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Slow Finnish - Chapter 3b - Puhun suomea

Mistä olet kotoisin? - Where are you from?

When you want to know from where someone is, you use the expression Mistä olet kotoisin?. To be able to answer this question, you will need to know the elative and ablative cases.

Elatiivi - The elative

The elative case is used when you want to say that something or someone is FROM some place. It expresses moving from inside to outside. The suffix used is -sta/stä.

  • Lähden talo-sta. I leave (from) a/the house.
  • Nousen linja-auto-sta. I get out of a/the bus.

You need the elative case to express from where you are.

  • Olemme Saksa-sta. We are from Germany.
  • Olet Ranska-sta. You are from France.

Ablatiivi - The ablative

The ablative case expresses removing something from the top of something. The suffix used is -lta/ltä.

  • Otan avaimet tuoli-lta. I take (the) keys from a/the chair.
  • Nousen lattia-lta. I rise from the floor.

In some exceptions, you need it instead of the elative to express from where you are. Apart from a few exceptions, these words refer to islands or to Finnish place names that end with the word -järvi.

Adessiivi - The adessive

Do you remember the inessive? It is used when something or someone is IN something.

  • Asun Ruotsi-ssa. I live in Sweden.
  • Olen Rooma-ssa. I am in Rome.

The adessive is used when something or someone is ON something. The suffix used is -lla/llä.

  • Avaimet ovat tuoli-lla. (The) keys are on a/the chair.
  • Istun lattia-lla. I sit on the floor.

When it comes to place names, it is sometimes used instead of the inessive to express being IN some place. Apart from a few exceptions, these are usually names of islands or Finnish place names that end with -järvi.

  • Olen Jamaika-lla. I am in Jamaica.
  • Asun Venäjä-llä. I live in Russia.
  • Asun Siilinjärvellä. I live in Siilinjärvi.


Valtioita - Countries

If the name of a country takes the inessive and elative and has no changes in the stem, I have not declined the name (for instance, Saksa, Saksassa, Saksasta). I have included continents and other areas in the list.

  • Aasia Asia
  • Afrikka, Afrikassa, Afrikasta Africa
  • Alankomaat, Alankomaissa, Alankomaista (plural) the Netherlands
  • Amerikka, Amerikassa, Amerikasta America
  • Arabia Arabia
  • Argentiina Argentina
  • Australia Australia (pronounced Austraalia)
  • Belgia Belgium
  • Brasilia Brazil
  • Chile Chile (pronounced tsiile)
  • Egypti Egypt
  • Espanja Spain
  • Etelä-Afrikka, Etelä-Afrikassa, Etelä-Afrikasta South Africa
  • Etiopia Ethiopia
  • Eurooppa, Euroopassa, Euroopasta Europe
  • Intia India
  • Irlanti, Irlannissa, Irlannista Ireland
  • Islanti, Islannissa, Islannista Iceland
  • Iso-Britannia, Isossa-Britanniassa, Isosta-Britanniasta Great Britain, the UK
  • Italia Italy
  • Itävalta, Itävallassa, Itävallasta Austria
  • Jamaika, Jamaikalla, Jamaikalta Jamaica
  • Japani Japan
  • Kanada Canada
  • Kenia Kenya
  • Kiina China
  • Korea Korea
  • Kreikka, Kreikassa, Kreikasta Greece
  • Latvia Latvia
  • Liettua Lithuania
  • Marokko, Marokossa, Marokosta Morocco
  • Meksiko Mexico
  • Norja Norway
  • Portugali Portugal
  • Puola Poland
  • Ranska France
  • Romania Romania
  • Ruotsi Sweden
  • Saksa Germany
  • Serbia Serbia
  • Slovakia Slovakia
  • Slovenia Slovenia
  • Somalia Somalia
  • Suomi, Suomessa, Suomesta Finland
  • Sveitsi Switzerland
  • Tanska Denmark
  • Tsekki, Tsekissä, Tsekistä the Czech Republic
  • Tunisia Tunisia
  • Turkki, Turkissa, Turkista Turkey
  • Unkari Hungary
  • Viro Estonia
  • Venäjä, Venäjällä, Venäjältä Russia
  • Yhdysvallat, Yhdysvalloissa, Yhdysvalloista (plural) the United States

I know that in English Great Britain and the UK are not the same thing, but in Finnish they usually are. However, if you want to be specific, you can use Yhdistynyt kuningaskunta (Yhdistyneessä kuningaskunnassa, Yhdistyneestä kuningaskunnasta) for the United Kingdom, but be prepared for no one understanding about what country you are talking.

