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  5. "Ovatko Matti ja Liisa pari?"

"Ovatko Matti ja Liisa pari?"

Translation:Are Matti and Liisa a couple?

June 25, 2020



Now I know how to gossip in Finnish.


A very important Finnish trait! I didn't speak a lot, but as a kid my grandma taught me "how are you?" was "mitä kuuluu?", which was short for "mitä olet kuullut?" or "what have you heard?" - no pleasantries, they just get straight to the gossip.


Lmao, is it for real? I thought it is to be read literally, in my mother tongue there's an identical phrase and it means more or less "What is being/can be heard?" You can hear quite many things around yourself and it says something about where you are, so to ask about one's situation you can ask what is heard around them. And I thought "Mitä kuuluu?" means just this. Especially that you can also ask "Mitä sinulle kuuluu?" and I thought it is like "What is heard to you?". Although there's a huge possibility I got this totally wrong.


You got it totally right.


ovat = 3th person plural and ovatko is the question form? I didnt quite understand


Correct. The interrogative (question) ending -ko/kö can be attached to most words, but usually to the main verb, here ovat. The word with that ending is the first in a question, since it is the question word.


Can someone tell me the different of ovatko and onko? I still confuse


You use "onko" for yes/no questions regarding third person singularis, hän/se (he/she/it). Onko se koira? Is it a dog?

You use ovatko for "they" (third person pluralis).


The verbs conjugate after…

  • voice: active, passive
  • aspect : indicative, imperative, conditional, potential
  • time: present, imperfect (preterite, simple past tense), perfect, pluperfect
  • person: minä, sinä…
  • positive/negative form

Being a basic course Duolingo takes up only

  • active
  • indicative, imperative (for only a very few verbs)
  • present (I think there is only one exercise with simple past tense)
  • all persons except the formal you
  • positive/negative forms

Unfortunately the verb "to be", olla, is irregular (as in English). Conjugating after the person is like in German or Spanish. All in all you have for active indicative present tense:

  • (minä) olen / (minä) en ole : I am / I am not
  • (sinä) olet / (sinä) et ole : you (sg.)/thou are / you (sg.)/thou are not
  • hän on / hän ei ole : he/she/they is / he/she/they is not
  • (me) olemme / (me) emme ole : we are / we are not
  • (te) olette / (te) ette ole : you (pl.) are / you (pl.) are not
  • he ovat / he eivät ole : they are / they are not

For the interrogative ending -ko/kö see my answer elsewhere in this exercise.


I wrote "Are Matti and Liisa a pair" and that was rejected, yet it means the same thing in English.


I'm not so sure. I would say it's not the same thing in English. In some sentences couple and pair may be synonyms, but for two people having a relationship you would normally say they are a couple. A pair would not necessarily be two people in a relationship.

Have a look at "they are a couple" vs" they are a pair" in searchable corpuses, or read questions and answers about this on the internet, like https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-%E2%80%9Ca-pair%E2%80%9D-and-%E2%80%9Ca-couple%E2%80%9D

At least in this Finnish question, it's quite clear that we want to know whether Matti and Liisa are romantically involved. "Couple" would then be the most adequate word for a translation to English.


I mean, we always see them together...


Is the man's name always mentioned first? In German it is polite to put the Lady in the first place


There is no common convention about this as far as I know.


Right, there isn't as such, but some orders just sound better than others for a native speaker. The rhytm used in old folk poetry seems to sit quite tight in our ears. This becomes apparent when a child is given fornames. We like alliteration and order where the names get pronunciation-wise longer, for instance

  • Anu Anniina is obvious
  • Anna Liisa instead of Liisa Anna, because while both contain two syllabes, Liisa has a letter more

While Matti ja Liisa both have two syllabes and the same number of letters, Liisa is perceived "longer" because of the long vowel.

I think the last resort is the alphabetical order.

  • Matti Pekka instead Pekka Matti


I translated it "Are Matti and Liisa a pair?" Seems like this should also be correct.


No because pair and couple don't have the same meaning in persons :) a pair is just two people and couple is a relationship


Autocorrect changed Liisa to Luisa and I am slightly salty that I got it wrong because of that. I know I should be better about prrof rrading and honestly I agree, it just aggrivates me that i knew the answer but it is counted wrong.


Is it a reference to Rautatie by Juhani Aho?


Good catch! It might well be.

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