Get 50% Off With The Cyber Monday Sale. Hurry! Ends Soon!
Get 50% Off With The Cyber Monday Sale. Hurry! Ends Soon!

FinnishPod101.com Blog

Learn Finnish with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

150+ Advanced Finnish Words to Add to Your Vocabulary

Thumbnail

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

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

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

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


A Smiling Woman Touches Her Head with Her Index Fingers

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

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

1. Advanced Academic Words

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

1 – Academic Verbs

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

2 – Academic Nouns

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

3 – Academic Adjectives

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

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

A Young Man in a Library

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

2. Advanced Business Vocabulary

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

1 – Business Verbs

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

2 – Business Nouns

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

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

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

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

3. Advanced Medical Vocabulary

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

1 – Medical Verbs

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

2 – Medical Nouns 

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

3 – Medical Adjectives

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

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

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

Teho-osastolla (“In the ICU”)

4. Advanced Legal Vocabulary

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

1 – Legal Verbs

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

2 – Legal Nouns

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

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

A Judge Gavel

tuomarin nuija (“judge’s gavel”)

5. Alternative Words

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

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

1 – Alternative Verbs

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

2 – Alternative Adjectives 

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

3 – Alternative Adverbs

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

4 – Alternative Prepositions and Postpositions  

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

A Pair of Glasses on Top of an Open Book

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

6. Lopuksi

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

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

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

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

350+ Intermediate Finnish Words You Need to Learn

Thumbnail

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


A Woman Smiling on Public Transport

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

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

1. Large Numbers

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

1 – From 11 to 21

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

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

2 – Counting Up to 100

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

3 – To 1000 and Beyond

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

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

Someone Writing Large Numbers Inside Arrows on a Chalkboard

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

2. Nouns

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

1 – People

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

2 – Countries 

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

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

Teacher and Children Looking at a Globe in the Classroom

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

3 – Body Parts

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

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

4 – Substances

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

5 – Food and Drink

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

Three Friends Eating Lunch Out Together

Lounas ystävien kanssa (“Lunch with friends”)

6 – Rooms

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

7 – Nature

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

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

8 – City Life

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

9 – Clothes

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

Vaateostoksilla (“Clothes shopping”)

3. Verbs

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

1 – Communication Verbs

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

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

A Group of Friends Studying Together

2 – Auxiliary Verbs

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

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

See the full list of Finnish auxiliary verbs on Wiktionary.

3 – Other Useful Finnish Verbs

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

4. Adjectives

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

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

1 – Describing Objects

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

A Glass that Is Half Empty or Half Full of Water

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

2 – Describing People

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

3 – Other Useful Adjectives

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

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

5. Adverbs

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

1 – Time Adverbs (When and How Often?)

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

A Woman at a Train Station Looking at Her Wristwatch

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

2 – Positional Adverbs (Where?)

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

3 – Mode Adverbs (How?)

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

4 – Quantity Adverbs (How Much?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Woman with a Mask in Her Hand

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

Lopuksi

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

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

Happy learning with FinnishPod101!

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

Top Finnish Animal Names and Phrases

Thumbnail

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

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

A Child Looking at a Picture Book

Learning Finnish animal names is child’s play.

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

1. At Home

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

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

Suositut lemmikkieläimet (“Popular pets”)

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

2. On the Farm

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


A Cow in a Pasture

Lehmä laitumella (“A cow in a pasture”)

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

3. In the Forest

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

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

A Mother Bear with Her Cubs

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


4. In the Lakes, Rivers, and the Sea

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

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

A Seal

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

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

5. Bugs and Insects

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

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

A Ladybug

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

6. Birds, Reptiles, and Amphibians

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

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

Three Frogs on a Rock

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

7. Animal Body Parts

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

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

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

A Swan on the Water

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

8. Animal-Related Terms and Expressions

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

1 – Nouns

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

2 – People

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

3 – Idioms

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

4 – Verbs

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

5 – Similes

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

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

9. Lopuksi

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

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

Happy learning on FinnishPod101!

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

Essential Finnish Telephone Phrases

Thumbnail

For language learners, having a telephone conversation in Finnish is always going to be more challenging than having a face-to-face chat. When you’re talking on the phone, you can’t pick up clues from your conversation partner’s facial expressions or body language. And if the connection is terrible, trying to make out what the other person is saying can be extra-frustrating.

However, if you find yourself afraid of making phone calls, there are ways to build your confidence and make phone conversations in Finnish easier. The first thing you should do is pick up some Finnish phone call phrases and expressions; then, you’ll need to get some real-life practice in (sorry!). 

We’ll leave the practice part up to you, but we can teach you some of the most common Finnish phone call expressions for both formal and informal contexts. 

  • One more thing: Did you know that mobile phone throwing is an actual sport? It was invented in Finland nearly two decades ago.

A Smiling Woman on the Phone

Talk on the phone with confidence!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Picking up the Phone
  2. Saying Who You Are
  3. Stating the Reason for Your Call
  4. Asking to Speak to Someone
  5. Asking Someone to Wait
  6. Leaving a Message
  7. Asking for Clarification
  8. Ending a Phone Call
  9. Sample Phone Conversations
  10. Lopuksi

1. Picking up the Phone

Let’s start with the absolute basics: How to answer the phone in Finnish! What should you say when you pick up the phone?

When you don’t know who’s calling you (or if you don’t know the caller well), it’s common to state your name when picking up. You can use your first name, your last name, or your full name. 

  • Minna
  • Miettinen
  • Minna Miettinen

Alternatively, you can answer with haloo (“hello”). Note that this is a “hello” that’s only used on the phone:

  • Haloo (“Hello”)

When a friend or a family member is calling, you can answer by using a variation of “hi,” such as:

  • Hei
  • Moi
  • Terve

To refresh your memory, here are more common ways to say hello in Finnish.

When answering a phone call at work, it’s customary to state the name of your workplace. You can also add your own name, a greeting, or a question.

  • Keskuskirjasto Oodi, Minna Miettinen. (“Central Library Oodi, Minna Miettinen.”)
  • Keskuskirjasto Oodi, hyvää päivää. (“Central Library Oodi, good day.”)
  • Keskuskirjasto Oodi, kuinka voin auttaa? (“Central Library Oodi, how can I help?”)

A Woman in an Office Setting Picking Up the Phone and Taking Notes

Kuinka voin auttaa? (“How can I help?”)

2. Saying Who You Are

When you’re calling someone, it’s natural to start by introducing yourself. Note that tässä and täällä both mean “here.”

  • Terhi tässä. (“Terhi here.”)
  • Terhi Salonen täällä hei. (“Terhi Salonen here, hi.”)

When answering the phone in Finnish, remember that some people like to place their last name in the genitive case in front of their first name:

  • Salosen Terhi täällä, terve. (“Terhi Salonen here, hi.” Or literally: “Salonen’s Terhi here, hi.” ) 

When introducing yourself in a professional capacity on the phone, you would typically state the name of your workplace as well:

  • Terhi Salonen Kallion Apteekista, päivää. (“Terhi Salonen from Kallio Pharmacy, good day.”)

If you didn’t catch the other person’s name, you can ask who they are using this phrase:

  •  Anteeksi, kenen kanssa puhun? (“I’m sorry, who am I talking to?”)

3. Stating the Reason for Your Call

After the greetings and introductions, the next step is to state your reason for calling. You can use these example sentences as you practice constructing your own:

  • Soittelin sellaista asiaa, että lähtisitkö kanssani elokuviin perjantaina. (“I was calling to see if you’d go to the movies with me on Friday.”)
  • Soitin kysyäkseni onko teillä yhtään avoimia työpaikkoja tällä hetkellä. (“I called to ask if you have any job openings at the moment.”)
  • Haluaisin tietää onko myymälänne jouluaattona auki. (“I’d like to know if your store is open on Christmas Eve.”)
  • Minulla olisi muutama kysymys pääsykokeesta. (“I have a couple of questions about the entrance exam.”)
  • Asiani koskee eilistä palaveria. (“I’m calling about yesterday’s meeting.”)
  • Tästä numerosta soitettiin minulle. (“I got a missed call from this number.”)
  • Yritittekö soittaa minulle aiemmin? (“Did you try to call me earlier?”)
  • Haluaisin varata ajan lääkärille. (“I’d like to book an appointment to see a doctor.”)
  • Haluan tehdä tilauksen. (“I want to make an order.”)

Visit FinnishPod101.com to listen to a sample phone call to a doctor’s office.

A Woman Is Making a Call to Order from a Catalogue.

Haluan tehdä tilauksen. (“I want to make an order.”)

