out of one’s nose” / meaning: “to provoke” / equivalent: “to look for trouble”)
    • Taneli kaivoi verta nenästään kertomalla loukkaavia vitsejä. (“Taneli was looking for trouble by telling offensive jokes.”)
  • puhaltaa yhteen hiileen (literally: “to blow into one coal” / meaning: “to work together”)
    • Saamme työn valmiiksi paljon nopeammin jos puhallamme yhteen hiileen. (“We will complete the work much faster if we work together.”)
  • katsoa kuin halpaa makkaraa (literally: “to look at someone like they’re a cheap sausage” / meaning: “to look down on someone” / equivalent: “to look down one’s nose at”)
    • Anoppini katsoi minua kuin halpaa makkaraa kun tapasin hänet ensimmäistä kertaa. (“My mother-in-law looked at me down her nose when I met her for the first time.”)
  • maksaa potut pottuina (literally: “to pay potatoes as potatoes” / meaning: “to get even”)
    • Mervi maksoi potut pottuina ja murskasi Karin uusintaottelussa. (“Mervi got even and crushed Kari in the rematch.”)
  • menneen talven lumia (literally: “snows of a past winter” / meaning: “past events that are no longer important” / equivalent: “water under the bridge”)
    • Unohdetaan koko juttu; se on menneen talven lumia. (“Let’s forget the whole thing; it’s water under the bridge.”)

Do you want to learn more strange idioms? Find out what Matti kukkarossa (literally: “Matti in the purse”) means by listening to our audio lesson on common Finnish idioms or head over to our free vocabulary list Essential Idioms That Will Make You Sound Like a Native Speaker.

Moomintroll

Onko sinulla kaikki muumit laaksossa? (“Do you have all the Moomins in the valley?”)

5. Lopuksi

In this guide, we have covered many advanced Finnish phrases that will help you express your thoughts confidently in academic essays, write winning cover letters, and participate fully in business meetings. Is there anything we didn’t touch on that you would like to see covered in the future? Do you know any great Finnish idioms we didn’t mention here? Drop a comment below to let us know!

We have plenty of resources at FinnishPod101.com for advanced learners, including our official curated Level 5 pathway and a massive library of free vocabulary lists with audio recordings. Our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, includes 1-on-1 coaching and a personalized lesson plan, which makes it ideal for anyone who is serious about becoming fluent in Finnish.

Happy learning on FinnishPod101.com!

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30+ Useful Intermediate Finnish Phrases

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Reaching the intermediate level is an exciting time for a language learner. With the essential grammar and vocabulary under your belt, Finnish is finally starting to make sense and you’re within touching distance of new possibilities. Learning intermediate Finnish phrases will allow you to go beyond basic questions and statements and help you express yourself in more nuanced and varied ways!

In this guide, you will learn a variety of common intermediate Finnish phrases that you can immediately start putting to use in everyday conversations. You’ll learn how to share interesting anecdotes from your past, make plans with friends, give explanations, and more.

A Smiling Woman Talking with a Friend

Conversations in your target language get livelier when you reach the intermediate level.


Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Talking About Past Events
  2. Making and Changing Plans
  3. Explaining and Listing Reasons
  4. Making Recommendations and Complaints
  5. Reaction Phrases for Everyday Conversations
  6. Etiquette Phrases for Social and Business Settings
  7. Lopuksi

1. Talking About Past Events

When you first start learning Finnish, the focus is naturally on the present tense as you need it to communicate basic facts and ask simple questions. In fact, it’s quite possible to get by using nothing but the present tense on a short trip or in a business meeting. However, the past tense is a key to having more interesting conversations and getting to know people better. This is true whether you want to recount a special childhood memory or talk about a memorable moment from your last vacation.

Here are some examples of how you could use the past tense in Finnish:

  • Meillä oli eilen hauskaa. (“We had fun yesterday.”)
  • Se oli elämäni kamalin päivä. (“It was the most awful day of my life.”)
  • Vietimme koko viikon kesämökillä. (“We spent the entire week at the summer cottage.”)
  • Perustin yrityksen kolme vuotta sitten. (“I started a business three years ago.”)
  • Minulla oli lapsena monta lemmikkiä. (“I had a lot of pets when I was a child.”)

Read more about using Finnish tenses on the FinnishPod101 blog.

A Woman Covering Her Face with a Hand

Se oli elämäni kamalin päivä! (“It was the most awful day of my life!”)

2. Making and Changing Plans

Let’s leave the past alone for now and move on to making—and changing—future plans. Whether you’re arranging a business meeting via email or texting a friend to ask when they’re free, these intermediate phrases in Finnish will help you navigate that social dance of trying to find a mutually suitable time!

Remember that there’s no separate future tense in Finnish; we typically use the present tense when talking about future events. The context is usually enough to reveal whether someone is referring to the present or the future. 

  • Oletko vapaa tänä viikonloppuna? (“Are you free this weekend?”)
  • Voinko tuoda poikaystäväni/tyttöystäväni? (“Can I bring my boyfriend/girlfriend?”)
  • Voimmeko siirtää tapaamista? (“Can we reschedule the meeting?”)
  • Mihin aikaan sinulle sopii? (“What time is good for you?”)
  • Perjantai ei sittenkään käy minulle. (“Friday is not good for me after all.”)
  • Puhumme asiasta lisää maanantaina. (“We will talk more about the matter on Monday.”)

A Smiling Couple Holds a Present

Voinko tuoda poikaystäväni? (“Can I bring my boyfriend?”)


3. Explaining and Listing Reasons

Are you ready for more in-depth conversations? In this section, we will look at a few sample intermediate Finnish phrases you could use to provide explanations and discuss your reasons or motivations. This is often done by using subordinating conjunctions like koska (“because”) and jotta (“so that”).

  • Opettelen suomea, koska rakastuin suomalaiseen naiseen. (“I’m learning Finnish because I fell in love with a Finnish woman.”)
  • En pidä kauhuelokuvista, sillä ne aiheuttavat minulle painajaisia. (“I don’t like horror movies because they give me nightmares.”)
  • Minulla on keliakia. Siksi en syö leipää. (“I have celiac disease. That’s why I don’t eat bread.”)
  • Join muutaman oluen, joten menen taksilla kotiin. (“I drank a few beers, so I’m taking a taxi home.”)
  • Muutan takaisin Lahteen kahdesta syystä. Ensiksi, löysin sieltä hyvän työpaikan. Toiseksi, haluan asua lähempänä vanhempiani. (“I’m moving back to Lahti for two reasons. First, I found a good job there. Secondly, I want to live closer to my parents.”)

A Woman Peeking through Her Fingers

En pidä kauhuelokuvista. (“I don’t like horror movies.”)


4. Making Recommendations and Complaints

Research shows that people trust the opinions of friends and family the most when it comes to picking products and services (with online reviews being a close second). What would you recommend—or not—to your friends? In this section, we’ll show you how to rave about your favorite book or warn others about terrible customer service.

  • Suosittelen tätä kirjaa. Se on paras dekkari, jonka olen koskaan lukenut. (“I recommend this book. It’s the best whodunit I’ve ever read.”)
  • Viihdyimme tässä hotellissa erittäin hyvin. Yöpyisimme siellä ehdottomasti uudestaan. (“We enjoyed our stay in this hotel very much. We would definitely stay there again.”)
  • Oletko koskaan kokeillut nyhtökauraa? Se on yllättävän hyvää. (“Have you ever tried pulled oats? It’s surprisingly good.”)
  • Asiakaspalvelu oli tosi huonoa. En suosittele. (“The customer service was really poor. I do not recommend.”)
  • Vältä tuota sovellusta. Se ei vaikuta luotettavalta. (“Avoid that app. It doesn’t look trustworthy.”)

Four Hands with Thumbs Up

Suosittelemme! (“We recommend!”)


5. Reaction Phrases for Everyday Conversations

Reaction phrases and words are an integral part of naturally-flowing conversations. In this section, we’ll teach you a selection of responses you can use to sound more like a native speaker when chatting in Finnish.

1 – Kiva kuulla

A: Meillä oli eilen hauskaa. (“We had fun yesterday.”)
B: Kiva kuulla! Oli mukavaa, että pääsitte tulemaan. (“Nice to hear! It was pleasant that you were able to come.”)

2 – Loistavaa

A: Olemme matkalla. Nähdään pian. (“We’re on our way. See you soon.”)
B: Loistavaa! Laitoimme saunan jo kuumenemaan. (“Excellent! We already started heating up the sauna.”)

3 – Vau

A: Toteutin unelmani ja julkaisin romaanin. (“I realized my dream and published a novel.”)
B: Vau, mikä saavutus. Onneksi olkoon! (“Wow, what an achievement. Congratulations!”)

4 – Ihanko totta?

A: Isoisäni oli kuuluisa. (“My grandfather was famous.”)
B: Ihanko totta? Kuka hän oli? (“Really? Who was he?”)

5 – Voi harmi

A: En saanutkaan sitä työpaikkaa. (“I didn’t get that job after all.”)
B: Voi harmi. Toivottavasti ensi kerralla menee paremmin! (“What a pity. Hopefully the next time will go better!”)


6. Etiquette Phrases for Social and Business Settings

Good manners never go out of style, and it’s not a bad idea to memorize as many common polite phrases as you can. If you’re keen to learn more than what’s provided below, be sure to visit our YouTube channel for a quick 10-minute video lesson on how to be polite in Finnish.

  • Hyvää ruokahalua. (“Bon appetit.” Literally: “Good appetite.”)
  • Ole kuin kotonasi. (“Make yourself at home.” Literally: “Be like at your own home.”)
  • Olkaa kuin kotonanne. (“Make yourselves at home.”) plural / formal
  • Turvallista kotimatkaa. (“Have a safe trip home.” Literally: “Safe trip home.”)
  • Terveydeksi! (“Bless you!” Literally: “For health!”)
  • Kerro, jos sinulla on kysyttävää. (“Let me know if you have any questions.” Literally: “Say if you have something to ask.”)
  • Kertokaa, jos teillä on kysyttävää. (“Let me know if you have any questions.”) plural / formal

A Man Sneezing

Terveydeksi! (“Bless you!”)

