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  5. "Hän maalaa sinistä lintua."

"Hän maalaa sinistä lintua."

Translation:She is painting a blue bird.

June 26, 2020



How would it be translated if you write : she paints a blue bird?


Hän maalaa sinisen linnun.


Now I am lost, completely.

I understand that she is painting a blue bird (right now), she hasn't finished yet. As she hasn't finished yet the bird is in the partitive case as the adjective blue is. No problem.

But: what else is meant by she paints a blue bird than painting a bird (right now)? I guess sinisen linnun is the accusative case of sininen lintu (it would be the accusative case in German no matter what when it comes to painting something). How can it be complete?

Help me please (to learn Finnish and to improve my English). Thank you.


Hello, Finnish has a lot of grammatical cases, which I completely understand can make it a bit nightmarish to learn, but I'll try my best to explain!

So the English "She paints a blue bird" gives the impression that she is going to paint the whole bird, which is why I would not use the partitive case in Finnish to say this. (Think of it this way: Finnish "hän maalaa sinistä lintua" (partitive) translates perfectly to "she is painting a blue bird" because she is indeed in the process of painting it right now. Whether or not she's going to finish it is not known)

And yes, you're right "sinisen linnun" is accusative, and we use accusative to talk about a completed action (past, present or future, they all use the same accusative case for the noun, but past tense would require a different verb conjugation so let's just skip it now not to make this even more confusing.)

Here are a couple of examples:


  • Mitä hän maalaa? (What is she painting?)
  • Hän maalaa sinistä lintua. (She is painting a blue bird)


  • Minkä hän maalaa? (What does she paint / What will she paint?)
  • Hän maalaa sinisen linnun. (She paints / will paint a blue bird.)

I tried to make it a bit clearer there, sorry if it's still confusing, feel free to ask if there are any more questions :)


Jennj9, Thanks for painting the bigger picture on finnish cases. I appreciate these online resources or app platforms like dl which allow: superb re-iterative corrections/reinforcement; progressively recursive exercises; and open student discourse in a limited bandwidth as vernacular and spoken in limited tense, conjugation, and declension. But I'd ask whether digital versions can adequately map out and convey conjugation and declension tables as with traditional hardbound texts.


Thank you for your thorough explanation.

The Finnish grammatical cases are not my problem here. It appears very clear to me that the process of painting implies an incomplete painting, thus the partitive case.

I am lacking the phantasy what she paints something would be. If it refers to a future action it should be she's going to paint something, no?


Okay I see that example may have come out a bit confusing. The reason I left in the translation she paints a blue bird is because Finnish verbs are conjugated the same way for present and future tense, and in English I believe you could say "she paints a blue bird" in present tense.

Now theoretically the Finnish hän maalaa sinisen linnun can also be used in present tense, however this is usually mainly used in literature, poetry or such. In more colloquial language it will refer to something happening in the future, generally in the near future unless some particular time has been specified.

Finnish has it's own verb for when you're going to do something, it's aikoa. In this case, the sentence "She is going to paint a blue bird" would be "Hän aikoo maalata sinisen linnun." Note the accusative used also in this case :) However, "she is going to" or "she will" only has a subtle difference in Finnish, "she is going to" (hän aikoo) sounding a bit less certain.

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