4. Asking to Speak to Someone

Are you trying to get hold of a specific person? Use one of these phrases to explain who you want to talk to:

  • Voisinko puhua Eemelin kanssa? (“Could I speak to Eemeli?”)
  • Haluaisin puhua Tuijan kanssa. (“I’d like to speak to Tuija.”)
  • Minulla on asiaa Jaakolle. (“I need to speak to Jaakko.”)
  • Onko Virtanen paikalla? (“Is Virtanen there?”)
  • Onko Pertti Virtanen tavattavissa? (“Is Pertti Virtanen available?”)

Learn how to say “Sorry, wrong number,” in Finnish by visiting our vocabulary list Useful Phrases for a Phone Call.

5. Asking Someone to Wait

Sometimes you need a moment while on the phone, perhaps to look something up. Use these phrases to ask the other person to wait:

  • Odottakaa hetki, olkaa hyvä. (“Please wait a moment.”)
  • Hetkinen, tarkistan asian. (“Just a moment, I’ll check.”)
  • Katsotaanpa, pikku hetki. (“Let’s see, just a moment.”)
  • Yhdistän puhelun, pysykää linjalla. (“I’ll connect the call, stay on the line.”)

6. Leaving a Message

If you didn’t manage to reach the person you wanted to talk to, you can ask the other person to leave a message or a call request for you:

  • Kertoisitko hänelle, että soitin? (“Could you tell him/her that I called?”)
  • Voisinko jättää soittopyynnön? (“Could I leave a call request?”)
  • Voitko pyytää häntä soittamaan minulle takaisin? (“Can you ask him/her to call me back?”)
  • Voinko jättää viestin? (“Can I leave a message?”)

A Woman on the Phone Takes Notes.

Voinko jättää viestin? (“Can I leave a message?”)

7. Asking for Clarification

As a non-native speaker making a call in Finnish, you might fail to understand some of what the other person is saying. In addition, a poor connection or similar issue sometimes makes it hard to communicate on the phone. Here are phrases to use when you’re struggling:

  • Haloo, kuuluuko? (“Hello, can you hear me?”)
  • En kuule sinua selvästi. Yhteys on huono. (“I can’t hear you clearly. The connection is bad.”)
  • En ymmärrä sinua. Voisitko puhua hitaammin? (“I don’t understand you. Could you speak more slowly?”)
  • Anteeksi, voisitko toistaa? (“Sorry, could you repeat?”)

8. Ending a Phone Call

There are lots of different ways to end a phone call in Finnish. For example: 

  • Asia tuli selväksi, kiitos. (“Everything’s clear, thank you.”)
  • Kiitos paljon, kuulemiin! (“Thanks a lot, goodbye.”)
  • Mukavaa päivänjatkoa. (“Have a nice day.”)
  • Minun pitää mennä. Puhutaan lisää myöhemmin. (“I have to go. Let’s talk more later.”)
  • Kiva kun soitit. Hei hei! (“It was nice that you called. Bye bye!”)
  • Oli hauska jutella. (“It was nice to chat.”) 
  • Hei hei. Kerro terveisiä Sarille! (“Bye bye. Send my love to Sari.”)
  • Moi moi, soitellaan! (“Bye bye, let’s talk again!”)

Note that just like haloo (“hello”), kuulemiin (“goodbye”) is only really used on the phone; this is because it refers specifically to hearing. In contrast, näkemiin (“goodbye”) refers to seeing.


9. Sample Phone Conversations

In this last section, you’ll see some of the Finnish phone phrases that you’ve learned in action.

In this first casual Finnish phone conversation, two friends—Sanni and Tuukka—make a plan for the weekend.

  • Sanni. (“Sanni.”)
  • Tuukka tässä, moi! (“Tuukka here, hi!”)
  • Hei Tuukka! Mitä kuuluu? (“Hi Tuukka! How are you?”)
  • Ihan hyvää, kiitos. Soittelin vaan sellaista, että oletko vapaa tänä viikonloppuna? (“I’m good, thanks. I was calling to see if you’re free this weekend?”)
  • Olen vapaa lauantaina. Miksi? (“I’m free on Saturday. Why?”)
  • Hienoa. Tavataanko brunssin merkeissä? (“Great. Shall we meet up for brunch?”)
  • No mikä ettei, tavataan vain. Onko sinulla jo paikka mielessä? (“Sure, why not, let’s meet up. Do you already have a place in mind?”)
  • Joo, Mikko suositteli minulle Korjaamoa Töölössä. Sopiiko sinulle kello yksitoista? (“Yes, Mikko recommended Korjaamo in Töölö to me. Does 11 o’clock suit you?”)
  • Kello yksitoista käy minulle hyvin. (“11 o’clock is good for me.”)
  • Loistavaa, teen meille varauksen. Nähdään lauantaina, hei hei! (“Awesome, I’ll book for us. I’ll see you on Saturday, bye bye!”)
  • Hei hei! (“Bye bye!”)

 In this second, more formal conversation, Tuukka reserves a table at a restaurant.

  • Korjaamolla, hyvää päivää. (“At Korjaamo, good day.”)
  • Tuukka Varonen täällä, hei. Haluaisin varata pöydän tälle lauantaille. (“Tuukka Varonen here, hi. I’d like to book a table for this Saturday.”)
  • Kuinka monelle henkilölle? (“For how many people?”)
  • Kahdelle henkilölle, kiitos. (“For two people, please.”)
  • Ja mihin aikaan? (“And for what time?”)
  • Kello yksitoista sopisi hyvin. (“11 o’clock would be good.”)
  • Eli pöytä kahdelle tänä lauantaina kello yksitoista. Nimellä Tuukka Varonen? (“So, a table for two this Saturday at 11 o’clock. Under the name Tuukka Varonen?”)
  • Täsmälleen. Kiitos paljon! (“Exactly. Thank you very much!”)
  • Kiitos varauksesta, hyvää päivänjatkoa! (“Thank you for the reservation, have a nice day!”)

A Staff Member Takes a Booking on the Phone.

Kuinka monelle henkilölle? (“For how many people?”)


Lopuksi

In this guide, you’ve learned lots of formal and casual Finnish phone call expressions. We’ve covered how to answer a call, introduce yourself, state your reason for calling, end a phone conversation, and more. We hope that the idea of having a telephone conversation in Finnish feels a lot less daunting to you now!

Are there any other phrases that you think should have been covered here? Have you ever made a call in Finnish? Tell us all about it in the comments!

FinnishPod101 has a lot of free resources for learners, so be sure to stop by and explore everything we have to offer. Our Finnish vocabulary lists cover a vast range of topics and are especially helpful for practicing your pronunciation thanks to the audio recordings.

Happy learning!

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

200+ Finnish Words for Beginners You Need to Learn

Thumbnail

In this article, we’ll cover the most common Finnish words for beginners. We’ve gathered in one place all the most important pronouns, numbers, nouns, verbs, adjectives, and conjunctions that you’ll need in order to navigate simple, everyday situations in Finnish. Since our focus is on essential vocabulary, we won’t linger too much on grammar here, but we will point you in the right direction where appropriate!

Although this guide is aimed at beginners, we also warmly welcome any intermediate learners who are looking for a core vocabulary refresher. The more the merrier, so let’s get started.


Three Friends Chatting in a Cafe

A smile and a few words in Finnish could lead to new friendships.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Pronouns
  2. Numbers
  3. Nouns
  4. Verbs
  5. Adjectives
  6. Conjunctions
  7. Cultural Vocabulary: Finnish Holidays
  8. Lopuksi

1. Pronouns

The first set of words you should add to your Finnish vocabulary are the pronouns. There are three pronoun categories we’ll look at today—personal, demonstrative, and interrogative—and it’s a good idea to learn them sooner rather than later. 

Personal Subject Pronouns

Personal subject pronouns replace a noun as the subject of a sentence:

  • Tero puhuu suomea. (“Tero speaks Finnish.”)
  • Hän puhuu suomea. (“He speaks Finnish.”)

PersonFinnish pronounEnglish
1st person sg.minäI
2nd person sg.sinä / teyou (casual / formal)
3rd person sg.hänhe / she
1st person pl.mewe
2nd person pl.teyou
3rd person pl.hethey

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns “point” to specific inanimate objects and non-human animate objects. (However, note that in colloquial Finnish se and ne are often used to refer to people too).

