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  5. "Meillä on kaksi viikkoa aika…

"Meillä on kaksi viikkoa aikaa ostaa uusi asunto."

Translation:We have two weeks to buy a new apartment.

July 4, 2020



Why is the correct translation not "We have two weeks time to buy a new apartment"? Why is "aikaa" there?


(native speaker here)

Perhaps you can omit "time" in the English phrase, but not in the Finnish one. The reason is, that Meillä on… shows possession and what we possess is time. Kaksi viikkoa describes the length of that time.


Thanks for indicating that 'aikaa' is required in Finnish, whereas 'time' is not in Engkish, but this still does not make the English translation 'two weeks time' for 'kaksi viikkoa aikaa' wrong. So could you please add this English translation to the ones considered correct?


I have been told that in English you must use genitive if the word "time" is included, i.e. "two weeks' time".

Next time try with that, and if it is not accepted, use the report functionality. Even if I am a moderator, I do not have access to the background that runs the exercises.


Good point I have a hunch that it's used to emphasize the period of time. I have no inking !


Why is uusi asunto in the nominative?


I think you are wondering why it is not in the accusative. Well, in sentences like these, where the implied subject (meillä) is in some other case than nominative, the object takes the nominative case.

It is one of the weirder things about the Finnish grammar.


Oh that's interesting. I was indeed expecting an accusative, but I get it now that you've explained it. I'll be sure to remember, Kiitos!


I would have guessed, too, the accusative, since the "uusi asunto" is directly related to the buying ("ostaa") and not the "meillä on", but it looks like it may be one of those oddities of the Finnish grammar.


Fun fact: it's actually nominative because of "ostaa". Singular total objects are usually in genitive, but certain situations force nominative- imperatives, passives, etc. One of those exceptions is when the noun is the "object of an infinitive phrase acting as subject" (quoted from my grammar book), which is what is happening here.


Confusing fact

There are two grammar schools. The traditional one bases its terminology on syntactic analysis, what role uusi asunto plays in the sentence. Since it's clearly the object of the verb ostaa and it isn't in the partitive case, it must be in the accusative case. Thus the school accepts, that the accusative for non-pronouns looks either like the nominative (Asunto ostetaan) or the genitive (Ostan asunnon).

The newer school sees the world through the case-based eyeglasses. The word asunto in this exercise is clearly in the nominative, despite being in the object's role. Therefore they accept that an object can be in the nominative or genitive in addition to the "obvious" accusative and partitive cases. In other words this school restricts the term accusative only for pronominien t-muoto (minut, sinut).

The grammar book of ToddiDotti looks to follow the new school's approach. Other books may use the other school's approach.


In this situation, a pronoun would have the t accusative ending, right?

Meillä on kaksi viikkoa aikaa ostaa sinut. We have two weeks(' time) to buy you.

Correct? (Let's just ignore the fact that this is only possible with slavery ... is it grammatically correct?)


Täysosuma : Bull's eye!

(Hypothetically you can say with the partitive …ostaa sinua, but that would be even more repellent, since that would mean that you have been cut to pieces and now I am going to buy you piece by piece.)


(I was going to ask if using the partitive implies "buying you temporarily", as in with an escort, but obviously not......)


great question, I'd be interested to know too


You are buying the whole apartment, so it can't be the partitive. I can't think of any other case that you could be thinking of.


Hmm... Slightly off topic but the partitive doesn't always work like that though. It can also just refer to the fact that the process of buying etc. is still ongoing. Nothing to do with the object. :)

"Olemme juuri ostamassa uutta asuntoa."

"Etsimme uutta asuntoa."


Well, those two points of view are related. If the "tense" is the infinitive (ostaa asunto), the action ("to buy") cannot be completed, since Finnish A-infinitives (the basic form of a verb) does not show tense at all. (Yes, there are languages with different infinitives for different tenses.) From that fact logically follows that the object of the action must be in a case, that shows incompleteness or partial completion.


Now I'm kind of lost. If the object of the action must be in a case that shows partial completion by default for all A-infinitives (just because they don't show tenses), why don't we use partitive in this sentence? Would "Meillä on kaksi viikkoa aikaa ostaa uutta asuntoa." be completely wrong?


Sorry, Chartsman. I was being facetious, but you are correct on that point.


Are you buying some of the apartment or the whole apartment?


The question about buying some or the whole flat has nothing to do with what Juha wrote i.e. that the object of the action must be in a case that shows partial completion by default for all A-infinitives and ostaa is one of those infinitives...


Are you thus implying that the sentence is incorrect and that it should be ""Meillä on kaksi viikkoa aikaa ostaa uutta asuntoa"?


