1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Finnish
  4. >
  5. "Juoksevatko karhut nopeasti?"

"Juoksevatko karhut nopeasti?"

Translation:Do bears run fast?

July 13, 2020



I wrote "Are the bears running quickly?" and was told I was correct. I am concerned that my answer has (in English, at least) a considerably different meaning than the correct answer of "Do bears run quickly?"

Was my answer not actually correct? Or is there an overlap in meaning, in Finnish, where there is not in English?

  • 1316

Right, there is a difference in meaning. And the Finnish is ambiguous.

”Do bears run fast?” asks whether bears in general are animals able to run fast. In this context, ”fast” makes more sense than ”quickly”, because being fast runners is an inherent quality, where being ”quick runners” (”quick” doesn even work in this construction) depends on the situation, i.e. somebody is doing something in a short amount of time - not necessarily fast.

”I’ll quicky go to the store to get some milk. Be back soon.” - This doesn’t mean that the person is going at an increased speed or running to the store, just that they won’t waste time or buying groceries for the entire week (and spending much more time at the store).

By chosing ”the bears” you basically created a situation where the bears could be doing something fast and/or quickly. Although I still would prefer ”fast” over ”quickly” (the combination of a motion verb like ”run” and ”quickly” is fairly rare˚), one could imagine a situation where the bears are running quickly to a food source. Therefore, DL accepted it as correct answer.

˚ If you google, most ”running quickly” refer to get something (a project, your internet, etc.) to work within a short amount of time. E.g. ”get your website up and running quickly”, ie. within a short amount of time.


But setting aside the question of quickly vs. fast, in order to focus on my original question, there are two very different meanings:

"Are the bears running fast?" is quite different from "Do bears run fast?" Is there no way, in Finnish, to differentiate between the two meanings?

Or, to come at it from another angle, which of those two meanings does the Finnish sentence juosevatko kahrut nopeasti best represent, and how would a Finn then represent the other meaning?


Native Finnish here with difficulties to understand English :-)

Juoksevatko karhut nopeasti? can denote both a general case and a specific one.

IIUC the English expressions "Do bears run fast?" and "Are the bears running fast?" denote a general case (bears in general can run fast) resp. a specific one (these/those bears run fast). Juoksevatko karhut nopeasti? can denote either one depending on the context. However if you want to the specify which one, then you most likely say

  • Juoksevatko nämä/nuo karhut nopeasti? : Are these/those bears running fast?

i.e. you specify by determining the bears.

  • 1316

A lot of the Finnish sentences are ambiguous taken out of (or rather without having any) context.

Irn some sentences, word order shows whether something is more likely to be definite (the bears) or indefinite (bears).

metsässä jouksee karhu. (a bear) vs. Karhu juoksee metsässä (the bear).

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