SingularPlural
tämä (“this”)nämä (“these”)
tuo (“that”)nuo (“those”)
se (“it” / “that”)ne (“they” / “them”)


Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are used in questions. There are three Finnish interrogative pronouns that are still in common use today:

  • kuka (“who”)
    Kuka tuo on? (“Who is that?”)
  • mikä (“what”)
    Mikä sinun nimesi on? (“What is your name?”)
  • kumpi (“which”)
    Kumpi on parempi? (“Which is better?”)

But wait, what about those other common question words? The following are interrogative adverbs rather than pronouns, but we’ll include them here as a bonus. Why not?

  • miksi (“why”)
  • missä (“where”)
  • milloin (“when”)
  • miten (“how”)

A Woman Covering Her Face with a Question Mark

Kuka minä olen? (“Who am I?”)

2. Numbers

Another key component of the Finnish language for beginners are the numbers. At the beginner level, you’ll be able to get by with the numbers from one to ten most of the time. If you’re ready for some bigger numbers though, you can always head over to our Finnish Numbers vocabulary list to learn more!

  • 1      yksi
  • 2      kaksi
  • 3      kolme
  • 4      neljä
  • 5      viisi
  • 6      kuusi
  • 7      seitsemän
  • 8      kahdeksan
  • 9      yhdeksän
  • 10    kymmenen

3. Nouns

First, the good news: Finnish nouns have no gender and there are no articles to worry about. Hurrah! Furthermore, forming the plural in the nominative case can be as simple as adding a -t:

  • auto (“a car” / “the car”)
  • autot (“cars” / “the cars”)

Now, the not-so-good news: The full story is a bit more complicated than that (and involves things like consonant gradation)! We’re not getting into all of that here, but if you’re feeling lost, we recommend getting started with our absolute beginner lesson Do All Finns Have Blue Eyes? and then working your way up to the more challenging grammar lessons.

That said, let’s go ahead and learn some more Finnish beginner words!

Time

  • tunti (“hour”)
  • minuutti (“minute”)
  • aamu (“morning”)
  • päivä (“day”)
  • ilta (“evening”)
  • (“night”)
  • viikko (“week”)
  • kuukausi (“month”)
  • vuosi (“year”)

Days of the Week

  • maanantai (“Monday”)
  • tiistai (“Tuesday”)
  • keskiviikko (“Wednesday”)
  • torstai (“Thursday”)
  • perjantai (“Friday”)
  • lauantai (“Saturday”)
  • sunnuntai (“Sunday”)

 Note that the days of the week are not capitalized in Finnish!

People

  • nainen (“woman”)
  • mies (“man”)
  • tyttö (“girl”)
  • poika (“boy”)
  • äiti (“mom”)
  • isä (“dad”)
  • lapsi (“child”)
  • ystävä (“friend”)

Occupations 

  • lääkäri (“doctor”)
  • opettaja (“teacher”)
  • poliisi (“police officer”)
  • myyjä (“sales person”)

Not enough occupations for you? You’ll find the Finnish words for “poet,” “engineer,” and more on our list titled 20 Common Words for Occupations.

Several People Dressed in the Work Attire of Different Occupations

Mikä on sinun ammattisi? (“What is your occupation?”)

Shops and Services

  • sairaala (“hospital”)
  • koulu (“school”)
  • pankki (“bank”)
  • posti (“post office”)
  • kauppa (“shop”)
  • hotelli (“hotel”)
  • ravintola (“restaurant”)

School and Office Essentials

  • kynä (“pen” / “pencil”)
  • (pyyhe)kumi (“eraser”)
  • teroitin (“pencil sharpener”)
  • vihko (“notebook”)
  • kirja (“book”)
  • tietokone (“computer”)

Body Parts

  • pää (“head”)
  • silmä (“eye”)
  • nenä (“nose”)
  • suu (“mouth”)
  • korva (“ear”)
  • käsi (“hand”)
  • jalka (“leg” / “foot”)

For a more comprehensive list, head over to our lesson All Parts of the Body.

Food

  • ruoka (“food”)
  • vihannes (“vegetable”)
  • hedelmä (“fruit”)
  • liha (“meat”)
  • kala (“fish”)
  • kana (“chicken”)
  • muna (“egg”)
  • leipä (“bread”)

Several Healthy Food Items

Terveellistä ruokaa (“Healthy food”)

Animals

  • koira (“dog”)
  • kissa (“cat”)
  • hevonen (“horse”)
  • lehmä (“cow”)
  • lammas (“sheep”)
  • sika (“pig”)
  • lintu (“bird”)

Home

  • koti (“home”)
  • talo (“house”)
  • ovi (“door”)
  • ikkuna (“window”)
  • pöytä (“table”)
  • tuoli (“chair”)
  • sänky (“bed”)

Transport

  • taksi (“taxi”)
  • Linja-auto / bussi (“bus”)
  • juna (“train”)
  • lentokone (“airplane”)
  • laiva (“ship”)

Nature

  • metsä (“forest”)
  • järvi (“lake”)
  • meri (“sea”)
  • joki (“river”)
  • vuori (“mountain”)

Saimaa Lake in Finland

Saimaa on Suomen suurin järvi. (“Saimaa is Finland’s largest lake.”)

4. Verbs

In this section, we’ve listed 50 must-know Finnish verbs for beginners. Don’t worry if you don’t know much about how Finnish verbs work yet! You can quickly grasp the basics—from adding personal endings to the use of the negative verb—on FinnishPod101.com. You can also dive deeper into Finnish verb conjugation on Wikipedia or try Cooljugator to instantly conjugate common Finnish verbs!

Daily Routine Verbs

  • herätä (“to wake up”)
  • nousta ylös (“to get up”)
  • pukeutua (“to dress”)
  • tulla (“to come”)
  • mennä (“to go”)
  • työskennellä (“to work”)
  • opiskella (“to study”)
  • syödä (“to eat”)
  • juoda (“to drink”)
  • nukkua (“to sleep”)

A Sleepy Man Reaching for His Alarm Clock

En halua nousta vielä ylös. (“I don’t want to get up yet.”)

Conversation Verbs

  • puhua (“to speak”)
  • sanoa (“to say”)
  • kysyä (“to ask”)
  • vastata (“to answer”)
  • ymmärtää (“to understand”)
  • kuunnella (“to listen”)
  • hymyillä (“to smile”)
  • nauraa (“to laugh”)

Other Common and Useful Verbs

  • olla (“to be”)
  • tehdä (“to do”)
  • ostaa (“to buy”)
  • antaa (“to give”)
  • saada (“to get”)
  • ottaa (“to take”)
  • etsiä (“to look for”)
  • löytää (“to find”)
  • pitää (“to like”)
  • tuntea (“to feel”)
  • katsoa (“to watch”)
  • nähdä (“to see”)
  • lukea (“to read”)
  • kirjoittaa (“to write”)
  • oppia (“to learn”)
  • muistaa (“to remember”)
  • voida (“to be able to”)
  • osata (“to know how to”)
  • tietää (“to know”)
  • sulkea (“to close”)
  • avata (“to open”)
  • haluta (“to want”)
  • kävellä (“to walk”)
  • juosta (“to run”)
  • ajaa (“to drive”)
  • laittaa (“to put”)
  • käyttää (“to use”)
  • matkustaa (“to travel”)
  • soittaa (“to call”)
  • odottaa (“to wait”)
  • saapua (“to arrive”)
  • palata (“to return”)

Listen to our recordings and learn how to pronounce many of the above verbs like a native speaker on FinnishPod101.com.

A Mother and Two Children Enjoying a Story

Äiti lukee kirjaa. (“Mom is reading a book.”)

5. Adjectives

An adjective describes what something is like. These are essential beginner Finnish words to pick up, as they can add depth to your speech and help you better express yourself. Finnish adjectives must agree in number and case with the nouns they modify.

Describing Objects

  • pieni (“small”)
  • suuri (“large”)
  • painava (“heavy”)
  • kevyt (“light”)
  • uusi (“new”)
  • vanha (“old”)
  • likainen (“dirty”)
  • puhdas (“clean”)
  • kuiva (“dry”)
  • märkä (“wet”)

Describing People

  • kaunis (“beautiful”)
  • komea (“handsome”)
  • ruma (“ugly”)
  • pitkä (“tall”)
  • lyhyt (“short”)
  • laiha (“thin”)
  • lihava (“fat”)
  • nuori (“young”)
  • rikas (“rich”)
  • köyhä (“poor”)

Describing Emotions

  • iloinen (“joyful”)
  • onnellinen (“happy”)
  • surullinen (“sad”)
  • vihainen (“angry”)
  • yllättynyt (“surprised”)
  • kyllästynyt (“bored” / “annoyed”)
  • hämmentynyt (“confused”)

A Woman Raising Her Arms above Her Head and Smiling

Onnellinen nainen hymyilee. (“A happy woman smiles.”)