No, I am not implying that. I replied to the comment by Pieni chilipalko, but I see I wrote somewhat unclearly.

Byuing an apartment is an action that requires an accusative or total object. So you say

  • Ostamme asunnon.

To express that completeness idea in English you would use the future.

  • We shall buy an apartment.

If you need to describe what happens now, you can say

  • Etsimme asuntoa : We are looking for an apartment

i.e. with another verb. Or if you want to use the verb ostaa, you need to put it into so called MA-infinitive (which this course does not teach to my knowledge)

  • Olemme ostamassa asuntoa.

In other words, the examples Pieni chilipalko used.

Think this way, the accusative shows a total object, something that is brought to completion, and the partitive shows a partial object, something that is not brought to completion at the moment defined by the tense of the verb.

Note, that with mass words, the partitive denotes an indefinite amount.

  • Ostimme maitoa : We bought (some) milk.

Here the action has ended, so we should know how much was bought, but that info is not revealed. Neither in English you always reveal the exact amount, e.g.

  • We bought one carton of milk.


I think it takes a non-native to spot the difficulty here :)


the accusative would definitely make a lot of sense, Anna839191


Accusative is what most non-Finns would expect.


Why not partitive? (Question from a friend who is not so good at grammar)


As the name implies the partitive shows a partial, not a complete object. You usually buy a whole apartment, so you choose the accusative, the total object.


But if you say: ¨Minä rakastan sinua¨, don´t you mean the total´object´?


Does anybody ever really love ALL of somebody? But seriously, "rakastaa" is simply one of those verbs (along with so many) that demands a partitive object.


From a point of view of most European languages, this would be an accusative.


Well, it is, see my comment "Confusing fact".


Why "flat" is not accepted instead of "apartment" ? Especially knowing that in Finnish asunto is not really specific


Probably it hasn't been keyed in. Report it.


Just a note on the English: It's "Two weeks of time" but "Two weeks' time". If you are going to write out that there are two weeks' time for something to happen, you need the apostrophe, since it is a possessive form.

I got told I had a typo for including the apostrophe. This shouldn't happen.


In the US, we buy condos and rent apartments but we do not buy an apartments unless we are buying the whole apartment building.


This conversation is over my head!


That was so hard to understand


It also took me a long time to figure it out but look at this exciting discussion above! Pure heaven for freaks of linguistics like me, hahaha.

[deactivated user]

    Why the need for aikaa here also, it seems superfluous and is omitted from the translation.

    A more English translation would be we have two weeks in which to buy a new apartment


    It's funny that you say aikaa is superfluous (when Finnish speakers generally include it, as someone mentioned elsewhere), but then want to add a completely superfluous "in which" in the English translation, which would never be said by most people and only really serves to make the sentence sound more formal.


    Is "buy" the correct translation here? Usually you "rent" an apartment but maybe it's the same word for both in Finnish?


    GrantMille is right about the verbs, they are different and the guess sounds plausible.

    Let's have some Landeskunde…

    The three main house types in Finland are

    • kerrostalo : (lit.) layer house; block of flats, apartment bulding
    • rivitalo : (lit.) row house; terraced house, townhouse
    • omakotitalo : (lit.) own home house; single family detached house

    The word asunto is the general term for all kinds apartments in any house type, but is seldomly used for detached houses. As the name implies it emphasises living, the place where you live.

    According to the national statistics bureau 48% of all houses are block houses. The share of row houses is the lowest, ca. 14%, the rest is mainly detached houses.

    Many Finns prefer to live in a detached house, but there aren't many to rent, so you usually end up buying one(*). When it comes to apartments in terraced and block houses, these can be rented or owned. Besides rent-only or owned-only buildings there are also mixed ones, i.e. some apartments are rented, some owned. Even if you own an apartment in a block house, you must pay a fee to the housing company, which takes care of the public spaces (e.g. bicycle storerooms, saunas, yards) and major repairs (e.g. plumming, elevators).

    *: The mortgages usually have to be repaid within 20 years, so this is the single biggest item of expenditure for many families (like mine). Compare this to Sweden and Denmark were mortgages can be for up to 100 years, and you practically repay only the interests. This is of course a huge economic risk for the banks and in those countries they try press down the repayment times.


    I have honestly never associated "asunto" with "asua" even though they're now so obviously related when looking at them side by side, thanks for pointing it out! Probably "asunto" fell into the category of oddities for me as it's identical as the Spanish word for "subject/affair" so I memorised it instantly without ever making a connection with anything else.