Should you find Yhdysvallat a bit of a mouthful, you can use Amerikka. You can also call it USA (pronounced uuesaa). Notice that you need a colon to decline this word: USA:ssa, USA:sta.

About stem changes. When a word ends in -tt-, -pp- or -kk- followed by a single vowel, the double consonants become single consonants. If the double consonant is followed by more than one vowel, the stem does not change.

  • Afrikka, Afrikassa, Afrikasta
  • Eurooppa, Euroopassa, Euroopasta
  • rotta, rotassa, rotasta a/the rat
  • lattia, lattialla, lattialta a/the floor

If the word ends with -lt- and a single vowel, the -lt- changes into -ll-.

  • Itävalta, Itävallassa, Itävallasta
  • silta, sillalla, sillalta a/the bridge
  • kulta, kullassa, kullasta gold

If the word ends with -nt- and a single vowel, the -nt- changes into -nn-.

  • Irlanti, Irlannissa, Irlannista
  • pinta, pinnalla, pinnalta a/the surface
  • ranta, rannalla, rannalta a/the beach

If the word ends with -nk- and a single vowel, the -nk- changes into -ng-.

  • Olen Helsingistä.
  • Sangossa on vettä There is water in a/the bucket.

There are other cases of stem changes. I will discuss them later.

Harjoitus 1 - Exercise 1

Käännä englanniksi. - Translate into English.

  • Asun Suomessa, mutta olen Ruotsista. (mutta but)
  • Asut Yhdysvalloissa, mutta olet Jamaikalta.
  • Olemme kotoisin Unkarista.
  • He ovat Tampereelta.
  • Sandra asuu Lontoossa, mutta hän on Liverpoolista.
  • Olette Tanskasta.
  • He ovat Venäjältä.
  • Olemme Italiasta, mutta asumme Brysselissä.
  • He asuvat Japanissa.
  • Asumme Berliinissä, mutta olemme Puolasta.
  • Asun Lappajärvellä, mutta olen Kuopiosta.
  • Olet lomalla Espanjassa.
  • Opiskelen Pariisissa.
  • Suomi on Euroopassa.

Harjoitus 2 - Exercise 2

Käännä suomeksi. - Translate into Finnish.

  • I am on holiday in Brazil.
  • We are from Russia, but we live in the United States.
  • You (singular) are from New York, but you live in Washington.
  • They are from Iceland.
  • Where are you from?
  • I live in Helsinki, but I am from Siilinjärvi.
  • We live in Germany, but we are from Turkey.
  • Egypt is in Africa.
  • Austria is in Europe.
  • Brussels is in Belgium.
  • You (plural) live in Rome, but you are from Canada.
  • China is in Asia.
  • I live in Lissabon, but I am from Oslo.
  • We are on holiday in Greece.
  • I am from Kiev, but I live in Moscow.
  • We live in Florence, but we are from Athens.

Harjoitus 3 - Exercise 3

Esittele itsesi kommenteissa. Minä aloitan. - Introduce yourself in the comments. I will begin.

  • Minun nimeni on Mari.
  • Olen 34-vuotias.
  • Olen suomalainen. / Olen (kotoisin) Suomesta.
  • Minä asun Helsingissä, mutta olen Savosta.

Let me know what you thought about the lesson. If you have questions or suggestions please comment below. Here is a link to the previous lessons: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/10579104


September 22, 2015




Harjoitus 1

  • I live in Finland, but I am from Sweden.
  • You live in the United States, but you are from Jamaica. (singular)
  • We are from Hungary.
  • They are from Tampere.
  • Sandra lives in London, but she is from Liverpool.
  • You are from Denmark. (plural)
  • They are from Russia.
  • We are from Italy, but we live in Brussels.
  • They live in Japan.
  • We live in Berlin, but we are from Poland.
  • I live in Lappajärvi, but I am from Kuopio.
  • You are on holiday in Spain. (singular)
  • I study in Paris.
  • Finland is in Europe.

