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Slow Finnish - Chapter 3c - Puhun suomea

Nominatiivin monikko - The nominative plural

The nominative plural is often (but not always) translated with the definite article. The nominative plural marker is -t.

  • päivä, päivät a/the day
  • kirja, kirjat a/the book
  • puu, puut a/the tree
  • tie, tiet a/the road
  • kello, kellot a/the clock
  • talo, talot a/the house

Let's open the can of worms! There are many stem changes in the nominative plural. Let's start with the ones we discovered while learning some of the locative cases.

Certain double consonants appearing at the end of a word change into single consonants when they are followed by a single vowel. These are -tt-, -kk- and -pp-.

  • tyttö, tytöt a/the girl
  • lamppu, lamput a/the lamp
  • tsekki, tsekit a/the Czech
  • kukka, kukat a/the flower

-lt- changes into -ll-.

  • ilta, illat a/the evening
  • silta, sillat a/the bridge
  • tasavalta, tasavallat a/the republic
  • kulta, kullat gold, a/the darling

-nt- changes into -nn-.

  • ranta, rannat a/the beach
  • hinta, hinnat a/the price, cost
  • lintu, linnut a/the bird
  • kunta, kunnat a/the municipality

-nk- changes into -ng-.

  • kaupunki, kaupungit a/the city
  • lanka, langat a/the string
  • vanki, vangit a/the prisoner
  • kenkä, kengät a/the shoe

Then to stem changes that we have not talked about yet. -lk- turns into -l-. Except when the -lk- is followed by -i, in which case the consonant cluster turns into -lj- and the vowel changes into -e-.

  • jalka, jalat a/the foot
  • nälkä, nälät a/the hunger
  • pelko, pelot a/the fear
  • kylki, kyljet a/the side, rib

-rk- changes into -r-. Except when the -rk- is followed by -i-, in which case the consonant cluster changes into -rj- and the vowel changes into -e-.

  • härkä, härät a/the ox
  • järki, järjet a/the reason, intelligence, sense
  • arki, arjet (the) everyday life, week days
  • kurki, kurjet a/the crane

-k- between two vowels disappears. In a few exceptions, the -k- becomes -v-.

  • sika, siat a/the pig
  • vika, viat a/the fault
  • vaaka, vaa'at a/the scale
  • kyky, kyvyt a/the abillity, talent
  • luku, luvut a/the number; chapter

-p- between two vowels usually (but not always) changes into -v-.

  • kipu, kivut a/the pain
  • rapu, ravut a/the crab, crayfish
  • tapa, tavat a/the manner, way, habit
  • lupa, luvat a permission

-mp- changes into -mm-. If the -mp- is followed by -i, the vowel changes into -e-.

  • kampa, kammat a/the comb
  • lampi, lammet a/the pond

-ht- changes into -hd-. If the -ht is followed by -i, the vowel sometimes changes into -e-.

  • vahti, vahdit a/the guard
  • sanomalehti, sanomalehdet a/the newspaper
  • tähti, tähdet a/the star

-t- between two vowels changes into -d-.

  • sota, sodat a/the war
  • koti, kodit a/the home
  • pato, padot a/the dam
  • riita, riidat a/the argument, quarrel

Words that end with -nen have a stem that ends with -se-.

  • nainen, naiset a/the woman
  • kukkanen, kukkaset a/the little flower
  • ihminen, ihmiset a/the humanbeing, person

-us turns into -ukset. However, sometimes -aus turns into -audet.

  • harjoitus, harjoitukset a/the exercise
  • vastaus, vastaukset an/the answer
  • rakkaus, rakkaudet (the) love

Sometimes words that end with -i, have the vowel -e- in plural.

  • tuoli, tuolit a/the chair BUT
  • lapsi, lapset a/the child, children
  • järvi, järvet a/the lake

There are two more words I would like you to recognise. These have an irregular stem.

