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The Finnish National Anthem: Maamme


Have you heard Maamme (“Our Land”), Finland’s national anthem? All Finns know at least the first verse of their kansallislaulu (“national anthem”) by heart. The song provides a fascinating glimpse into the Finnish mindset at a pivotal time in the nation’s history. And for a language learner, reading or listening to the 19th century lyrics is an interesting challenge to take on!

Don’t let the difficulty of it put you off, though – we will introduce you to the main themes and the key vocabulary to help you make sense of the Finnish lyrics. In this article, we’ll also shed light on the interesting history and evolution of the Finnish national anthem as well as its present-day status.

Finland Flag

siniristilippu (“the flag of Finland”, literally: “blue cross flag”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. From Poem to National Anthem
  2. The Finnish Lyrics of Maamme
  3. When is it Played?
  4. Controversies
  5. How FinnishPod101 Can Help You Learn More Finnish

1. From Poem to National Anthem

A- The Lyrics

The story of Maamme begins in 1846, just a couple of years before the turbulent political upheavals of the Springtime of the Peoples shook Europe. This is when Finland’s national poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg, penned a patriotic poem in Swedish titled Vårt land (“Our Land”). This poem would eventually become the Finnish national anthem’s lyrics.

The poem appeared as the prologue to Runeberg’s collection of heroic ballads, The Tales of Ensign Stål.  These stories describe the events of the War of Finland that led to the country’s secession from Sweden and its establishment as an autonomous grand duchy of Russia in 1809. Although Finland wasn’t an independent country at the time, the sense of nationhood was on the rise, and Runeberg intended to stir these feelings further with his poem.

Statue of J. L. Runeberg

Statue of J. L. Runeberg, Helsinki

B- The Melody

Runeberg himself composed a melody for his poem, as did several others. However, it wasn’t until Fredrik Pacius, a German-born composer and music teacher at the University of Helsinki, got involved that Runeberg’s poem took off as a song. Pacius was tasked to compose a melody for Vårt land for the students’ Flora Day celebrations in May 1848. Allegedly, the composer did so with a light hand, intending to create a cheerful tune suitable for the lively springtime celebration. It is also said that he had only a couple of days to finish his composition and prepare the choir and musicians to perform it. His work was well received, though, with the audience eagerly requesting to hear the song again and again.

Today, a memorial stands at the site commemorating the first-ever performance of the national anthem.

C- The Finnish Translation

Over time, many people have translated Vårt land into Finnish. The established Finnish language text is often attributed to Paavo Cajander, who translated The Tales of Ensign Stål into Finnish in 1889. His work, in turn, is said to be based on an earlier translation of Runeberg’s poem by a group of poets led by Julius Krohn in 1867.

Translating the poem from Swedish into Finnish posed some challenges to all who took on the task. For example, in Runeberg’s original Swedish text, many of the lines begin and end with monosyllabic words which are common in Swedish but not in Finnish.

D- Position as the National Anthem

Maamme gained its position as the national anthem gradually and organically. Student choirs adopted the song with enthusiasm and in Finnish schools it was the most popular song taught to pupils for over a decade. The song was also a part of many official events, and was performed during the visits of the Russian emperors Alexander II in 1856 and Alexander III in 1885.

After Finland gained its independence in 1917, Maamme became the anthem of the “Whites” in the Finnish Civil War of 1918. Their opponents, the “Reds”, would sing the International and the Marseillaise. After a White victory, the position of Maamme as an anthem for the whole nation became stabilized. The Winter War (1939 – 1940) cemented the status of the song: it was played on the radio every night after news from the front and was a fixture at all patriotic events during the conflict.

Finnish Graduation Cap

Finnish students played an important role in the history of the Finnish national anthem.

2. The Finnish Lyrics of Maamme

Maamme consists of 11 verses. Distinct themes are evident; the anthem explores the Finns’ love for the beauty of their land, looks back at the hardships and tribulations their ancestors lived through, and ends with a high note of optimism and hope for the future. It’s also notable that Maamme is very peaceful in its message. The lyrics emphasize patience, humility and being satisfied with one’s lot rather than revolutionary sentiments. The Finnish anthem praises the Finns’ ability to find happiness in what they have, however little that may be.

The line-by-line English translation below is as literal as possible to help you understand the somewhat archaic Finnish lyrics! You can find the original Swedish lyrics as well as the modern English adaptation on Wikipedia.

Beware: in poetry and songs, the typical word order of standard Finnish is often reversed! For example, you’ll find many instances of an adjective placed after a noun in these verses.

Take a look at the following vocabulary too before you dive in! Keep an eye out especially for the many variations of the words “country” and “dear” in the lyrics.

  • maa (“country”, “land”, “ground”, “soil”)
  • maailma (“world”)
  • synnyinmaa (“birth country”)
  • kotimaa (“home country”)
  • isänmaa (“fatherland”, “home country”)
  • isä (“father”, “forefather”, “ancestor”)
  • kansa (“people”, “nation”)
  • kallis (“dear”, also: “expensive”)
  • kultainen (“dear”, “golden”)
  • rakas (“dear”, “beloved”)
  • armas (“dear”, “cherished”)

Verse 1

Oi maamme, Suomi, synnyinmaa,
soi, sana kultainen!
Ei laaksoa, ei kukkulaa,
ei vettä rantaa rakkaampaa,
kuin kotimaa tää pohjoinen,
maa kallis isien!
Oh our land, Finland, country of birth
rings the dear word!
No valley, no hill,
no water more beloved,
than this Northern homeland,
dear country of fathers’!

Verse 2

On maamme köyhä, siksi jää,
jos kultaa kaivannet
Sen vieras kyllä hylkäjää,
mut meille kallein maa on tää,
sen salot, saaret, manteret,
ne meist on kultaiset.
Our country is poor and so remains,
if you crave gold
A stranger will surely reject it,
but for us this is the dearest country,
its forests, islands, lands
we hold them dear.

Verse 3

Ovatpa meille rakkahat
koskemme kuohuineen,
ikuisten honkain huminat,
täht’yömme, kesät kirkkahat,
kaikk’kuvineen ja lauluineen
mi painui sydämeen.
They’re beloved to us
our rapids gushing,
the hum of eternal pines,
our starry nights, bright summers,
all the sights and sounds
that are buried in the heart.

Verse 4

Täss auroin, miekoin, miettehin
isämme sotivat,
kun päivä piili pilvihin
tai loisti onnen paistehin,
täss Suomen kansan vaikeimmat
he vaivat kokivat.
Here with plows, swords, thoughts
our fathers waged war
when the day hid in the clouds
or shone with the light of happiness,
here the direst for the people of Finland
they experienced.