7. Lopuksi

In this guide, we have listed 30+ intermediate Finnish phrases to fit numerous everyday conversations. You could simply memorize the phrases that are most useful to you, but you’ll get more out of them if you study their structure and have a go at adapting them for other contexts by using different vocabulary. Why not share your adaptation of one of the phrases in the comments below?

There’s a lot more to help you stay engaged and make progress at the intermediate level on FinnishPod101.com, including plenty of free Finnish resources. Our large collection of Finnish vocabulary lists with audio recordings will make learning new words easy and help you perfect your pronunciation. Our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, is perfect for anyone who wants to reach fluency or would like some extra support from an experienced teacher.

Happy learning on FinnishPod101.com!

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Learn Finnish with Podcasts

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Frequently immersing yourself in your target language is one of the cornerstones of successful language learning. But if you don’t live in Finland, the real-life opportunities you have to hear Finnish may be very limited. 

Are you worried that this will slow your learning progress? We have good news for you: Listening to recordings of native speakers is the next best thing to having live interactions, and you can do it from the comfort of your home. Even if you don’t have the time to watch Finnish TV shows all the time, you probably do have a couple of minutes every day to listen to a podcast!

Finnish-language podcasts are not only a convenient way to increase your exposure to Finnish; they are also a highly versatile language learning tool with something to offer for every skill level. In this article, we’ll discuss how to make the most of podcasts and introduce you to 10 different Finnish-language podcasts to give your studies a boost.

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Enjoy podcasts wherever you are.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Why learn Finnish from Podcasts?
  2. The Top 10 Finnish Podcasts for Language Learners
  3. How to Make the Most of Listening to Finnish Podcasts
  4. Lopuksi

1. Why learn Finnish from Podcasts?

What are the benefits of listening to podcasts in Finnish? 

First, they’re a convenient way to immerse yourself in the language. You can download episodes of your favorite podcasts and listen to them wherever you are. You can even turn parts of your daily routine into learning opportunities, whether you’ve got half an hour to kill on your commute or are spending a couple of minutes to load the dishwasher. Podcasts are an economical learning tool, as well; there’s a large amount of content out there that’s completely free for you to enjoy!

Listening to Finnish podcasts will complement and enhance all your other language learning efforts. Whenever you listen to podcasts, you’ll improve your listening comprehension skills, be exposed to correct pronunciation and new vocabulary, and solidify your understanding of sentence structures and grammar.

Advanced-level learners have the most to gain: Podcasts offer a rich world of fascinating content in Finnish to keep learning fun and help you stay motivated. But even if you’re a complete beginner, there’s a podcast for you to enjoy. Read on!

A Smiling Student with Headphones Lying next to a Paper Graded A+

Listening to podcasts complements other language learning methods.

2. The Top 10 Finnish Podcasts for Language Learners

1 – Learn Finnish | FinnishPod101

  • Level: Absolute Beginner to Advanced
  • Theme: Education
  • Free content + Premium and Premium PLUS subscriptions

Were you aware that we offer a Finnish language learning podcast? If not, you’re in for a treat! Our frequently updated program caters to Finnish learners of all levels, so whether you’re brand-new to Finnish or are already a confident speaker, we have a wide range of fun lessons that are suitable for you.

Our episodes are geared toward boosting your confidence in speaking Finnish and include plenty of tips to help you progress faster. Our lessons feature dialogue in Finnish, vocabulary and key phrase lists, important grammar points, and cultural insights.

You can download lesson notes and transcripts to make the most of the audio and video material. If you’re a Premium subscriber, you’ll also get access to line-by-line audio, a voice recorder to help you perfect your pronunciation, and a comment section where you can chat with our teachers and ask questions.

You can learn more about how to use the different features and what makes our Finnish learning podcast the best on the FinnishPod101 YouTube channel.

FinnishPod101 Image

The FinnishPod101 podcast offers something for learners at all skill levels.

2 – Random Finnish Lesson

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Theme: Education
  • Free

Random Finnish Lesson is a podcast hosted by Finnish teacher Hanna Männikkölahti. Hanna discusses a variety of topics and interviews interesting people. She speaks slowly and clearly, using simpler Finnish than you’d hear in a podcast aimed at native speakers. Random Finnish Lesson is especially great for intermediate learners who are looking to improve their listening comprehension. New episodes are uploaded roughly every few weeks.

3 – Finnish with Armin

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Theme: Education
  • Free

Finnish with Armin is another podcast aimed at intermediate learners, especially those who are ready to move on to new challenges but aren’t quite confident enough to dive into regular podcasts yet. The podcast is hosted by Reetu, who tells stories about his life in Finland and discusses interesting topics in slow Finnish with a summary provided in English.

The program is currently idle, but the seven available episodes are worth checking out.

4 – Opi suomea!

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Theme: Education
  • Free

Opi suomea! (“Learn Finnish!”) is also ideal for intermediate-level listeners. Hosted by art student and Finnish tutor Kassu, the podcast is in slow and simple Finnish that’s easy to follow. Each episode is roughly 30 minutes long, and topics include nature, hobbies, rock music, and traditions.

5 – YLE Uutiset selkosuomeksi

  • Level: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Theme: News
  • Free

YLE Uutiset selkosuomeksi (“YLE News in Simple Finnish”) is a podcast produced by the national broadcaster of Finland. Each short episode gives a brief overview of the most important domestic and world news of the day and includes a look at the weather forecast. The Finnish in this podcast is simplified and clearly articulated, making it perfect for intermediate-level learners to follow. Because the episodes are bite-sized, it’s the ideal podcast to incorporate into your daily routine.

If you’re an advanced-level learner who’s looking for a bigger challenge, check out the regular news program (YLE Uutiset) instead.

A 7-day Weather Forecast

How’s your weather vocabulary in Finnish? Test it by listening to the weather forecast.

6 – Kaverin puolesta kyselen

  • Level: Advanced
  • Theme: Comedy
  • Free

Kaverin puolesta kyselen (“Asking for a Friend”) is one of the most popular podcasts in Finland. In each episode, the hosts Tiia Rantanen and Anna Karhunen discuss hilariously embarrassing situations—which always happened to a “friend,” in case you were wondering! 

The podcast already offers over 170 laugh-out-loud episodes, and a new one is uploaded every Friday. This program is in spoken Finnish and regularly uses slang, so it’s best for advanced-level learners and those who specifically want to immerse themselves in spoken Finnish.

7 – Tiedeykkönen

  • Level: Advanced
  • Theme: Science
  • Free 

Tiedeykkönen (literally: “Science Number One”) is a podcast for curious minds. The program explores a wide range of fascinating topics; you can expect the hosts to discuss anything from cosmology and climate to evolution and psychology. There are already almost 300 in-depth episodes of about 50 minutes each, and new ones are uploaded every Tuesday and Friday.

The information on Tiedeykkönen is presented in a way that’s easily understood by laypeople, and the Finnish is generally well-articulated and not very fast. However, some of the vocabulary can be challenging for language learners.

Five Different Science-related Pictures Edited Together

Why not listen to science podcasts to expand your mind AND improve your language skills?

8 – Jäljillä

  • Level: Advanced
  • Theme: True Crime
  • Free 

Jäljillä (“On the Trail of”) is a Finnish true crime podcast that discusses unsolved murders, serial killers, disappearances, and other criminal mysteries from around the world. The program is hosted by Tilda Laaksonen, who discusses the cases in a sensitive manner. Each episode is between 30 and 60 minutes long, and a new one is uploaded every week. Over 100 episodes are currently available. The podcast is great for Finnish learners because Tilda speaks clearly and relatively slowly.

9 – Puheenaihe

  • Level: Advanced
  • Theme: Various
  • Free

Puheenaihe (“Talking Point”) is a podcast about the most interesting topics of today. The program covers everything from science and technology to politics and psychology. Recent subjects include cancel culture, the future of the European Union, and artificial intelligence. With over 170 episodes available to date and a new one added weekly, there’s something to interest everyone.

The vocabulary used in the program is fairly advanced, so we recommend it for advanced-level learners.

10 – Jetlagissa

  • Level: Advanced
  • Theme: Travel
  • Free

Jetlagissa (“Jetlagged”) is an excellent podcast in Finnish for travel lovers. Hosted by popular Finnish travel bloggers Anna-Katri (creator of the blog Adalmina’s Adventures) and Veera Bianca (creator of the blog Veera Bianca), the program is full of funny stories from the duo’s adventurous travels in exotic locations as well as reflections on life as single 30-something women. Each episode is roughly 30 to 60 minutes long.

The podcast is currently on hiatus until foreign adventures become possible again. However, there are plenty of older episodes to dive into while waiting for new ones. This program is a great listen for advanced learners who want to get more exposure to spoken Finnish and slang.

An Airplane and a Silhouette of a Woman in Front of a Window

If you’re an advanced-level learner, there’s no reason you should limit yourself to our recommendations—you could try any podcast aimed at native Finnish speakers! There are tons of programs to discover, and your next favorite podcast could be just a click away.

  • Jakso lists a growing number of Finnish podcasts, arranged alphabetically.

  • YLE Areena is another great place to find quality podcasts in Finnish. You can sort the programs by suositellut (“recommended”), uusimmat (“latest”), suosituimmat (“most popular”), and tulossa (“coming soon”).
  • Supla collects podcasts hosted by Nelonen (“Number Four,” a Finnish TV channel).

3. How to Make the Most of Listening to Finnish Podcasts

By now, we’ve hopefully convinced you to give podcasts a try! But before you hit “play,” read our tips to make sure you reap the maximum benefit from listening to Finnish-language podcasts.

  1. Pick the right podcasts for you.

    Consider your language skills and your learning goals. It’s probably best to pick a program that you can follow comfortably at your level, and then move on to more challenging content as your skills and confidence grow.

  1. Slow down the audio.

    If you find a podcast you enjoy but struggle to keep up because the hosts speak too fast, try slowing the audio down! Look for “1x” near the play button and click or tap on it to adjust the playback speed.

  1. Keep track of new vocabulary.

    As a language learner, you already know the power of repetition when it comes to memorizing new vocabulary! Make sure that the new, interesting words you hear on Finnish podcasts stick in your mind by keeping track of them. You could write them down in a notebook to review later, or add them to the handy flashcard decks available on FinnishPod101.com.

  1. Make use of transcripts.

    You may not always have access to transcripts, but if you do, use them! You can read along while you listen, or return to the transcript later to review and solidify what you learned.