Harjoitus 2

  • Olen lomalla Brasiliassa.
  • Olemme Venäjältä, mutta asumme Yhdysvalloissa.
  • Olet New Yorkista, mutta asut Washingtonissa.
  • He ovat (kotoisin) Islannista.
  • Mistä olet kotoisin?
  • Asun Helsingissä, mutta olen Siilinjärveltä.
  • Asumme Saksassa, mutta olemme Turkista.
  • Egypti on Afrikassa.
  • Itävalta on Euroopassa.
  • Bryssel on Belgiassa.
  • Asutte Roomassa, mutta olette Kanadasta.
  • Kiina on Aasiassa.
  • Asun Lissabonissa, mutta olen Oslosta.
  • Olemme lomalla Kreikassa.
  • Olen Kiovasta, mutta asun Moskovassa.
  • Asumme Firenzessä, mutta olemme Ateenasta.


Hei! Minun nimeni on Lydia. Olen kaksitoista vuotias ja olen Afrikasta. Asun Englannissa ja opiskelen suomea :) Hauska tutustua!

Euroo''pasta'' :D


Yeah, I see the pasta in Euroopasta too. :)


I've totally missed it, since it's not stressed much :D


Hauska tutustua! Mistä päin Afrikkaa olet? (From which part of Africa are you?)


Minun nimeni on Eva. Olen kolmekymmentäkuusi vuotta vanha. Olen tšekki. Asun Prahassa. Puhun tšekkiä, englantia, vähän saksaa ja opin suomea.



Hei, Eva. Hauska tutustua. :) Oletko aina asunut Prahassa (have you always lived in Prague)?


Hei, samoin. Kyllä, olen aina asunut Prahassa. Apart from those eight months I lived in the UK (as an au-pair), but that's ages ago. :)


Oh, and there are two words for "to learn" in Finnish. There is oppia, which refers to passive action: Opin suomea, koska luen paljon suomeksi. (I am learning Finnish, because I read a lot in Finnish.) Then there is the word referring to active action, opetella: Opettelen suomea, koska haluan ymmärtää sitä. (I am learning Finnish, because I want to understand it) This is why you should write opettelen suomea, not opin suomea. :) I hope someone sees this comment and explains it better.


A better translation to the first example would be I learn Finnish… instead of am learning.

Finnish verbs have a lot of suffixes/infixes that modify the meaning. A very common one is -ella (or when congugated -ele-). It's a frecventative suffix (I hope that's what it's called in English too :D). What it does is give the verb a meaning of continuous or repetitive action (generally, but it's a lot more too).

So oppia is to learn, once, with a clear beginning and end, for a short time, accidentally, without effort etc. (not all at once) and opetella means to spend time to learn, to make an effort to learn, to learn for a long period of time or repeatedly spend time on learning, it's a continuous or repetitive process without an exact end.

Another example: juosta to run

juoksennella to run around aimlessly (I bet you've seen the meme).

Yet another: kuulla to hear

kuunnella to listen (Can you see the how the suffix affect the verb here?)

Another: katsoa to look

katsella to watch


laulaa to sing

laulella to sing (for your own pleasure, to pass the time, without focusing, without the intent of definitely finishing or performing, maybe not very loud)


Thank you, this is interesting. Actually, the Czech language has a similar distinction in verbs (although not that regular), so I get the idea what you mean.

Yeah, now that I think of it, we also have a one-word verb that translates as "to run around aimlessly". But we won't build a whole sentence out of it. :)


Oh, but it works there just fine :) Actually in that sentence both verbs work fine, since some pairings don't have such a clear distinction (or not in all contexts).

There might even be some analogous (made following the pattern incorrectly, or the other verb is forgotten/not in use) ella-verbs without the other verb, although I can't think of any right now. Oh, wait… I just tought of one. Keskustella (to have a conversation) is such an example. There's no "keskustaa". The verb is clearly made from the noun keskus* (The centre) following the pattern.