Verse 5

Tään kansan taistelut ken voi
ne kertoella, ken?
Kun sota laaksoissamme soi,
ja halla näläntuskan toi,
ken mittasi sen hurmehen
ja kärsimykset sen?
The battles of this nation who can
recount, who?
When war in our valleys rang,
and frost brought the pain of hunger,
who measured its blood
and its suffering?

Verse 6

Täss on sen veri virrannut
hyväksi meidänkin,
täss’ iloaan on nauttinut
ja murheitansa huokaillut
se kansa, jolle muinaisin
kuormamme pantihin.
Here has its blood been shed
for our benefit too,
here has rejoiced
and its sorrows sighed
that nation, upon which our most ancient
burden was put.

Verse 7

Tääll’ olo meill on verraton
ja kaikki suotuisaa,
vaikk onni mikä tulkohon,
maa isänmaa se meillä on.
Mi maailmass on armaampaa
ja mikä kalliimpaa?
Here we feel wonderful
and everything is favorable,
whatever fortune may come,
we have our fatherland.
What in the world is more cherished
and what dearer?

Verse 8

Ja tässä, täss’ on tämä maa,
sen näkee silmämme.
me kättä voimme ojentaa
ja vettä rantaa osoittaa
ja sanoa: kas tuoss’ on se,
maa armas isäimme.
And here, here is this land,
our eyes see it.
we can stretch our hand
and point at water, shore
and say: look right there it is,
the beloved country of our fathers.

Verse 9

Jos loistoon meitä saatettais
vaikk’ kultapilvihin,
mis itkien ei huoattais,
vaan tärkein riemun sielu sais,
ois tähän köyhään kotihin
halumme kuitenkin.
If into glory we were ushered
even to clouds of gold,
where there’s no crying or sighing,
rather the most important joy for the soul to gain,
it would be for this poor home
our desire nonetheless.

Verse 10

Totuuden, runon kotimaa
maa tuhatjärvinen
miss’ elämämme suojan saa,
sa muistojen, sa toivon maa,
ain ollos, onnees tyytyen,
vapaa ja iloinen.
The home country of truth, poetry
the land of a thousand lakes
in which our life finds shelter,
you land of memories, you land of hope,
always satisfied with your fortune,
free and glad.

Verse 11

Sun kukoistukses kuorestaan
kerrankin puhkeaa,
viel lempemme saa nousemaan
sun toivos, riemus loistossaan,
ja kerran, laulus synnyinmaa
korkeemman kaiun saa.
Your blossom from its bud
will burst out for once
it’ll yet raise our love
your hope, your joy in its splendor
and once, your song oh country of birth
a higher echo will gain.

You can listen to Maamme on YouTube:

Sun Sets Over a Lake in Summer

The beauty of the Finnish nature is an important theme in the national anthem.

3. When is it Played?

Today, Finnish children continue to learn and sing Maamme in school. The Finnish national anthem is also an important part of Independence Day celebrations on the 6th of December, and the song is played at international sporting events, such as the Olympics, when a Finnish athlete or team wins gold.

When the anthem is sung at an event, it’s customary to sing the first and the last verse of the song. This custom is said to originate in Taavi Hahl’s 1871 collection of male choir songs, which included only these two verses. On formal occasions, the anthem is sung in both Finnish and Swedish.

  • Jääkiekko (“ice-hockey”) is one of the most popular Olympic sports in Finland. Learn the Finnish names of other important sports on the Talking About Olympic Sport vocabulary list.

A White and Blue Candle

Candles and Maamme are important parts of Finnish Independence Day celebrations.

4. Controversies

Maamme does not have an official, legally defined status as the national anthem of Finland (unlike other national symbols like the Finnish flag). This has left plenty of room for discussion, and Finnish people have expressed opinions both for and against keeping their unofficial anthem.

Some of the criticism directed towards Maamme includes the assertion that the song isn’t ‘Finnish enough’ due to the fact that the lyrics were originally written in Swedish and the melody was composed by a German immigrant. Some have deemed the lyrics too passive in nature and call for a national anthem that reflects a more vigorous brand of nationalism. Some are bothered by the fact that the unofficial national anthem of Estonia, Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm (“My Fatherland, My Happiness and Joy”) uses the same melody composed by Pacius.

Other songs have been put forward to replace Maamme over the years. The most popular contender has been Finlandia-hymni (“Finlandia Hymn”). Jean Sibelius’ celebrated composition has been proposed multiple times and several citizens’ initiatives have been launched to set it as the official national anthem of Finland. However, Maamme remains popular and has its own staunch supporters; some Finns have called for a vote to make its position undisputed by law.

Hands Make a Heart Shape in Front of the Finnish Flag

Maamme captured the hearts of Finns over time.

5. How FinnishPod101 Can Help You Learn More Finnish

In this guide, we’ve covered a lot of information about the Finnish national anthem, Maamme. We’ve learned about its origins, explored its themes and lyrics, and discussed its status in Finland today. How does the national anthem of Finland compare to the national anthem of your country? Share your thoughts and observations with us in the comments below!

If you want to learn more about Finland, visit FinnishPod101 and browse through our extensive lesson library – our teaching material combines grammar topics with cultural insights to make learning fun and engaging. Don’t forget to explore our free resources too, including our continuously expanding collection of fee Finnish vocabulary lists.

And finally, check out our premium service, My Teacher, if you want a personalized lesson plan and lots of 1-on-1 coaching with a private Finnish teacher. It’s the best way to make progress fast – and get answers to all your questions about the baffling aspects of the Finnish language!

Happy learning on FinnishPod101!

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100+ Finnish Classroom Phrases for Students and Teachers


Do you want to study in Finland? Or perhaps teach in a Finnish school? To communicate effectively as a student or teacher in Finland, you’ll want to learn some common Finnish classroom phrases and vocabulary.

 In this guide, we will cover key classroom vocabulary and lots of conversational Finnish for different situations, including greeting others in the class, giving instructions and feedback, asking questions, and explaining why you’re late! We’ll also discuss how Finnish people address each other in schools and higher education.

 Take a seat. The class is about to start!

Students Writing in a Classroom.

Aika opiskella. (“Time to study.”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Using Classroom Greetings
  2. Listening to the Teacher
  3. Asking for Help
  4. Explaining Absence and Tardiness
  5. Talking about School Subjects
  6. Checking for School Supplies
  7. How FinnishPod101 Can Help You Learn More Finnish

1. Using Classroom Greetings

 Before we learn some common greetings, let’s discuss how to address other people in a Finnish classroom.

