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  5. "Tuolla on muutama tumma pilv…

"Tuolla on muutama tumma pilvi."

Translation:There are a few dark clouds over there.

July 13, 2020



Strange that this sentence does neither use the partitive, nor the plural.

  • 1973

Interesting, I have never noticed that before! I guess the reason is that muutama, although it refers to many things at once, is singular. Plural of muutama would be muutamat.

The lack of partitive is because of the structure, not muutama: cf. tuolla on tumma pilvi vs. katselen muutamaa tummaa pilveä (I'm looking at a few dark clouds).

(Following is some curiosity stuff and the interpretation of the word can be argued, so read only if you are interested.)

So muutama refers to a bunch of something, muutamat to "bunch of bunches". I would use it like this:

Otan mukaan muutamat vaatteet would be along the lines of "I'm going to take a few sets of clothes with me" when a set forms a whole.
Käymme kokemassa muutamat verkot – "We are going to check some fishing nets"; the nets are supposedly in different places.
Juomme muutamat kaljat ja sitten menemme kotiin – "We are going to drink a few beers and then go to home"; we are supposed to drink the beers together but each one drinks their own beer, of course.


Thanks a lot for the effort you made to explore my question. To me it is an illustration of how difficult it is for someone who did not grow up with the language to -get it right-. There are a lot of conventions in Finnish that one would never guess.

  • 1973

Just to emphasize, my post wasn't meant to discourage, rather the contrary: in many cases it's not too easy for native speakers either. What I wrote was quite non-essential and advanced stuff that you and others will learn eventually down the road. Don't give up :)


I can confirm that! We sometimes have to actually check the correct conjugation/declension of different words because we use some cases so rarely we don't even know how they are supposed to go, or words whose plurals we don't use that often. And there's words that sound like they should be conjugated a certain way but they actually get something different instead, some words also can have couple of ways of conjugating and both are still correct.

We know that our language is a difficult one which is why we are always so flattered when people want to learn it, and we're so happy to help with it too! We also don't even expect anyone to master it perfectly. If you can talk so that you can make yourself understood, that's already a great achievement and usually Finns are pretty good at understanding not that perfectly spoken Finnish.

  • 1319

Each piece of information helps understand how everything is put together in Finnish. Although there are so many different aspects to master, I can't help but feel that most of it seems pretty logical once you grasp the underlying principle. That does not necessarily make it any easier, but the path ahead becomes clearer and therefore, hopefully, more manageable.


Hi lk_. Thanks for your encouragement. You have done a fair bit of German and even some Dutch, so you may be aware that many of the natives there try to say things as clearly as they can, which is not always understood by those who grew up in a language environment where people prefer to imply information as is the custom in English and Finnish. I find this course very stimulating because it explains a lot and reminds me of things I once knew a little about. At this stage I am mainly intrigued by how our language environment shapes our thinking.


Reminds me of fish vs fishes in English (i.e. fish= multiple of one type of fish; fishes= mutiple fish of different types)


Exactly, or people vs. peoples. My thanks to all of you for the very interesting observations and explanations in this thread!


It seems very strange to me because even though muutama is singular, so are other words indicating quantities of something, even including plural numbers, and they cause the following noun to be in the partitive: kilo banaaneja, lasi maitoa, kaksi ihmis. I definitely would have used the partitive after it if I didn't see this.


So grammatically speaking, the form required after muutama is the same as after moni?

  • 1973

When thinking quickly through it, yes, the case is the same.

  • muutama/moni ihminen
  • muutama/moni pilvi
  • muutama/moni auto

But note the caveat: muutama and moni can't be used 1:1 similarly in constructs because the words themselves may need different cases in different situations. Think about the following examples with "a few" and "many":

A few/many people missed the train:
Muutama ihminen myöhästyi junasta / Moni ihminen myöhästyi junasta – in this case they work similarly.


There are a few/many dark clouds over there: Tuolla on muutama tumma pilvi / Tuolla on monta tummaa pilveä (saying tuolla on moni tumma pilvi isn't correct)

There are a few/many cars on the road:
Tiellä on muutama auto / Tiellä on monta autoa (no: tiellä on moni auto)

Hope it helps.


"Tuolla on muutamia tummia pilviä" is as correct, but it sounds more than "muutama tumma pilvi." Muutama is more than 3 but certainly less than 10. Muutamia would perhaps be more than 5 but still less than 10. It depends on what you're talking about, and it's not so strict.


There are a few dark clouds ..why must we repeat "over there" again. please guide me.

  • 1319

”Over there” tells you where the clouds are. This is important information that cannot be left out.

But you could argue that one could leave out ”there” in the English translation: Over there are a few dark clouds.


The first "there" is a placeholder, in English. It doesn't actually mean anything, and is a relatively modern convention. As a professional writer, I actually try and avoid that passive sentence structure.

The structure of the Finnish sentence, with tuolla at the beginning, just about gave me fits until I realized it's almost identical to the English, "Over there are a few dark clouds." Which is entirely correct English grammar. Same with many other sentences in this lesson, such as metsässä on suuri tammi: "In the forest is a large oak." Both those English sentences are perfectly correct, but they're commonly considered formal/poetic today —and (which I find very frustrating) Duo doesn't accept those correct-but-formal translations as correct. So I find myself needing to translate the Finnish into correct-but-formal English, and then try and guess what informal-English structure Duo wants me to use.


I used "Over there are a few dark clouds" and it was not accepted; it seems it should be. Reported.

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