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An Introduction to Finnish Tenses

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

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

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

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

1. Finnish Verb Conjugation Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • puhutaan (“is spoken”)

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

1 – How Many Tenses are Used in Finnish?

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

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

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

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

Alarm Clocks Showing Different Times.

Tense is all about the timing of actions.

2 – Grammatical Moods

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

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

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

3 – Simple Tenses & Compound Tenses

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

When forming compound tenses, the auxiliary verbs are conjugated:

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

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

Simple tense (one verb):

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

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

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

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

4 – Finnish Verb Types

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

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


2. Preesens (The Present Tense)

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

1 – Present Tense, Indicative Mood

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

Here are a few examples:

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

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

A Hand on a Steering Wheel.

Ajan autoa. (“I’m driving a car.”)

2 – Present Tense, Imperative Mood

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

For example:

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

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

3 – Present Tense, Conditional Mood

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

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

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

4 – Present Tense, Potential Mood

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

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

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

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

5 – Time Phrases Used with the Present Tense

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

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

These time phrases often appear in statements describing habitual actions:

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

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

3. Talking About the Future in Finnish

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

1 – The Context

 Imagine that your friend says:

  • Ostan Ronjalle kukkia.

This could mean:

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

You can often figure out the meaning from the context:

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

Red Roses

2 – Time Phrases Used When Talking About the Future

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

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

4. Past Tenses

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

1 – Imperfekti (The Simple Past Tense)

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

For example:

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

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

Time Phrases Used When Talking About the Past

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

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

2 – Perfekti (The Perfect Tense)

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

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

 Examples:

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

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

A Couple Shopping in a Supermarket

3 – Pluskvamperfekti (The Past Perfect Tense)

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

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

For example:

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

People Standing in a Line

5. A Quick Conjugation and Auxiliary Verb Summary

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

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

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

6. Lopuksi

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

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

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

Happy learning!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Finnish?

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

The answer is, of course: It depends! 

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

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

Close-up of a Stopwatch.

Ready, steady, learn Finnish!


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

1. The Factors That Influence Your Learning Speed

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

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

Your Language Background 

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

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

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

Your Language Learning Experience  

How strong is your language learning game?

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

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

A Woman Looks Up from Her Books to Think.

Your Motivation Levels

Why do you want to study Finnish?

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

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

Your Learning Environment

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

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

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

A Group of Students in a Class.

Connect with other language learners for mutual support.

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

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

The beginner level A1 in CEFR corresponds to YKI 1.

At this level, you will have learned…

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

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

Tips for Reaching the A1 Level in Finnish Faster

Wondering how to learn basic Finnish easily? 

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

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

FinnishPod101 Beginner Lessons

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

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

A Smiling Woman on the Street Looks at Her Phone.

Take Finnish lessons with you anywhere with a mobile app.


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

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

At this level, you should be able to…

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

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

Tips for Reaching the B1 Level in Finnish Faster

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

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

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

FinnishPod101 Intermediate Lessons

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

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

A Woman Watches a Show on a Tablet.

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

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

The advanced level C1 in CEFR corresponds to YKI 5.

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

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

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

Tips for Reaching the C1 Level in Finnish Faster

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

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

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

FinnishPod101 Advanced Lessons

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

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

A Dinner Party.

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

Lopuksi

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

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

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

Happy learning, and good luck!

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The Top 30 Finnish Proverbs and Sayings

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

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

Let’s get started!

Four Young People Chatting

Impress your Finnish friends by learning proverbs in Finnish.

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

1. Proverbs About Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Tortoise

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


2. Proverbs About Caution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Sign Warns of Danger.

A sign warns of danger.


3. Proverbs About Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Woman Looks Up from Her Studies.

4. Proverbs About Family

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

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

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

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

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

A Family Enjoys a Walk in the Woods.

A family enjoys a walk in the woods.


5. Proverbs About Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Couple Enjoys a Romantic Dinner.

A couple enjoys a romantic dinner.


6. Proverbs About Courage

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Skydiver.

A skydiver.


7. Proverbs About Being Home and Abroad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Family Sits in Front of Their Home.

A family sits in front of their home.