1- How to Address Others 

Students in Finland address each other casually and call each other by their first names. But how do students address their teachers in Finland? Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer to this! It depends on individual preferences and the culture of the school. We can give you some pointers, though!

 Finnish school children may call their teacher opettaja (“teacher”) or ope (short for opettaja), but Finns in higher education aren’t likely to address teaching staff by their professional titles. Using general titles like herra (“mister”), rouva (“mrs”), and neiti (“miss”) is rare as well. People who are older or in senior positions may expect to be addressed formally with a title, but in general, Finns tend to find this way of talking rather stiff and distant.

 Sinuttelu (using the casual form of “you”: sinä) is more common than teitittely (using the formal form of “you”: te), and in many schools, both students and teachers are happy to call each other by their first name. And when teitittely feels too formal and sinuttelu too casual, Finnish people get around the dilemma by avoiding addressing someone directly. For example, by talking in the third person or using the passive!

2- Classroom Greetings

Now let’s move on to some formal and informal Finnish classroom greetings that you can use at the beginning of the class.

  • Hyvää huomenta oppilaat / opiskelijat! (”Good morning pupils / students!”)
  • Huomenta kaikille! (”Good morning everyone!”)
  • Hyvää huomenta luokka. (“Good morning class.”)
  • Hyvää päivää, opettaja. (“Good day, teacher.”)   
  • Päivää, Sini. (“Good day, Sini.”)
  • Hei / moi / terve Salla. (”Hi / hi / hello Salla.”)
  • Tervetuloa takaisin. (“Welcome back.”)

Here are some phrases that can be used when the class is over:

  • Kiitos kaikille, tunti on ohi tältä päivältä. (”Thank you everyone, the class is over for today.”)
  • On aika lähteä kotiin. (”It’s time to go home.”)
  • Näkemiin, opettaja! (”Good bye, teacher!”)
  • Huomiseen. (“Until tomorrow.”)
  • Nähdään huomenna, Katri! (”See you tomorrow, Katri!”)
  • Nähdään ensi viikolla. (”See you next week.”)
  • Hyvää viikonloppua kaikille! (”Have a good weekend everyone!”)

A Student Waves Goodbye to Friends

Nähdään huomenna! (“See you tomorrow!”)

2. Listening to the Teacher

If you’re a student, this section will help you understand what your teacher is saying in class. If you’re a teacher, you’ll learn Finnish phrases that will help you give instructions, ask questions and give feedback to your students.

1- Instructions 

  • Avatkaa kirjanne sivulta/sivulle 48. (”Open your books to page 48.”)
  • Kääntäkää sivua. (”Turn the page.”)
  • Aloitetaan tehtävästä kaksi. (”Let’s begin with exercise two.”)
  • Tehkää tehtävät viisi ja kahdeksan. (”Do the exercises five and eight.”)
  • Kuunnelkaa tarkasti ja toistakaa perässä. (”Listen carefully and repeat after me.”)
  • Muodostakaa neljän hengen ryhmiä. (”Form groups of four.”)
  • Valitkaa pari seuraavaa tehtävää varten. (”Choose a partner for the next exercise.”)
  • Keskustelkaa parin kanssa / ryhmissä. (”Discuss with a partner / in groups.”)
  • Kirjoittakaa vastaukset vihkoon. (”Write the answers in your notebook.”)
  • Tänään harjoittelemme verbien taivutusta. (”Today, we’ll practise conjugating verbs.”)

2- Questions

  • Ovatko kaikki paikalla? (”Is everyone here?”)
  • Kuka puuttuu? (”Who is missing?”)
  • Tietääkö kukaan vastausta? (”Does anyone know the answer?”)
  • Kuka haluaa lukea ensimmäisen kappaleen ääneen? (”Who wants to read the first paragraph out loud?”)
  • Kuka haluaa aloittaa? (”Who wants to start?”)
  • Kenen vuoro on seuraavaksi? (”Whose turn is it next?”)
  • Voisitko sulkea oven? (”Could you close the door?”)
  • Voitko selittää sen omin sanoin? (”Can you explain it in your own words?”)
  • Voitko puhua kuuluvammin? (”Can you speak a little louder?”)
  • Onko kysyttävää? (”Any questions?”)

3- Discipline

  • Istukaa alas. (”Sit down.”) 
  • Viitatkaa, jos tiedätte vastauksen. (”Raise your hand if you know the answer.”)
  • Hiljaisuutta, kiitos. (”Silence, please.”)
  • Lopettakaa lörpöttely. (”Stop the twaddle.”)

Here are some other fun Finnish words for disruptive chatter: höpötys, höpinä, löpinä, pölinä.

4- Feedback

  • Hyvin tehty. (”Well done.”)
  • Juuri niin. (“That’s right.”)
  • Aivan. (”Exactly.”)
  • Tuo on oikein / väärin. (”That is correct / incorrect.”)
  • Ei noin. (”Not like that.”)
  • Yritä uudestaan. (”Try again.”)
  • Ääntämisesi on erinomainen / kaipaa lisää harjoitusta. (”Your pronunciation is excellent / needs more work.”)

Teacher Gestures at a Student with a Raised Hand

Ole hyvä, Anna. (”Go ahead, Anna.”)

  • To be able to form your own Finnish classroom command phrases, you need to know how to use the imperative verb form. Give Me a Lesson in Finnish explains how it’s done.

3. Asking for Help

 Being able to ask for help in the classroom is essential. In this section, we teach you Finnish classroom phrases to help you ask questions and explain what you’re struggling with.

 If you don’t like asking questions, take this Finnish proverb to heart and do it anyway!

  • Ei kysyvä tieltä eksy. (“There’s no shame in asking.” Literally: “The one who asks won’t get lost on the road.”)

1- I Have a Question

  • Voitko auttaa minua? (”Can you help me?”)
  • Mitä opettaja sanoi? (“What did the teacher say?”)
  • Voitko toistaa sen? (“Can you repeat it?”)
  • Voitko näyttää sen uudestaan? (”Can you show it again?”)
  • Voitko puhua hitaammin? (”Can you speak slower?”)
  • Millä sivulla olemme? (”What page are we on?”)
  • Teinkö tämän oikein? (”Did I do this correctly?”)
  • Missä kohtaa tein virheen? (”At what point did I make a mistake?”)
  • Mitä tämä sana tarkoittaa? (”What does this word mean?”)
  • Mitä… on suomeksi / englanniksi? (“What is… in Finnish / in English?”)
  • Miten sanon tämän suomeksi: …? (”How do I say this in Finnish: …?”)
  • Voinko lainata muistiinpanojasi? (“Can I borrow your notes?”)
  • Mihin aikaan pidämme tauon? (”What time are we having a break?”)