    I'm guessing they worded it this way for simplicity sake, as "ostaa" is a much more commonly used verb than "vuokrata" (to rent), which isn't in the current curriculum.


    Well, most Finns prefer to own their apartment. It is seen as an investment instead of buying shares or gold etc.


    What is weird about buying an apartment? In some countries that's completely normal and people more often buy apartments than rent them


    I would have guessed (wrongly) that 'ostaa' would have been in this form: 'ostaan'.


    If "ostaan" is the spoken-language contraction of "ostamaan", I can see what you are getting at, but here the simple infinitive is what is used.


    (I am a native speaker)

    Duolingo teaches very basic things (and good so), so it does not take up the passive voice and only very limitedly other infinite forms than the so called A-infinite (the simple infinite). The sentence "Meillä on kaksi viikkoa aikaa ostaa uusi asunto" is correct as it is now.

    Advanced topic warning!

    The present tense passive voice for the verb ostaa is ostetaan in the positive form and ei osteta in the negative form. In the standard speech those are strictly impersonal, i.e. the action is done by some undefined group of people, cf. the man-passive in German, man kauft. In colloquial speech those forms can also refer to "we", i.e the speaker and some other persons in his/her company. However here the topic is meillä on kaksi viikkoa aikaa (and then comes the new info saying what we do during those two weeks), so even in the colloquial speech such we-passive is not used in this case. AFAIK Duolingo does not take up the passive voice at all.

    While a verb in English has three non-finite forms, one infinite and two participles ("to buy", "buying" and "bought"), a Finnish verb has five infinite and six participle forms. Duolingo teaches you mostly the A-infinite (ostaa) and if I remember correct, takes up only in a couple of exercises the MA-infinite (ostamaan, ostamassa etc.). Non-finite forms can easily become hard to decipher for non-native speakers, so there is no point taking up those before mastering the basics.


    Thanks for the explanation.

    Actually, I was not referring to the passive (used in spoken Finnish) but the form where ´you go to a place´:

    Kotiin, Taloon, Autoon, (I don´t remember how this ´muoto´ is called)

    I thought that was possible to conjugate ´ostaa´ in this form.


    It sounds like you are referring to illatiivi (or illative) case, e.g. "kotiin", "Pohjoiseen", "maihin", etc.. Those examples are are all objects, of course. One wouldn't "conjugate" a verb, however, in the illative.


    ah, yes. Indeed. Thanks


    Well, you can't conjugate the first infinitive (ostaa) but eg. the third infinitive is conjugated: menen ostamaan (I go to buy), olen ostamassa (I am buying), tulen ostamasta (I come from buying).


    Jan-Olav ~ Correct. The word "conjugate" is being used a bit liberally on this thread, which I think may be confusing to people, but yes, you are right. The 3rd Infinitive is outside the scope of this course, so I wasn't going to mention that.


    Firstly: "We have two weeks to buy a couple of apartments" - What happens to "to buy" - ostaa?? or ostaavat???

    Secondly: "We have two weeks buying a new apartment" It is somewhat interesting when it comes to Finnish that we might think of "ostaa" as a participle form?


    The simplest way to translate "We have two weeks to buy a couple of apartments" is Meillä on kaksi viikkoa aikaa ostaa pari asuntoa. However AFAIK the English expression "a couple of" is rather vague about the exact number, and therefore does not quite match the Finnish expression "pari" which is closer to a pair. To express such vagueness a native speaker would likely opt for muutama asunto or even jokunen asunto, but I think these are out of the scope of this basic course.

    Advanced topic warning!

    The form of the verb ostaa is so called A-infinite (old term: the first infinite). As I wrote earlier there are a few more, but what is common for all non-finite verb forms, i.e. infinites and participles, is that they are treated as nominals, which in Finnish include nouns, adjectives, pronouns and numerals. These non-finite forms can be used to express things in a quite compact way, in a way that requires multiple words in English. Therefore those forms are certainly out of the scope of this course.

    Note also that the English verb ending -ing is actually used for three different word forms (gerund, participle and deverbal noun) which translate differently to other languages, like French, German, Spanish and of course Finnish.


    here you have aikkaa and you reject the time and i. another sentence there is no aikaa and you still need time. what a *""


    Feel your pain, it is frustrating. But this is still in beta. As a result, we are all basically glorified beta testers. Make sure to report all these discrepancies.


    Well, sometimes I wonder if DL can give a "Skip" button in case that I know I understand the sentence so I can skip it, and not struggling with the English part. (I am working in Finland and most colleagues forget to use "the" in a daily dialog, but we understand each other still very well.) This simply costs too much time.


    Kudos to you for finding a way to work and live in Finland!

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