8. Miscellaneous Proverbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Friend Extends a Helping Hand.

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


9. Lopuksi

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

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

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

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

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

The Finnish City of Helsinki

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

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

1. Travel Tips

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

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

When to Visit

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

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

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

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

Getting Around

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

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

Language

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

Sleeping

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

Eating

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

A Plate Containing the Finnish Dish Gravlax

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

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

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

1 – Helsingin Tuomiokirkko (“Helsinki Cathedral”)

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


Helsinki Cathedral above the Senate Square

Helsinki Cathedral above the Senate Square

2 – Suomenlinna (“Suomenlinna Fortress”)

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

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

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

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


Suomenlinna Fortress

Suomenlinna Fortress

3 – Kauppatori (“The Market Square”)

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

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

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


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

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

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


5 – Visit a Public Sauna

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

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

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

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

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

      A Woman Enjoying a Finnish Sauna

      3. Highly Recommended Attractions in Helsinki for a Longer Trip

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

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

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

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


      An Aerial View of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

      An aerial view of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

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

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

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


      An Old Wooden Building in the Snow

      An old wooden building in the snow

      8 – Linnanmäki (“Linnanmäki Amusement Park”)

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

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


      Linnanmäki Amusement Park

      9 – Korkeasaaren Eläintarha (“Korkeasaari Zoo”)

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

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

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


      A Reindeer

      Meet reindeer in Korkeasaari.

      10 – Temppeliaukion Kirkko (“Temppeliaukio Church”)

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

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


      Temppeliaukio Church

      4. Survival Finnish for Travelers

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

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

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

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

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

      Lopuksi

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

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

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    English Words in Finnish: A Guide to Finglish and Loanwords

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    It’s always fun to spot a familiar word or two when you’re learning a new language—it’s like getting a freebie! English loanwords are common in many languages, and plenty have been incorporated into Finnish over time. The earliest English loanwords were introduced into Finnish in the nineteenth century. Globalization and the internet have accelerated the process, and new loanwords are entering our language faster than ever. Sometimes, English is mixed so liberally with Finnish that the end result is known as Finglish.

    In this article, we’ll answer your burning questions about English words in Finnish. For example, what exactly is Finglish? And how do you tell the difference between Finglish and the use of loanwords? Do loanwords change over time? Are English loanwords and Finnish grammar a good fit? How do Finns feel about the influx of English words? Are there any Finnish loanwords in the English language? 

    Let’s find out!

    A Smiling Woman Looking Up at Speech Bubbles on a Chalkboard.

    Languages have always influenced one another.

    Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
    1. Finglish and Loanwords – What’s the Difference?
    2. English Loanwords in Finnish
    3. More About Finglish
    4. When Finnish and English Clash
    5. Finnish Loanwords in English
    6. Lopuksi

    1. Finglish and Loanwords – What’s the Difference?

    First of all, let’s clarify the difference between the use of English loanwords and speaking Finglish.

    Loanwords

    Loanwords are words that have crossed from one language to another and have become more or less established. These words may retain their original spelling and pronunciation in their new environment, though they may also be adapted in different ways to better fit within the structures of the host language.

    Why do we use loanwords? Often, English loanwords are borrowed when a native Finnish word doesn’t yet exist for that thing (this is commonly the case with technological terminology). Other times, an English word may be borrowed because it’s more succinct, exact, or comprehensive than a Finnish alternative—or just because it’s trendy!

    In a bit, we’ll take a look at three different categories of English loanwords used in Finnish.

    Finglish

    The word ‘Finglish’ was first coined to describe the language spoken by Finnish immigrants in North America. Today, speaking Finglish refers to the act of peppering one’s Finnish with an excess of English words and expressions to such an extent that the end result sounds like some sort of strange hybrid language. We’ll come back to Finglish later in this article.

    Speech Bubbles with Internet Slang.

    Finglish is strongly associated with internet slang and youth culture.

    2. English Loanwords in Finnish

    As you learn Finnish, you’ll come across many loanwords that you’ll instantly recognize. There are other loanwords that may look familiar yet strange at the same time. The difference usually comes down to how long ago the word was borrowed. The longer a loanword has been used in Finland, the more likely it is that it has gradually changed to resemble native Finnish words.

    Let’s look at three different groups of loanwords.

    Non-Integrated Loanwords

    This type of loanword is known as sitaattilaina (literally: “citation loan”) in Finnish. These words are borrowed from English exactly as they are, complete with their original spelling and pronunciation. In other words, these are the true freebies for a language learner!