  1. Make podcasts a part of your daily routine.

    Making language learning a part of your daily routine is one of the key habits of successful language learners. Thankfully, podcasts are very easy to incorporate into your schedule! Why not listen to an episode on your coffee break or while folding laundry?

A Woman Walking Up Steps and Listening to Something on Her Phone

Listen to podcasts daily to immerse yourself in Finnish.

4. Lopuksi

In this guide, we looked at what podcasts can offer language learners and explored 10 interesting Finnish-language podcasts. Are you already a listener? Let us know in the comments if you have any other podcast recommendations or tips for your fellow learners.

FinnishPod101 has a lot more than just a podcast to offer. Take a look at the free resources and vocabulary lists on our website, and find even more learning content on the FinnishPod101 YouTube channel. Do you want to progress faster? Then our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, is for you: It gives you access to a personalized learning program and 1-on-1 coaching with a private teacher—this gives you a chance to ask lots of questions!

What are you waiting for? Create your free lifetime account today. 

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Basic Finnish Phrases for Beginners

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One of the most exciting moments on any language learner’s journey is using their newly acquired skills to chat with people in the real world. If you’re a beginner, you may feel like the day you can actually speak with Finns in their native language is still far off in the future—but think again! You don’t need to have extensive knowledge of Finnish grammar or tons of vocabulary under your belt to memorize and start using the most common Finnish words and phrases for beginners.

We’re enthusiastic advocates of the “speak from day one” approach; it can really boost your confidence and motivate you to work towards your language goals! In this guide, we’ll cover all the basic phrases you need to get started: greetings, common courtesy phrases, useful expressions for dining and shopping, and phrases to use in an emergency.

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Learning a new language is about making connections.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Greetings and Self-introductions
  2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions
  3. Dining & Shopping Phrases
  4. Asking for Help
  5. Lopuksi

1. Greetings and Self-introductions

Greeting people and introducing yourself in Finnish is a wonderful way to break the ice when you’re interacting with Finns. This is true even if you need to switch back to English afterward!

Let’s take a look at both informal and formal Finnish greetings.

  • Hei (“Hi”)
  • Moi (“Hi”)
  • Terve (“Hello”)
  • Hyvää huomenta (“Good morning”)
  • Hyvää päivää (“Good day”)
  • Hyvää iltaa (“Good evening”)

Note that you can drop the word hyvää (“good”) from any of the above phrases! For example, you could just say Päivää (“Good day”) instead! 

  • Haloo (“Hello”) – used when answering the phone

Next, you might want to ask someone how they’re doing. Here are a few ways to do that in Finnish:

  • Mitä kuuluu? (“How are you?”) – Literally: “What is heard?”
  • Kiitos, hyvää. (“Good, thank you.”)
  • Entä sinulle? (“And you?”) – informal
  • Entä teille? (“And you?”) – formal / plural
  • Miten menee? (“How’s it going?”)
  • Oikein hyvin, kiitos. (“Really well, thanks.”)

If you want to learn a bit more about each other, here are a few classic questions to ask someone you’ve just met and how to respond to them:

  • Mikä sinun nimesi on? (“What’s your name?”) – informal
  • Mikä teidän nimenne on? (“What’s your name?”) – formal
  • (Minun) nimeni on Antero. (“My name is Antero.”)
  • (Minä) olen Reetta. (“I am Reetta.”)
  • Hauska tutustua! (“Nice to meet you!”)
  • Mistä olet kotoisin? (“Where are you from?”)
  • Olen kotoisin Suomesta. (“I’m from Finland.”)

If you want to explore this subject more, be sure to check out our guides How to Say ‘Hello’ and Other Finnish Greetings and How to Introduce Yourself in Finnish on the FinnishPod101 blog.

A Man Extending His Hand for a Handshake

Hauska tutustua! (“Nice to meet you!”)

2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions

Good manners will always be appreciated wherever you go, and Finland is no exception! Learning even just a few polite words and phrases to use in various social situations can make your interactions with Finnish people go more smoothly.

To catch someone’s attention or to apologize, you can use the same word:

  • Anteeksi (“Sorry” / “Excuse me”)
  • Anteeksi, mitä kello on? (“Excuse me, what’s the time?”)
  • Anteeksi, se oli vahinko. (“Sorry, it was an accident.”)

This is an alternative way to apologize:

  • Olen pahoillani. (“I’m sorry.”)

This is how you could politely respond to an apology:

  • Ei se mitään. (“Don’t worry about it.”) – Literally: “No it nothing”

It’s also not uncommon for Finns to say “sorry” among friends. If written, the word is usually spelled sori

The word kiitos can mean either “thank you” or “please,” depending on the context. There is no separate word for “please” in Finnish.

  • Kiitos (“Thank you” / “Please”)
  • Kiitos paljon. (“Thank you very much.”)
  • Paljon kiitoksia. (“Many thanks.”)
  • Kyllä kiitos. (“Yes, please.”)
  • Ei kiitos. (“No, thank you.”)
  • Ole hyvä. (“You’re welcome.”) – Literally: “Be good.”
  • Olkaa hyvä. (“You’re welcome.”) – formal / plural
  • Ei kestä. (“Don’t mention it.”)

Learn more about Finnish customs and values on infoFinland, or join us for a 3-minute lesson on manners and practice saying thank you in Finnish.

Other useful Finnish courtesy phrases include:

  • Onnea! (“Good luck!” / “Congrats!”)
  • Onnittelut! (“Congratulations!”)
  • Hyvää syntymäpäivää! (“Happy birthday!”)
  • Tervetuloa! (“Welcome!”)
  • Kippis! (“Cheers!”) – used when raising a toast
  • Hyvää ruokahalua! (“Bon appétit!”)
  • Hyvää matkaa! (“Bon voyage!”) – Literally: “Good journey!”
  • Terveydeksi! (“Bless you!”) – Literally: “For health!” – used when someone sneezes
  • Parane pian! (“Get well soon!”)

Parting ways? Here are different ways to say goodbye in Finnish:

  • Hei hei. (“Bye-bye.”)
  • Moi moi. (“Bye-bye.”)
  • Heippa. (“Bye.”)
  • Moikka. (“Bye.”)
  • Näkemiin. (“Goodbye.”) – used in person
  • Kuulemiin. (“Goodbye.”) – used on the phone
  • Hyvää yötä. (“Good night.”)
  • Öitä. (“Night night.”)
  • Nähdään. (“See you.”)
  • Nähdään pian. (“See you soon.”)
  • Nähdään huomenna. (“See you tomorrow.”)
  • Huomiseen. (“See you tomorrow.”) – Literally: “Until tomorrow.”
  • Hyvää päivänjatkoa. (“Have a nice day.”) – Literally: “Good continuation of the day.”
  • Hauskaa viikonloppua. (“Have a great weekend.”) – Literally: “Fun weekend.”

Explore this topic in greater depth with our guide to 10 Different Ways to Say Goodbye in Finnish.

A College Student Waving Goodbye to Her Friends

Hei hei, nähdään huomenna! (“Bye-bye, see you tomorrow!”)

3. Dining & Shopping Phrases

Visiting local cafes, restaurants, and shops is one of the great pleasures of spending time in another country. In this section, we’ll cover some beginner phrases in Finnish that will help you make the most of your dining and shopping experiences in Finland. 

First, let’s look at a few ways to respond to the question Mitä saisi olla? (“What can I get for you?”): 

  • Kahvi ja pulla, kiitos. (“A coffee and a bun, please.”)
  • Haluaisin kupin kahvia, kiitos. (“I’d like a cup of coffee, please.”)
  • Saisinko lasin vettä? (“Could I get a glass of water?”)
  • Otan kupin teetä ja palan kakkua. (“I’ll have a cup of tea and a slice of cake.”)
  • Onko teillä korvapuusteja? (“Do you have cinnamon rolls?”)

Ordering at a restaurant is not much harder!

  • Saisimmeko ruokalistan? (“Can we have the menu?”)
  • Haluaisin nähdä ruokalistan. (“I would like to see the menu.”)
  • Mikä on päivän erikoinen? (“What’s today’s special?”)
  • Otan tomaattikeiton. (“I’ll have the tomato soup.”)
  • Haluaisin hampurilaisen. (“I would like to have the hamburger.”)

Visit FinnishPod101.com for an audio lesson on placing an order at a restaurant or explore Finnish cuisine on our blog.

Here are a few handy phrases you could use when shopping:

  • Onko teillä sateenvarjoja? (“Do you have umbrellas?”)
  • Mistä löydän sovituskopin? (“Where can I find a fitting room?”)
  • Otan tämän. (“I’ll take this.”)

Find more Finnish shopping phrases on bab.la and visit our free vocabulary list of essential shopping words.

Finally, let’s talk about paying:

  • Paljonko tämä maksaa? (“How much is this?”)
  • Mitä olen velkaa? (“How much do I owe?”)
  • Haluaisin maksaa. (“I’d like to pay.”)
  • Lasku, kiitos. (“Check, please.”)
  • Saisimmeko laskun? (“Can we have the check, please?”)
  • Voinko maksaa luottokortilla? (“Can I pay with a credit card?”)

Tipping at a restaurant in Finland is not expected, but you may wish to round up your meal.

A Couple Ordering at a Restaurant

Mitä saisi olla? (“What would you like?”)

4. Asking for Help

What if you go out there and use all the Finnish phrases for beginners you’ve learned—but then don’t understand what the other person says to you in response? Or what if people talk a little too fast for you to follow? Take a deep breath and ask them to repeat what they said. Or ask them if they can slow down a bit! Here are simple Finnish phrases for those “lost in translation” moments:

  • Puhutteko englantia? (“Do you speak English?”) – formal / plural
  • Puhutko suomea? (“Do you speak Finnish?”) – informal
  • Kyllä, vähän. (“Yes, a little.”)
  • En puhu suomea kovin hyvin. (“I don’t speak Finnish very well.”)
  • Anteeksi, en ymmärrä. (“Sorry, I don’t understand.”)
  • Voitko toistaa mitä sanoit? (“Can you repeat what you said?”) – informal
  • Voisitteko puhua hitaammin, kiitos? (“Can you speak more slowly, please?”) – formal
  • Miten sanotaan … suomeksi? (“How do you say … in Finnish?”)