2- I have a Problem

  • Minulla on kysymys. (“I have a question.”)
  • Minulla on ongelma. (”I have a problem.”)
  • Tarvitsen apua. (”I need help.”)
  • En ymmärrä tätä. (“I don’t understand this.”)
  • En ymmärtänyt kysymystä. (”I didn’t understand the question.”)
  • Anteeksi, en vieläkään ymmärrä. (”Sorry, I still don’t understand.”)
  • En tiedä. (”I don’t know.”)
  • En ole varma. (”I’m not sure.”)
  • En tiedä miten tämä äännetään. (”I don’t know how this is pronounced.”)
  • En tiedä miten tämä sana lausutaan. (”I don’t know how this word is pronounced.”)
  • Tarvitsen lisää aikaa. (”I need more time.”)
  • En osaa kääntää tätä lausetta. (”I can’t translate this sentence.”)

Two Students Working Together.

Autamme toisiamme. (“We help each other.”)

4. Explaining Absence and Tardiness

Are you running late? Or did you forget to do your homework? Put on your most charming smile and explain it in Finnish and you might just get away with it.

1- Sorry I’m Late 

  • Anteeksi, että olen myöhässä. (”I’m sorry that I’m late.”)
  • Nukuin pommiin. (“I overslept.”)
  • Herätyskelloni ei soinut. (”My alarm didn’t go off.”)
  • Myöhästyin linja-autosta. (”I missed the bus.”)
  • Bussi oli myöhässä. (“The bus was late.”)
  • En löytänyt avaimiani. (”I couldn’t find my keys.”)
  • Pyörästäni puhkesi kumi. (”My bike’s tire burst.”)
  • En löytänyt parkkipaikkaa. (”I couldn’t find a parking place.”)
  • Unohdin, että kellot siirrettiin eilen kesäaikaan. (”I forgot that the clocks were switched to Summer Time yesterday.”)

This is a mistake that students in Finland won’t be making for much longer since the European Union is phasing out summer time!

2- I Don’t Feel Well

  • En voi tulla tunnille tänään. (”I can’t come to the class today.”)
  • Minulla on huono olo. (I’m feeling unwell.”)
  • Olen kipeä. (“I’m sick.”)
  • Minulla on vatsatauti / kuumetta / flunssa. (”I have a stomach bug / fever / the flu.”)
  • Vatsaani koskee. (”My stomach hurts.”)
  • Päätäni särkee. (”My head hurts.”)
  • Minulla on lääkäriaika yhdeltätoista. (”I have an appointment at the doctor’s at eleven.”)

3- I Didn’t Do My Homework

Note that there are two Finnish words for “homework”: kotitehtävät and läksyt.

  • En tiennyt, että meillä oli kotitehtäviä. (”I didn’t know that we had homework.”)
  • Unohdin tehdä läksyt. (”I forgot to do my homework.”)
  • Tein kaikki kotitehtäväni mutta hukkasin ne. (”I did all my homework but lost it.”)
  • Koira söi läksyni. (”The dog ate my homework.”)

A Student Sleeps Over Her School Work

Otan mieluummin nokoset. (”I’ll rather take a nap.”)

4. Talking about School Subjects

 In this section, we’ll learn what common school subjects are in Finnish and how to talk about them.

1- Common School Subjects 

  • matematiikka (”mathematics”)
  • fysiikka (”physics”)
  • kemia (”chemistry”)
  • biologia (“biology”)
  • maantieto (”geography”)
  • historia (“history”)
  • psykologia (”psychology”)
  • filosofia (”philosophy”)
  • kuvataide (”art”)
  • musiikki (”music”)
  • liikunta (”physical education”)
  • terveystieto (”health education”)
  • uskonto (”religion”)
  • äidinkieli (literally: “mother tongue” This is what Finnish speakers call Finnish class.)
  • vieras kieli (”foreign language”)
  • kirjallisuus (literature”)

2- Talking About School Subjects

  • Mikä on lempiaineesi? (”What’s your favorite subject?”)
  • Minun lempiaineeni on kuvataide. (”My favorite subject is art.”)
  • Pidän historiasta. (”I like history.”)
  • En pidä filosofiasta. (”I don’t like philosophy.”)
  • Mistä aineesta pidät eniten / vähiten? (”Which subject do you like the most / the least?”)
  • Pidän eniten / vähiten kemiasta. (”I like chemistry the most / the least.”)
  • Minusta fysiikka on helppoa / vaikeaa. (“I find physics easy / difficult.”)
  • En ole hyvä maantiedossa. (”I’m not good at geography.”)
  • Olen menossa biologian tunnille. (“I’m going to the biology class.”)
  • Matematiikka on haastavaa, mutta pidän siitä. (”Mathematics is challenging, but I like it.”)
  • Rakastan suomen kielen opiskelua. (”I love studying the Finnish language.”)

Are you confused about the different Finnish verbs of learning? Here’s a quick demonstration of the differences:

  • oppia (”to learn”)
    • Opin uimaan 10-vuotiaana. (”I learned to swim when I was 10 years old.”)
  • opiskella (”to study”)
    • Opiskelen filosofiaa Helsingin yliopistossa. (“I study philosophy at the University of Helsinki.”)
  • opetella (”to learn through trying”, “to teach oneself”)
    • Haluan opetella soittamaan harmonikkaa. (“I want to teach myself to play the accordion.”)

A Stack of Textbooks

Mikä on lempiaineesi? (”What’s your favorite subject?”)

  • If you’re not sure how to pronounce the words in this section, our vocabulary list School Subjects can help! 

5. Checking for School Supplies

Have you got everything you need for the class? In this section, you’ll learn Finnish vocabulary for school supplies and what to say if you need to borrow a sharpener!

1- Common School Supplies

  •  oppikirja (”textbook”)
  • vihko (”notebook”)
  • viivoitin (”ruler”)
  • paperiliitin (”paper clip”)
  • lyijykynä (”pencil”)
  • värikynä (”colored pencil”)
  • mustekynä (”pen”)
  • penaali (”pencil case”)
  • nitoja (”stabler”)
  • liimapuikko (”glue stick”)
  • paperi (”paper”)
  • teroitin (”pencil sharpener”)
  • sakset (”scissors”)
  • liitu (”chalk”)
  • pyyhekumi (”eraser”)
  • laskin (”calculator”)
  • tietokone (”computer”)
  • tabletti (”tablet”)
  • kansio (”binder”)
  • karttapallo (”globe”)
  • teippi (”tape”)
  • reppu (”rucksack”)
  • liitutaulu (”blackboard”)
  • valkotaulu (“whiteboard”)

2- Talking about School Supplies

  • Voinko lainata teroitintasi? (“Can I borrow your pencil sharpener?”)
  • Oletko nähnyt vihkoani? (“Have you seen my notebook?”)
  • Tiedätkö missä sakset ovat? (“Do you know where the scissors are?”)
  • Saanko viivoittimeni takaisin? (“Can I have my ruler back?”)
  • Unohdin kirjani kotiin. (”I left my book at home.”)
  • Olen kadottanut penaalini. (”I’ve lost my pencil case.”)
  • En löydä mustekynääni. (”I can’t find my pen.”)
  • Minulla ei ole liimapuikkoa. (”I don’t have a glue stick.”)
  • Onko sinulla ylimääräistä pyyhekumia? (”Do you have a spare eraser?”)
  • Voit lainata nitojaani. (”You can borrow my stapler.”)
  • Olen pahoillani, mutta tarvitsen sitä itse. (”I’m sorry, but I need it myself.”)

