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  5. "Autot, jotka seisovat tuolla…

"Autot, jotka seisovat tuolla, pitää pestä."

Translation:The cars that are standing over there need to be washed.

June 28, 2020



I got this wrong at least five times in a row. It's really difficult to guess (and remember) what the "correct" answer is supposed to be.

[The/] cars [which/that] [are parked/are standing/stand] [over/] there [need to/have to] be washed.


Car does not stand, they are parked because it does not have legs but wheels


Translating between languages is often a very subjective job because there is rarely an exact one-to-one correspondence between words. The English word "stand" and the Finnish word "seisoa" do not mean exactly the same thing, though I gather that in this case, they are really pretty close.

Apparently the Finnish word carries connotations of "standing still" (i.e. not moving) in some uses that the English word does not, although it is still pretty close. Even in English, cars can stand in one place if they're not moving. I would probably use a different word ("stay", perhaps?), but it is perfectly understandable.


English is the odd one here though. The equivalent of "stand" is used to mean "stand still" and thus easily applies to cars in lots of languages including German, Swedish, or Czech, not just Finnish.


It means that in English too, as I pointed out above. It may just be that in English, we have several other words that also carry this meaning and we would often prefer one of them, so it isn't as common or as idiomatic to use "stand" in English as it would be in other languages. It doesn't mean we can't use it this way, since clearly we can, but that other words are often used instead.


Can anyone explain? 1) Why the Finnish sentence is not "Autot pitävat..." but "Autot pitää..."? 2) My dictionary doesn't show any examples of "pitää" as the meaning of "need to do". Do you have any examples and additional explanation in your dictionary?


It's a special Finnish construction and the verb doesn't change its form here. Look at this example:

Minun pitää pestä auto. (I need to wash the car.)

The object (auto) is in nominative, while the subject (I) is in genitive ( -> minun). We can omit the subject to express a general need (which is then expressed by the passive voice in English - need to be washed):

Meidän pitää pestä autot. (We need to wash the cars) -> Pitää pestä autot. OR: Autot pitää pestä. (The cars need to be washed.)

Note that this is the same construction as with "täytyy" which is used to express "must". For example:

Timon täytyy ostaa koira. (Timo must buy a dog.)

Täytyy pestä autot. (The cars must be washed.)


Well explained! Says a native.


Kiitos :) - says a finnophile.


I still don't get it - says a confused student. :)

Is "autot" the subject of this sentence? It looks like that is the case to me. It also looks to be in third person plural. Why isn't the verb conjugated to match the subject in third person plural, then?

The only thing I can figure is that somehow, "autot" isn't the subject here, but then what is?


The common approach of grammar books is that no, "autot" is not the subject, it's the object. What's confusing and unusual in the "pitää/täytyy" construction is that the subject is in the genitive, while the object is in the nominative (or partitive, if applicable). That's kinda upside down from a normal sentence.

"Autot pitää pestä" - obejct: autot (nominative); subject: unexpressed. It's an impersonal sentence that doesn't have an explicit subject - similarly to, for example, "Sataa." (It's raining). You can add a subject if you want, for example "we" (we must wash the cars that stand over there) - and then this subject would be in the genitive: "meidän".

Also note that "pitää" and "täytyy" in these constructions never change form. (This link)[http://donnerwetter.kielikeskus.helsinki.fi/FinnishForForeigners/ch2-en/ch2-30-taytyy.htm] shows "täytyy", but "pitää" is the same, only slightly weaker.

What makes it even more confusing is that the inner clause "jotka seisovat tuolla" uses "jotka" (nominative) as its subject, which refers to the cars.


Thanks for the information. I had the same question about pitää but you made it clear for me


As far as I know, saying "are standing" for cars and objects is a weird English (at least that's what I remember from the Norwegian course's comments here). Therefore my sentence, which states "The cars that are over there need to be washed" should have been accepted. Reported on 07.03.2021.


"are parked" translates to "on pysäköity". If the cars are "seisovat" they are "standing".

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