Wednesday, January 22, 2014

mielellään - mieluummin - mieluiten

How to say that you prefer something in Finnish? Or do something rather than something else? Here are some useful expressions with mielellään, mieluummin and mieluiten. All those forms origin from mieli. I think.

mielellään


The forms with possessive suffixes are mielelläni, mielelläsi, mielellään, mielellämme, mielellänne and mielellään.
  • Käyn mieluummin suihkussa aamulla kuin illallla. - I'd rather take a shower in the morning than in the evening. 
  • Menen mieluummin naisten vuorolla saunaan. - I'd rather go to the sauna when it's ladies' turn.
  • Istun mieluiten alalauteella. - I prefer sitting on the lower bench.
  • Tästä lähtien käyn mieluiten saunassa yksin. - From now on, I prefer taking a sauna alone. 

Other possible form is mieluimmin, but mieluiten is used more in spoken language.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Kuinka usein? Milloin viimeksi?

Here are some useful questions and time expressions. Try to use them next time you're having small talk in Finnish!

Kuinka usein sä käyt sun vanhempien luona? - How often do you visit your parents?

  • Kerran viikossa. - Once a week. 
  • Kaksi kertaa kuussa. - Twice a month.
  • Kolme kertaa vuodessa. - Three times a year. 
  • Joka kesä. - Every summer.
  • Tosi harvoin. - Very rarely. 
  • En koskaan.- Never.

Milloinkävit viimeksi sun kotimaassa ? - When did you last visit your home country?

  • Viikko sitten. - A week ago. 
  • Kaksi viikkoa sitten. - Two weeks ago.
  • Viime vuonna. - Last year.
  • Toissa kesänä.  - The summer before last summer.
  • Monta vuotta sitten. - Many years ago.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

näyttää - näkyä - nähdä - naida

If you don't have time to read the whole post, here's the idea in a nutshell: Pay very close attention to the pronunciation of näin, if you want to say I saw. It is awkwardly close to nain, which means I had sex. Here's the classic mistake:

  • Nain eilen Mattia. - I had sex with Matti yesterday.

Of course, it (probably) should be

  • Näin eilen Matin. - I saw Matti yesterday. 

These verbs are also often mixed:

näyttää, näytän, näytin, näyttänyt - to show something or to look like something

  • Sä näytät ihan sun äidiltä! - You look exactly like your mother!
  • Näytätkö mulle sun henkkareita? - Will you show me your ID?
  • Tämä näyttää pahalta. - This looks bad. 
  • Nyt näyttää siltä, että kohta sataa. - Not it looks like (it that) it will rain soon. (Notice the siltä before the että subclause.)

näkyä, näyn, näyin, näkynyt - to be seen, to be visible

  • Ilotulitus näkyy meille tosi hyvin. - You can see the fireworks really well from our place. (The fireworks are visible to our place.)
  • Näkyykö siellä ketään? - Can you see anybody there? (Is anyone seen there?)

nähdä, näen, näin, nähnyt - to see

  • Minä en näe sinua. - I don't see you. 
  • Näin sinut eilen keskustassa. - I saw you in the city center yesterday. 
  • Oletko nähnyt Villeä? - Have you seen Ville?

..and here's the one that you want to avoid:

naida, nain, nain, nainut  - to marry or to have sex

  • Haluan naida sinut. - I want to marry you. (sort of old-fashioned)
  • Haluan naida sinua. - I want to have sex with you. (vulgar) 

I've actually heard someone saying Oli kiva, että pomo nai minua  when she should have said Oli kiva, että pomo näki minut.  Also, an urban legend tells about a foreign boyfriend trying to have a small talk with his future in-laws by saying Minä nain eilen poroja

Notice that to get married is usually mennä naimisiin. A wedding is häät, although my 3-year-old daughter likes to used the horrible word naimisjuhlat. 




Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Looking for a nice French person

Etsitään kivaa ranskalaista!

Mun sisko asuu Fontainebleaussa ja se haluaisi harjoitella ranskaa joko lähellä sen kotia tai Pariisin keskustassa. Se voi auttaa sua suomen, englannin, norjan tai hevosten kanssa. Jätä kommentti, niin mä annan sulle sen yhteystiedot.

