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  5. "Onko hän suomalainen?"

"Onko hän suomalainen?"

Translation:Is she Finnish?

June 24, 2020



What's up with the -ko?

  • 1410

"ko" is used to indicate a question. You could also ask "Hän on suomalainen?" but that would have a slightly different feel to it - to me that sounds like you're surprised to find out that the person is a Finn, when the onko-question is neutral.


-ko/-kö is added to a word when a question is being asked. It can be added to pretty much any word, usually for stress. And usually the word order needs to be changed

For example:

Olet siellä kävelemässä = You are walking there

Oletko siellä kävelemässä? = Are you walking there?

Kävelemässäkö olet siellä? = Are you WALKING there?

Sielläkö olet kävelemässä? = Are you walking THERE?


So what's the difference between the last two examples you just gave?


Kävelemässäkö olet siellä? = Is it walking that you are doing there? Sielläkö olet kävelemässä? = Is it there that you are walking? Or simply like they already showed with the capital letters, first question is about the action and second about the place.


I rather can't grasp the difference between the second (no emphasis) and the last example. I struggle to understand how can a question not have any emphasis at all??


I can't even imagine the second example said out loud without a tone of voice emphasis. The last two are just the emphasis made clear in written language.


I meant that in spoken language one would most likely use the basic question (the second example) but place the emphasis by tone of voice. I personally can't imagine using the last two examples in normal talk, just in written and rather formal language like a novel. Otherwise I'd just say the 2. with a few notes higher tone for the beginning of the emphasized word.


Thank you, now it's more clear to me!


That's exactly what confuses me too. In my language a question like this will always have an emphasis on some of the words. Maybe the emphasis is actually on "you", since it's "oletko" used?


It's an ending you can use to make a question without a particular question word such as mikä (what), missä (where), kuka (who) etc.

Using -ko, -kö:

hän + kö = hänkö (is she/he), t.ex. "Hänkö on se mies, joka lukee kirjan päivässä" (Is he the man who reads one book a day?).

koira + ko = koirako, t.ex. "Koirako siellä haukkuu?" ( Is it a dog that barks there?)

You can attach it to verbs as well, like in the actual example sentence (on + ko = onko), as well as other nominals.

It depends on which vowels the root (word) has whether you have to use -ko or -kö.


Am I right if I assume that if the word contains ä or ö, you put in -kö.

And with "regular" vovels i the work you usually put in -ko?

Can I put it on single adjectives, like söpökö or ujoko, and make a question of that? Or do I add the hän before in that case, hänkö söpö?

  • 1410

Great questions! Firstly, you're right about the vowels - it's called vowel harmony and can also be found in other languages besides Finnish.

While those examples with adjectives are technically sort of correct, they sound really weird. The suffix would only be added to adjectives to add emphasis on how surprising it is that the adjective applies. "Hänkö söpö" sounds very wrong - there's no verb there, so it doesn't make sense as a sentence.

You could ask "onko hän söpö" meaning "is he cute" but if you ask "hänkö on söpö" it changes the meaning to "so he's cute, is he?"


It is needed with questions. For example, you could ask "Are you Finnish?" like so: "Oletko suomalainen?".


It transforms a statement into a yes/no question. The front vowel version is -kö.



So if you instead put "hänko on suomalainen?", would this just be switching the stress to he/she? As in, "Is SHE the one who is Finnish?"


Yes. Although the exact tone is hard to translate.

"Hänkö on suomalainen" would be smth like "so, he/she is Finnish, right?" or even "is he/she really Finnish?" There may be a tone of doubt or irony in the question. Imagine someone asking the English question but stressing the first word: "HE is Finnish?"

Grammatical detail: if there's ä or ö earlier in the word, like in "hän", the -ko will change accordingly: hän --> hänkö


@MikkoCan: It's more strong and it's called Vowel harmony, something many Uralic languages have in common: In non-composed words y, ä or ö cannot be in the same word with u, a or o. Not only with "kö". Both vocal groups can be with e/i. (Sep 2020)


How about the answer "is he Finn?"


If you use a noun you need the article for it: "Is he a Finn?"


I keep finding þings in finnish þat just make sense i love Finnish!

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