Koulutarvikkeet (School Supplies)

6. How FinnishPod101 Can Help You Learn More Finnish

In this guide, we’ve covered over 100 Finnish classroom phrases to help you understand instructions, ask for help, talk about school subjects and much more. We also listed essential school vocabulary in Finnish, including school subjects and school supplies, to prepare you for daily life in a Finnish school. Are there any other words or basic Finnish phrases you think we should have included? You can always drop a comment below and share your thoughts!

Head over to FinnishPod101 if you’re ready for more Finnish language learning. You’ll find plenty of Free resources, including vocabulary lists, which are a handy tool for expanding your Finnish vocabulary and practicing your pronunciation. We also offer a premium service, My Teacher, which gives you access to 1-on-1 tuition with a private Finnish teacher and a personalized lesson plan.

Happy learning on FinnishPod101!

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Your Complete Guide to Must-Know Finnish Restaurant Phrases


Do you know how to order food in Finnish? There’s a good chance – though it’s not guaranteed – that the staff serving you in a Finnish restaurant will speak English. However, we strongly recommend learning at least the most important restaurant phrases in Finnish. You’ll get so much more out of your dining experience if you do – and can still communicate if it turns out there’s no one to serve you in English! 

In this article, we will cover essential restaurant phrases in Finnish language to help you book a table, order food, settle the bill, and more with confidence. Of course, there’s more to dining in a foreign country than using the correct vocabulary. What about local customs? Should you always book a table? Should you leave a tip in Finland? We will answer these questions so that you can be fully prepared and focus on enjoying the food and the atmosphere.

A Smiling Waiter Brings Food to a Couple

Hyvää ruokahalua! (“Enjoy your meal!”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Before Dining
  2. During Dining
  3. After Dining
  4. How FinnishPod101 Can Help You Learn More Finnish

1. Before Dining

Before you can tuck into a delicious meal, you need to know where you’re going, think about making a reservation, and know how to make special requests. In this section, we’ll guide you through all these steps and teach you many useful Finnish conversational restaurant phrases.

A- Asking for restaurant recommendations

Locals are the best source of information when you’re looking for a good restaurant. Here you’ll find how to ask friends – or passers-by – for recommendations. Alternatively, try these phrases to find somewhere to eat using an online search engine.

  • Anteeksi, onko tässä lähellä hyvää / edullista ravintolaa? (”Is there a good / affordable restaurant nearby?”)
  • Tiedättekö missä on lähin ravintola / pikaruokala? (”Do you know where the nearest restaurant / fast food joint is?”)
  • Voitteko ehdottaa meille mukavaa lounaspaikkaa? (”Can you suggest a nice lunch spot for us?”)
  • Tiedättekö ravintolaa, josta saa kasvisruokaa / vegaanista ruokaa? (”Do you know a restaurant that serves vegetarian / vegan food?”)
  • Mikä olisi hyvä ravintola lapsiperheelle / romanttisille treffeille / bisneslounaalle? (”Which restaurant would be good for a family with kids / a romantic date / a business lunch?”)
  • Mikä on suosikkiravintolasi / kaupungin paras ravintola? (“What’s your favorite restaurant / the best restaurant in town?”)
  • Haluaisin syödä suomalaista ruokaa. Mitä ravintolaa suosittelisitte? (”I’d like to eat Finnish food. Which restaurant would you recommend?”)

An Empty Restaurant Ready for Customers

Where should you eat? Ask the locals!

B- Making a booking

Now you know where to go, but should you book a table? It depends. If you’re planning to dine with a large group, in a very popular restaurant, or during a particularly busy time for restaurants – such as äitienpäivä (“Mother’s Day”) – it’s a good idea to call or make an online booking. Otherwise, it should be fine to just turn up, though you may need to wait for a while for a table to become available. If you make a booking, be sure to turn up on time and always inform the restaurant if you need to cancel.

 Here are phrases to help you make a phone booking in Finnish:

  • Haluaisin varata pöydän kahdelle huomisillaksi. (”I’d like to book a table for two for tomorrow evening.”)
  • Haluaisin tehdä pöytävarauksen kolmelle henkilölle sunnuntaiksi kello kuusi. (”I’d like to make a table booking for three on Sunday at six o’clock.”)
  • Onko teillä lauantai-iltana tilaa kahdeksan hengen seurueelle? (”Do you have room for a group of eight on Saturday evening?”)
  • Haluan peruuttaa pöytävarauksemme. Emme pääsekään tulemaan. (”I want to cancel our table booking. We can’t make it after all.”)

Now is also a good time to ask anything you need to know about the restaurant:

  • Ovatko lapset tervetulleita? (”Are children welcome?”)
  • Onko teillä lasten syöttötuolia / leikkipaikkaa? (”Do you have a high chair / play area for children?”)
  • Onko ravintolanne esteetön pyörätuolin käyttäjille? (”Is your restaurant accessible for wheelchair users?”)

We will cover phrases about dietary requirements later on in the article!

C- Arrival

When you get to the restaurant, you may be asked if you have a reservation:

  • Onko teillä pöytävaraus? (”Do you have a table reservation?”)
  • Millä nimellä teillä on varaus? (”What name do you have a reservation under?”)
  • Meillä on pöytävaraus nimellä Pekkala. (”We have a table booking under the name Pekkala.”)
  • Olen varannut pöydän nimellä Karhu. (”I’ve booked a table under the name Karhu.”)

If you haven’t got a booking, you usually wait to be taken to a table, especially when you see a sign with this message:

  • Olkaa hyvä ja odottakaa pöytiinohjausta. (“Please wait to be seated.”)

