Dialogue - Finnish



minä I
hyvä good
ja and
tutustua to meet, to get to know
tervetuloa welcome
olla to be
hauska pleasant, fun
päivä day

Lesson Notes


Lesson Focus

The Focus of this Lesson is Introducing Yourself
Minä olen Helen

"I am Helen"


You can use this expression to tell someone your name when you meet for the first time. You can also use it to express other things about yourself, such as your profession or your psychological/physiological state (happy, tired, surprised, etc.) This is one of the key phrases you need when you want to say something about yourself.




The pattern of this this expression is:

Minä olen A.

Minä is the first person singular pronoun, equivalent to "I." Olen is the first person singular form of the verb olla, "to be." We will talk more about verb conjugation in the next lesson. A is replaced by whatever you want to say about yourself, i.e. your name, profession, and so on.


Sample Sentences


  1. Minä olen Sari Lehtinen.
    "I am Sari Lehtinen."
  2. Minä olen opettaja.
    "I am a teacher."
  3. Minä olen iloinen.
    "I am happy."

Examples from this Dialogue


  1. Minä olen Helen.
    "I am Helen."
  2. Minä olen Liisa.
    "I am Liisa."


Note: this construction can be used to express some psychological and physiological states, but not all of them. For example, you will need a different construction to say you are hot or cold. We will get to those later.


Saying "Nice to meet you"

Saying "Nice to meet you" is a polite addition to introducing yourself. It is Hauska tutustua in Finnish. It literally means "nice to get to know." Just like in English, it is not a full sentence. There is only the adjective hauska "nice" and the infinitive verb tutustua "to get to know." You can also say Hauska tavata, which is literally "nice to meet."


About the "Declension stem" Column in the Vocabulary Table

As you may (or may not) know, few Finnish words always appear exactly the same when they are used in different sentences. Verbs, nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and numerals all take various endings. The word stem to which these endings are attached is not always the same as the infinitive (in case of verbs) or nominative (in case of the other word classes) form of the word, so you'll need to know the stem in order to attach the endings correctly. You do not need to worry about that in this lesson, but we will start gradually looking into that in the next few lessons, so it might be good to get used to the idea. We will provide the stems of new words as they come up.


Finnish Writing System

Finnish is written with the Roman alphabet, which makes it more accessible to those who speak European languages in general. However, the Finnish alphabet has three more vowels than, for example, the English one - åä and ö.


The k sound (like "c" as in cat) - is always pronounced /k/

Example: kissa ("cat")

The j sound (like "j" as in yes) - is pronounced /j/

Example: järvi ("lake")

The ng sound (like "ng" as in kengät) - is usually replacing the consonant pair nk, like in kenkä ("shoe").

Example: kengätlangat ("shoes," "threads")


The å is read as "Swedish o," or ruotsalainen O in Finnish. It appears in Swedish names in Finland, like Åbo or Åland and it's pronounced /oː/.

The ä sound (like "a" as in "cat") -is always pronounced /æ/.

Example: äiti, ääni ("mother," "voice/sound")

The ö sound (like "i" in "bird") - is pronounced /øː/.

Example: pöllö, löytää ("owl," "to find").

Finnish vowels are pronounced a little differently than the English ones.

A is pronounced like the vowel in the English word "car". It can be found in the Finnish word auto.

E is pronounced like the vowel in the English word English. "they". It can be found in the Finnish word hei.

I is pronounced like the vowel in the English word "me" or It can be found in the Finnish word kiitos.

O is pronounced like the vowel in the English word "boats". It can be found in the Finnish words orava (squirrel) and koulu (school).

U is pronounced like the vowel in the English word "you" with the diphthong ou. In Finnish, it can be found in tuuli or tuli.

Y is pronounced a little bit like the vowel in the English word "you". It can be found in the Finnish words kyllä or .

Another speciality of the Finnish language is the double vowel and double consonant phenomenon. These just become long sounds, and it is really important to notice the doubles because the meaning of the word changes often if one vowel/consonant is left out.

For example, kuka is "who" and kukka is "flower." Tuli is "fire" and tuuli is "wind."

Key Vocabulary & Phrases

Hyvää päivää ("Hello")

Hyvää päivää is a phrase that consists of the word hyvä, meaning "good," and the word päivä, which means "day." In this expression, they are inflected for case, but you can ignore that for now. We will look at the case later. Hyvä has pretty much the same meaning as "good" in English. It can be the opposite of evil, or good as in good taste. This greeting is somewhat formal, and it can be used pretty much most of the day, from around 11 am or noon until about 6 or 7 pm. Other time-related greetings include Hyvää huomenta, or "good morning," which you can use until noon, and Hyvää iltaa, or "good evening," which you use after around 6 pm.

All of these are used when you meet people, not when you part ways. When you part ways, you can say Näkemiin in formal situations, or Nähdään, or Hei hei, or Heippa, or Moikka in casual situations. When you part ways in order to go to sleep, you say Hyvää yötä.

You can omit hyvää from all these greetings with only a slight change in the politeness level. If hyvää is omitted from Hyvää yötä, the word yötä is often changed to the plural form: Öitä.


Cultural Insights

Finnish Introductions

Introducing yourself to a Finn is a rather straightforward process. Usually, you just need to say the appropriate greeting for the time of day, tell them your name using the Minä olen A phrase, and shake hands. Saying Hauska tutustua is a nice bonus, but not compulsory. In a business setting and other formal situations, a handshake is the way to go. In more casual situations, people may hug each other or have no physical contact at all. Hugging has become more common only in recent decades, and it is still something that is mainly done among relatives and good friends. It is also considered a somewhat feminine thing to do—men may hug women, but they do not really hug each other unless they have just scored a goal in an important match. A handshake, on the contrary, is rather formal, so it is not very common among friends, certainly not among young friends. Young people usually do not shake hands with each other.