  • mies, miehet a/the man, men
  • poika, pojat a/the boy

These rules apply to all the locative cases we have learned so far apart from a few exceptions:

  • päivä, päivässä
  • lamppu, lampussa
  • silta, sillalla
  • ranta, rannalla
  • kaupunki, kaupungista
  • jalka, jalalta
  • härkä, härässä
  • sika, siassa
  • lupa, luvalle
  • kampa, kammalla
  • sanomalehti, sanomalehdessä
  • koti, kodista
  • ihminen , ihmisestä
  • harjoitus, harjoituksessa
  • lapsi, lapselta
  • mies, mieheltä
  • poika, pojalla

Notice that Finnish first names do not necessary follow these rules.

Adjektiivit - Adjectives

Adjectives decline according to the same rules as the nouns. Here are some useful adjectives.

  • ruma, rumat ugly
  • kaunis, kauniit beautiful
  • sievä, sievät pretty
  • komea, komeat handsome
  • söpö, söpöt cute
  • hyvä, hyvät good
  • huono, huonot bad, of poor quality
  • paha, pahat bad, evil
  • pieni, pienet small
  • iso, isot big
  • suuri, suuret large
  • uusi, uudet new
  • vanha, vanhat old
  • nuori, nuoret young
  • matala, matalat low
  • korkea, korkeat high
  • pitkä, pitkät tall, long
  • lyhyt, lyhyet short
  • kuuma, kuumat hot
  • lämmin, lämpimät warm
  • kylmä, kylmät cold
  • märkä, märät wet
  • kuiva, kuivat dry
  • helppo, helpot easy
  • vaikea, vaikeat difficult
  • iloinen, iloiset happy, joyful
  • onnellinen, onnelliset happy, content
  • surullinen, surulliset sad
  • vihainen, vihaiset angry
  • mukava, mukavat nice (about a person)
  • kallis, kalliit expensive
  • halpa, halvat cheap

Notice that adjectives that end with -is in singular, end -iit in plural: Kaunis, kauniit; kallis, kalliit.

Harjoitus 1 - Exercise 1

Muuta monikkoon. - Change into plural.

  • pitkä päivä
  • kylmä ilta
  • helppo harjoitus
  • suomalainen kello
  • iloinen ruotsalainen
  • vanha mies
  • nuori tyttö
  • pieni poika
  • vihainen härkä
  • mukava nainen

Harjoitus 2 - Exercise 2

Käännä suomeksi. - Translate into Finnish.

  • The Russians live in Russia.
  • The men and women are on holiday in Spain.
  • The young girls live in Helsinki.
  • The birds are alive.
  • The beautiful women are from Finland.
  • The expensive clocks are from France.
  • The pigs are on the bridge.
  • The newspapers are on the chair.
  • The wet shoes are on the road.
  • The short persons are from Germany.
  • The cheap combs are from China.
  • The nice boys live in Tampere.
  • The beautiful lakes are in Canada.
  • The evil men live in Korea.
  • The new lamps are from Italy.
  • The houses are in the city.
  • The answers are in the newspaper.

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 23, 2015




Harjoitus 1

  • pitkät päivät
  • kylmät illat
  • helpot harjoitukset
  • suomalaiset kellot
  • iloiset ruotsalaiset
  • vanhat miehet
  • nuoret tytöt
  • pienet pojat
  • vihaiset härät
  • mukavat naiset

Harjoitus 2

  • Venäläiset asuvat/elävät Venäjällä.
  • Miehet ja naiset ovat lomalla Espanjassa.
  • Nuoret tytöt asuvat Helsingissä.
  • Linnut elävät.
  • Kauniit naiset ovat Suomesta.
  • Kalliit kellot ovat Ranskasta.
  • Siat ovat sillalla.
  • Sanomalehdet ovat tuolilla.
  • Märät kengät ovat tiellä.
  • Lyhyet ihmiset ovat Saksasta.
  • Halvat kammat ovat Kiinasta.
  • Mukavat pojat asuvat Tampereella.
  • Kauniit järvet ovat Kanadassa.
  • Pahat miehet asuvat/elävät Koreassa.
  • Uudet lamput ovat Italiasta.
  • Talot ovat kaupungissa.
  • Vastaukset ovat sanomalehdessä.


