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  5. "missä on ..." vs "missä ... …


"missä on ..." vs "missä ... on"

Hi there,

i've noticed that for every "where is ..." question it only accepts "missä ... on". But I feel like I heard "missä on ..." quite often. And from my 2 minute googling both should be correct.

Can someone shed some more light on that issue?

Best wishes Ben

June 29, 2020



A person on Reddit answered a similar question, I'll paste the answer here:

The difference between these sentences can be translated to English by using "the" and "a". Of course, in real life you wouldn't just say "Missä on matkailija?" since it doesn't really make sense without additional context. Missä matkailija on? = Where is the traveler? Missä on matkalija? = Where is a traveler? Missä puisto on? = Where is the park? Missä on puisto? = Where is a park?


Thank you. Could you please post the link to the Reddit thread?


I'm pretty sure it's to do with "completeness". Basically, the more important a word is in Finnish, the earlier you put it in a sentence. "Missä on suomalainen?" would be more like "Where is a Finn" while "Missä suomalainen on?" is more like "Where is the Finn" with the difference being between A and THE. Essentially, in the first sentence, it's more important that you find a Finn while in the second it's more important that you find a specific Finn


"Missä on suomalaiset", nothing in that sentence implies that it is "the Finns" or "Finns". I could imagine using both word orders in both contexts.


You might notice the weirdness of your word order better if you turn it into kirjakieli. Missä suomalaiset ovat? vs. Missä ovat suomalaiset? I would not use the latter unless suomalaiset was an adjective for something coming after it like "Missä ovat suomalaiset marjat?". And even so the normal word order sounds more natural.


If you install this browser add-on, you can see all the possible answers that are accepted (once you have input your answer)


Thank you for your answer. That is indeed interesting. But my question was more a grammatical one.

I noticed that only "missä ... on" is accepted because I always write "missä on ..." and this is not accepted.

So in other words I am asking: Is "missä on ..." really wrong or is it just not yet implemented as an alternative answer. Because I suspect the latter.


If you report it, you should (depending on your settings) get an email if and when your suggested answer is added as a correct translation. Trouble is, of course, this may take a long time depending on the number of reports the team gets... For some other courses, I have received positive replies literally years after I made the suggestion!

elinorn's answer above looks good, but another idea would be to write also in the specific discussion thread of each sentence where you encounter this (do include whether you already reported it as well, otherwise you'll just get a reply from me asking just that :-p ). These kinds of questions are always easier to answer in terms of a specific example sentence.


I am guessing no one has that tedious job right now because I have reported several (hundreds) of English translations and haven’t received a single email as feedback. So if and when someone gets hired to do this jobs, they are going to have to respond to thousands of reported sentences, unless of course all my suggestions were wrong.


That I would not know (I just started Finnish a few days ago) ;-) but this tool helps you in showing what Duolingo currently accepts. Some languages have a very long list of potential answers at certain sentences :-D

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