Describing the Weather

  • aurinkoinen (“sunny”)
  • pilvinen (“cloudy”)
  • sateinen (“rainy”)
  • sumuinen (“foggy”)
  • luminen (“snowy”)

Describing Colors

  • sininen (“blue”)
  • punainen (“red”)
  • keltainen (“yellow”)
  • vihreä (“green”)
  • oranssi (“orange”)
  • violetti (“purple”)
  • valkoinen (“white”)
  • musta (“black”)
  • harmaa (“gray”)

Visit our Most Common Adjectives list to expand your Finnish vocabulary even more.

Colorful Stationery

Värikkäät kirjoitustarvikkeet (“Colorful stationery”)

6. Conjunctions

Conjunctions are words that link other words or phrases together. You can get pretty far with the commonly used Finnish conjunctions below. 

  • ja (“and”)

    tyttö ja poika (“a girl and a boy”)

  • tai / vai (“or”)

    Haluatko teetä vai kahvia? (“Do you want tea or coffee?”)

    Otatko sokeria tai kermaa? (“Do you take sugar or cream?”)

    When asking questions, use vai when you expect the listener to choose one of the options. Use tai when the listener can pick any, all, or none of the options. When making statements, you can only use tai.

  • jos (“if”)

    Soita minulle, jos haluat jutella. (“Call me if you want to chat.”)

  • koska (“because”) When asking questions, use vai when you expect the listener to choose one of the options. Use tai when the listener can pick any, all, or none of the options. When making statements, you can only use tai.

    Juoksen, koska minulla on kiire. (“I’m running because I’m in a hurry.”)

  • mutta (“but”) When asking questions, use vai when you expect the listener to choose one of the options. Use tai when the listener can pick any, all, or none of the options. When making statements, you can only use tai.

    Tunnen hänet, mutta en kovin hyvin. (“I know him/her, but not very well.”)

  • että (“that”) When asking questions, use vai when you expect the listener to choose one of the options. Use tai when the listener can pick any, all, or none of the options. When making statements, you can only use tai.

    Olen varma, että pystyt siihen. (“I am sure that you can do it.”)

A Guy Running in the Forest

Juoksen, koska minulla on kiire. (“I’m running because I’m in a hurry.”)

7. Cultural Vocabulary: Finnish Holidays

Finally, the home stretch. So, let’s get festive and learn the names of some of the most popular holidays and celebrations in Finland!

  • uusivuosi (“New Year”)
  • laskiainen (“Shrovetide”)
  • ystävänpäivä (“Valentine’s Day”)
  • pääsiäinen (“Easter”)
  • vappu (“May Day”)
  • juhannus (“Midsummer”)
  • pyhäinpäivä (“All Hallows Day”)
  • itsenäisyyspäivä (“Independence Day”)
  • joulu (“Christmas”)

If you’re curious about Finnish holiday traditions, make sure you check out our Video Culture Class!

Santa Claus Holding Presents at His Feet

Joulupukki vierailee lasten luona jouluaattona.
(“Santa Claus visits children on Christmas Eve.”)

8. Lopuksi

In this guide, we covered over 200 useful words in Finnish for beginners, from essential pronouns and common nouns to the most important everyday verbs. If you can memorize the core vocabulary included here, you’ll create a solid foundation for all your further studies. Tip: Repetition is vital to committing vocabulary to long-term memory, so feel free to bookmark this page!

Did we miss any words that you expected to see here? Your questions and comments help other learners too, so feel free to share your thoughts with us below.

FinnishPod101 has a lot of free resources for you to explore, including vocabulary lists that cover a vast range of topics. If you’re not sure where to start, you can’t go wrong with our curated lesson pathways for Absolute Beginners and Beginners.

Happy learning on FinnishPod101.com!

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

The Top 10 Finnish Filler Words

Thumbnail

If you’ve spent some time learning another language, you’ll know that spoken language can be very different from the standard form. Finnish learners in particular quickly notice how many words are shortened and “streamlined” in informal Finnish.

Spoken Finnish is also often littered with small, seemingly meaningless words. These “filler words” are rarely included in any academic curriculums, but they do matter—it can be hard to follow a conversation in Finnish if you’re not familiar with them.

In this article, we’ll introduce some of the most common Finnish filler words and phrases so that you can start spotting them when listening to native speakers. We’ll also guide you on how to use them yourself to make your spoken Finnish sound more natural. And finally, we’ll discuss the cons of filler words and the situations in which it’s best to avoid them.

A Woman with a Thoughtful Look on Her Face.

Using filler words gives you time to think.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Why do we use filler words?
  2. The Top 10 Finnish Filler Words
  3. The Pros and Cons of Filler Words
  4. Lopuksi

1. Why do we use filler words?

In this section, we’ll discuss what filler words are and why they’re used in spoken language.

1 – What are filler words?

When we take part in a discussion, we rarely plan the exact sequence of words that we’re going to use before we open our mouths. Therefore, it’s natural to pause briefly from time to time as we search for the right words while speaking.

Täytesanat (“filler words”) is a term used to classify all those relatively meaningless sounds, words, and small phrases that people use to fill the pauses in their speech. In fact, they can be removed from a sentence without changing its meaning. But that’s not to say that they serve no real purpose at all—as you’ll see below.

2 – Why do we use them?

Filler words can do a lot of things! For example:

  • They can give you a moment to think about what you’re going to say next, while signaling to others that you haven’t finished talking yet.
  • They can be used to let others know that you want to say something while someone else is still talking—a bit like putting your hand up in a classroom!
  • They can give others clues about how to interpret what you’re saying by indicating enthusiasm or uncertainty, for example.
  • They can help you be more diplomatic and polite when expressing your views.

Are you eager to get better at conversing in Finnish? Then let us teach you the Top 10 Conversational Phrases, Must-Know Expressions for Agreeing and Disagreeing, and How to Use Small Talk Phrases. You’re welcome.

2. The Top 10 Finnish Filler Words

In this section, we’ll introduce ten commonly used Finnish conversation filler words. While there is good correspondence between many Finnish and English filler words, it’s not an exact science, and the meaning of a filler word can change depending on the context. We’ll give alternative English translations and demonstrate different uses in our example sentences where possible.

Note that since filler words are primarily a part of spoken Finnish, they may have quite a few variations. Don’t worry; we’ll alert you when this is the case! And speaking of spelling, since spoken Finnish can be confusing to the uninitiated (by bending grammar rules, for instance), our example sentences are in standard Finnish.

#1 Öö (“Um” / “Uh” / “Err”)

Öö (“um” / “uh” / “err”) is the sound Finns often use when they aren’t sure what they want to say or are searching for the right word. It can also be used to express confusion or disbelief. This filler can appear at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence.

  • Mitä syötäisiin tänään? (“What should we eat today?”)
  • Syödään vaikka, öö… makaronilaatikkoa. (“How about we eat, um… macaroni casserole.”)
  • Näin viime yönä kummituksen! (“I saw a ghost last night!”)
  • Öö… oletko ihan varma? (“Err… are you absolutely sure?”)
Finnish Macaroni Casserole.

Syödään vaikka, öö… makaronilaatikkoa. (“How about we eat, um…macaroni casserole.”)

#2 Tuota (“Well” / “Actually”)

Tuota has a lot of variations. For example: tuota noin, tota, tota noi, tota nii, and so on…

As a filler word, tuota doesn’t mean anything, but it usually serves the same function as the English filler words “well” and “actually.” That is, it fills a pause when you’re thinking about what to say. Note that tuota is also the partitive form of the demonstrative pronoun tuo (“that”), though a pause or hesitation will usually make it clear that tuota is being used as a filler.

  • Tykkäsitkö eilisestä elokuvasta? (“Did you like yesterday’s film?”)
  • Se oli, tuota, parempi kuin mitä oletin. (“It was, well, better than what I expected.”)
  • Voisimmeko jutella? (“Could we talk?”)
  • Tuota… minulla on aika kiire juuri nyt. (“Actually… I’m a bit busy just now.”)

#3 Niinku (“Like”)

Niinku is the colloquial form of niin kuin (“like”). You can use this ubiquitous Finnish filler when you’re thinking of what to say next or to emphasize what you’re saying.

  • Se oli niinku huonoin kirja minkä olen ikinä lukenut. (“It was like the worst book I’ve ever read.”)

A word of caution: niinku appears on the MeNaiset magazine’s 2019 list of the most annoying words in the Finnish language. In fact, some people abhor the liberal use of niinku so much that there’s now a term to describe its overuse: ninkutus.