(My sister lives in Fontainebleau and she would like to practice her French either close to her home or in downtown Paris. She can help you with Finnish, English, Norwegian or horses. Leave a message in the comments, and I'll give you her contact information.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Intensive summer course in Jyväskylä

These are my sentences of the day:


If you'd rather go somewhere else than Jyväskylä, here's my updated post about other summer courses in Finland. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

kokous - tapaaminen - treffit

Notice the difference between these meetings in Finnish:

Kokous is the most official form of a meeting. Usually kokous involves more than two people.

  • Puhuttiinko kokouksessa ensi vuoden budjetista? - Was the next year's budget discussed in the meeting?
  • Kokouksen jälkeen on kahvitarjoilu. - Coffee will be served after the meeting. 

Palaveri is a more colloquial form of kokous. I've also heard people talking about paltsu. (Finns are really good at making annoying nicknames for everyday things.)

  • Onko tästäkin pakko pitää palaveri? - Is it really necessary to have a meeting about this, too?
  • Sopiiko teille ryhmätyöpalaveri ensi tiistaina? - Is it ok for you to have a meeting about the group work next Tuesday?

Tapaaminen is any kind of meeting between two or more people.

  • Meillä on tapaaminen kolmelta. - We have a meeting at three o'clock. 
  • Oliko teillä hyvä tapaaminen? - Did you have a good meeting?
  • Mulla on perjantaina ensimmäinen tapaaminen mun henkilökohtaisen valmentajan kanssa. - I'll have a first meeting with my personal trainer on Friday. 

Treffit can be a romantic date or just a meeting among friends.

  • Mulla on Elinan kanssa treffit Sokoksen edessä. - I'm meeting Elina in front of Sokos. 
  • Me oltiin Mikon kanssa treffeillä Figarossa. - Mikko and I went out for a date in Figaro.


Consonant change (in nouns)

The consonant gradation is a topic that hardly ever causes any joy in students. The consonants just seem to come and go as they want, and there's already enough annoying rules to remember. In short, it's all about the syllable structure: If a syllable ends with a vowel, it's open, and there's a strong grade in the beginning of the syllable, or between the two syllables. If a syllable ends with a consonant, it's closed, and there's a weak grade in the beginning of it. Here's a link where you can check out which consonant combinations change and how. The change happens only when the consonants are between the two last syllables of the word when the word is in the basic form. (Of course, knowing how the Finnish words are divided into syllables is another story.)

I'll demonstrate with kuppi, a cup, where pp alternates with p.
  • kup-pi = a cup (Strong grade in the beginning of an open syllable.)
  • 2 kup-pi-a = two cups  (Strong grade in the beginning of an open syllable.)
  • ku-pit = cups (Weak grade in the beginning of a closed syllable.)
  • ku-pis-sa = in a cup (Weak grade in the beginning of a closed syllable.)
  • kup-piin = into the cup (Wait. Here it goes differently, but why? Well, it used to be kup-pi-hin, and still is in some dialects. The syllable used to be open, so that's why there's a strong grade.)

I know, it's a bit confusing. And there's even a thing called a reverse consonant change! Then again, it's just one or two consonants, and usually people will understand you even if you'd say matot (rugs) instead of madot (worms). Remember that the consonant change only occurs with k, p and t. Don't try to apply it to all consonants, no matter how excited you get about it.

Here are some sentences organized according to whether the grade is strong or weak. The example word is sänky, a bed.

In singular, the strong grade is used in these four cases:

  • nominative: Tämä on mun sänky. - This is  my bed. 
  • partitive: Minulla ei ole vielä sänkyä. - I don't have a bed yet.
  • illative: Mennään sänkyyn! - Let's go to bed! 
  • essive: Käytän tätä riippumattoa sänkynä. - I use this hammock as a bed. 

All the other cases have a weak grade.