I'm back :) (the "simple" explanation became quite long, so I decided to start a new comment thread.)

The basics of consonant gradation: Consonant gradation applies to k, p and t (and some letters connected to them). It happens at the border of the two last syllables (and nowhere else!) when you add an ending, because the syllable structure of the word changes. As a result many words have two stems (the part of the word that the endings are added to) that are used with different endings. The nice thing is you always use the same stem with the same ending. (Well, ok, there's exceptions, but this is the basics we're talking about now.)

Here's what happens: if the last syllable is open (ends with a vowel) you use the strong form of the stem. If it's closed (ends with a consonant) you use the weak form.

strong : weak

kuk-ka : ku-kan stems: kukk- and kuk-

si-ka : sian stems: sik- an si-

So the cases where you use the strong form are (for the linguists): nominative (only plural), genitive, inessive, elative, adessive, ablative and translative. Another way to say this is -ssa/-ssä, sta/-stä, -lla/-llä, -lta/-ltä, -lle, -ksi and -t, -n. So an ending that starts with two consonants or consists of only one consonant. These are the only ones that have the power to change syllable structure.

(A little something about syllables in Finnish: A syllable always has a vowel in it and a syllable never has two of the same consonants in the beginning or in the end. So if you look at the endings again, they just can't form a syllable and therefore they affect the previous syllable.)

There are two types of consonant gradation:

1) (strong) kk, pp, tt-->(weak) k, p, t and

2) (strong) k, p, t--> (weak) -/v, v, d (k disappears or changes into v)

2b) assimilasion with n, m, l and r strong-->weak nK-->ng (pronounced ŋ) mP-->mm nT-->nn lT-->ll rT-->rr lKi-->lje * rKi-->rje *

*In these cases there are two changes happening simultaneously: the consonant gradation and the change i-->e. (I'll write about that another day if it's needed :) )

Do not change other double consonants. And other changes are not about consonant gradation.


no change after s (sk, sp, st)+ks, ts, tk and hk (usually)

some loanwords or colloquial words/kids language: auto, muki (a mug), äiti (also with gradation).

Now there are many more exceptions to these simple rules. There are words that have a weak stem in the nominative, but that's advanced stuff, and of course the consonant gradation affects verbs too, remind me to write about these things later.

I hope I didn't confuse you :) If I did, check out http://www.uusikielemme.fi/consonantgradation.html


Thanks. I think it helps a little bit, but still a lot of information to process.


Yeah, that's why I left stuff for later :) Just focus on k, p and t/kk, pp, tt close to the end of the word in the beginning :) You can come back here (or check the site I linked) for more information when you feel ready for it.


Yeah, that's roughly my plan. I already understand a bit more than I would have at the beginning, because I've already encountered and practiced some stem changes. I hope to get into it step by step.


I've read somewhere that Finnish grammar is pretty much regular and has few exceptions. This is not what I imagined. :)

It will take some time getting used to. Duolingo, we need you to help us with practice!

Anyway, thanks Zzzzz for being thorough again.


The changes can seem random, but there is actually logic there. It's all based on syllables and only affect a handful of sounds. I'm too tired now, but I'll try to remember to distill the rules later (in case someone else loves phonetics/morphology as much as I do :D).


Thank you, cc. You are indispensable. :)


Making this simple will take some time :D I'll come back to it later.


These rules apply to verbs as well, not just nouns and adjectives. So there is certain regularity about the rules. You just need to learn the cases that go with the rules, because certain cases have different stems. For instance, partitative, which I will discuss the day after tomorrow, has considerably fewer stem changes.


Maybe that's why the Memrise course I'm taking has started with partitive as the first case it teaches. I've already had some fun with plurals there too, because the words mies/nainen/tyttö/poika/ihminen are among the first words we learn there. Actually it made me laugh that one of the first sentences they teach (alright, lesson 3) is "I am not a human". Really useful. For us sci-fi fans at least. :)


and I think I have read somewhere that partitive is the most used case in Finnish since there are so many uses.


