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  5. "Kuka hän on?"

"Kuka hän on?"

Translation:Who is he?

June 24, 2020



I'd like to request that someone add 'Who are they?' to this. I find 'they' a more appropriate translation in cases where it's unclear. 'A teacher and their students' rather than 'a teacher and his/her students' and so on.


This makes sense to accept this translation, however in the long run, it may be easier to learn that hän is just a third person pronoun and can be translated to he/she. Literally, "who are they?" would become "Keitä he ovat?" in Finnish due to the plural affecting the question word and mean a group of people as we do not require this kind of version.


Singular they seems to be more natural for some people than others. I intuitively use singular they in this sort of situation, and I got the question wrong initially for doing so. There is also the fact that hän may refer to someone who isn't he or she.


So would this kind of conversation be normal? - We'll have an important guest tomorrow. - Who are they? It sounds strange to me, but I'm not a native English speaker.


That sounds completely nature, im a native english speaker. We use 'they' both as a singular pronoun and a plural.


I'm just wondering... that would "a teacher and their students" actually translate to "opettaja ja tämän oppilaat" rather than "opettaja ja hänen oppilaansa" [a teacher and his/her students] - even though in this (incomplete sentence) we only see one singular subject at this point.

'Tämä' is literally 'this' or 'this one' and is used like the singular 'they' especially in cases where there are multiple subjects (that could be referred to as 'hän') and we want to specify that we're talking about the first 'hän'. But sometimes it's also used when talking about someone in a less personal way, so to speak.

In the case of "who are they" (singular) it would become "kuka tämä on" [lit. who is this], but we don't usually say that (unless maybe when pointing out someone from a picture etc.) And to be even more impersonal, one could say "kuka tuo on" [lit. who is that], but it can have a bit of a blunt and rude tone to it (even degrading, depending on how they say it) so I wouldn't recommend that.


I'm by no means an expert, but since Finnish is a genderless language shouldn't he/she/singular-they all be acceptable translations for hän without additional context?


So "hän on" is the same as "minä olen, sinä olet" but the 3rd person version?


Exactly so. We have a genderless "hän" pronoun for he/she. Here are all the personal forms of olla-verb for your reference. I hope this helps!

Minä olen – Sinä olet – Hän/Se on – Me olemme – Te olette – He/Ne ovat


Yes that does, kiitos! The fact that you said "personal forms" leads me to believe that many more "goodies" lie ahead. Please don't spoil the surprise.


Ja mitä kieltä mahtaa puhua hän?


Ja mitä kieltä hän mahtaa puhua? :)

Suomea, ruotsia, hindiä, viroa, espanjaa, italiaa, ranskaa, saksaa, hollantia, arabiaa, tanskaa, mandariinikiinaa, unkaria, japania, liettuaa...

(The -a/ä suffix there is the partitive, the nominative is just "suomi", "ruotsi", "hindi" etc.)


Eurovision reference! <3 1983


How do I know the difference between he and she when I use "hän?


Usually we can't, unless there is enough context given - 'Who is she?' should equally be accepted. Finnish is one of those languages that use only one pronoun for 'he / she' (Hungarian, Turkish, Kurdish are some of the other examples).


If you think about it, gendered pronouns are weirder than ungendered pronouns. Why always specify gender when referring to things with pronouns? Why not any other quality? (Don't answer that question)


Also includes chinese, 他 (he) and 她 (she) Both are pronounced "tā"


That's a very good point - I've also heard that Japanese '彼' (かれ, kare) used to be a gender-netural pronoun, but because of the influences from other European languages, they now use '彼' for 'he' and '彼女' (kanojo) for 'she' - about which I'm kind of disappointed.

The sense development seems to have proceeded from "that thing over there" to "that person over there [of indeterminate gender]". The specifically male sense of "he" only arose later during the late Edo period and early Meiji period, influenced by translations of texts from European languages


Hän is not gender specific. It can be male or female


This she not be considered incorrect if I put she, instead of he.


A question about word order: is this "question word + S + V" order the only right one, or are sentences such as "Kuka on hän?" "Hän on kuka?" also allowed?


The usual word order is the one you said "question word + S + V", the others are rather theoretical and they sound strange in the normal usage.

You can form a question like this: take the affermative sentence, replace one of the words with a question word, and move it in the beginning of the sentence. For example "Hän on Anna" can be transformed into these questions:

-- Kuka hän on? = Who is she? -- Onko hän Anna? = Is she Anna? -- Kuka on Anna? = Who is Anna?


Hmm. Kuka____on?..and the answer part:Hän , sinä , minä ...how can I see wich one is correct? kuka sinä on worked as well. it marked wrong, because hän was right...


In Finnish, the verb changes with each person. In the case of the verb "olla" ("to be") the singular verb forms are "minä olen", "sinä olet", "hän on". For this particular verb all three are different also in English: "I am", "you are", "(s)he is". So if you are asked to fill in the personal pronoun in the sentence "Kuka ___ on?", the only possibility is "hän" because it matches the verb "on" already present in the sentence.

In Finnish all the verbs have different forms for different persons, not just the a couple of verbs like "to be" in English: minä syön, sinä syöt, hän syö; minä menen, sinä menet, hän menee; minä asun, sinä asut, hän asuu; and so on.


couldn't most have these have been correct?


He/she is always hän, can't be they or it. 'They' is he (Finnish he), 'it' is se.



"hän" - he/she/they

"se" - it (spoken Finnish also "he/she/they")


My understanding of this question would be "Who is that?" That is how I would ask the question in English if I was not being gender-specific and asking about a single person. Not "they" as that would imply multiple people.

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