Get a 40% off forever discount with the ready, set, speak sale! Ends soon!
Get a 40% off forever discount with the ready, set, speak sale! Ends soon! Blog
Learn Finnish with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

Finnish Negation: How to Form the Finnish Negative


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

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

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

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

Ei. (“No.”)

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

1. Forming a Negative Statement in Finnish

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

1 – The Finnish Negative Verb

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

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


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

2 – Negative Present Tense

So how do we form the present connegative? 

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

Creating a simple negative statement looks like this:

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

3 – Negative Past Tense

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

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

Verb typeTake awayReplace with
4, 5, 6-ta/-tä-nnut/-nnyt

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

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

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

4 – Negative Perfect Tense

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

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

5 – Negative Past Perfect Tense

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

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

6 – Negative Passive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Man with Tape Over His Mouth.

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

2. Negative Imperative

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Mother Scolding a Toddler.

Älä! (“Don’t!”)

3. Giving a Negative Answer to a Question

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

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

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

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

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

  • Ei kiitos. (“No, thank you.”)

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

A Woman Rejects Dessert.

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

4. Asking Negative Questions

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

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

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

Here are a few more examples: 

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

5. Other Useful Negative Words

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

 For example: 

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

 Here are more words to learn:

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

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

A Woman in a Yellow Top Looks Uncertain.

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

6. Negative Prefixes and Suffixes

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

1 – Prefixes

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

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

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

Ei- is also used as a negative prefix: 

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

2 – Suffixes

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

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

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

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

A Man with an Umbrella.

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

7. Negative Conjunctions

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

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

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

Eikä can also mean “and…not.”

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

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

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


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

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

Happy learning!

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