Excessive use of niinku would look something like this:Naapurin kissa käveli niinku suoraan ovesta sisään ja meni niinku nukkumaan meidän sohvalle. Nauroin niinku ainakin viisi minuuttia. (“The neighbor’s cat walked like straight in through the door and like went to sleep on our sofa. I laughed for like five minutes at least.”)

Woman Covers Her Ears

Beware, some Finns can’t stand niinku.

#4 Noni

Noni (also: no niin, nonni, nonnih, nonii, nonnii, and so on) is such a wonderful and versatile Finnish filler word that it should really have its own article. Alas, we’re only going to scratch the surface here.

The most fun thing about noni is that it can be used in almost any context. Whether you’re delighted or frustrated, proud or disappointed, you can begin with noni to set the tone of what you’re about to say.

  • Noni, pitihän se arvata! (“Right, should’ve guessed!”)
  • Noni, minähän sanoin sinulle! (“See, I told you!”)
  • Noni, yritähän keskittyä. (“Come on, try to focus.”)
  • Noni, hienosti tehty! (“Awesome, well done!”)
  • Noni, aloitetaan. (“Alright, let’s get started.”)

Using this Finnish filler is an art form, and once you’ve mastered it, you’ve reached the next level of Finnish! Listening to and imitating native Finns is the best way to get the stress and vowel length just right, but to help you get started, see our handy little infographic on using noni or watch stand-up comedian Ismo Leikola explain it.

#5 Siis (“So” / “Actually” / “Wait”)

Siis is another Finnish filler word with a variety of potential uses and it could be translated as “so,” “actually,” or “what” depending on the context. It can be used when you need to repeat yourself or clarify something, to emphasize what you’re saying, or to express disbelief.

  • Siis Esa lähti jo? (“So Esa left already?”)
  • Meillä on siis ihan hyvä syy olla täällä. (“We actually have a pretty good reason to be here.”)

Siis mitä?! (“Wait, what?!”)

A Surprised Boy with His Mouth Open

Siis mitä?! (“Wait what?!”)

#6 Kato (“Look”)

Kato is a colloquial form of katso (“look”). It’s commonly used when expressing an opinion or pointing out something the other person may not have considered. 

The particles -han and -pa are commonly attached to kato. In the examples below, -han expresses surprise while -pa softens the directness of the imperative.

  • Kato, makuasioista ei voi kiistellä. (“Look, there’s no accounting for taste.”)
  • Katohan, olin oikeassa sittenkin. (“Look, I was right after all.”)
  • Katopa, jos haluat menestyä, sinun pitää tehdä töitä sen eteen. (“Look, if you want to succeed, you have to work for it.”)

Read more about the uses of the Finnish particles -han and -pa on Wiktionary.

#7 Kuule (“Listen” / “Listen up”)

Kuule literally means “hear,” but it’s used like the English word “listen” and is more or less interchangeable with kato (“look”). The particles -pa and -han can also be attached to kuule.

  • Kuule, minua ei voisi vähempää kiinnostaa. (“Listen, I couldn’t care less.”)
  • Kuulepa, nyt on aika toimia! (“Listen up, now’s the time to act.”)
  • Kuulehan Sirpa, älä vertaa itseäsi muihin. (“Listen Sirpa, don’t compare yourself to others.”)

#8 Ootas ny (“Hold on”)

Ootas ny is a colloquial form of odota nyt (literally: “wait now”). You can use it when you’re trying to remember something or when you’re considering the answer to a question, for example.

  • Milloin kesäloma alkaa? (“When does the summer holiday begin?”)
  • Ootas ny… Oliko se 28. (kahdeskymmeneskahdeksas) päivä? (“Hold on… Was it the 28th?”)
  • Missä sakset ovat? (“Where are the scissors?”)
  • Ootas ny… Käytin niitä vasta vähän aikaa sitten. (“Hold on… I used them only a little while ago.”)

#9 Tiiäkkö (“You know” / “You know what”)

Tiiäkkö and tiätsä are colloquial forms of tiedätkö and tiedätkö sinä (literally: “Do you know?”). As a filler word, they can be used to emphasize a statement or to get someone’s attention.

  • Sukeltaminen on tosi hauskaa, tiiäkkö! (“Diving is really fun, you know!”)
  • Tiiäkkö, olen päättänyt muuttaa maalle. (“You know what, I’ve decided to move to the country.”)

Tiätsä Panu, ei kannata odottaa liian pitkään. (“You know what Panu, it’s not good to wait too long.”)

Two People Diving

Sukeltaminen on tosi hauskaa, tiiäkkö. (“Diving is really fun, you know.”)

#10 Tai jotai (“Or something”)

Tai jotai is the colloquial form of tai jotain (“or something”). It’s usually tagged at the end of a statement to indicate a sense of vagueness. You may also hear a longer version: tai jotai sinne päi (literally “or something in that direction”).

  • Lähetä minulle tekstiviesti tai jotai. (“Send me a text message or something.”)
  • Ehkä Tertulla oli kiire tai jotai? (“Maybe Terttu was busy or something?”)

3. The Pros and Cons of Filler Words

Now that you’ve learned some of the most popular Finnish filler words, should you try to use them as much as you can? The answer is not a simple “yes” or “no,” so let’s take a look at some pros and cons of using filler words as well as when it’s appropriate to use the occasional filler in Finnish.

1 – Use Filler Words to Sound More Authentic and Considerate

In a relaxed setting, a native Finnish speaker is very likely to use filler words. Therefore, using Finnish filler words can help your Finnish sound significantly more natural and authentic. This, in turn, could really boost your confidence as you’re honing your conversational skills.

And that’s not all: Science suggests that using filler words and discourse markers helps you come across as a more considerate and thoughtful participant in a conversation.

  • If you’re working on sounding more like a native Finnish speaker, learning these Essential Idioms will come in handy!

2 – Why You Should Not Overuse Filler Words

Now for the reasons why you shouldn’t use filler words with wild abandon in just any situation…

Remember how niinku is considered one of the most irritating words in the Finnish language? Going overboard with any filler word can rub someone you’re chatting with the wrong way.

In formal situations, the use of filler words is often thought to signal insecurity or lack of knowledge, and can distract from your message. So if you’re in a job interview or giving an important presentation, it’s best to avoid them! You could simply embrace those silent pauses instead (which may admittedly take some practice), or learn some alternative phrases that sound far better than öö (“um”) while still buying time to think. For example:

  • Pieni hetki (“Just a moment”)
  • Katsotaanpa… (“Let’s see…”)

 And while we’re on the topic of things to avoid, here are five Finnish language mistakes you don’t want to make.

A Woman being Interviewed for a Position

Työhaastattelussa. (“At a job interview.”)

4. Lopuksi

In this guide, we explored the fascinating world of Finnish filler words; you learned what they are, why people use them, and which ones are most popular. However, our list of Finnish filler words is not exhaustive by any means. Which other ones do you know of? Leave a comment below and help your fellow learners!

The best way to master using Finnish filler words is to listen to native Finnish speakers as much as possible. This will improve your ability to understand the nuances in meaning. Then pick one or two of your favorites and practice using them in real life! FinnishPod101 is designed to make learning Finnish as fun and effective as possible. Our vocabulary lists and other free Finnish resources are a great place to start if you’re new to FinnishPod101. And if you’d like access to 1-on-1 coaching with a native Finnish teacher (to improve your understanding of spoken Finnish, for example), the doors to a Premium PLUS subscription are open to you!

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

How to Say “I Love You,” in Finnish

Thumbnail

We don’t choose who we fall in love with. Therefore, it’s entirely possible that one day, while you’re busy minding your own business, you’ll be swept off your feet by a charming Finn. Or perhaps this has already happened to you, and that’s how you discovered this guide? In any case, if you want to learn Finnish love phrases, you’ve come to the right place.

This article will teach you how to say “I love you,” in Finnish, as well as all the key phrases you’ll need at different stages of a romantic relationship—from asking a Finnish cutie out to planning your marriage proposal. We’ll also cover the most commonly used Finnish endearment terms and give you some cultural insights regarding love and romance in Finland.

By the way, if you’re already deeply in love with a Finn, you’ll be happy to know that falling in love can help you learn Finnish faster!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Confess Your Affection
  2. Fall in Deeper
  3. Take it One Step Further
  4. Endearment Terms
  5. Must-know Love Quotes
  6. Lopuksi

A Pair of Heart-shaped Balloons

1. Confess Your Affection

Has a beautiful stranger caught your eye? Have you got a crush on a handsome acquaintance? In this section, you’ll learn how to let someone know that you’re interested in them. Note that we’ll use the casual sinä (informal “you”) rather than the polite te (formal and plural “you”) throughout this guide.