You will soon find out if there’s room:

  • Tervetuloa! Seuratkaa minua. (“Welcome! Follow me.”)
  • Valitettavasti meillä on täyttä. Voitteko tulla takaisin puolen tunnin päästä / puoli kahdeksalta? (”Unfortunately we’re full. Can you come back in half an hour / at half past seven?
    • Kyllä, se sopii. (“Yes, that’s fine.”)
    • Koetamme onneamme muualla, kiitos. (“We’ll try our luck elsewhere, thank you.”)

D- Your table

If there’s plenty of space in the restaurant (or you’re making a booking ahead of time), you may be able to choose where to sit. Here you’ll find phrases to help you talk about table preferences.

  • Missä haluaisitte istua? (“Where would you like to sit?”)
  • Haluatteko istua sisällä vai ulkona? (”Do you want to sit inside or outside?”)
  • Haluamme istua ikkunapaikalla / terassilla / leikkipaikan vieressä / lähellä baaria. (”We want to sit by the window / on the terrace / next to the play area / near the bar.”)
  • Voisimmeko saada isomman pöydän? (”Could we have a larger table?”)
  • Voimmeko istua tuossa pöydässä? (”Can we sit at that table?”)
  • Onko teillä pöytää hiljaisemmassa paikassa? (”Do you have a table in a quieter spot?”)

Empty Glasses and a Reserved Sign on a Restaurant Table.

Pöytä on varattu. (”The table is reserved.”)

2. During Dining

Before we move on to ordering food, let’s cover some essential vocabulary. These phrases are super useful, so be sure to memorize them:

  • Anteeksi. (“Excuse me”, “Sorry”)
  • Kiitos. (”Thank you”, ”Please”)
  • Kyllä kiitos. (”Yes please.”)
  • Ei kiitos. (”No thank you.”)
  • Haluaisin… (“I would like…”)
  • En halua… (“I don’t want…”)

A- The Menu

Now onto the most delicious part – the food! Once you’re seated, it’s very likely that your waiter will hand you the menu, but we’ll teach you how to ask for one just in case. We’ll also cover various questions you may have about the food.

  • Saisimmeko nähdä ruokalistan? (”Could we see the menu?”)
  • Onko teillä ruokalistaa englanniksi? (”Do you have the menu in English?”)
  • Onko teillä lasten ruokalistaa? (“Do you have a children’s menu?”)
    • Kyllä, tuon sen teille heti. (”Yes, I’ll bring it to you right away.”)
    • Valitettavasti ei ole. (“Unfortunately we don’t.”)
  • Mikä on suosituin annoksenne? (”What’s your most popular dish?”)
  • Mikä on päivän erikoinen? (“What’s today’s special?”)
  • Mitä karjalanpaisti sisältää? (“What’s in the Karelian stew?”)
    • Naudanlihaa, porsaanlihaa, sipulia ja juureksia. (”Beef, pork, onion and root vegetables.”)

  • Do you want to quickly translate foods from English to Finnish? Find dishes, ingredients, and other food vocabulary in our handy online dictionary, and listen to how they are pronounced in Finnish!

 Be sure to mention any preferences, dislikes, allergies and dietary requirements when ordering.

  • Haluaisin syödä kevyen / täyttävän lounaan. Mitä suosittelette? (”I’d like to eat a light / filling lunch. What do you recommend?”)
  • En pidä mausteisesta ruoasta. Sopiiko tämä annos minulle? (”I don’t like spicy food. Is this a good dish for me?”)
  • Onko tässä annoksessa äyriäisiä? (”Does this dish contain shellfish?”)
  • Olen allerginen pähkinöille. Voiko pähkinät jättää pois salaatista? (“I’m allergic to nuts. Can the salad be served without nuts?”)
  • Vältän gluteiinia. Onko teillä gluteiinitonta pastaa / pitsaa? (”I avoid gluten. Do you have gluten free pasta / pizza?”)
  • Voitteko valmistaa tämän ilman maitoa / kermaa? Minulla on laktoosi-intoleranssi. (”Can you prepare this without milk / cream? I am lactose intolerant.”)
  • En syö eläintuotteita. Mitkä annokset ovat vegaanisia / voi valmistaa vegaanisena? (”I don’t eat animal products. Which dishes are vegan / can be made vegan?”)
  • Onko ruokalistallanne jotain diabeetikolle sopivaa? (”Do you have something suitable for a diabetic on your menu?”)

 These are some of the common allergens to look out for:

  • maito (”milk”)
  • muna (”egg”)
  • pähkinä (”nut”)
  • maapähkinä (”peanut”)
  • soija (”soy”)
  • vehnä (”wheat”)
  • kala (”fish”)
  • äyriäinen (”shellfish”)
  • seesami (”sesame”)

B- Ordering Food and Drinks

Let’s order, starting with the food: 

  • Oletteko valmiit tilaamaan? (”Are you ready to order?”)
    • Olemme valmiit tilaamaan. (”We’re ready to order.”)
    • Tarvitsemme lisää aikaa. (”We need more time.”) 
  • Haluatteko tilata alkupaloja / lisukkeita? (“Do you want to order appetizers / side dishes?”)
    • Ei tällä kertaa, kiitos. (”Not this time, thank you.”)
    • Kyllä, otan leipää / salaattia / ranskalaisia perunoita / enemmän riisiä. (”Yes, I’ll have bread / salad / French fries / more rice.”)
  • Mitä saisi olla? (”What would you like?”) 
  • Mitä haluaisitte alkuruoaksi / pääruoaksi? (“What would you like as the starter / the main course?”)
    • Alkupalaksi otan päivän keiton ja pääruoaksi risoton. (”I’ll have the soup of the day as a starter and the risotto as the main course.”)
    • Tilaan vain pääruoan. Haluaisin pihvin lohkoperunoilla. (”I’ll order just a main course. I’d like the steak with potato wedges.”)
  • Entä teille? (”And for you?”)
    • Otan tämän, kiitos. (”I’ll have this, please.”)

 Next, let’s find out how to order drinks:

  • Haluatteko tilata jotakin juotavaa? / Saisiko olla jotakin juotavaa? (”Would you like to order something to drink?”)
    • Ehkä myöhemmin. (“Maybe later.”)
  • Entä juotavaksi? (”And to drink?”)
  • Haluaisimme nähdä viinilistan. (”We’d like to see the wine list.”)
  • Mitä viiniä suosittelette? (”Which wine would you recommend?”)
  • Lasi / pullo talon punaviiniä / valkoviiniä, kiitos. (”A glass / bottle of the house red wine / white wine, please.”)
  • Otan appelsiinimehua / kivennäisvettä / olutta. (”I’ll have orange juice / mineral water / beer.”)
  • Saisimmeko kannun/kannullisen vettä? (“Can we have a jug of water?”)
  • Haluamme tilata lisää juomia. (“We want to order more drinks.”)