Luulen, että astevaihtelu on suomen kieliopin paras osa.


Miten kaunis lause! What a beautiful sentence! :)


From your response, it seems like I have not made a mistake? I am very glad if that is the case (Miten sanotaan suomeksi?)


Vastauksesi perusteella vaikuttaa siltä, etten tehnyt virhettä. Olen hyvin iloinen, jos tämä pitää paikkansa.


Was that a good ahhhhhh or a bad ahhhhhh? :)


A bad one. All those consonant changes! Help!


You do not have to learn them all at once. Just take the one's you are most likely to need, and start with those. Also, I intend to revise these things in future lessons. Good luck! :)


Thanks! :D

Looks like it's going to take some time to get all these different versions of consonant gradation into my head though. ;)


I am happy to see that you have caught up with the lessons. I will revise consonant gradation in future lessons. There are also a couple of cases, which I failed to mention. :)


I feel really stupid for being confused on something that now seems pretty simple. :/ I never looked up what accusative or nominative actually were until now, and never made the connection (While learning French, we just used "subject" and "object"

Just to make sure I understand it, can you check these sentences please?

Kello = clock

"Meillä on kellot" = "we have a clock" It's relating to possession so it tripped me up a bit with genitive but I think it's accusative plural yes?

"Se on minun kelloni" = "It's my clock" Genitive singular.

"Olemme kellot" = "we are clocks" Nominative plural

"Minulla on kellon, ja kellon on vaaleanpunainen" = "I have a clock and the clock is pink" Kello is in accusative singular.


"Minulla on kellon. Kello on vaalean punainen." = "I have a clock. The clock is pink" First sentence accusative singular. Second sentence nominative singular.

Tykkään kellot

Not really but it's a good word :)


Hello, FlyingDucks!

The -lla on structure is an exception to how things normally work. You use the nominative with it in singular. In plural, you use either nominative or partitive depending on what you want to say. The word order changes as well.

  • Meillä on kello. We have a clock.
  • Kello on meillä. We have the clock.
  • Meillä on kelloja. We have clocks.
  • Kellot ovat meillä. We have the clocks. (notice the verb!)

  • Se on minun kelloni. Correct! But it not the genitive but the nominative.

  • Olemme kellot . Correct! But the translation is "We are the clocks. "We are clocks" would be Olemme kelloja with the partitive.

  • Minulla on kello ja kello on vaaleanpunainen / Minulla on kello. Kello on vaaleanpunainen. In Kello on vaaleanpunainen the word kello is in the nominative because it is the subject.

  • Tykkään kellosta. I like a/the clock.

  • Tykkään kelloista. I like (the) clocks.

Most verbs require an object in either the accusative or the partitive. Most verbs can use both. However, there are exceptions like tykätä, which goes together with the elative.

The accusative is usually used with objects. As important as knowing the accusative is, I recommend that you learn to use the partitive first.

I was pleased to read your comment, and I am happy you are doing my lessons. If you have any more questions, I am more than happy to help. :)


Moi taas Zzzzz! Opiskelen suomea vielä, ja puhun sitä paljon parempi nyt kuin puhuin kolme vuotta sitten, mutta ei täydellisesti vielä :P. Mukava nähdä että, sinä teet vihdoin virallisen duolingon kurssin nyt.

Kiitos taas avustasi, joka annoit minulle 3v sitten. :)


Hei, LentävätAnkat! Tämähän vaikuttaa oikein sujuvalta suomelta. Olet selvästikin ollut hyvin ahkera viimeisen kolmen vuoden ajan. Ja kyllä, Duolingo todellakin on laittanut munan, jossa lukee ”suomi”, Hautomoon. Kurssin rakentaminen edistyy hyvin hitaasti, mutta kyllä se siitä! :)


Thank you for the help.

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