    Non-integrated English loanwords are frequently seen in the fields of technology, business, social media, food, music, and sports. Proper nouns (such as Sydney) are also adopted from English without any changes.  

    A loanword may also appear as part of a compound word:

    • cashewpähkinä (“cashew nut”)

    Sometimes, a Finnish term exists but the English loanword is more popular. For example, popcorn is used far more often than paukkumaissi

    Let’s take a look at some examples of these common English words in Finnish:

    Information technology

    • Bluetooth
    • Internet
    • Hands free
    • Online

    Hands free – laitteiden kysyntä on selvästi vähentynyt.
    “The demand for hands-free devices has clearly decreased.”

    Food

    • Popcorn
    • Smoothie
    • Brownie
    • Hot dog

    Hanna-tädin browniet ovat ihania. 
    “Aunt Hanna’s brownies are wonderful.”

    Sports

    • Curling
    • Squash
    • Baseball
    • Golf

    Tiesitkö, että curling kehitettiin Skotlannissa? 
    “Did you know that curling was developed in Scotland?”

    Work

    • Freelance
    • Bonus
    • Copywriter
    • Deadline

    Yrityksemme uusi copywriter aloitti työt viime maanantaina. 
    “The new copywriter in our company started working last Monday.”

    Music

    • Rock
    • Pop
    • Blues
    • Heavy metal

    Heavy metal on todella suosittu musiikkilaji Suomessa. 
    “Heavy metal is a really popular musical genre in Finland.


    A Close-up of Spilled Popcorn.

    Finns favor the word popcorn over paukkumaissi.

    Partially and Fully Integrated Loanwords

    Non-integrated loanwords tend to be relatively new additions to the Finnish language. That’s because few English loanwords survive in their original form forever; most go through various changes over time to make them a more natural fit for Finnish.

    Remember how Finnish has an almost complete agreement between letters and sounds? A lot of the changes that loanwords undergo simply reduce the discord between pronunciation and spelling.

     Common changes to loanwords include:

    • The replacement of letters like b, d, g, f, x, and q with letters that are more common in Finnish
    • The replacement of the letters a and o with the letters ä and ö to more accurately reflect the pronunciation of a loanword 
    • The duplication of the final consonant
    • The addition of i to the end of a word

    The last change is extremely common. It applies, for example, to ‘-isms’ borrowed from English, including kapitalismi (“capitalism”).

    Can you tell what changes these loanwords went through?

    • Elektroni (“Electron”)
    • Taksi (“Taxi”)
    • Brändi (“Brand”)
    • Trendi (“Trend”)
    • Viski (“Whisky”)
    • Pekoni (“Bacon”)
    • Vinssi (“Winch”)
    • Tiimi (“Team”)
    • Greippi (“Grapefruit”)

    Confusing to language learners and native Finns alike, both the original spelling and an adapted spelling of the same word may be in use. For example, take a look at these two musical genres:

    •  jazz / jatsi  (“jazz”)
    • country / kantri (“country”)

    Loanwords can also exist simultaneously with endemic Finnish words:

    • läppäri / kannettava (“laptop”)
    • printteri / tulostin (“printer”)

    A Dictionary Entry Highlighted in Green.

    The English word “team” has evolved into tiimi in Finnish.

    Calques

    Our final category of English loanwords in Finnish is one that causes zero problems with pronunciation, spelling, or inflection: käännöslainat (“calques,” or literally “translation loans”). These are word-for-word translations of English compound words or word pairs.

    • Jalkapallo (“Football”)
    • Sähköposti (“Electronic mail”)
    • Kotisivu (“Homepage”)
    • Maksumuuri (“Paywall”)
    • Musta aukko (“Black hole”)
    • Sohvaperuna (“Couch potato”)
    • Emolevy (“Motherboard”)
    • Baarikärpänen (“Bar fly”)
    • Lasikatto (“Glass ceiling”)
    • Haamukirjoittaja (“Ghost writer”)
    • Hyvinvointivaltio (“Welfare state”)
    • Luottokortti (“Credit card”)

    Idioms hop from English to Finnish as translation loans, as well:

    • Kieli poskessa (“Tongue in cheek”)

    Making a Credit Card Payment.

    The word luottokortti (“credit card”) is a translation loan.

    3. More About Finglish

    As promised, here’s some detailed information on Finglish for you! 