A Woman Struggling to Understand What a Man Is Saying

Anteeksi, en ymmärrä. (“Sorry, I don’t understand.”)

Another situation you may find yourself in is being literally lost—or looking for public bathrooms! So, let’s cover a couple of simple Finnish phrases for asking directions:

  • Missä rautatieasema on? (“Where is the railway station?”)
  • Anteeksi, onko täällä vessaa? (“Excuse me, is there a toilet here?”)
  • Miten pääsen täältä keskustaan? (“How do I get from here to the city center?”)

Learning essential vocabulary for directions in Finnish will help you make sense of the answers you receive!

Hopefully you’ll never need to use them, but it’s always a good idea to know the key phrases for emergencies:

  • Apua! (“Help!”)
  • Soittakaa poliisi. (“Call the police.”)
  • Tarvitsen lääkärin. (“I need a doctor.”)

Get even more prepared by going through our 8-lesson series titled Essential Finnish for Emergencies.

5. Lopuksi

In this guide, we have covered lots of Finnish beginner phrases for a variety of situations, from meeting and greeting to shopping and asking for help. This should help you navigate the most commonplace situations and give you a good foundation to build on! Are there any other basic Finnish phrases that you know and find useful? Help your fellow students learn them too by leaving a comment below.

If you’re an absolute beginner, you may worry about whether you’re pronouncing Finnish words correctly. You’ll be happy to hear that FinnishPod101 offers an extensive library of audio and video lessons as well as free vocabulary lists with audio recordings to help you with your pronunciation! And if you’re ready for more, our Absolute Beginner pathway is a great place to start your learning journey.

Happy learning on FinnishPod101.com!

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150+ Advanced Finnish Words to Add to Your Vocabulary

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So, you’ve reached the advanced level in your Finnish learning adventure? Congratulations! But even if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably not looking to rest on your laurels; while you may have mastered the essentials, there’s always more to learn. One of the most obvious next steps is to keep expanding your vocabulary by learning more advanced Finnish words.

Why should building your vocabulary be a top priority once you hit an advanced level? It’s simple: a wide vocabulary boosts your efforts in all other areas of language learning. Whether you want to hone your reading, writing, listening, or speaking skills in Finnish, knowing a larger range of words really helps! It makes it easier to read for pleasure and absorb information from factual texts, helps you communicate your thoughts and ideas with greater accuracy and depth, allows you to discuss more complex and specialized topics, and lets you pick up on subtle differences in meaning when you listen to others.

Learning new words can also be a fun and confidence-boosting process that helps keep boredom at bay when you hit that plateau in language learning and aren’t progressing in leaps and bounds anymore!

In this article, we’ll give you an advanced Finnish word list divided into academic, business, medical, and legal vocabularies. Finally, we will also provide some fancier alternatives to common Finnish words to help you add more variety to the way you express yourself.


A Smiling Woman Touches Her Head with Her Index Fingers

Take your Finnish skills to the next level by learning advanced vocabulary.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Advanced Academic Words
  2. Advanced Business Vocabulary
  3. Advanced Medical Vocabulary
  4. Advanced Legal Vocabulary
  5. Alternative Words
  6. Lopuksi

1. Advanced Academic Words

The exact definition of “academic vocabulary” depends on the context. However, the list we’ve put together here consists of advanced Finnish words that you could expect to appear in academic texts and dialogue but which wouldn’t turn up very frequently in normal day-to-day conversations. 

1 – Academic Verbs

  • analysoida (“to analyze”)
  • ylläpitää (“to sustain” / “to maintain”)
    • On tärkeää pysyä aktiivisena ja ylläpitää lihaskuntoa. (“It’s important to stay active and maintain muscle tone.”)
  • mahdollistaa (“to enable”)
  • altistaa (“to expose”)
    • Nanomateriaalit saattavat altistaa ympäristön uusille riskeille. (“Nanomaterials may expose the environment to new risks.”)
  • säädellä (“to regulate”)
  • arvioida (“to approximate” / “to estimate”)
  • täsmentää (“to clarify”)
  • havainnollistaa (“to demonstrate”)
  • tarkkailla (“to monitor”)
  • luokitella (“to classify” / “to categorize” / “to group”)
    • Eläimet voidaan luokitella selkärankaisiin ja selkärangattomiin. (“Animals can be grouped into vertebrates and invertebrates.”)
  • automatisoida (“to automate”)

2 – Academic Nouns

  • asiantuntija (“authority” / “expert” / “specialist”)
  • tiivistelmä (“abstract” / “summary”)
  • näkökulma (“perspective” / “point of view”)
    • Aihetta voi lähestyä monesta eri näkökulmasta. (“The subject can be approached from many different points of view.”)
  • ennakkoasenne (“bias” / “prejudice”)
  • käsite (“concept”)
  • asiayhteys (“context”)
    • Kirjallisuutta tulkittaessa on tärkeää ottaa huomioon asiayhteys. (“When interpreting literature, it’s important to take the context into account.”)
  • kriteeri (“criterion”)
  • olettamus (“hypothesis” / “presumption”)
  • maailmankatsomus (“worldview” / “ideology”)
  • teoria (“theory”)
  • hierarkia (“hierarchy”)

3 – Academic Adjectives

  • yksiselitteinen (“unequivocal”)
    • Vältä väärinymmärryksiä valitsemalla yksiselitteisiä termejä. (“Avoid misunderstandings by choosing unequivocal terms.”)
  • tulkinnanvarainen (“ambiguous” / “subject to interpretation”)
  • eettinen (“ethical”)
  • johdonmukainen (“logical” / “consistent” / “coherent”)
    • Pulmaan täytyy olla olemassa johdonmukainen ratkaisu. (“There must be a logical solution to the problem.”)
  • neutraali (“neutral”)

You can find more advanced Finnish words and phrases related to academia in our relevant Finnish vocabulary builder.

A Young Man in a Library

Tekstikirjoissa käytetään akateemista sanastoa. (“Academic vocabulary is used in textbooks.”)

2. Advanced Business Vocabulary

Learning advanced Finnish vocabulary related to business is highly recommended for anyone who wants to do business or work with Finns.

1 – Business Verbs

  • laskuttaa (“to invoice”)
  • hinnoitella (“to price”)
  • valtuuttaa (“to authorize”)
    • Sakari valtuutti Irmelin tekemään sopimuksen puolestaan. (“Sakari authorized Irmeli to make a contract on his behalf.”)
  • rahoittaa (“to finance”)
  • markkinoida (“to market”)
    • Tupakkateollisuus ei saa markkinoida nuuskaa terveellisenä vaihtoehtona savukkeille. (“The tobacco industry isn’t allowed to market snuff as a healthy alternative to cigarettes.”)
  • sijoittaa (“to invest”)

2 – Business Nouns

  • kilpailija (“competitor”)
  • kilpailuetu (“competitive advantage”)
  • yhtiökumppani (“partner” / “associate”)
  • markkinaosuus (“market share”)
  • tavaramerkki (“trademark”)
    • Tavaramerkki takaa tuotteen aitouden. (“A trademark guarantees a product’s authenticity.”)
  • kauppakirja (“contract of sale”)
  • alihankkija (“subcontractor”)
  • vastatarjous (“counter offer”)
  • suhdetoiminta (“public relations”)
  • asiakaspalvelu (“customer service” / “after-sales service”)
  • pääkonttori (“headquarters”)
  • sivukonttori or haarakonttori (“branch”)
  • kirjanpitäjä (“accountant”)
  • kirjanpito (“accounting”)
  • kuluttaja (“consumer”)
  • pääoma (“capital”)
  • osinko (“dividend”)
    • Osinko on voitto-osuus, jonka yritys jakaa omistajilleen. (“A dividend is a profit share that a company distributes to its shareholders.”)
  • yrittäjä (“entrepreneur”)
  • toimitusjohtaja (“executive”)
  • talouskasvu (“economic growth”)
  • konkurssi (“bankruptcy”)

Have you checked out our blog post on the top Finnish business phrases and vocabulary yet?

Two Men in Suits Shake Hands, while a Woman Takes Notes.

Tehdään sopimus. (“Let’s make a deal.”)

3. Advanced Medical Vocabulary

You no doubt already know the words lääkäri (“doctor”) and sairaala (“hospital”), but what about terms like “diagnosis” and “blood donation”?

1 – Medical Verbs

  • rokottaa (“to vaccinate”)
  • amputoida (“to amputate”)
  • desinfioida (“to disinfect”)
    • Muista desinfioida kätesi lähtiessäsi sairaalasta. (“Remember to disinfect your hands when leaving the hospital.”)
  • puuduttaa (“to anesthetize” / “to numb”)
  • nukuttaa (“to anesthetize” / “to put to sleep”)
  • luovuttaa verta (“to donate blood”)
    • Terve ihminen voi luovuttaa verta useamman kerran vuodessa. (“A healthy person can donate blood several times a year.”)
  • tutkia (“to examine”)
  • leikata (“to cut” / “to operate”)
  • pyörtyä (“to faint”)
  • kaatua (“to fall”)

2 – Medical Nouns 

  • veriryhmä (“blood type”)
  • allergia (“allergy”)
  • muistinmenetys (“amnesia”)
  • verenluovutus (“blood donation”)
  • luunmurtuma (“bone fracture”)
  • venähdys (“strain”)
  • aivotärähdys (“concussion”)
    • Aivotärähdys voi aiheuttaa päänsärkyä ja pahoinvointia. (“A concussion can cause headaches and nausea.”)
  • turvotus (“swelling”)
  • mustelma (“bruise”)
  • ruhje (“contusion”)
  • leikkaus (“surgery” / “operation”)
  • keisarinleikkaus (“Cesarean section”)
  • elvytys (“resuscitation”)
  • vastustuskyky (“immunity”)
  • nestehukka (“dehydration”)
  • diagnoosi (“diagnosis”)
  • päivystyspoliklinikka (“emergency room” / “ER”)
    • Päivystyspoliklinikat ovat auki ympäri vuorokauden. (“Emergency rooms are open round the clock.”)
  • teho-osasto (“intensive care unit” / “ICU”)
  • sydänkohtaus (“heart attack”)
  • halvaus (“stroke”) 
  • tartuntatauti (“contagious disease”)
  • resepti (“prescription”)
  • lääke (“medicine”)
  • rokote (“vaccine”)
  • lääkitys (“medication”)
  • sivuvaikutus (“side effect”)
  • parannuskeino (“cure”)
  • hoito (“treatment”)
  • näyte (“sample”)

3 – Medical Adjectives

  • hyvänlaatuinen (“benign”)
  • pahanlaatuinen (“malignant”)
  • akuutti (“acute”)
  • krooninen (“chronic”)
  • nyrjähtänyt (“sprained”)
    • Nyrjähtänyt nilkka on yleinen vamma. (“A sprained ankle is a common injury.”)
  • murtunut (“fractured”)
  • pitkälle edennyt (“advanced”)
    • Pitkälle edennyt syöpä aiheuttaa monenlaisia oireita. (“Advanced cancer causes many kinds of symptoms.”)
  • laajalle levinnyt (“widespread”)
  • turvonnut (“swollen”)

This is, of course, a very small sample of the medical words out there! If you’re ready to dive in deeper, be sure to check out the relevant Finnish word and phrase lists on FinnishPod101.com. We recommend these lists: Hospital Care, Medicine and Medical Treatments, and How to Describe Common Health Problems.