Finnish people aren’t quite as taciturn as the national stereotype would have you believe, but you can expect them to be more reserved than, say, your typical American or Italian. Don’t let that discourage you—just be honest and real (and prepared to carry the conversation for a bit) when you approach a Finn, and you’re likely to make a favorable first impression. And ladies: It’s considered fine for a woman to make the first move!

Here’s how to ask someone to join you on the dance floor, tell them that you like their smile, or ask them if they’re already taken:

  • Haluaisitko tanssia kanssani? (“Would you like to dance with me?”)
  • Voinko tarjota sinulle drinkin? (“Can I get you a drink?”)
  • Sinulla on kaunis hymy / kauniit silmät. (“You have a beautiful smile / beautiful eyes.”)
  • Olet todella mukava / kaunis / komea. (“You’re really nice / beautiful / handsome.”)
  • Onko sinulla poikaystävää / tyttöystävää? (“Do you have a boyfriend / a girlfriend?”)
  • Oletko sinkku / varattu? (“Are you single / taken?”)

How did it go? If you’ve been having a good time together, go ahead and tell them that you’d like to see them again:

  • Olisi kiva nähdä sinut uudestaan. (“It would be nice to see you again.”)
  • Haluaisin viettää enemmän aikaa kanssasi. (“I’d like to spend more time with you.”)
  • Haluaisin tutustua sinuun paremmin. (“I’d like to get to know you better.”)
  • Vaihdetaanko numeroita? (“Shall we exchange numbers?”)
  • Voinko soittaa sinulle? (“Can I call you?”)
  • Oletko vapaa huomenna? (“Are you free tomorrow?”)
  • Lähtisitkö joskus kanssani syömään / kahville / kävelylle? (“Would you like to go out for a meal / a coffee / a walk with me sometime?”)

Finally, to ensure that you and your love interest are on the same page, here are a few Finnish dating verbs defined:

  • Käydä treffeillä (“to go on dates”)
  • Tapailla (“to see each other casually”)
  • Seurustella (“to be in a relationship,” or literally “to socialize” / “to date”)

Be thoroughly prepared for that all-important first date by learning the Most Common Phrases You’ll Need for a Date and the 10 Most Romantic Ideas for a Date in Finnish.

A Man and a Woman Having a Drink Together

Vaihdetaanko numeroita? (“Shall we exchange numbers?”)

2. Fall in Deeper

Have you got butterflies in your belly when you think of that special someone? Perhaps you’re falling in love… Before you go and confess your feelings, it’s good to know that the Finnish word for “love”—rakkaus—is not used lightly. Just look at that strong rolled ‘r’ at the beginning, that terse double ‘k’ in the middle, and that sibilant ‘s’ at the end…it makes sense that such a powerful word is used only when it’s really meant! 

With that in mind, let’s first look at alternatives to saying “I love you.”

  • Pidän sinusta todella paljon. (“I like you a lot.”)
  • Olen ihastunut sinuun. (“I have a crush on you.”)
  • Olen hulluna sinuun. (“I’m crazy about you.”)
  • Minulla on ikävä sinua. (“I miss you.”)
  • En voi olla ajattelematta sinua. (“I can’t stop thinking about you.”)

If things get more serious and you’re ready to declare your love, there are a few different ways to say “I love you,” in Finnish (and to ask if they love you, too).

  • Minä rakastan sinua. (“I love you.”)
  • Minä rakastan sinua myös. (“I love you too.”)
  • Rakastatko sinä minua? (“Do you love me?”)
  • Olen rakastunut sinuun. (“I’ve fallen in love with you.”)
  • Rakastan sinua koko sydämestäni. (“I love you with all my heart.”)

To keep things interesting, here are some alternative ways to express your love in Finnish: 

  • Teet minut onnelliseksi. (“You make me happy.”)
  • En voisi elää ilman sinua. (“I could not live without you.”)
  • Olet todella tärkeä minulle. (“You are really important to me.”)

Did you know that the Finnish ystävänpäivä (“Valentine’s Day,” or literally “friend’s day”) is primarily a celebration of friendship? Discover more about how Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Finland on our YouTube channel in the video below (and learn 15 Finnish Love Phrases for Valentine’s Day while you’re at it).

A Couple Gazes into Each Other’s Eyes

Rakastatko sinä minua? (“Do you love me?”)

3. Take it One Step Further

If things are going really well with your Finnish sweetheart and you’re ready to take the next step in your relationship, this section is for you.

Let’s start with some key vocabulary:

  • Asua yhdessä (“To live together”)
  • Avopuoliso (“Live-in partner”)
  • Kosia (“To propose”)
  • Mennä kihloihin (“To get engaged”)
  • Mennä naimisiin (“To get married”)
  • Vaimo (“Wife”)
  • Aviomies (“Husband”)
  • Aviopuoliso (“Spouse”)
  • Perustaa perhe (“Start a family”)

Do you want to tell someone that you’d like them to meet your parents, or to suggest moving in together? Here’s what you can say:

  • Haluaisin esitellä sinut vanhemmilleni. (“I’d like to introduce you to my parents.”)
  • Haluatko tavata vanhempani? (“Do you want to meet my parents?”)
  • Haluan muuttaa yhteen kanssasi. (“I want to move in with you.”)
  • Muutetaan yhteen. (“Let’s move in together.”)

Are you ready to make the ultimate commitment and get married? In Finland, it’s more common for a man to propose to a woman than vice-versa. That said, if you’re a woman, you might want to pop the question on a leap day—according to a Finnish tradition, if a man rejects your proposal on a leap day, he’s obliged to buy you enough fabric for a skirt as compensation! Those in a same-sex relationship also have the option to get married if they wish, as Finland legalized same-sex marriage in 2017.

Here are a few different ways to propose:

  • Tuletko vaimokseni / aviomiehekseni / aviopuolisokseni? (“Will you marry me?” Literally: “Will you be my wife / husband / spouse?”)
  • Suotko minulle kunnian tulla vaimokseni / aviomiehekseni / aviopuolisokseni? (“Will you give me the honor of becoming my wife / husband / spouse?”)
  • Mennäänkö naimisiin? (“Shall we get married?”)
  • Vietetään loppuelämämme yhdessä. (“Let’s spend the rest of our lives together.”)

Visit FinnishPod101.com for even more Finnish Marriage Proposal Lines.

Many people in Finland start a family before they get married, and some couples with children never make their relationship official. Whatever you and your partner decide to do, here are two ways to express your desire to have children together:

  • Haluaisin hankkia lapsia kanssasi. (“I’d like to have children with you.”)
  • Perustetaan perhe yhdessä. (“Let’s start a family together.”)

What if things aren’t going well and you want to part ways? Bite the bullet and let them know with one of these common Finnish break-up lines.

A Man Kneels to Propose to a Woman

Tuletko vaimokseni? (“Will you be my wife?”)

4. Endearment Terms

The Finnish word for “endearment term” or “pet name” is hellittelynimi, which is derived from the words hellitellä (“to care for” / “to fuss over” / “to fondle”) and nimi (“name”). If you’re looking for the perfect Finnish pet name for your beloved, you’ll find both serious and silly ones to pick from in this section. Which of these sweet love words in Finnish do you like the most?

  • Rakas (“Dear” / “Beloved”)
  • Rakkaani (“My dear” / “My beloved”)
  • Kulta (“Gold”)
  • Muru (“Crumb”)
  • Höpönassu (“Silly face”)
  • Höppänä (“Silly”)
  • Söpöliini (“Cutie”)
  • Possunen (“Piggy”)
  • Pupu (“Bunny”)
  • Aarre (“Treasure”)
  • Sydänkäpy (“Sweetheart” / Literally: “Heart pinecone”)

It’s also common to create pet names by adding certain endings to your beloved’s name. The possibilities are endless! For example: 

  • Tommi + -liini = Tommiliini
  • Tessa + -kka = Tessukka

To discover more Finnish endearment terms and ways to create new ones, check out this article (in Finnish) on Ilta-Sanomat.

A Couple Embraces on a Beach

Oma pikku höpönassuni. (“My little silly face.”)

5. Must-know Love Quotes

Now that you’ve learned lots of useful love sentences in Finnish to help you navigate the key moments of your own love story, let’s see what Finnish proverbs and famous quotes say about romantic love.