    North American Finglish

    The word ‘Finglish’ was originally coined in the 1920s by Professor Martti Nisonen. He was referring to the mixture of Finnish and English spoken by Finnish immigrants in the United States and Canada. The Finnish term for it is amerikansuomi (“North American Finnish”). Examples of Finglish used by American Finns include:

    • leeki (from ‘lake’)
    • milkki (from ‘milk’)
    • tätsrait (from ‘that’s right’)
    • haussi (from ‘house’)
    • äpyli (from ‘apple’) 

    New Finglish

    In Finland today, the term ‘Finglish’ refers to the end result of native Finnish speakers using excessive English terms and expressions. Finglish is strongly associated with young people, though IT professionals and business people have also gained a reputation for relying a little too heavily on English terminology.

    Finglish absorbs new English vocabulary and expressions, particularly from TV, cinema, music, social media, and various subcultures.

    Characteristics of Finglish include a liberal use of English words as they are (like “anyway,” “basically,” and “about”) and a frequent adaptation of new English words. These adapted words differ from regular English loanwords in the sense that they sound like slang—although the line between the two can become rather blurred!

    Here are a few terms that are considered Finglish (the first word) with their equivalent Finnish terms (the second word) for comparison: 

    • Biitsi / Hiekkaranta (“Beach”)
    • Kreisi / Hullu (“Crazy”)
    • Keissi / Tapaus (“Case”)
    • Bugi / Ohjelmointivirhe (“Bug” – in IT)

    There are also new verbs derived from English that follow Finnish conjugation rules:

    • Skipata (“To skip”)
    • Klikata (“To click”)
    • Tsekata (“To check”)

    A Close-up of an Ethernet Port.

    Many IT-related words like Ethernet have been borrowed from English.

    4. When Finnish and English Clash

    Now you know what Finglish and loanwords look like in Finnish, but how do they affect the language and those who speak it? Take a look. 

    How Do Finns Feel About English Loanwords?

    Unlike countries such as Iceland and France, Finland has no official rules to regulate the introduction of new loanwords. However, Kielitoimisto does provide guidance and recommendations on how to use them.

    While many Finns embrace English loans, many others are deeply skeptical. In one survey, the participants were almost evenly divided on the matter. The narrow majority of respondents felt that loanwords enrich the Finnish language and are often necessary. For example, they would welcome loanwords if a Finnish alternative didn’t exist or was clumsy compared to a loanword. 

    Those who felt uneasy about the introduction of English loanwords felt that there were already too many and that they can be very difficult to spell and pronounce. The latter group expressed a desire for active efforts to coin new Finnish terms to replace loanwords.

    When English Loanwords Meet Finnish Grammar

    Inflecting (non-integrated) English loanwords according to Finnish grammar rules can feel like forcing a square peg into a round hole—the two are often not compatible. A lot of the trouble and confusion stems from the fact that Finnish pronunciation is very different from English pronunciation. This creates a dilemma: should Finnish grammar rules like vowel harmony be applied according to a word’s spelling or according to its pronunciation? Should consonant gradation apply to loanwords at all?

    There’s usually no perfect solution, and the best course of action may be to tweak sentences to avoid inflecting loanwords in the first place. When this isn’t possible, Finns may have to make a choice between an option that ‘looks wrong’ and one that ‘sounds wrong.’

    This is probably the greatest driver behind the adaptation of loanwords in Finnish. When a loanword is tweaked into a more Finnish-friendly form, it becomes far easier to inflect with confidence.

    A Man with a Puzzled Look on Lis Lace.

    A man with a puzzled look on his face.

    5. Finnish Loanwords in English

    By now, you may be wondering if there are any Finnish words in the English language. The short answer is: not many! It’s been mostly a one-way street between Finnish and English as far as loanwords are concerned.

    The most famous Finnish loanword in English is sauna. The other loans are decidedly more niche, such as rapakivi (a type of granite rock) and palsa (a permanently frozen peat mound).

    Finnish Sauna.

    Finnish sauna.

    Lopuksi

    In this guide, we’ve discussed various types of English loanwords that are used in Finland, Finns’ attitudes toward them, and the grammar problems they sometimes cause. We’ve also looked at the strange hybrid language known as Finglish, and how it differs from the use of established English loanwords.

    We’ve listed some of the most common English words used in the Finnish language, but naturally, there are a lot more out there. Do you know of any that we didn’t mention in this article? Feel free to share them by leaving a comment below!

