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  5. "Who is he?"

"Who is he?"

Translation:Kuka hän on?

June 26, 2020



How does the grammar work?

  • 1974

As pieni_chilipalko wrote, the funny thing with Finnish is, if the words are in correct form, in many cases you can just slap the words into a sentence in a random order and eventually you would get understood.

However, some words require other words to be in specific places to convey the correct meaning, and by altering the word order and stress you can emphasize different ideas.

kuka hän on? - who is he?
kuka on hän? - who is he?
hän on kuka? - he is who?
hän kuka on?, on hän kuka?, on kuka hän? - (you would get your question across but in general case I would think you are either a non-native or a completely native lunatic).


A third use case for the variations in that last group could be poems and other lyrical content where the artists are given much more freedom to play with words than in normal speech! :D


Simplistically put, word order is fairly free (although in this case and in similar questions the preferred order is question word (kuka), pronoun (hän), verb (on)), it's the suffixes (case endings and such) which inform people of a particular word's purpose in a sentence, if it's unclear.


Got marked wrong for Kuka on hän so I'm assuming that word order is critical?

  • 1974

Technically it's not wrong, it's just kinda awkward in standard usage so I wouldn't mark it correct. In real life kuka on hän would still definitely get understood, though.


"Kuka on hän?" sounds rather poetic. :)


Unlike Swedish/Norwegian/Danish, it's not V2, and the question comes out like "Who he is?".


I doubt you can expect people in general to understand what V2 is. I just knew about the nazi weapon, but here I found an explanation referring to syntax and word order: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V2_word_order


Yeah, sorry. I've been steeped in the Scandanavian languages for long enough that things like "V2" just slip out.


Both she and he are hän in finnish ?


Did not accept free word order.


Please read the previous comments on the same subject. Another word order would get understood, but some of them would be considered strange. People would think you are either a poet, wierd or just not a native speaker. (To summarize the previous comments). In a beginners course, we need to learn the normal way of speaking.


The English is a gender specific word "he". Why is hän used?

  • 1974

Because that is the Finnish counterpart for "he". Gender specific pronouns don't exist in Finnish.

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