A Doctor Listens to a Patient’s Heart in a Hospital.

Teho-osastolla (“In the ICU”)

4. Advanced Legal Vocabulary

Legalese (lakikieli) has a reputation for being difficult to understand by anyone outside the legal sphere. Our list of Finnish legal terms won’t make you an expert at interpreting legal texts, but it will help you understand topics related to law when you come across them in newspapers, for example.

1 – Legal Verbs

  • haastaa oikeuteen (“to sue”)
    • Kunnianloukkauksesta voi haastaa oikeuteen. (“One can sue for defamation.”)
  • kuulustella (“to interrogate”)
  • todeta syylliseksi (“to convict”)
  • vapauttaa syytteestä (“to acquit”)
    • Valamiehistö vapautti hänet syytteestä. (“The jury acquitted him/her.”)
  • kavaltaa (“to embezzle”)
  • valittaa (“to appeal”)
  • todistaa (“to testify”)

2 – Legal Nouns

  • asianajaja (“lawyer”)
  • syyttäjä (“prosecutor”)
  • rike (“misdemeanor” / “minor offense”)
  • henkirikos (“capital crime”)
  • rikosrekisteri (“criminal record”)
    • Rikosrekisteri voi estää tietyillä aloilla työskentelyn. (“A criminal record can prevent one from working in certain fields.”)
  • ennakkotapaus (“precedent”)
  • kanne (“lawsuit”)
  • lahjonta (“bribery”)
  • korruptio (“corruption”)
  • ehdonalainen (“parole” / “probation”)
  • virkasyyte (“impeachment”)
  • lainsäädäntö (“legislation”)
  • perustuslaki (“constitution” / “constitutional law”)
    • Eduskunta voi tehdä muutoksia perustuslakiin. (“The Parliament can make changes to the constitution.”)
  • petos (“fraud”)
  • valamiehistö (“jury”)
  • sovittelu (“mediation”)
  • testamentti (“will” / “testament”)
  • vastuu (“liability”)
  • käräjäoikeus (“district court”)

You can learn more legal terminology by listening to our lesson The Legal System: Common Terminology. And if you happen to be really into courtroom drama and wonder what the judicial system of Finland is like, you can learn the basics on Wikipedia.

A Judge Gavel

tuomarin nuija (“judge’s gavel”)

5. Alternative Words

In this section, we’ll give you a list of words that you can try using instead of their more commonplace counterparts. If you’re studying for the Finnish language proficiency test, demonstrating that you have a varied vocabulary and can correctly use rarer words is a great way to get a higher score!

Note that while some of the words here are interchangeable, we’ve also included words that have a subtly different meaning. In the following lists, the suggested alternative term is listed first, followed by the basic word. 

1 – Alternative Verbs

  • todeta (“to state”) instead of sanoa (“to say”)
  • lahjoittaa (“to gift” / “to donate”) instead of antaa (“to give”)
  • omistaa (“to own” / “to possess”) instead of olla (“to have”)
  • menehtyä (“to perish”) instead of kuolla (“to die”)
  • ohjeistaa (“to instruct”) instead of neuvoa (“to advise” / “to direct”)
  • rohjeta (“to dare”) instead of uskaltaa (“to dare”)
  • vierailla (“to visit”) instead of käydä (“to visit”)
    • Vierailin eilen Marjukan luona. (“I visited Marjukka yesterday.”)
  • kohdata (“to meet” / “to encounter”) instead of tavata (“to meet” / “to encounter”)
  • aterioida (“to have a meal”) instead of syödä (“to eat”)
    • Sirpalla on tapana katsoa televisiota aterioidessaan. (“Sirpa is in the habit of watching television while having a meal.”)
  • uupua (“to tire”) instead of väsyä (“to tire”)
  • menetellä (“to act” in a certain way) instead of toimia (“to act”)
  • poistua (“to leave” / “to depart”) instead of lähteä (“to go” / “to leave”)
  • ennättää (“to make it” / “to have time”) instead of ehtiä (“to make it” / “to have time”)
  • kyynelehtiä (“to shed tears”) instead of itkeä (“to cry”)
  • kynäillä (“to pen”) instead of kirjoittaa (“to write”)

2 – Alternative Adjectives 

  • varakas (“wealthy”) instead of rikas (“rich”)
  • ylipainoinen (“overweight”) instead of lihava (“fat”)
  • iäkäs (“elderly”) instead of vanha (“old”)
    • Iäkkäillä ihmisillä on paljon elämänkokemusta. (“Elderly people have a lot of life experience.”)
  • erinomainen (“excellent”) instead of hyvä (“good”)
  • voimakas (“strong” / “powerful”) instead of vahva (“strong”)
  • merkillinen (“peculiar”) instead of outo (“odd”)
  • urhoollinen (“valiant”) instead of rohkea (“brave”)
  • viehättävä (“attractive”) instead of kaunis (“beautiful”)
  • huomaavainen (“considerate” / “thoughtful”) instead of kohtelias (“polite” / “courteous”)
  • tähdellinen (“significant” / “meaningful”) instead of tärkeä (“important”)
  • haastava (“challenging”) instead of vaikea (“hard” / “difficult”)
  • arkipäiväinen (“mundane” / “commonplace”) instead of tavallinen (“common” / “ordinary”)
    • Työuupumus on nykyään arkipäiväinen ilmiö. (“Burnout is a commonplace phenomenon these days.”)
  • hintava (“pricy”) instead of kallis (“expensive”)
  • edullinen (“inexpensive”) instead of halpa (“cheap”)
  • miellyttävä (“pleasing”) instead of mukava (“nice” / “comfortable”)
  • väärentämätön (“authentic” / “genuine”) instead of aito (“real”)
  • paikkansapitävä (“accurate” / “correct”) instead of tosi (“true”)
  • kauhistuttava (“frightening”) instead of pelottava (“scary”)

3 – Alternative Adverbs

  • vastaisuudessa (“in the future”) instead of tulevaisuudessa (“in the future”)
  • kaiketi (“probably”) instead of varmaan (“probably”)
  • kenties (“perhaps”) instead of ehkä (“maybe”)
  • uskomattoman (“unbelievably”) instead of todella (“really”)
    • Matias on ollut uskomattoman hyvällä tuulella viime aikoina. (“Matias has been in an unbelievably good mood lately.”)
  • kohtalaisen (“moderately”) instead of melko (“quite”)
    • Säätiedotus lupaa kohtalaisen lämmintä keliä pääsiäiseksi. (“The weather forecast predicts moderately warm weather for Easter.”)
  • etäällä (“far away”) instead of kaukana (“far away”)
  • oitis (“right away”) instead of heti (“right away”)
  • vaivihkaa (“surreptitiously”) instead of salaa (“secretly”)
  • vaivattomasti (“effortlessly”) instead of helposti (“easily”)
  • parhaillaan (“currently”) instead of nyt (“now”)
  • aiemmin (“earlier” / “previously”) instead of ennen (“before”)

4 – Alternative Prepositions and Postpositions  

  • rinnalla (“beside”) instead of vieressä (“by” / “next to”)
    • Kasper seisoo valokuvassa isänsä rinnalla. (“Kasper stands beside his father in the photograph.”)
  • tähden (“for the sake of”) instead of vuoksi (“because of”)
  • eduksi (“for the benefit of”) instead of hyväksi (“for the good of”)
    • Tämä tilanne ei ole kenellekään eduksi. (“This situation isn’t for the benefit of anyone.”)
  • vailla (“without”) instead of ilman (“without”)
  • mielestä (“in the opinion of”) instead of mukaan (“according to”)
  • ohella (“in addition to”) instead of lisäksi (“besides”)

A Pair of Glasses on Top of an Open Book

Do you look up words in a dictionary when reading a book?

6. Lopuksi

In this guide, we have listed over 150 advanced Finnish words, including both specialized and general terms. Of course, seeing a new word once doesn’t mean that you will remember it tomorrow! To help you commit this new vocabulary to long-term memory, we recommend that you add the words in this article to your own personalized spaced repetition flashcard deck. It’s also a good idea to put any new vocabulary into context; for example, write a sentence or two using the words you want to learn to speed up the learning process. 

Do you have any other tips for learning and memorizing new vocabulary? Help your fellow learners by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below!

Be sure to explore our extensive library of free vocabulary lists on FinnishPod101.com too, or hop over to our free Finnish Dictionary whenever you come across new words. Finally, if you are determined to move from an advanced level to fluency in Finnish, MyTeacher provides you with efficient tools to meet your most ambitious language learning goals.

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350+ Intermediate Finnish Words You Need to Learn

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In a previous blog post, we covered Finnish vocabulary for beginners. Now, it’s time to build on that foundation and expand your vocabulary with intermediate Finnish words! We’ll cover large numbers, a lot of useful nouns, verbs, and adjectives, and even some common adverbs. Are you ready to make your conversations in Finnish richer and more meaningful? Of course you are!


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Expanding your vocabulary opens up new opportunities to chat in Finnish.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Large Numbers
  2. Nouns
  3. Verbs
  4. Adjectives
  5. Adverbs
  6. Bonus Vocabulary for Intermediate Learners: Finnish “False Friends”
  7. Lopuksi

1. Large Numbers

At the beginner level, you started with the numbers from one to ten—but the time has come to get more ambitious. Learning larger numbers is essential for navigating many common life situations, such as talking about dates and handling money with confidence.

