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Slow Finnish - Chapter 0 - Ääntäminen

Ääntäminen - Pronunciation

  • The stress is always on the first syllable. Compound words have a secondary stress on the first syllable of each word in the compound.

  • p, k and t are always unaspirated. So t is always pronounced as in cast and never as in tap. p is pronounced as in grasp and never as in pack. k is pronounced as in risk and never as in cat. Let's practice: tapa, kasa, pala, tukala, kamala, pula.

  • h resembles the English h. However, in iht and ihk the h sounds like the ich-sound in German. Push your tongue upwards towards the palate and produce an h-sound in the front part of your mouth. Like this:

Let's practice: hame, haju, hiha, vihko, vihta, pihka.

  • c is usually pronounced as a k. The exception: Celsius is pronounced with an s.

  • g is usually pronounced as in gate, never as in generate (The combination ng is an exception). Let's practice: geeli, giljotiini, gramma, groteski.

  • j sounds like the y-sound in yellow. Let's practice: jojo, jakaja, jalka, kirja, ketju.

  • l resembles the English l, but the tip of the tongue touches the alveolar ridge (the fleshy bit above your teeth) and not the palate (the ceiling of the mouth). Let's practice: laulu, liina, laiva, lila, loimu.

  • r is a very strong trill. You form it by placing the tip of your tongue against the alveolar ridge and making it vibrate. Let's practice: riita, karu, sarvi, karhu, kirja, riimi.

  • s is always voiceless. So it always pronounced as in success, and never as in prison. Let's practice: sisu, susi, sauna, lause, Kaisa, kasvot.

  • z is pronounced as ts. Let's practice: zoologi, zeppeliini.

  • b, d, f, m, n and v are pronounced as in English.

  • š appears in a very few Finnish words. It is pronounced as a [ʃ], which also the first sound in shake. Let's practice: šakki, tšekki, šamaani, šeikki.

  • In nk, the n is pronounced as a [ŋ], which is also the final sound in dancing. Let's practice: kenkä, vanki, sanko, linko.

  • ng is pronounced as [ŋŋ] meaning that you have to hold onto the sound longer. Let's practice: kengät, vangit, sangot, bingo.

  • np is a very rare sound combination and is pronounced as mp. Let's practice: kunpa, elinpä, lauloinpa, kävelinpä.

  • The Finnish double consonants resemble those found in Italian. It is very important to learn to pronounce these, since there is a real risk of being misunderstood. Katto, for instance, refers to a roof or ceiling, whereas kato means a failure of crops. To form sounds such as these, you need to hold onto a sound longer. Let's practice: kissa, katto, jakkara, lamppu, tamma, pinna.

  • There are long vowels and short vowels. Long vowels are marked with a double vowel. The exceptions to these rules are loan words and names of some countries and other places, such as Australia, which is pronounced Austraalia.

  • a is roughly the same sound as in German or French. aa is pronounced roughly as the a in dance (British pronunciation). The short a resembles the u in British English cup or the o in American English hot. Let's practice: aava, maa, laakea, laava, kattila, šamaani.

  • e, when short, resembles the sound found in hen. There is no long ee in English, so you need to learn how to hold on to the sound. Let's practice: geeni, tee, peli, enne, tekele, teema.

  • i, when short, resembles the sound found in fit. When long, it resembles the vowel sound found in keep. Let's practice: siipi, kili, siirappi, viili, hitunen, rivi.

  • o is like o in top in British pronunciation. oo is like a in all but more closed. Let's practice: tori, moottori, booli, jojo, olento, nootti.

  • u resembles the u in full. uu is close to the vowel sound in shoot. Let's practice: luumu, suunta, luuta, kuva, kumpu, pupu.

  • y is like the French u or the German ü. Start with an i and purse your lips. Then relax the middle part of your tongue. Let's practice: kyyti, kyky, pyynti, tyyli, typy.

  • ä resembles the vowel sound in hat. ää is a bit like the vowel sound in dance in American pronunciation. Let's practice: määrä, kylä, kääty, väli, häät, märkä.