  • genitive: Ostin uuden sängyn. - I bought a new bed.
  • inessive: Kummassa sängyssä sinä haluat nukkua? - In which (of these two) beds do you want to sleep?
  • elative: Ota lakanat pois sängystä. - Take the sheets off the bed.  
  • adessive: Ei saa hyppiä sängyllä! - No jumping on the bed!
  • ablative: Tule alas sängyltä. - Come down from the bed. 
  • allative: Älä laita kenkiä sängylle. - Don't put the shoes on (to) the bed. 
  • translative: Oho, luulin tätä mun sängyksi. - Oops, I thought this was my bed. 

With plural, the nominative is weak and the genitive is strong.

Strong grade:

  • partitive: Onko teillä kerrossänkyjä? - Do you have bunk beds?
  • genitive: Tarkista, onko sänkyjen alla mikrofoneja. - Check if there are any microphones under the beds. 
  • illative: Menkää omiin sänkyihin! - Go to your own beds!
  • essive: Suomessa käytetään pahvilaatikoita vauvansänkyinä. - In Finland, they use cardboard boxes as baby beds.

Weak grade:

  • nominative: Pedatkaa sängyt! - Make the beds! 
  • inessive: He nukkuivat eri sängyissä. - They slept in separate beds. 
  • elative: Hotellivieraat valittivat sängyistä. - The hotel guests complained about the beds.
  • adessive: He olivat tanssineet sängyillä. - They had been dancing on the beds. 
  • ablative: Lapset olivat hyppineet sängyiltä sohville. - They had been jumping from the beds to the sofas.
  • allative: Sängyille oli läikkynyt punaviiniä. - Some red wine had spilled on the beds.
  • translative: Kenen sängyiksi te luulitte näitä? - Whose beds did you think these were?

Before anyone comments: Yes, I left out he weird cases. Feel free to come up with practical examples with


One more thing: Notice that sänky is actually pronounced [säŋky]. The weak grade ng is pronounced as in sängyssä,[säŋŋyssä]. It's called velar nasal.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Finnish pronunciation

Oh my. I just found this website when I was looking for something about Finnish pronunciation. It aims to have All the words in the world. Pronounced. I'm already hooked! You can both listen to the words and contribute to the site by recording individual words in your own mother tongue. It's very easy and fast to use.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

eli - joten - siis

Many Finnish learners overuse siis and sound more harsh than they probably mean to. Of course, sometimes you really need siis, but very often eli or joten would be better options.

Eli is used when you say something that you have already said before, or say the same thing twice in different words. You can also use that in a clarifying question.


Joten is used when there is a consequence between two actions or situations. Sometimes in spoken language, people use niin instead.

  • Meillä ei ole autoa, joten mä kuljen usein bussilla. - We don't have a car, so I go often by bus.
  • Mulla on aamulla kokous, joten mun pitää mennä aikaisin nukkumaan. - I have a meeting in the morning, so I have to go sleep early.
  • Tää baari menee kiinni, joten meidän pitää lähteä. - This bar is closing, so we have to leave. 
  • Tää baari menee kiinni, niin meidän pitää lähteä. - This bar is closing, so we have to leave. 

Siis is used in the beginning of a clarification or a clarifying question, or a over-dramatic (teenager) exclamation.

  • Olen lomalla enkä siis vastaa sähköpostiini. - I'm on vacation and therefore won't answer my email.
  • Siis kirjoittakaa teidän nimi paperin yläreunaan, ei takapuolelle. - So write your name on the top of the paper, not on the other side. 
  • Siis moneltako se juna lähtee? - So tell me again: what time does the train leave?
  • Siis mä en kestä tätä! - I cannot take this!
  • Siis mun on pakko saada tää laukku! - I must have this bag!

p.s. Here's the Facebook page of this blog. I don't post too often, but whenever there's a new post or when I have added something new to an old post. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What's funny in Finland?

Hyvää uutta vuotta! Happy new year, or, literally, have a good new year. If you live in Finland, do not miss the new comedy show Siskonpeti. It starts today on Yle 2 at 21.00, and it is said to be very funny. You can also watch it later in Yle Areena. Another funny tv show is Putous, starting on January 11. Hyvät ja huonot uutiset is also very popular.

If you want to know what kind of shows Finns were watching in the 80's and 90's, go to YouTube and search for classics like Spede ShowKummeli, PulttiboisLapinlahden linnut, Studio Julmahuvi or watch Fakta homma in Elävä Areena.