1 – From 11 to 21

  • 11      yksitoista
  • 12      kaksitoista
  • 13      kolmetoista
  • 14      neljätoista
  • 15      viisitoista
  • 16      kuusitoista
  • 17      seitsemäntoista
  • 18      kahdeksantoista
  • 19      yhdeksäntoista
  • 20   kaksikymmentä
  • 21     kaksikymmentäyksi

Are you confused about the difference between yksitoista (11) and kaksikymmentäyksi (21)? Our in-depth guide to Finnish numbers will demystify everything.

2 – Counting Up to 100

  • 30    kolmekymmentä
  • 40    neljäkymmentä
  • 50    viisikymmentä
  • 60    kuusikymmentä
  • 70    seitsemänkymmentä
  • 80    kahdeksankymmentä
  • 90    yhdeksänkymmentä
  • 100  sata

3 – To 1000 and Beyond

  • 200          kaksisataa
  • 300          kolmesataa
  • (…)
  • 900          yhdeksänsataa
  • 1,000           tuhat
  • 10,000         kymmenentuhatta
  • 100,000       satatuhatta
  • 1,000,000    miljoona

What about numbers like “four thousand four hundred and forty”? How would that look and sound in Finnish? You can find out by visiting our Finnish Numbers vocabulary list!

Someone Writing Large Numbers Inside Arrows on a Chalkboard

Aika oppia isoja numeroita! (“Time to learn big numbers!”)

2. Nouns

Get those flashcards ready! We’re about to cover a lot of essential intermediate Finnish vocabulary for talking about people, clothes, food, city living, and more. 

1 – People

  • sukulainen (“relative”)
  • veli (“brother”)
  • sisko (“sister”)
  • isoäiti (“grandmother”)
  • isoisä (“grandfather”)
  • lapsenlapsi (“grandchild”)
  • vauva (“baby”)
  • serkku (“cousin”)
  • täti (“aunt”)
  • setä (“uncle,” father’s brother)
  • eno (“uncle,” mother’s brother)
  • tyttöystävä (“girlfriend”)
  • poikaystävä (“boyfriend”)

2 – Countries 

  • Suomi (“Finland”)
  • Ruotsi (“Sweden”)
  • Norja (“Norway”)
  • Tanska (“Denmark”)
  • Islanti (“Iceland”)
  • Venäjä (“Russia”)
  • Viro (“Estonia”)
  • Ranska (“France”)
  • Saksa (“Germany”)
  • Espanja (“Spain”)
  • Italia (“Italy”)
  • Portugali (“Portugal”)
  • Kreikka (“Greece”)
  • Puola (“Poland”)
  • Yhdysvallat (“United States”)
  • Kanada (“Canada”)
  • Yhdistynyt Kuningaskunta (“United Kingdom”)
  • Australia (“Australia”)
  • Uusi Seelanti (“New Zealand”)

Is your home country not included above? Look for it on our World Countries vocabulary list, and then learn how to say what your nationality is by visiting our Nationalities vocabulary list. (As a rule of thumb, you typically add -lainen to the name of your country to get the nationality.)

Teacher and Children Looking at a Globe in the Classroom

Kuka tietää, mikä maa tämä on? (“Who knows which country this is?”)

3 – Body Parts

  • otsa (“forehead”)
  • poski (“cheek”)
  • leuka (“chin”)
  • kaula (“neck”)
  • olkapää (“shoulder”)
  • kyynärpää (“elbow”)
  • rinta (“chest”)
  • selkä (“back”)
  • vatsa / maha (“stomach”)
  • takapuoli (“backside”)
  • reisi (“thigh”)
  • polvi (“knee”)
  • sormi (“finger”)
  • varvas (“toe”)
  • kantapää (“heel”)
  • jalkapohja (“sole”)

For more words and pronunciation help, visit our Body Parts in Finnish vocabulary list.

4 – Substances

  • vesi (“water”)
  • lumi (“snow”)
  • hiekka (“sand”)
  • veri (“blood”)
  • lika (“dirt”)
  • rasva (“grease”)
  • ruoste (“rust”)
  • maali (“paint”)
  • pesuaine (“detergent”)
  • polttoaine (“fuel”)
  • muste (“ink”)
  • terva (“tar”)
  • liima (“glue”)
  • lima (“slime”)

5 – Food and Drink

  • alkupala (“appetizer” / “starter”)
  • välipala (“snack”)
  • pääruoka (“main dish”)
  • aamupala (“breakfast”)
  • lounas (“lunch”)
  • päivällinen / illallinen (“dinner”)
  • jälkiruoka (“dessert”)
  • ateria (“meal”)
  • riisi (“rice”)
  • pasta (“pasta”)
  • peruna (“potato”)
  • puuro (“porridge”)
  • salaatti (“salad”)
  • voileipä (“sandwich”)
  • jäätelö (“ice-cream”)
  • viini (“wine”)
  • olut / kalja (“beer”)
  • kahvi (“coffee”)
  • tee (“tea”)
  • maito (“milk”)
  • (tuore)mehu (“juice”)
  • juoma (“drink”)
  • alkoholi (“alcohol”)

Three Friends Eating Lunch Out Together

Lounas ystävien kanssa (“Lunch with friends”)

6 – Rooms

  • keittiö (“kitchen”)
  • olohuone (“living room”)
  • makuuhuone (“bedroom”)
  • kylpyhuone (“bathroom”)
  • vessa / WC (“toilet”)
  • eteinen (“hallway”)
  • käytävä (“corridor”)
  • hotellihuone (“hotel room”)

7 – Nature

  • laakso (“valley”)
  • kukkula (“hill”)
  • tunturi (“fell”)
  • aavikko (“desert”)
  • suo (“bog” / “swamp”)
  • lähde (“spring”)
  • lampi (“pond” / “pool”)
  • ranta (“beach” / “shore”)
  • saari (“island”)
  • saaristo (“archipelago”)
  • puro (“stream”)
  • vesiputous (“waterfall”)
  • valtameri (“ocean”)
A Small Stream in a Snowy Forest

Pieni puro lumisessa metsässä (“A small stream in a snowy forest”)

8 – City Life

  • keskusta (“city center”)
  • kaupunginosa (“district” / “neighborhood”)
  • lähiö (“suburb”)
  • katu (“street”)
  • kuja (“alley”)
  • risteys (“crossing” / “junction”)
  • suojatie (“crosswalk” / “zebra crossing”)
  • liikennemerkki (“traffic sign”)
  • liikenneympyrä (“traffic circle” / “roundabout”)
  • kerrostalo (“high rise” / “apartment building”)
  • omakotitalo (“detached house” / “single-family home”)
  • puisto (“park”)
  • satama (“harbor”)
  • silta (“bridge”)
  • patsas (“statue”)
  • ostoskeskus (“shopping center” / “mall”)

9 – Clothes

  • paita (“shirt”)
  • t-paita (“T-shirt”)
  • villapaita / neulepaita (“sweater” / “jumper”)
  • huppari (“hoodie”)
  • sukkahousut (“tights”)
  • sukka (“sock”)
  • alushousut (“underpants”)
  • housut (“pants” / “trousers”)
  • puku (“suit” / “costume”)
  • iltapuku (“evening gown”)
  • mekko (“dress”)
  • sortsit / shortsit (“shorts”)
  • takki (“jacket”)
  • hattu (“hat”)
  • pipo (“beanie” / “knit cap”)
  • käsine (“glove”)
  • kenkä (“shoe”)
  • sandaali (“sandal”)
  • yöpaita (“nightshirt” / “nightgown”)
  • pyjama (“pajamas”)
  • kravatti (“tie”)
Three Women Looking at Clothes in a Boutique Store

Vaateostoksilla (“Clothes shopping”)

3. Verbs

In our guide to beginner vocabulary, we listed 50 essential Finnish verbs. Get ready to learn over 50 more!

1 – Communication Verbs

Are you bored of using the verbs sanoa (“to say”) and puhua (“to speak”)? Lucky for you, there are countless alternatives to choose from! Try one of these next time:

  • kertoa (“to tell”)
  • ehdottaa (“to suggest”)
  • väittää (“to claim”)
  • inttää (“to insist” / “to argue”)
  • tunnustaa (“to confess”)
  • myöntää (“to admit”)
  • kieltää (“to deny” / “to forbid”)
  • lisätä (“to add”)
  • vahvistaa (“to confirm”)
  • kommentoida (“to comment” / “to remark”)
  • neuvoa (“to advise”)
  • selittää (“to explain”)
  • keskeyttää (“to interrupt”)
  • vakuuttaa (“to assert” / “to convince”)
  • olettaa (“to assume”)
  • toistaa (“to repeat”)
  • raportoida (“to report”)
  • spekuloida (“to speculate”)
  • vahvistaa (“to verify”)
  • vitsailla (“to joke”)
  • vannoa (“to swear” / “to vow”)
  • kiroilla (“to swear” / “to curse”)
  • rukoilla (“to beg” / “to pray”)
  • rohkaista (“to encourage”)
  • kehottaa (“to recommend” / “to urge”)
  • ohjeistaa (“to instruct”)
  • painottaa (“to stress” / “to emphasize”)
  • syyttää (“to accuse”)
  • komentaa (“to command”)
  • kehua (“to praise” / “to brag”)
  • loukata (“to insult” / “to offend”)
  • valehdella (“to lie”)
  • nalkuttaa (“to nag”)
  • provosoida (“to provoke”)
  • ilmoittaa (“to declare” / “to announce”)
  • vihjata (“to hint”)
  • valittaa (“to complain”)
  • varoittaa (“to caution”)
  • arvata (“to guess”)
  • jaaritella (“to ramble”)
  • paasata (“to rant”)
  • moittia (“to scold”)
  • uhkailla (“to threaten”)
  • varoittaa (“to warn”)
  • pilkata (“to mock”)
  • onnitella (“to congratulate”)
  • hurrata (“to cheer”)
  • toivoa (“to wish”)
  • lohduttaa (“to console”)
  • möläyttää (“to blurt”)
  • ihmetellä (“to marvel”)
  • puhutella (“to address”)
  • kerskailla (“to boast”)
  • kuvailla (“to describe”)
  • muistuttaa (“to remind”)
  • epäillä (“to doubt”)
  • huutaa (“to shout”)
  • kirkua (“to scream”)
  • kuiskata (“to whisper”)
  • mumista (“to mutter”)
  • änkyttää (“to stutter”)

A Group of Friends Studying Together

2 – Auxiliary Verbs

You’ve already learned the most important Finnish auxiliary verb: olla (“to be”). There are a handful of other verbs that can also take on the role of an auxiliary. These are some of the most usable ones: 

  • yrittää (“to try” / “to attempt”)
  • alkaa (“to start”)
  • aikoa (“to intend”)
  • uskaltaa (“to dare”)
  • ehtiä (“to make it” / “to have time to”)
  • jaksaa (“to manage” / “to have enough strength”)
  • päättää (“to decide”)

See the full list of Finnish auxiliary verbs on Wiktionary.