    Keep your eyes peeled for more familiar words on our Finnish vocabulary lists on FinnishPod101.com, or head over to our free resources for an overview of Finnish pronunciation, grammar tutorials, and much more.

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    An Overview of the Finnish Culture

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

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

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

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

    1. Finnish Character and Values

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

    A- Finnish Stereotype vs. The Reality

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

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

    A Smiling Little Girl Hides Under Her Hat.

    A smiling little girl hides under her hat.

    B- Finnish Core Values 

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

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

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

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

    Sunlight Seeps Through Trees in a Forest

    Sunlight seeps through trees in a forest.

    C- Subcultures in Finland

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

    2. Religion in Finland

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

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

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

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

    A Couple on Their Wedding Day

    A couple on their wedding day.

    3. Sports and Recreation

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

    A- Popular Sports in Finland

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

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

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


    B- Recreational Activities

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

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

    Wild Swimming in Winter

    Wild swimming in winter.


    4. Finnish Art and Entertainment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sculpture of Composer Jean Sibelius

    Sculpture of composer Jean Sibelius.

    5. Finnish Food and Drink

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

    A- Top 5 Finnish Dishes

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

    1. Lohikeitto (“Salmon soup”)

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

    1. Poronkäristys (“Sautéed reindeer”)

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

    1. Karjalanpaisti (“Karelian hot pot”)

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

    1. Kaalilaatikko (“Cabbage casserole”)

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

    1. Kalakukko (“Fish pie”)

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

    Finnish Salmon Soup

    Finnish salmon soup.

    B- Popular Products in Finland

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

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

    A Cup of Coffee

    A cup of coffee.


    6. Holidays and Celebrations 

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

    A- Finnish Holidays

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

    1. Vappu (“May Day”) – May 1

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

    1. Juhannus (“Midsummer”) – June

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

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

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

    1. Joulu (“Christmas”) – December 24

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

    Santa Claus

    Joulupukki (“Santa Claus”)

    B- Other Celebrations

    Liputuspäivä (“flag day”)

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

    Nimipäivä (“name day”)

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


    7. Lopuksi

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

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

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

    We look forward to seeing you around!

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    An Insider Look At Finnish Food

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

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

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

    Baked Salmon

    Uunilohi (“Baked salmon”)

    1. Must-Try Finnish Dishes

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

    1 – Lohikeitto (Salmon Soup)

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


    Salmon Soup

    Lohikeitto (“Salmon soup”)

    2 – Karjalanpaisti (Karelian Hot Pot)

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


    Karelian Hot Pot

    Karjalanpaisti (“Karelian hot pot”)

    3 – Kalakukko (Fish Pie)

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

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


    Fish Pie

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

    4 – Poronkäristys (Sautéed Reindeer)

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


    Sautéed Reindeer

    Poronkäristys (“Sautéed reindeer”)

    5 – Kaalilaatikko (Cabbage Casserole)

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

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

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


    Cabbage Casserole

    Kaalilaatikko (“Cabbage casserole”)


    2. Unusual Finnish Food Products

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

    1 – Salmiakki (Salmiac Liquorice)

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

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

    Salmiac Liquorice

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

    2 – Ruisleipä (Rye Bread)

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

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

    Rye Bread

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

    3 – Karjalanpiirakka (Karelian Pasty)

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

    Karelian Pasty

    Karjalanpiirakka (“Karelian pasty”)

    4 – Korvapuusti (Cinnamon Roll)

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

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


    Cinnamon Roll

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

    5 – Leipäjuusto (Bread Cheese)

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

    Bread Cheese

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

    6 – Viili (Finnish Curd Milk)

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

    7 – Vispipuuro (Whipped Porridge) 

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

    Whipped Porridge

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

    8 – Mämmi (Finnish Rye Pudding)

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

    Finnish Rye Pudding

    Mämmi, a Finnish Easter dessert.

    3. Food Vocabulary

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

    1 – Talking About Food

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

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

    2 – All About Cooking

    Basic Ingredients

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

    Mushrooms and Vegetables

    Mushrooms and vegetables.

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

    Utensils

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

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

    Cooking verbs

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

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

    3 – Ordering in a Restaurant

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

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

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

    4. Lopuksi

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

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

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

    Until next time, happy eating!