Thank you, cc, for an excellent comment. I now regret using katsella valokuvia instead of katsoa valokuvia in the dialogue. :(


Zzzzz where did you use it?


Right in the beginning of Chapter 3a.


Good to know, thanks.


Kiitos! :)

Minun nimeni on Lisa. Olen viisitoista vuotta vanha. Olen saksalainen ja asun Saksassa. Puhun saksaa, englantia ja vähän ranskaa. Opettelen suomea ja italiaa.

I have one question though: What is the difference between opiskella and opetella?


Hei, Lisa! Opetella means "to learn" (lernen, sometimes üben; opetella lukemaan = lesen üben). Opiskella means "to study" (studieren), and it usually refers to studying at some sort of institution or attending a class. Some people use opiskella also in the meaning lernen, but you cannot use opetella in the meaning studieren: Opettelen yliopistossa (sic) makes no sense.


I'm already here, where I can write things :) Woo-hoo!

Terve! Minun nimeni on Eliza. Olen kaksikymmentäkahdeksan vuotta vanha. Olen puolalainen ja asun Białystokissa (did I write it correctly?). Puhun englantia, saksaa, vähän venäjää ja tietysti puolaa.


Hello, Eliza. Yes, you wrote it correctly. I did some digging and apparently the Golden Eye Bond girl is from your home town. :)


Minun nimeni on Kristoffer. Olen kolmekymmentäneljä vuotta vanha. Olen norjalainen. Asun Stavangerissa, mutta olen Oslosta.

Based on "Isosta-Britanniasta" shouldn't it be "Newistä Yorkistä"? But then again "Etelä-Afrikasta" is only conjugated on the last part. Is there any rule on when which parts are conjugated?


Hei, Kristoffer. These are really good questions. Directions/compass points do not decline when they are part of a name: Etelä-Koreasta (from South Korea), Pohjois-Koreasta (from North Korea), Länsi-Suomesta (from western Finland), Itä-Suomesta (from eastern Finland). This is because they are prefixes, not whole words. You can see this clearest in the prefix Pohjois-. The whole word would be pohjoinen. The other three prefixes just happen to look like the whole words. The first word of New Yorkista does not decline, because it is not in Finnish. Same applies to Los Angelesista. In other cases, the first word declines: Uudesta-Seelannista (from New Zealand). I hope that chirelchirel or someone else can confirm this.


Spotted a typo: Serbia Sesrbia


Terve! Minun nimeni on Angela. Olen 14-voutias. Olen Kolumbialainen (Is that how I say "Colombian"?). Asun Pereirassa, ja olen Pereirasta. Puhun englantia, espanjaa ja vähän suomea. Rakastan musiikki. Hauska tustua!


Hei, Angela! Hauska tutustua! It is kolumbialainen with a small k. :)


Oh, I always forget that


Is it a typo or did I miss the lesson where it explains why Austria is "Itävalta"? Shouldn't this be incorrect because of the vowel harmony?


The lesson on vowel harmony actually mentioned it in passing: "unless we are talking about a compound word". Itävalta is a compound word - itä means East, valta means state (among other things), so it's a translation of Österreich.


Thank you for covering me. I would add that the default translation for “(independent) state” is valtio. Valta usually means “power” or “influence”, although it can be used metaphorically. For instance, Yhdysvallat on suurvalta. = “The United States is a superpower.” (Vallat is the plural of valta, so “United Powers”!) :)


Terve! Minun nimeni on Silvia ja olen 23-vuotias. Olen italialainen. Asun Milanossa, mutta olen Aronasta. Puhun italiaa, englantia ja opettelen saksasta ja suomea. Hauska tutustua! (yep, I'm doing exercise 3 in the comments even if 2 years have passed since the lesson was posted :) )


Ciao Silvia! Piacere. Apologies for the late response. I have not spent much time on Duolingo the past 5 months apart from keeping my streak alive. I will answer any comment you may have made elsewhere, but it may take a while since I have five months worth of Duo messages to deal with.

You accidentally used the wrong form of saksa in your introduction. The partitive form is saksaa. Everything else in your comment is to a tee. Good work! :)

I am very glad you found my lessons. :)

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