3 – Other Useful Finnish Verbs

  • rakastaa (“to love”)
  • jatkaa (“to continue”)
  • lähettää (“to send”)
  • esitellä (“to introduce” / “to present”)
  • hyväksyä (“to accept” / “to approve”)
  • kieltäytyä (“to refuse” / “to decline”)
  • toimia (“to act”)
  • pelata (“to play,” for example: games and sports)
  • leikkiä (“to play,” refers to play-acting and playing with toys)
  • valita (“to choose” / “to select”)
  • koskettaa (“to touch”)
  • voittaa (“to win”)
  • hävitä (“to lose” / “to disappear”)
  • ansaita (“to deserve” / “to earn”)
  • onnistua (“to succeed” / “to manage”)
  • muuttua (“to change”)
  • estää (“to prevent”)
  • pysähtyä (“to stop”)
  • tavata (“to meet”)
  • tuoda (“to bring”)
  • saavuttaa (“to reach” / “to achieve”)
  • valmistaa (“to prepare” / “to make”)
  • harkita (“to consider”)
  • tutkia (“to examine” / “to study”)
  • imitoida (“to imitate” / “to mimic”)
  • työntää (“to push”)
  • vetää (“to pull”)
  • pyöräillä (“to cycle”)
  • purjehtia (“to sail”)
  • lentää (“to fly”)
  • ohjata (“to steer”)
  • uida (“to swim”)
  • sukeltaa (“to dive”)
  • hypätä (“to jump”)

4. Adjectives

Learning lots of adjectives is something that students at the beginner level can put off. However, intermediate learners will definitely want to enrich their conversations with these descriptive words. 

As a friendly reminder, Finnish adjectives must agree in number and case with the nouns they modify!

1 – Describing Objects

  • sileä (“smooth”)
  • karhea (“rough”)
  • pehmeä (“soft”)
  • kova (“hard”)
  • pyöreä (“round”)
  • litteä (“flat”)
  • leveä (“wide”)
  • kapea (“narrow”)
  • kuuma (“hot”)
  • lämmin (“warm”)
  • kylmä (“cold”)
  • viileä (“cool”)
  • värikäs (“colorful”)
  • herkullinen (“delicious”)
  • makea (“sweet” / “sugary”)
  • suolainen (“savory” / “salty”)
  • mausteinen (“spicy”)
  • tyhjä (“empty”)
  • täysi (“full”)

A Glass that Is Half Empty or Half Full of Water

Onko tämä lasi puoliksi tyhjä vai puoliksi täysi? (“Is this glass half empty or half full?”)

2 – Describing People

  • vakava (“serious”)
  • ystävällinen (“friendly”)
  • töykeä (“rude”)
  • kohtelias (“polite”)
  • ylpeä (“proud”)
  • ujo (“shy”)
  • itsevarma (“confident”)
  • itsepäinen (“stubborn”)
  • omahyväinen (“smug” / “self-satisfied”)
  • utelias (“curious”)
  • antelias (“generous”)
  • itsekäs (“selfish”)
  • turhamainen (“vain”)
  • rohkea (“brave”)
  • uskalias (“daring” / “bold”)
  • äänekäs (“loud”)
  • hiljainen (“quiet”)
  • ilkeä (“mean”)
  • tuhma (“naughty”)
  • kiltti (“kind”)
  • heikko (“weak”)
  • kalpea (“pale”)
  • ruskettunut (“tanned”)

3 – Other Useful Adjectives

  • hyvä (“good”)
  • huono (“bad” / “worthless”)
  • paha (“bad” / “evil”)
  • outo / kummallinen (“strange” / “odd”)
  • kamala (“awful” / “terrible”)
  • ihana (“lovely” / “wonderful”)
  • hauska (“funny”)
  • mukava (“comfortable” / “nice”)
  • monimutkainen (“complicated”)
  • yksinkertainen (“simple”)
  • valoisa (“bright” / “light”)
  • pimeä (“dark”)
  • ainutlaatuinen (“unique”)
  • vaarallinen (“dangerous”)
  • turvallinen (“safe”)
  • ärsyttävä (“annoying”)
  • tylsä (“boring” / “dull”)
  • korkea (“high”)
  • matala (“low”) 

Our lesson Using Finnish Adjectives will explain how to apply grammatical cases (and more) to Finnish adjectives if you need a refresher on the topic. 

5. Adverbs

Adverbs are another group of words that you can mostly ignore at the absolute beginner level, but you should definitely start paying attention to them once you reach the intermediate Finnish level.

1 – Time Adverbs (When and How Often?)

  • nyt (“now”)
  • joskus (“sometimes”)
  • harvoin (“rarely”)
  • aina (“always”)
  • yleensä (“usually”)
  • jatkuvasti (“continuously”)
  • jo (“already”)
  • kauan (“a long time”)
  • uudelleen (“again”)
  • lopulta (“at last”)
  • ajoissa (“on time”)
  • myöhässä (“late”)
  • etuajassa (“early”)

A Woman at a Train Station Looking at Her Wristwatch

Hienoa, juna on etuajassa. (“Excellent, the train is early.”)

2 – Positional Adverbs (Where?)

  • jossain / jossakin (“somewhere”)
  • ei missään (“nowhere”)
  • muualla (“elsewhere”)
  • ylhäällä (“up” / “above”)
  • alhaalla (“down” / “below”)
  • päällä (“on top of”)
  • alla (“under” / “below”)
  • kaukana (“far”)
  • lähellä (“close”)

3 – Mode Adverbs (How?)

  • hyvin (“well”)
  • huonosti (“badly”)
  • nopeasti (“quickly”)
  • hitaasti (“slowly”)
  • helposti (“easily”)
  • vaikeasti (“with difficulty”)
  • hiljaa (“quietly”)
  • rauhallisesti (“calmly”)

4 – Quantity Adverbs (How Much?)

  • paljon (“a lot”)
  • vähän (“a little”)
  • tarpeeksi / riittävästi (“enough”)
  • lähes / melkein (“almost”)
  • noin (“about” / “approximately”)

If you need more Finnish adverbs in your life, you can head over to FinnishPod101.com and sample our vocabulary lists Must-Know Adverbs and Phrases for Connecting Thoughts and Essential Adverbs of Frequency and Time

6. Bonus Vocabulary for Intermediate Learners: Finnish “False Friends”

As you probably know, there are many English loanwords in the Finnish language, and these are really helpful for language learners! When you see the words video (“video”) and internetti (“internet”), for example, you’ll instantly know what they mean without having to look them up in our Finnish dictionary.

However, you should stay vigilant for väärät ystävät (“false friends”). These are words that look like loanwords but actually have different meanings in English and Finnish. Keep your eye out for the following:

  • kaniini looks like “canine” but means “rabbit”
  • kumina looks like “cumin” but means “caraway”
  • greippi looks like “grape” but means “grapefruit”
  • harmonikka looks like “harmonica” but means “accordion”
  • home looks like “home” but means “mold” or “mildew”
  • motoristi looks like “motorist” but means “motorcyclist”
  • novelli looks like “novel” but means “short story”
  • undulaatti looks like “undulate” but means “budgerigar” or “budgie”
  • happi looks like “happy” but means “oxygen”
  • mappi looks like “map” but means “binder”

You’ll find more Finnish “false friends” on Jukka Korpela’s helpful list.

A Woman with a Mask in Her Hand

Varo vääriä ystäviä! (“Beware of false friends!”)

Lopuksi

In this guide, we covered a lot of ground and listed over 350 Finnish words suitable for intermediate learners, including dozens of conversation verbs and a wide range of nouns. Were there any gaps in our selection that you’d like to see included in the future? If so, leave us a comment below—we appreciate your feedback!

If you’re still hungry for more intermediate vocabulary, visit our YouTube channel to learn how to expand your Finnish vocabulary with reading, or watch our Intermediate Finnish words and phrases video to practice your listening comprehension skills. Or come and visit us at FinnishPod101.com. From free vocabulary lists to the 1-on-1 MyTeacher program, we have plenty of resources to help you take your next steps toward fluency in Finnish.

Happy learning with FinnishPod101!

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Top Finnish Animal Names and Phrases

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Let’s talk about Finland’s animals! In this article, we’ll teach you important Finnish animal vocabulary as well as some idiomatic animal-related terms and expressions. You’ll even find a few interesting facts about Finland’s fauna in this guide.

Tip: If you know what your preferred learning style is, you can play to your strengths and make memorizing new vocabulary a little easier. For example, if you’re primarily a visual learner, try creating your own thematic mini dictionary with pictures or watch Finnish vocabulary videos on the FinnishPod101 YouTube channel. Or, if you’re a kinesthetic learner and learn best through movement, why not challenge your friends or family to a game of charades in Finnish?

A Child Looking at a Picture Book

Learning Finnish animal names is child’s play.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. At Home
  2. On the Farm
  3. In the Forest
  4. In the Lakes, Rivers, and the Sea
  5. Bugs and Insects
  6. Birds, Reptiles, and Amphibians
  7. Animal Body Parts
  8. Animal-Related Terms and Expressions
  9. Lopuksi

1. At Home

Let’s kick things off by learning the Finnish words for popular pets! Roughly a third of Finnish households have a pet (lemmikkieläin), with dogs and cats being the most popular pets by far. Do you keep one (or more) of the following animals as a pet?

