1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Finnish
  4. >
  5. "Onko teillä pirtelöä tai jää…

"Onko teillä pirtelöä tai jäätelöä?"

Translation:Do you have milkshake or ice cream?

June 29, 2020



Native English speaker. "Do you have any milkshake" sounds off to me, I would greatly prefer any milkshakes or some milkshakes.


Well, yes, but then the Finnish would have to be in plural as well (pirtelöjä). It's a tiny distinction, but the question is not about different kinds of milkshakes, just any milkshake.

I'd actually prefer the default English to be "Do you have milkshake or ice cream?", since the sense of "any kind at all" is not really underlined in the Finnish sentence.


English speakers would say "Do you have milkshakes or ice cream?"

So the problem here is the word milkshake and how in English we want to have an indefinite or definite article attached to its use when it is in the singular. We get a milkshake or the milkshake, we don't get milkshake at an eatery like we get ice cream at an eatery.


Seconded. In English we never have a vague, unspecified quantity of milkshake (like we can have "some rice" or "some ice cream"). It always comes in units. One milkshake two milkshake, red milkshakes blue milkshakes...

What about "Do you have a milkshake or ice cream"? Would that capture the desired vagueness of the Finnish translation without being plural?


"Onko teillä pirtelöä?" and "Onko teillä pirtelöjä?" both translate to "Do you have milkshakes?" in English.
Milkshake is not treated as uncountable unless it's been spilled on the floor or otherwise removed from its consumable context. If you're asking a shop keeper if they sell the product, it must be "milkshakes" even if you suspect they have only one kind.


No. Thats not right in English. There does not need to be a literal translation. The sentence would be translated as "any milkshakes" in the same way that English "I love you" requires a partitive in Finnish but not in English. You don't say "I love some of you" even though that would beer literal.


There does not need to be a literal translation.

What the Duolingo way of teaching requires, though, is one suggested translation, which is then the one shown to users to translate back to the original sentence. That's why a plural wouldn't work here.

Your example of "Rakastan sinua" is a bit silly, since it doesn't really mean "I love some of you" -- it's just a way to explain the need for the partitive case to learners of the language. There just isn't any "Rakastan sinut" to contrast it with, so that'd be as strange as continuing that with "Do you love I" in English.


But perhaps you could make it milkshakes instead of milkshake? We also see how in Finnish when using a number other than one in front of a noun, that noun then declines into the partitive form. So perhaps the best translation here should be, "Do you have milkshakes or ice cream?"


Like for example and following up on the idea about how the Finnish partitive is often more properly translated into plural into English, consider this sentence:

Kaksi pirtelöä on hyvä

We would not translate that as "The two milkshake is good" but as "The two milkshakes are good."


But perhaps you could make it milkshakes instead of milkshake?

Then we'd end up with the partitive plural, which this course doesn't cover yet, as far as I know.

(And that's a good thing! The partitive plural has been among the hardest things for me in Estonian. My Estonian teacher, who also teaches Finnish, says that it's not really that hard, but it's different from the Finnish one which is hard...)


the Finnish partitive is often more properly translated into plural into English

That's not really how it works. I think some of you are taking this "a preceding number leads to the partitive singular" idea way too far. "Kaksi pirtelöä on hyvä" is not correct Finnish.


"Kaksi pirtelöä on hyvä" is not correct Finnish.

I trust your judgment, but why not? It looks correct, based on what I know to this point. The number puts the object into the singular partitive, right? Should "hyvä" also be in the partitive singular?


The number puts the object into the singular partitive, right?

Yes, but that goes just for the object and any attributes that go directly with it, like "kaksi makeaa pirtelöä" = two sweet milkshakes. It doesn't actually make those two into a singular item or somehow allude to something like that. It's just borrowing that form from the singular, we know all along they are plural and don't even think about it being a singular form.

So Izabela's sentence would be "Kaksi pirtelöä ovat hyviä".

(In practice, this sounds a bit odd because you'd probably use another verb such as maistua = taste, which then leads to another case, but I kept olla here just to try to make the example clearer.)


In English, "milkshake" absolutely requires an article or quantifier. "Do you have milkshake" is completely and totally ungrammatical and wrong. It's as wrong as "do you have spoon" or "he eating one chickens".


It's funny when learning other languages that you start seeing the quirks in your own. I never thought about milkshake before but it is the only drink I can think of the now that doesn't sound right English without the article or in plural form. Would you like coffee? Would you like juice? Would you like milk? Would you like A milkshake?


Grammatically, your answer is WRONG:

IN ENGLISH it should be "Do you have a milkshake or ice cream."

You need to adjust your accepted answer.


Noticed that pirtelö and jäätelö both end in 'telö', and wondering if this means anything in and of itself (though not finding any evidence for it). Does 'telö' mean anything by itself? Does 'pir'?


The telö in pirtelö comes from the telö in jäätelö. Which seems to come from some archaic verb. The first google entries for each word + etymologia say:

"Sanan alkuosa on saatu adjektiivistä pirteä ja jälkiosa sanasta jäätelö"

"Suomen kielen sana jäätelö on tiettävästi Elias Lönnrotin ehdotus vuodelta 1874. Sen kantana on pidetty verbiä jäädellä, joka tarkoittaa vähitellen jäätymistä tai jäädyttämistä. Samalla tavoin on voitu muodostaa hyytelö verbistä hyydellä, joka puolestaan on samaa sanaperhettä kuin hyytää ja hyinen."




You're right, but it's not worth getting angry about. They'll fix it eventually. Relax and enjoy your free lessons! :)


I'm wondering about the tai and vai matter. I just asked about it in school approx 2 weeks back, and they explained us, we'd use vai in a question and tai in a regular sentence. I tried to live after that rule, but DL is destroying my newly received believes. Is there any other rule to follow, so it might make more sense to me again?


Vai is only for questions. Tai is for questions or statements. Vai means "which one of these options" tai is the "logical or", meaning you can always respond yes/no.

Onko se A vai B? - Se on B.
Onko se A tai B? - Ei, se on C.


I came to ask the self-same question. I so thought I had nailed it when I came up with the mnemonic "sTatement" = Tai "qVestion" = Vai ... then this sentence came up and my crest was well and truly fallen! XD

Thanks for the explanation, Nimporte-Qui.


Here the use of the genitive is quite understandable. But what about "vesi on hyvää"? Who can explain a genitive here?


There is no genitive in either sentence.

Learn Finnish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.