  • ö is like ö in German or eu in French. Start with the vowel sound in fur. Then purse your lips and move the point of pronunciation slightly forwards. Let's practice: höpö, kööri, kyrö, häätö, ötökkä, öylätti.

  • Diphthongs and vowel unions are formed by using the vowel sounds. The sounds are simply put together. There are no changes in the pronunciation. Let's practice: kaira, laulu, laet, leikki, koulu, kieli, tuoppi, työ, käynti, väet.

  • If you know how to read IPA, take a look at this.

Should you have any questions, I will be happy to try to answer them. Here is a link to my lessons


April 27, 2016



Oikein hyvä, Kiitos!! :) (please correct me if I am wrong)


Love it! When will Finnish be added to Duolingo?


Hopefully soon : D


I am reading this 3 years later and I have the same question, but I saw somewhere that it is starting to develop, but I guess finnish is too hard to teach it here XDD


No, not harder than other languages, it just took Duolingo a while to give volunteers the chance to create it. Now they are working on it.


It has arrived! Jee! Kippis!


Kiitos! Minulla on ollut ongelmia tämän kanssa alusta alkaen, ja enkä ole koskaan tajunnut sitä aikaisemmin. . Toivon mukaan tämä auttaa. :-)


In Finnish the stress means that the syllable is pronounced more forcefully, there's no change in any of the sounds or in the vowel length because of stress or lack thereof. There's also a sidestress on every uneven syllable.

I've often heard the g in -ing ending being pronounced as g in English. It's never pronounced in Finnish after the ŋ sound.

There's no qualitatitve difference in long or short vowels. The only difference is the length. Also, there's no glide in long vowels, the sound stays the same the whole time.


Kiitos, chi! :)


I tried to find a good video of some song/poem from Kalevala to illustrate the stress, but it was surprisingly hard. I suppose this is the best, but it's sort of on the heavy side :D https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFVcmc06IrU The idea is not to try to understand the lyrics, but to listen to the rhythm and the stress. It's very clear.


Thanks a ton, Mari! Maybe I can actually figure this out now. :-)


I see the downvote-trolls have been here again. :(


Thankfully they're being outweighed by up-voters though :)


This looks really great. I wish such basic phonetic guides were available for all the languages, as I had some problems with finding them myself. Looking forward to seeing the Finnish course here!


Have some lingots for looking forward. :-)


Unfortunately, I need an actual course to understand Finnish but thank you so much for all the effort you have put into this.


You can practise sentences from this course on Memrise if it helps. (It works quite well.) This lesson isn't there, but it has audio recordings so you can learn pronunciation too.


Thank you so much for your finnish lessons! Love them :)


I'm confused about the nk sound and how to combine vowel sounds, could anyone give examples of words in english or french that would give me an idea of how to pronounce them?


nk and ng are pronounced the same (the latter is just longer). To practice you might use the English word 'king' which is very close to kenkä (a/the shoe) and kengät (shoes).

I assume that by vowel combinations you mean diphthongs and triphthongs. The basic rule is that each sound is written by using one letter and each letter corresponds to one sound (there are just a handful of exceptions to this rule). So if you see two vowels together, you pronounce both according to their normal value. If the two are in the same syllable (diphthong or triphthong) the two sounds become a glide, but still they are both pronounced fully. If the vowels are in different syllables a slight pause can be heard, but it disappears in fast paced speech. So: auto is pronounced a+u, huomenna is u+o etc. Some diphthongs are a lot of work, so it can take some time to get used to pronouncing them fully in diphthongs if you are not used to it.

You could also try https://fi.forvo.com/ where you can listen to native speakers pronounce individual words.

I hope this helps :)


Does anyone know a whatsapp group to practice finnish?


I'm so glad Finnish has been added - it's the language of my mother's family! Kiitos!


I have only just found this great resource. Thanks a bunch! Just one comment if I may. ”s is soundless" would mean that it is silent. Rather s is voiceless. That is the vocal cords do not vibrate. There is a distinction in English between voice and sound. I know that the Finnish ääni translates both.


I'll edit. Thank you! :)


Always happy to help.

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