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    Finnish Grammar Overview

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

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

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


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

    1. Finnish Grammar for Beginners

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

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

    Finnish is an Agglutinative Language

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

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

    Take a look at this example:

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

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

    Introduction to Finnish Verbs

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

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

    The Basic Word Order

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

    Here’s the subject verb object order in action:

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

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

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

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

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

    A Man Drinking Coffee Straight from the Coffee Pot.

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

    2. Vowel Harmony and Consonant Gradation

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

    Vowel Harmony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Consonant Gradation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A Close-up of a Mouth.

    Vowel harmony and consonant gradation streamline Finnish pronunciation.

    3. Mastering Finnish Verbs

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

    Conjugation Basics

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

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

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

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

    •  Hän juo. (“He/she drinks.”)

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

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

    The Six Verb Types

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

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

    When conjugating verbs, follow these steps:

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

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

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

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

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

    A Man Snowboarding

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

    Tense

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

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

    • Minä ostan (“I buy”)

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

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

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

    An Ornamental Sundial.

    Tenses deal with the timing of actions.

    Moods

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Voice

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

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

    Passive can also be used when making suggestions:

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

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

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

    Negation

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

    • en, et, ei, emme, ette, eivät

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

    • Minä en puhu. (“I don’t speak.”)

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

    The negative imperfect: 

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

    The negative perfect: 

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

    The negative pluperfect: 

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

    A Man with Tape Over His Mouth.

    Hän ei puhu. (“He doesn’t speak.”)

    The First Finnish Verb to Learn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    4. Noun Cases

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

    Types of Noun Cases

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

    Grammatical cases

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

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

    Internal locative cases

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

    External locative cases

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

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

    Role cases

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

    The translative case indicates transformation (into something).

    Marginal cases

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

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

    The Basics of Using Noun Cases

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

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

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

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

    3.   Remember consonant gradation!

    A Drawing of a Treasure Map.

    Use locative cases to find the treasure.

    5. Lopuksi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. Finnish Quotes About Wisdom

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

    #1

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

    #2

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


    2. Finnish Quotes About Courage

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

    #3

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

    #4

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

    A Cat Casting a Shadow of a Lion.

    3. Finnish Quotes About Creative Work

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

    #5

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

    #6

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

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

    4. Finnish Quotes About Love

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

    #7

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

    #8

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

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

    5. Finnish Quotes About Children

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

    #9

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

    #10

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


    A Group of Children Running on Grass.

    6. Finnish Quotes About Life

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

    #11

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

    #12

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


    7. Finnish Quotes About Happiness

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

    #13

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

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

    #14

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

    A Smiling Woman in a Green Dress.

    8. Finnish Quotes About Health

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

    #15

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

    #16

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

    9. Finnish Quotes About Aging

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

    #17

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

    #18

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

    Four Smiling Elderly People.

    10. Finnish Quotes About Tough Situations

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

    #19

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

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

    #20

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

    A Gray Rock.

    11. Lopuksi

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

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

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    The Top Finnish Business Phrases and Vocabulary

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

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

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

    1. Essential Business and Work Vocabulary

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

    A- Work

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

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

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

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

     Here are a few other useful verbs related to work:

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

    B- The Company

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

    • Yritys
    • Yhtiö
    • Firma

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

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

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

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

    C- The People

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

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

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

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

    Job Interview

    2. Nailing a Job Interview

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

    A- Greetings and Introducing Yourself

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

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

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

    A Woman Offers Her Hand for a Handshake.

    B- Talking About Your Experience and Strengths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    C- Common Job Interview Questions

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

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

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

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

    D- Asking Your Own Questions

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

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

    E- Sending a Thank-You Email

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

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

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

    3. Interacting with Coworkers

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

    Asking a Colleague for Help 

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

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

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

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

    A- Raising Concerns

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

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

    B- Apologizing

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

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

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

    C- Socializing with Coworkers

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Business Phrases

    4. Sounding Smart in a Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     A Business Meeting.

    5. Business Phone Calls and Emails

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

    A- Business Phone Calls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    An Office Worker Talks on the Phone.

    B- Business Emails

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    6. Dealing with Money Matters

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

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

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

    A- Making Orders

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

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

    B- Invoicing

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

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

    C- Asking for a Raise

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

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

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

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

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

    7. Lopuksi

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

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

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

    Happy learning, and good luck with your business endeavors!

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