Lesson Transcript

Gina: Hi everyone, Gina here! Welcome to FinnishPod101.com! This is Absolute Beginner Season 1 , Lesson 1 - Welcome to Finland!
Paula: Hei! I'm Paula!.
Gina: In this lesson, you’ll learn about how to greet someone and introduce yourself in Finnish.
Paula: The conversation takes place at the airport. We have a young Australian exchange student who has just arrived in Finland. The mother of her host family is meeting her at the airport.
Gina: They have never met before, so they will be speaking standard Finnish.
Paula: Okay. Let's listen to the conversation!
Gina: So, Helen came to Finland as an exchange student. What do you think happened between her and Liisa besides what we heard? Did they shake hands, hug each other, kiss each other on the cheek, or what?
Paula: They probably just shook hands. That’s the norm between people who don’t know each other well in Finland.
Gina: No kissing on the cheeks?
Paula: No, Finns don’t do that. Even hugging is mainly restricted to relatives and close friends, especially girls.
Gina: What about boys and men?
Paula: Well, they usually stick to handshakes among themselves, but they may hug women who are close to them. Friends usually don’t shake hands, though.
Gina: Hmm. Let me see if I can pull this together. If you don’t know the other person, shake hands unless you’re both young. If at least one of you is a woman and you are close friends, you may also hug one another.
Paula: Exactly. It’s also good to keep in mind that apart from formal situations, where you do need to shake hands, it’s often perfectly acceptable to keep your distance and just greet the other person. You can also let the other person go first and follow their lead.
Gina: Okay, good to know. Let’s get to the vocabulary now.
Gina: Let's have a closer look at the usuage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson.
Paula: This time we’ll only be looking at the phrase ‘Hyvää päivää’.
Gina: Literally, that’s “good day” in English, and it’s the standard daytime greeting.
Paula: That’s right. It has the words ‘hyvä’, or “good”, and ‘päivä’, or “day”. As you may have noticed, it’s not ‘hyvä päivä’ but ‘hyvää päivää’. The last vowel in both words is long. That’s because the words take a certain case ending, but we’ll look at that more closely in later lessons. For now, just learn this as a set phrase.
Gina: When would you use this greeting?
Paula: Well, you can use it for most of the day, maybe from 11 in the morning or noon until about 6 or 7 pm.
Gina: And what would you say in the morning?
Paula: ‘Hyvää huomenta’, which is literally “good morning”. You can say ‘Hyvää huomenta’ up until noon.
Gina: What about in the evening, then?
Paula: In the evening, you would say ‘Hyvää iltaa’. ‘Ilta’ is “evening” in English. When you’re going to bed, you say ‘Hyvää yötä’. Again, ‘yö’ is “night” in English. ‘Hyvää yötä’ is not strictly speaking a greeting, though, because you don’t say it when you meet people, only when you are going to bed or taking your leave late at night.
Gina: In the dialogue, Helen omitted the first word. Is that common?
Paula: Yes, it’s very common to say just ‘Päivää’, ‘Huomenta’, or ‘Iltaa’. With ‘Hyvää yötä’, though, you often say ‘Öitä’ rather than ‘Yötä’. ‘Öitä’ is the plural form of ‘yötä’.
Gina: Is there a difference in politeness?
Paula: Well, maybe a small difference, but nothing you should worry about, really.
Gina: OK, sounds simple enough. Let’s go to the grammar.
Paula: In this lesson, you’ll learn about the the phrase Minä olen A, which is literally “I am A”. First, we have the pronoun minä, or “I”. Then we have the first person singular form of the verb “to be” - olen. Last, we replace the A with our name or something else we want to say about ourselves.
Gina: How was this phrase used in the dialogue?
Paula: Both Helen and Liisa used it to tell the other person their name. So they said ‘Minä olen Helen’ and ‘Minä olen Liisa’.
Gina: OK. So how would you introduce yourself?
Paula: ‘Minä olen B’. I just put my name after ‘Minä olen’.
Gina: That’s simple enough. What else can you put in place of A?
Paula: Well, you could have your profession there.
Gina: So how would you say “I am a teacher”?
Paula: Minä olen opettaja.
Gina: Anything else you can have there?
Paula: You can also have an adjective there that describes your state, such as “happy”, sad, surprised, hungry, and so on.
Gina: I see. How would you say “I’m happy.”?
Paula: Minä olen iloinen.
Gina: Why don’t we have a little quiz for our listeners?
Paula: Sounds like a great idea.
Gina: OK, listeners! I’ll say a sentence in English, and you should try and say it in Finnish using this pattern. Say it out loud, because it’s very important to get into the habit of saying things is Finnish as early as possible.
Paula: We’ll give you a few seconds before I give you the correct answer.
Gina: OK, let’s go! First sentence - “I am Jukka”.
Paula: Minä olen Jukka.
Gina: Here comes the second sentence - “I am a doctor”.
Paula: Here’s a hint for you - “doctor” is ‘lääkäri’ in Finnish.
Paula: Minä olen lääkäri.
Gina: One more sentence - “I am hungry”.
Paula: A hint - “hungry” is ‘nälkäinen’ in Finnish.
Paula: Minä olen nälkäinen.
Gina: Well, how did you do? Did you get them all right?
Paula: I hope you did. Just remember the pattern ‘Minä olen A’, and you’ll be able to introduce yourself and say many more things about yourself.


Gina: That’s it for this lesson. Next time we’ll learn to talk about other people, so stay tuned. In the meantime, make sure to check the lesson notes.
Paula: Thanks for listening! Hei hei!