Sunday, April 12, 2015

How to get dressed in Finnish

Talking about getting dressed is surprisingly complicated in Finnish, or at least it is tricky for me in English. Luckily I had a Canadian friend over to help me with this! :)

Pukeutua (pukeudun, pukeuduin, pukeutunut) is to get dressed or to wear. This is an intransitive verb, so it doesn't get an object.

  • Älä pukeudu vielä. - Don't get dressed yet. 
  • Osaatko pukeutua itse? - Do you know how to dress yourself?
  • Kuinka niihin juhliin pitäisi pukeutua? - How should one dress for the party?
  • Miksi sinä pukeudut kuin teini?  - Why do you dress like a teenager?
  • Aiotko taas pukeutua naiseksi? - Are you going to wear a woman's outfit again?
  • Kuka oli pukeutunut parhaiten? - Who was dressed the best?

Pukea (puen, puin, pukenut) is to put on clothes or to dress a person. 

  • Pue jo se takki! - Put your jacket on already! 
  • Älä pue niitä kenkiä vielä. - Don't put those shoes on yet.
  • Minä voin pukea sinut. - I can dress you.

Laittaa (päälle) is also to put something on:

  • Mitä sä laitat päälle tänä iltana? - What are you going to put on this evening?
  • Haluatko sä laittaa hameen vai housut? - Do you want to put on a skirt or pants?
  • Sä et voi laittaa tuota hametta! - You can't put that skirt on!

Other clothes-related verbs that you might need:

To wear something is usually just having something onpitää or käyttää.

  • Mitä sillä oli päällä? - What was he wearing? What did he have on?
  • Oliko sillä hienot vaatteet? - Was he wearing fancy clothes? Did he have nice clothes?
  • Aiotko sä oikeasti pitää tuota hattua? - Are you really going to wear that hat?
  • Sä et voi käyttää noita farkkuja enää! - You can't wear those jeans anymore!

Sopia (sovin, sovin, sopinut)  is to suit, to fit and to match

  • Tuo sopii sinulle tosi hyvin. - That suits you really well. That looks good on you. (Yes, you can also say Tuo pukee sinua.)
  • Tämä paita ei sovi näiden housujen kanssa. - This shirt doesn't fit with these pants. 
  • Sopiiko tämä takki tämän hameen kanssa? - Does this jacket match with this skirt?

Mahtua (mahdun, mahduin, mahtunut) is to fit (as in being a suitable size)

  • Tämä ei mahdu minulle enää! - This doesn't fit me any more! (In Finnish, you can also just blame the piece of clothing and say Tämä on jäänyt minulle pieneksi. - This has "stayed" small for me.)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Referative construction

Did you know that you can avoid the conjunction että by using a structure with a VA- or NUT-participle? It's not used so much in spoken language, but it is very common in written language and for example in hospital reporting.

The first one is how you would normally say it. However, when writing, you can save space and time by dropping että, taking a VA-participle and adding a suitable possessive suffix.

  • Potilas kertoo, että hän asuu yksin. - The patient tells that he lives alone. 
  • Potilas kertoo asuvansa yksin. - The patient tells that he lives alone. 

What about if there are two different subjects?  If you have someone else telling what is going on, and you want to use the referative construction, you have to have the second person and the VA-participle in the genitive form, but you don't need the possessive suffix.

  • Poika kertoo, että potilas asuu yksin. - The son tells that the patient lives alone. 
  • Poika kertoo potilaan asuvan yksin. - The son tells that the patient lives alone. 

If something happened in the past, use the NUT-participle.  (Unfortunately, I still haven't written a separate post about it.) Notice how nut becomes nee before the suffix, which might be a bit confusing.

  • Potilas kertoo, että hän kaatui. - The patient tells that he fell over.
  • Potilas kertoo kaatuneensa - The patient tells that he fell over. (Actually, kaatuneensa can mean either kaatui, on kaatunut or oli kaatunut.)

Again, there can be two subjects. When using the referative construction, the second subject and the NUT-participle are in the genitive form.

  • Poika kertoo, että potilas kaatui. - The son tells that the patient fell over.
  • Poika kertoo potilaan kaatuneen. - The son tells that the patient fell over.

Here's a table that hopefully clarifies it all: 

  Which participle?
  One subject

  Two subjects


Potilas kertoo asuvansa yksin.                         
Poika kertoo potilaan asuvan yksin. 


Potilas kertoo kaatuneensa.  
Poika kertoo potilaan kaatuneen.