  • koira (“dog”)
  • kissa (“cat”)
  • hamsteri (“hamster”)
  • marsu (“guinea pig”)
  • kani (“bunny”)
  • rotta (“rat”)
  • kultakala (“goldfish”)
  • kilpikonna (“tortoise”)
  • undulaatti (“budgie”)
  • papukaija (“parrot”)
Popular Pets

Suositut lemmikkieläimet (“Popular pets”)

  • When learning new words, it’s a good idea to listen to how a native speaker pronounces them. You’ll find recordings on all of our vocabulary lists, including this one on animal names.

2. On the Farm

Next up: the names of common farm animals in Finnish! 


A Cow in a Pasture

Lehmä laitumella (“A cow in a pasture”)

  • Do you remember the song Old MacDonald Had a Farm from your childhood? In Finnish, the song is known as Piippolan vaarilla oli talo (“Grandpa Piippola Had a House”).
  • We have a lesson just about farm animals to help you master this useful vocabulary set.

3. In the Forest

Finland’s forests are home to many wild animals, including a few large carnivores. Here’s what to call some of these animals in the Finnish language: 

  • karhu (“bear”)
  • susi (“wolf”)
  • kettu (“fox”)
  • hirvi (“moose”)
  • jänis (“rabbit”)
  • orava (“squirrel”)
  • ahma (“wolverine”)
  • ilves (“lynx”)
  • kärppä (“weasel”)
  • mäyrä (“badger”)
  • näätä (“marten”)
  • supikoira (“raccoon dog”)
  • hiiri (“mouse”)

A Mother Bear with Her Cubs

Karhuemo pentuineen (“A mother bear with her cubs”)


4. In the Lakes, Rivers, and the Sea

Finland has a coastline as well as plenty of freshwater habitats. You’ll find both fully aquatic and semiaquatic animals on this list.

  • kala (“fish”)
  • lohi (“salmon”)
  • ankerias (“eel”)
  • simpukka (“clam”)
  • meduusa (“jellyfish”)
  • jokirapu (“crayfish”)
  • valas (“whale”)
  • hylje (“seal”)
  • majava (“beaver”)
  • saukko (“otter”)

A Seal

Hylje elää maalla ja vedessä. (“A seal lives on land and in the water.”)

  • Pyöriäinen (“porpoise”) is the only type of whale regularly encountered in Finnish waters. Two types of seals are found in Finland: halli or harmaahylje (“gray seal”) and saimaannorppa (“Saimaa ringed seal”). The Saimaa ringed seal is only found in Lake Saimaa in Finland and is one of the most endangered seals in the world.
  • The shark and the octopus may not be native to Finland, but you can learn the Finnish words for these (and other) animals on our Marine Animals & Fish vocabulary list.

5. Bugs and Insects

Beautiful, gross, scary—insects and other creepy-crawlies elicit strong feelings in many people! Let’s learn the Finnish words for some of the most common little beasties, including Finland’s most infamous resident: the mosquito. (If you’re planning a trip to Finland in summer, you may want to come prepared!)

  • hyttynen or itikka (“mosquito”)
  • perhonen (“butterfly”)
  • kärpänen (“fly”)
  • mehiläinen (“bee”)
  • ampiainen (“wasp”)
  • muurahainen (“ant”)
  • sudenkorento (“dragonfly”)
  • leppäkerttu (“ladybug”)
  • koppakuoriainen (“beetle”)
  • hämähäkki (“spider”)
  • mato (“worm”)
  • etana (“snail”)

A Ladybug

Leppäkerttu on hyönteinen. (“The ladybug is an insect.”)

6. Birds, Reptiles, and Amphibians

Interesting fact: Did you know that reptiles (matelijat) are more closely related to birds (linnut) than to amphibians (sammakkoeläimet)?

  • joutsen (“swan”)
  • pöllö (“owl”)
  • varis (“crow”)
  • harakka (“magpie”)
  • kotka (“eagle”)
  • lokki (“seagull”)
  • käärme (“snake”)
  • lisko (“lizard”)
  • sammakko (“frog”)
  • (rupi)konna (“toad”)

Three Frogs on a Rock

Kolme sammakkoa kivellä (“Three frogs on a rock”)

7. Animal Body Parts

In this section, we’ll go over the Finnish words for important animal body parts.

  • tassu (“paw”)
  • häntä (“tail”)
  • kuono (“snout”)
  • sarvi (“horn” / “antler”)
  • turkki (“fur”)
  • siipi (“wing”)
  • nokka (“beak”)
  • pyrstö (“tail,” of birds and fish)
  • räpylä (“flipper”)
  • evä (“fin”)
  • lonkero (“tentacle”)

You now know a number of animal names in Finnish and what to call their body parts…but do you know the Finnish vocabulary for animal noises?

A Swan on the Water

Joutsenella on kauniit siivet. (“The swan has beautiful wings.”)

8. Animal-Related Terms and Expressions

There are countless idiomatic animal-related terms and expressions in Finnish. If you’re up for a challenge, see if you can incorporate a couple of the following words or phrases into your next conversation in Finnish!

1 – Nouns

  • harakanvarpaat (“chicken scratch” or “scrawl” / literally: “magpie’s toes”)
  • koiranilma (“bad weather” / literally: “dog’s weather”)
  • kissanristiäiset (“unimportant celebration” / literally: “cat’s christening”)
  • villakoira (“dust bunny” / literally: “wool dog,” which also means “poodle”)
  • karhunpalvelus (“disservice” / literally: “bear’s service”)
  • uutisankka (“canard” / literally: “news duck”)
  • sudennälkä (“ravenous hunger” / literally: “wolf’s hunger”)
  • kissanpäivät (“the life of Riley” / literally: “cat’s days”)
  • katin kontit (“nonsense” or “rubbish” / literally: “cat’s knapsacks,” an exclamation)
  • teerenpeli (“flirtation” / literally: “grouse’s game”)

2 – People

  • jänishousu (“scaredy-cat” or “chicken” / literally: “rabbit pants”)
  • verokarhu (“taxman” / literally: “tax bear,” a playful term for verottaja)
  • pahanilmanlintu (“bird of ill omen” / literally: “bad weather’s bird”)
  • työmyyrä (“workhorse” / literally: “work vole”)
  • koiranleuka (“joker” / literally: “dog’s jaw”)
  • pullahiiri (“person with a sweet tooth” / literally: “bun mouse”)
  • vastarannan kiiski (“contrarian” / literally: “ruffe of the opposite shore”)
  • susipari (“unmarried, cohabiting couple” / literally: “wolf couple”)
  • vilukissa (“person who feels cold easily” / literally: “chill cat”)
  • koekaniini (“guinea pig” / literally: “test rabbit”)
  • konttorirotta (“pen-pusher” / literally: “office rat”)
  • linssilude (“lens hog” / literally: “lens bug”)
  • vasikka (“informer” or “snitch” / literally: “calf”)
  • pöllö (“fool” / literally: “owl,” derogatory)

3 – Idioms

  • kiertää kuin kissa kuumaa puuroa (“to beat around the bush” / literally: “to circle like a cat around hot porridge”)
  • nostaa kissa pöydälle (“to bring up a difficult subject” / literally: “to lift a cat onto the table”)
  • seurata kuin hai laivaa (“to be hot on one’s heels” / literally: “to follow like a shark follows a ship”)
  • olla koira haudattuna (“something fishy” / literally: “there’s a dog buried”)
  • näyttää närhen munat (“to teach someone a lesson” / literally: “to show jay’s eggs”)
  • olla oma lehmä ojassa (“to have a vested interest in something” / literally: “to have one’s own cow in a ditch”)
  • tehdä kärpäsestä härkänen (“to make a mountain out of a molehill” / literally: “to make a bull out of a fly”)
  • tappaa kaksi kärpästä yhdellä iskulla (“to kill two birds with one stone” / literally: “to kill two flies with one hit”)
  • olla ketunhäntä kainalossa (“to have a hidden agenda” / literally: “to have a foxtail under the arm”)
  • olla käärmeissään (“to be annoyed” / literally: “to be in one’s snakes”)
  • olla kananlihalla (“to have goosebumps” / literally: “to be on chicken meat”) 

4 – Verbs

  • sikailla (“to behave badly” / from the word “pig”: sika)
  • hamstrata (“to squirrel” or “to hoard” / from the word “hamster”: hamsteri)
  • apinoida (“to ape” or “to mimic” / from the word “monkey”: apina)
  • kukkoilla (“to strut one’s stuff” / from the word “rooster”: kukko)
  • ahmia (“to wolf down” / from the word “wolverine”: ahma)
  • jänistää (“to chicken out” / from the word “rabbit”: jänis)
  • lokkeilla (“to freeload” / from the word “seagull”: lokki)
  • hevostella (“to flaunt” or “to behave arrogantly” / from the word “horse”: hevonen)

5 – Similes

  • pirteä kuin peipponen (“perky as a chaffinch”)
  • terve kuin pukki (“healthy as a horse” / literally: “healthy as a billy goat”)
  • lauhkea kuin lammas (“mild as a sheep”)
  • märkä kuin uitettu koira (“wet as a dog immersed in water”)
  • ahkera kuin mehiläinen (“industrious as a bee”)
  • kiukkuinen kuin ampiainen (“mad as a hornet” / literally: “angry as a wasp”)
  • puhdas kuin pulmunen (“clean as a whistle” / literally: “clean as a snow bunting”)
  • köyhä kuin kirkonrotta (“poor as a church mouse” / literally: “poor as a church rat”)
  • itsepäinen kuin muuli (“stubborn as a mule”)
  • uskollinen kuin koira (“loyal as a dog”)
  • lämmin kuin lehmän henkäys (“warm as cow’s breath,” used when talking about air temperature)
  • kuin täi tervassa (“extremely slow” / literally: “like a louse in tar”)

One of the best ways to learn new vocabulary is to put the words into context. Our Finnish animal words video does exactly that!

9. Lopuksi

We hope that you found this guide to Finnish animal words to be the cat’s meow! What other types of vocabulary would you like to see covered on our blog? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

FinnishPod101 offers plenty of free resources to help you on your Finnish learning adventure, including an ever-growing library of vocabulary lists complete with recordings to help you perfect your pronunciation. We are constantly adding new learning material to suit all learning styles and confidence levels, so be sure to check back often.

Happy learning on FinnishPod101!

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