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.
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.
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.
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 ihmistä. I definitely would have used the partitive after it if I didn't see this.
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.
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.