Let’s hope you left some space for the dessert! Here’s how to order a sweet treat to finish the meal – or do as many Finns do and go for a cup of coffee:

  • Haluatteko nähdä jälkiruokalistan? (“Would you like to see the dessert menu?”)
    • Ei kiitos, otan vain kahvia. (”No thank you, I’ll just have a coffee.”)
    • Ei kiitos, olen täynnä. (”No thank you, I’m full.”)
    • Kyllä kiitos. (“Yes please.”)
  • Haluaisimme tilata jälkiruokaa. (”We’d like to order dessert.”)
  • Otan vaniljajäätelön suklaakastikkeella. (”I’ll have the vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.”)
  • Haluaisin palan juustokakkua. (”I’d like a slice of cheesecake.”)

A Couple with Two Young Children Looks at a Menu

Lasten kanssa syömässä (”Dining with children”)

C- Other requests

Often, a waiter will check in during your meal and ask if everything is going well:

  • Onko kaikki hyvin? (”Is everything alright?”)

If you need to get the attention of your waiter, you can simply say Anteeksi (“Excuse me”) followed by your request.

  • Saisimmeko lisää vettä / leipää / lautasliinoja / jäitä? (“Could we have more water / bread / napkins / ice?”)
  • Haluaisin toisen lasillisen viiniä / olutta, kiitos. (”I’d like another glass of wine / beer, please.”)
  • Meiltä puuttuu suola ja pippuri. (”We haven’t got salt and pepper.”)
  • Saisinko uuden lautasen / lasin / lusikan / haarukan / veitsen? Tämä on likainen. (”Could I have a new plate / glass / spoon / fork / knife? This one is dirty.”)
  • Missä vessat ovat? (”Where are the toilets?”)
  • Missä on naisten / miesten / esteetön vessa? (”Where is the women’s / men’s / accessible toilet?”)
  • Missä voin vaihtaa vauvan vaipan? (”Where can I change the baby’s diaper?”)

D- Feedback and problems

Your waiter may also ask you if you’re enjoying the food:

  • Miltä ruoka maistuu? (”How is the meal?”)
    • Ruoka on herkullista. (”The food is delicious.”)
    • Tämä on todella hyvää. (“This is really good.”)

If there are any issues, let the staff know as soon as possible to give them a chance to put things right:

  • Olen pahoillani, mutta… (”I’m sorry, but…”)
  • En tilannut tätä. (“I didn’t order this.”)
  • Keitto on kylmää. (“The soup is cold.”)
  • Tämä on liian suolaista. (”This is too salty.”)
  • Tämä maistuu raa’alta / palaneelta. (”This tastes raw / burned.”)
  • Pyysin jättämään kerman pois. (“I asked to leave the cream out.”)

A Smiling Waiter

Hymyilevä tarjoilija (”A smiling waiter”)

3. After Dining

 The only thing left to do after a satisfying meal is to settle the bill. This section will help you successfully navigate the payment process in Finnish.

A- The Bill

When you’re ready to pay, you can ask for the bill using one of these phrases:

  • Lasku, kiitos. (”The bill, please.”)
  • Saisimmeko laskun? (“Could we have the bill?”)
  • Olemme valmiita maksamaan. (“We’re ready to pay.”)

 If you notice a mistake, mention it right away:

  •  Anteeksi, laskussa on virhe. (”Sorry, there’s a mistake in the bill.”)
  • Anteeksi, laskussa taitaa olla virhe. (“Excuse me, I think there’s a mistake in the bill.”)

Who’s paying? Here’s how to communicate whether you’re paying together or separately: 

  • Haluatteko maksaa erikseen vai yhdessä? (”Do you want to pay separately or together?”)
  • Haluaisimme maksaa erikseen. (”We would like to pay separately.”)
  • Maksamme yhdessä. (“We’ll pay together.”)
  • Minä tarjoan. (“It’s on me.”)

B- Payment methods

Cash, card, or something else? Let’s talk about payment methods: 

  • Miten haluaisitte maksaa? (”How would you like to pay?”)
  • Maksamme käteisellä. (”We’ll pay with cash.”)
  • Haluan maksaa pankkikortilla / luottokortilla. (”I want to pay with a debit card / credit card.”)
  • Mitkä luottokortit hyväksytte? (”Which credit cards do you accept?”)
  • Voinko tehdä mobiilimaksun / lähimaksun? (”Can I make a mobile payment / a contactless payment?”)
  • Note that contactless payment works only for transactions up to 50 euros. 
  • Find out which mobile payments are popular in Finland.

C- Tipping

Should you leave a tip in Finland? In short: it’s not compulsory or expected, but it is appreciated. There are Finns who tip habitually and Finns who never do. Many Finns will leave a tip when the service and food have been exceptional. Note that tips are often divided equally among all restaurant staff and are taxed like regular income in Finland.

 There are no strict rules when it comes to the size of the tip, but anything between 5% and 15% of the bill is acceptable. Some people simply ask the waiter to ‘round up’ their bill or keep the change when they’re paying. If you have cash on hand, you can leave the tip on the table before you leave. If you’re paying by card, you may have the option to add a tip using the payment terminal – or simply ask your waiter to add a tip to the bill.

  • Voitte pitää vaihtorahan. (“You can keep the change.”)
  • Voitte lisätä viisi euroa tippiä. (”You can add five euros as a tip.”)
  • Voitte pyöristää kuuteenkymmeneen euroon. (”You can round up to sixty euros.”)
  • Haluaisin jättää tipin. Miten se onnistuu? (”I’d like to leave a tip. How do I do it?”)

A Restaurant Bill

Lasku, kiitos. (“The bill, please.”)

  • If you’d like to see more examples of restaurant phrases and listen to recordings to help you with your pronunciation, our Finnish restaurant vocabulary and phrases list is for you.
  • Do you have time for another quick Finnish language lesson? To learn food phrases in Finnish, try our vocab builder, Food.

4. How FinnishPod101 Can Help You Learn More Finnish

In this guide, we have covered the entire dining experience, from asking for restaurant recommendations and booking a table to ordering food and making a payment. Do you know any other Finnish restaurant words and phrases that we should have included? Feel free to drop a comment to give us feedback, or let us know what other guides you’d like to see on the FinnishPod101 blog!

Be sure to stop by FinnishPod101 and explore everything we have to offer. We provide plenty of free resources, including a large collection of vocabulary lists. We also have an extensive lesson library and a premium service, MyTeacher, for learners who want to supercharge their studies with 1-on-1 coaching and a personalized study plan.