1. Finnish Love Proverbs

  • Nauru nuorentaa, rakkaus kaunistaa. (“Laughter makes one younger, love makes one prettier.”)
  • Rakkaus on kuin sipuli: mitä pitemmälle kuorit, sitä enemmän itket. (“Love is like an onion, the further you peel, the more you cry.”)
  • Yskää ja rakkautta ei voi salata. (“One can’t hide a cough or love.”)

2. Finnish Love Quotes

  • “Minä en äiteliä puheita suvaitse. Rakkaus on tekemistä. Rakkaus on sitä, että pitää sanansa ja tulee ajallaan syömään.” (“I cannot abide sappy talk. Love is doing. Love is keeping your word and coming to eat on time.”)

    Arja Tiainen, author
  • “Rakkauden salaisuus on sama kuin uskonnon: molemmat ovat yhtä käsittämättömiä ulkopuolella oleville.” (“The secret of love is the same as that of religion: both are equally incomprehensible to those on the outside.”)

    Aino Kallas, author
  • “Miten paljon rakastettuasi rakastat, tiedät vasta, kun olet hänet menettänyt.” (“You will know how much you love your beloved only when you have lost them.”)

    Maria Jotuni, author

Do you agree with any of these statements? If you’re looking for more Finnish Quotes about Love, FinnishPod101 has got you covered.

A Happy Elderly Couple

6. Lopuksi

In this guide, you’ve learned how to say “I love you,” in Finnish. We’ve also explored how to flirt, how to ask someone out, and even how to propose marriage in Finnish. Do you know any other useful Finnish love phrases or cute endearment terms that we didn’t include? Leave a comment below and share them with the community!

If romance and love have gotten you interested in learning Finnish, we invite you to explore everything that FinnishPod101 has to offer. Why not get started with our free resources or learn how to pronounce words with our handy Finnish vocabulary lists? Remember that we also have a YouTube channel, a mobile app, and a Premium PLUS program that provides expert 1-on-1 tutoring to help you succeed in your studies.

 Until next time, happy learning and good luck! 

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

Finnish Negation: How to Form the Finnish Negative

Thumbnail

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

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

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

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

Ei. (“No.”)

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

1. Forming a Negative Statement in Finnish

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

1 – The Finnish Negative Verb

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

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

PersonSingularPlural
1.enemme
2.etette
3.eieivät

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

2 – Negative Present Tense

So how do we form the present connegative? 

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

Creating a simple negative statement looks like this:

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

3 – Negative Past Tense

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

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

Verb typeTake awayReplace with
1-a/-ä-nut/-nyt
2-da/dä-nut/-nyt
3-Ca/-Cä-Cut/-Cyt
4, 5, 6-ta/-tä-nnut/-nnyt

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

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

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

4 – Negative Perfect Tense

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

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

5 – Negative Past Perfect Tense

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

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

6 – Negative Passive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A Man with Tape Over His Mouth.

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

2. Negative Imperative

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Mother Scolding a Toddler.

Älä! (“Don’t!”)

3. Giving a Negative Answer to a Question

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

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

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

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

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

  • Ei kiitos. (“No, thank you.”)

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

A Woman Rejects Dessert.

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

4. Asking Negative Questions

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

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

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

Here are a few more examples: 

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

5. Other Useful Negative Words

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

 For example: 

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

 Here are more words to learn:

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

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

A Woman in a Yellow Top Looks Uncertain.

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

6. Negative Prefixes and Suffixes

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

1 – Prefixes

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

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

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

Ei- is also used as a negative prefix: 

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

2 – Suffixes

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

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

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

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

A Man with an Umbrella.

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

7. Negative Conjunctions

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

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

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

Eikä can also mean “and…not.”

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

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

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

Lopuksi

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

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

Happy learning!

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

Why study Finnish? 10 reasons to start learning today.

Thumbnail

Why learn Finnish? Are there any benefits to studying Finnish beyond that lovely sense of accomplishment you get when you master a new skill? There definitely are, and we’re going to discuss no fewer than 10 reasons to start learning Finnish.

To mention just a few, learning Finnish will expose you to a different way of seeing the world, provide opportunities to develop yourself, and open many doors—it might even help keep your brain healthy and make you happier!

Intrigued? Read on to discover even more perks of learning Finnish and whether studying it could be for you.

The Finnish Flag and Hands Forming the Shape of a Heart.

Will you fall in love with the Finnish language?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Finnish Table of Contents
  1. Gain insights into a fascinating culture.
  2. Connect and communicate with Finnish people.
  3. Enjoy Finnish entertainment on a whole new level!
  4. Have more fun traveling in Finland.
  5. Live in the happiest country in the world.
  6. Get a world-class education in Finland.
  7. Build a successful career in Finland.
  8. Give your brain a good workout.
  9. Have a giggle learning funny words and phrases.
  10. Get in on a secret: Finnish is easier to learn than you think.
  11. Lopuksi

1. Gain insights into a fascinating culture.

To have another language is to possess another soul. 

This quote is attributed to Charlemagne—and he may have been on to something. Learning a new language can open our eyes to help us see the world from a different perspective and expose us to new ways of thinking. Language is also the gateway into the heart of a culture, and if you’re fascinated by the land of sauna, sisu, and salmiakki (“salmiak liquorice”), learning Finnish is the most effective and rewarding way to truly understand this unique northern country.

For example, to learn Finnish is to appreciate snow in a whole new way. Finns have come up with quite a few specific terms for different types of snow. There’s the snow that you can mold into a snowman or snowballs (nuoska), the snow that clings to trees (tykky), the snow that covers the ground in a thick layer (hanki), and the snow that whips you in the face when it’s windy outside (tuisku). These are just a few examples, but curiously there is no Finnish term for “to snow.” Finns say sataa lunta (“to rain snow”) instead.


A Family Having a Snowball Fight

2. Connect and communicate with Finnish people.

This is one of the more obvious reasons why you should learn Finnish, but if you have Finnish-speaking family, friends, colleagues, or business partners, learning Finnish can improve your communication with them dramatically. This is true even if you’re interacting with Finns who speak excellent English, because—as we’ve already seen—learning a language makes it easier to understand different perspectives.

But what if you don’t know any Finnish people? Then maybe it’s time to remedy this situation and get to know a few! There’s no better ice-breaker than speaking a bit of Finnish when you meet a Finn, whether in Finland or elsewhere.

3. Enjoy Finnish entertainment on a whole new level!

Whether you’re into music, cinema, TV, or books, Finland has a lot to offer. 

Fans of heavy metal and hard rock know Finland for its music scene, which has produced numerous notable bands, from Ajattara to Stam1na. (Did you know that there’s even a heavy metal band—Hevisaurus—that’s specifically geared toward children?!) Nordic Noir aficionados will likewise be well-aware of Finland’s contributions to the genre, including the nail-biting TV series Deadwind and Bordertown as well as crime fiction penned by Antti Tuomainen and Kati Hiekkapelto. Film buffs may already have seen a number of Finnish films, such as Rare Exports and The Man Without a Past.

While it’s entirely possible to rely on subtitles when you watch a film, listen to music without understanding the lyrics, and wait for an English translation to hit the market before reading a book, you’re bound to get a lot more out of Finnish entertainment when you learn some Finnish. Incidentally, reading, watching, or listening to something in Finnish is also an excellent way to speed up your language learning!


A Rock Band with Four Members

Understanding the lyrics makes listening to music more meaningful.

4. Have more fun traveling in Finland.

Are you thinking of visiting Finland? If you are, learning some Finnish will make your trip easier, more immersive, and more rewarding. Finding your way around will be much simpler when you can read Finnish on signs and maps, decipher timetables, and ask people for directions. Likewise, you can feel more confident when ordering food, making reservations, and shopping for souvenirs.

Of course, interacting with locals is one of the most fun parts of traveling, and Finns will find it delightful if you speak even a little bit of Finnish. Knowing some Finnish will also help you navigate situations like going to a sauna for the first time. For example, if someone says Lisää löylyä! (“More steam!”), you’ll know that it’s your cue to get out quickly if you’re not ready to get any warmer!

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport

5. Live in the happiest country in the world.

Have you ever considered living abroad? Then you could do a lot worse than choose Finland: In 2020, Finland was ranked the happiest country for the third consecutive year. What exactly makes Finland such a happy place? It could have something to do with the following:

Safety

According to the Global Peace Index, Finland is ranked the 14th safest country in the world. Things that make Finland a safe place include low levels of organized crime, high political stability, and a lack of natural disasters.

Tolerance

Finland is also ranked the 2nd most liberal country in the world. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and equality are all important Finnish values.