Happy learning on FinnishPod101!

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Guide to Improving Your Finnish Conversation Skills


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

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

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

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

Four Friends Chatting with Coffee Beverages

Discuter entre amis (“To chat with friends”)

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

1. Make Your Own Conversation Cheat Sheet

1- What’s a cheat sheet?

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

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

2- Why would I need one?

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

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

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

3- How do I make one?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4- Getting off to a good start

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

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

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

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

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

A Woman Taking Notes

You can start your French conversation sheet anytime!

2. French Reactions Words and Expressions

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

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

That’s Great!

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

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

I’m sorry…

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

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


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

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

That’s too bad

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

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

Keep me updated!

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

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

A Guy Expressing Victory

C’est génial ! (“That’s great!”)

3. French Filler Words

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

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

Here are some of the most common French filler words:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Woman Unsure of What to Say

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

4. Questions and Answers

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

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

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

“Where are you from?”

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

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

“Do you speak English?”

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

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

“What do you study?”

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

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

“What kind of music do you like?”

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

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

“What’s your job?”

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

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

A Woman Holding a Map while Traveling

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

5. French Conversation Starters

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

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

Here are a few examples for various situations:

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus: 4 Tips to Improve your Conversation Skills

1- Use every opportunity to practice

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

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

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

2- Grammar and vocabulary are overrated

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

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

3- Get as much exposure as possible

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

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

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

4- Get some feedback

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

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

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

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

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

Le mot de la fin

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

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

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

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

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

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50+ Finnish Conversation Starters to Help You Talk to Anyone


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

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

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

A Smiling Woman Waves Her Hand

Are you ready to meet new people?

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

1. Conversation Starters for Mingling and Socializing

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

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

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

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

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

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

People Dancing at a Party

It’s easy to meet new people at parties!

2. Conversation Starters at Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smiling co-Workers Looking Towards the Camera

Get to know your new colleagues.

3. Conversation Starters at School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Students Sitting on the Grass and Studying Together

Living the student life.

4. Conversation Starters for a First Date

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ensitreffit (“first date”)

5. Conversation Starters to Reconnect with a Friend

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

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

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

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

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

Two Smiling Women

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

6. Lopuksi

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

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

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

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Countries and Nationalities in Finnish


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

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

A Lot of Flags

Paljon lippuja (“A lot of flags”)

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

1. Nationalities: A Quick Look at Grammar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glasses on Top of a Map

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

2. Top Nationalities in Finland

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

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

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

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

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

Estonia on a Map and Estonian Flag

Many Estonians visit and live in Finland.

3. Talking About Nationality

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

1- How to Ask Someone Their Nationality

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

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

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

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

  •  Entä sinä? (“How about you?”)

2- How to Tell Someone Your Nationality

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

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

To emphasize your citizenship status, you can say:

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Female Student with a Globe.

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

4. Country, City, Nationality & Language

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

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

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

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

CountryLanguageNationalityMajor City
(“United States”)
(“American English”)
(“citizen of USA”)
Washington, D.C.
Yhdistynyt kuningaskunta
(“United Kingdom”)
(“British English”)

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

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

A Smiling Woman Holds a Globe in Front of Her.

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

5. Lopuksi

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

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

Happy learning on FinnishPod101!

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40 Useful Advanced Finnish Phrases to Master


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

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

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

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

➜ Visit our YouTube channel to learn how we can help you become fluent in Finnish.

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

1. Useful Phrases for Academic Writing

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

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

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

A Smiling Graduate with a Scroll Diploma in Hand

2. Power Phrases for Your Cover Letter

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

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

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

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

Someone Looking Over a Cover Letter

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

3. Smart Phrases for Business Meetings

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

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

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

A Smiling Woman Speaking Standing Up in a Meeting

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

4. Advanced Idioms for Everyday Use

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

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

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


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

5. Lopuksi

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

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

Happy learning on!

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30+ Useful Intermediate Finnish Phrases


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

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

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

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

1. Talking About Past Events

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

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

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

Read more about using Finnish tenses on the FinnishPod101 blog.

A Woman Covering Her Face with a Hand

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

2. Making and Changing Plans

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

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

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

A Smiling Couple Holds a Present

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

3. Explaining and Listing Reasons

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

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

A Woman Peeking through Her Fingers

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

4. Making Recommendations and Complaints

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

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

Four Hands with Thumbs Up

Suosittelemme! (“We recommend!”)

5. Reaction Phrases for Everyday Conversations

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

1 – Kiva kuulla

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

2 – Loistavaa

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

3 – Vau

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

4 – Ihanko totta?

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

5 – Voi harmi

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

6. Etiquette Phrases for Social and Business Settings

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

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

A Man Sneezing

Terveydeksi! (“Bless you!”)

7. Lopuksi

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

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

Happy learning on!

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Basic Finnish Phrases for Beginners


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

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

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

1. Greetings and Self-introductions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Man Extending His Hand for a Handshake

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

2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions

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

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

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

This is an alternative way to apologize:

  • Olen pahoillani. (“I’m sorry.”)

This is how you could politely respond to an apology:

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

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

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

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

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

Other useful Finnish courtesy phrases include:

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

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

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

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

A College Student Waving Goodbye to Her Friends

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

3. Dining & Shopping Phrases

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

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

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

Ordering at a restaurant is not much harder!

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, let’s talk about paying:

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

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

A Couple Ordering at a Restaurant

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

4. Asking for Help

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

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

A Woman Struggling to Understand What a Man Is Saying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Lopuksi

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

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

Happy learning on!

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150+ Advanced Finnish Words to Add to Your Vocabulary


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

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

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

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

A Smiling Woman Touches Her Head with Her Index Fingers

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

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

1. Advanced Academic Words

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

1 – Academic Verbs

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

2 – Academic Nouns

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

3 – Academic Adjectives

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

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

A Young Man in a Library

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

2. Advanced Business Vocabulary

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

1 – Business Verbs

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

2 – Business Nouns

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

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

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

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

3. Advanced Medical Vocabulary

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

1 – Medical Verbs

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

2 – Medical Nouns 

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

3 – Medical Adjectives

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

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

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

Teho-osastolla (“In the ICU”)

4. Advanced Legal Vocabulary

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

1 – Legal Verbs

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

2 – Legal Nouns

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

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

A Judge Gavel

tuomarin nuija (“judge’s gavel”)

5. Alternative Words

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

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

1 – Alternative Verbs

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

2 – Alternative Adjectives 

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

3 – Alternative Adverbs

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

4 – Alternative Prepositions and Postpositions  

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

A Pair of Glasses on Top of an Open Book

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

6. Lopuksi

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

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

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

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