Healthy Environment

Finland excels in the Environmental Performance Index as well: The country is ranked the 7th most environmentally friendly country in the world, while air quality and drinking water quality in Finland are the best in the world.

Are you ready to pack your bags and settle in Finland? In order to get a Finnish citizenship, you’ll need to get your hands on a National Certificate of Language Proficiency (YKI). And of course, you’ll find life in Finland much easier if you can speak Finnish.


A Smiling, Excited Woman

Feeling happy

6. Get a world-class education in Finland.

Perhaps you’re not quite ready to move to Finland permanently, but would like to experience living in the country nonetheless. In that case, studying in Finland could be for you!

Finland is a fantastic place for students, featuring one of the best higher education systems in the world and nine universities ranked among the top 3% in the world.

Other perks of studying in Finland include:

English-taught Degrees

Finland offers over 400 English-taught bachelor’s and master’s programs as well as doctoral degree options. 

Tuition Fees

If you’re a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen, studying in Finland is free for you! For other international students, course fees range between 5,000 and 18,000 euros per year, but most universities offer scholarships that help cover the fees.

Cost of Living

As a student in Finland, you’ll have access to affordable student housing, cheap meals on campus, and a plethora of generous student discounts, including significantly cheaper travel on public transport across the country.

Career Services

Most Finnish universities offer help with job searching and career planning to international students. A student visa allows one to work part-time and a one-year post-study visa allows graduates to stay in Finland while searching for a job.

Now you may be asking: “Why should I learn Finnish if I can study in English in Finland?” Well, you’ll have access to a wider range of courses if you know Finnish, and it will no doubt look good on your application form. And of course, you’ll also have an easier time throwing yourself into the fun aspects of student life, such as participating in extracurricular activities and making new friends.


Students High-five in a Library

Studying in Finland could be the best experience of your life.

7. Build a successful career in Finland.

Are your student days already behind you? Then working in Finland might appeal to you more. Here are just a few reasons to build a career in Finland: 

High Demand for International Labor

Many sectors in Finland are in need of more workers, and international recruits are in high demand in the healthcare and service sectors, for example. Visit the Occupational Barometer to see if your skills are currently sought after in Finland.

Support for Immigrants

New employees from abroad can often access support with integration. Language training is also usually offered by local authorities and/or employers, either for free or at a low cost.  

Great Working Conditions

In Finland, employment security is high, and both equality and cooperation at the workplace are considered important. Employers also tend to invest in their employees, and further training and skill development are encouraged.

So what is the best way to secure a job in Finland? To learn Finnish! Almost all jobs in Finland require at least some knowledge of Finnish. However, once you’ve learned Finnish, your native language could be a great asset too, depending on the position!

Remember too that Finland is home to many internationally successful companies, such as Nokia, KONE, and Supercell, and learning Finnish could well give you an advantage in making connections and building business relationships with Finnish companies in your own country as well.


A Man with a Suitcase Climbing a Set of Pillars

Get ahead in your career.

8. Give your brain a good workout.

Want to keep your brain healthy? Then put away that brain training app and learn Finnish instead. Why?  Because learning a new language is to your brain what lifting weights is to your muscles. Activities like wrestling with grammar and memorizing vocabulary activate various parts of your brain, and they’re a fantastic way to improve and preserve your cognitive skills. A number of studies have suggested that learning and using a second language has multiple benefits for brain health, including:

Increased Brain Volume

Speaking more than one language has been shown to correlate with denser gray matter that has a higher number of neural connections, which are signs of a healthy, resilient brain.

Greater Cognitive Skills

Learning a new language can improve various cognitive skills, such as concentration, listening, attention span, multi-tasking, problem-solving, and recalling information.

Protection Against Degenerative Diseases

People who actively use a second language are likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later than their monolingual counterparts, and they typically also cope much better with the damage.

Finnish may be known as a challenging language to learn, but that makes studying it an even better brain workout!

A Brain Surrounded by Sketches

Learn Finnish—your brain will thank you for it.

9. Have a giggle learning funny words and phrases.

Here’s a reason to learn Finnish that’s not serious at all: Finnish can be really funny! The language is full of words that are either really fun to say or are so literal that they’re hilarious.

Try saying these words out loud and see if it brings a smile to your face:

  • lämpimämpi (“warmer”)
  • yökyöpeli (a person who stays up late, literally: “night ghost”)
  • herkkukurkku (a type of pickle, literally: “delicacy cucumber”)
  • pumpuli (“cotton wool”)
  • pöperö (“food,” colloquial)
  • töppönen (“bootie”)
  • pupu (“bunny”)

If you need help pronouncing any of the words above, take a look at The Only Finnish Pronunciation Guide You’ll Ever Need!

Now see if you can work out what these Finnish compound words refer to based on their literal meaning:

  • lentokone (“flight machine”)
  • hammasraudat (“tooth irons”)
  • huutokauppa (“shout shop”)
  • aamuyö (“morning night”)
  • tulivuori (“fire mountain”)
  • sukkahousut (“sock trousers”)
  • rannerengas (“wrist ring”)
  • vesinokkaeläin (“water beak animal”)

Finally, there are some pretty incomprehensible sayings in Finnish that might make you laugh. The exclamation Kauhistuksen kanahäkki! (“Chicken cage of terror!”) is definitely one of these gems.

A Woman Laughing while Reading a Book

Warning: Learning Finnish might cause bouts of giggling.

10. Get in on a secret: Finnish is easier to learn than you think.

Finnish is often said to be a difficult language to learn. But those who have already learned Finnish could tell you that it’s actually easier than you think in many ways!

For example:

Pronunciation

Learning to pronounce Finnish is a breeze. Finnish is a phonetic language, so there’s an almost perfect correspondence between different sounds and the letters of the alphabet.

Tenses

When studying Finnish, you don’t need to learn a ton of different tenses. In fact, Finnish even does away with the future tense—Finns simply use the present tense when talking about the future. 

Grammar

Okay, Finnish grammar is a bit of a beast—but it’s also a very well-behaved beast. In other words, Finnish grammar is usually very logical and there are few exceptions to grammar rules.

11. Lopuksi

In this article, we’ve given you 10 different answers to the question: “Why learn Finnish?” 

What do you think, have we convinced you that it’s worth the effort? One thing is for sure: We can’t think of a single downside to learning Finnish!

If you have decided to study Finnish and are wondering where to learn Finnish online, FinnishPod101 has all the resources you’ll need to master the language. Our teaching material covers grammar and vocabulary, and everything in between. Why not get started right away with our free resources? Our mobile app helps you take your Finnish lessons anywhere you go, while a Premium PLUS subscription gives you access to 1-on-1 tutoring with an experienced teacher and personalized learning content to help you get fluent fast.

Happy learning on FinnishPod101.com!

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

An Introduction to Finnish Tenses

Thumbnail

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

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

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

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

1. Finnish Verb Conjugation Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • puhutaan (“is spoken”)

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

1 – How Many Tenses are Used in Finnish?

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

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

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

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

Alarm Clocks Showing Different Times.

Tense is all about the timing of actions.

2 – Grammatical Moods

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

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

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

3 – Simple Tenses & Compound Tenses

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

When forming compound tenses, the auxiliary verbs are conjugated:

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

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

Simple tense (one verb):

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

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

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

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

4 – Finnish Verb Types

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

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


2. Preesens (The Present Tense)

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

1 – Present Tense, Indicative Mood

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

Here are a few examples:

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

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

A Hand on a Steering Wheel.

Ajan autoa. (“I’m driving a car.”)

2 – Present Tense, Imperative Mood

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

For example:

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

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

3 – Present Tense, Conditional Mood

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

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

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

4 – Present Tense, Potential Mood

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

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

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

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

5 – Time Phrases Used with the Present Tense

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

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

These time phrases often appear in statements describing habitual actions:

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

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

3. Talking About the Future in Finnish

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

1 – The Context

 Imagine that your friend says:

  • Ostan Ronjalle kukkia.

This could mean:

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

You can often figure out the meaning from the context:

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

Red Roses

2 – Time Phrases Used When Talking About the Future

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

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

4. Past Tenses

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

1 – Imperfekti (The Simple Past Tense)

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

For example:

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

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

Time Phrases Used When Talking About the Past

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

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

2 – Perfekti (The Perfect Tense)

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

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

 Examples:

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

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

A Couple Shopping in a Supermarket

3 – Pluskvamperfekti (The Past Perfect Tense)

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

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

For example:

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

People Standing in a Line

5. A Quick Conjugation and Auxiliary Verb Summary

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

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

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

6. Lopuksi

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

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

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

Happy learning!

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