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  5. "They have three weeks to sel…

"They have three weeks to sell that building."

Translation:Heillä on kolme viikkoa aikaa myydä tuo rakennus.

July 17, 2020



I wish the english translation would have said "they have three weeks time to sell that building"


Hi Jess, clearly by not including -time- DL highlights a difference between the languages as also discussed below.


Why is tuo rakennus in the nominative?


It's in accusative, actually, although in a form of accusative case that is identical to nominative case.


So why do we use the accusative?

Isn't 'rakennus' the object of the sentence? I thought we had to use the partitive.


Objects are can be either in partitive or accusative (although some include nominative and genitive in that list as well). Partitive is used for partial objects whereas accusative is used for total objects.



So I probably remember wrongly about 'using ALWAYS the partitive if we refer to the object'.


Nominative, because we are talking about one object and the whole thing is going to get sold. What case would have you used?

Edit: oops I was wrong lol. But yeah, Kristian is right, it's the accusative


The English word "time" is optional in this sentence. Is "aikaa" truly necessary in the Finnish sentence? What would the sentence mean, if anything, without it?


If you leave it out, you will be understood – the meaning remains the same – but the sentence will sound incomplete, not idiomatic.


The previous question about "We have two weeks to buy a new apartment" did notnuse "aikaa" so I don't understand what the difference here is that requires the use of "aikaa".


It was not required for me in the previous sentence but was required in this one.


The aikaa was there for me in the two weeks sentence as well as this one.


That's pretty much what I suspected. Thanks for letting us know! :)

FYI: In the English, not only is "time" optional, but I think the sentence sounds better without it. If it is included, "weeks" needs to be possessive (indicated with an apostrophe) - i.e. "three weeks' time".


I am a bit troubled by the absence of a decriptor in front of the -myydä-. Here -to sell- does not just signify the verb but is short for something like: in order to sell. In spanish it would be -para-, in french -pour-, but finnish does not need anything like that, perhaps because -olla aika+inf- always means -to have time to-. Any comment?


"Olla aika" + 1st infinitive verb means that it's time to do something right now. "Olla aikaa" + 1st infinitive verb means that there is time to do something. There is no need for an additional morpheme functioning as an infinitive marker because of the large variety of different conjugated forms making verbs quite unambiguous. "Sell" can have any aspect and be both singular and plural. Only "sells" is exclusive to a particular aspect and number (3rd person singular in present tense). Finnish, on the other hand, has a different verb form for every combination of aspect and number in positive present tense. Likewise, "Myydä" without a negation can only be 1st infinitive. With a negation, it can also be the negative form (the form of a verb paired with a negation) of indicative mood present tense passive aspect. As it can be identified as such from the presence of the negation, it doesn't cause ambiguity.


Thanks a lot for your very complete (and very swift) response to my question, Kristian. How one extra -a- that I can barely hear shifts the meaning substantially!!! [I like the term -morphene-; never encountered that before, but quite clear in its meaning here.] This sentence was in an exercise raising me to level 4, but your comment indicates that a great deal of complexity yet awaits me. I have known about this complexity for many years and not known how to deal with it. Clearly -ole- is the negative infinite form of olla, in your explanations. I had not heard it referred to as such, but that concept does not cause me any problem as such, except for the need to know/remember those negative forms for each verb.


I thought it would need to be "tuota rakennusta" because partitive often seems to be the answer to what would be accusative in German.


Hi Katzos. It is not correct to consider the partitive as a kind of accusative. The Finns have a number of verbs that require the use of partitive (generally in the accusative), so this explains your impression. These verbs have an implied duration eg -rakastaa- to love -minä rakastan mummoa-. There was a comment of a Finn in one exercise stating: -processi tarvitse partitivi-. I thought that very helpful. To me the idea of a partitive is more like a genetive (a lot of---), but the Finnish partitive goes way beyond that. I hope a Finn will correct that statement if I am wrong; at times my attempts to help are not very helpful. Nevertheless this sentence deals with the process of selling, so I now also wonder why the partitive is not used here, in line with your comment.


As Janboevink says there is a number of verbs that always take a partial object.

Let us recap.

Knowing any other germanic language than English surely helps a lot.

If a verb is transitive, i.e. takes a direct object, the object can be either in the accusative or in the partitive. The person pronouns have a separate accusative form, but for all other nominals (nouns, adjectives, pronouns and numerals in Finnish) the accusative is similar to the nominative or the genitive. The one that looks like nominative is common for verbs in the infinitive (like in this exercise) and in the passive voice (out of scope for this course).

The partitive shows partial object (osaobjekti) as the name implies. This partialness quite often means that the action is in progress. The accusative denotes total object (kokonaisobjekti). Here is the classical example:

  • Luen kirjaa (part.) : the reading is an incomplete state → I am reading a/the book
  • Luen kirjan (acc.) : the reading will end in a complete state → I shall/will read a/the book.


Thanks for your excellent explanation, Juha. Could you please also comment on my implied question: Nevertheless this sentence deals with the process of selling, so I now also wonder why the partitive is not used here, in line with Katzos' comment.


A very short answer:

See my comments in another exercise.

A little longer answer:

See my example of the book reading. If using the accusative the action of the reading will end in a completed state(1). Here the selling will also end in a completed state, therefore the accusative(2). Note further the accusative is the object of a verb in the A-infinitive (ostaa), so you pick the accusative that looks like the nominative(3).

Additional info:

(3) See my comment "Confusing fact" in that another exercise.

(2) In theory you can say Heillä on kolme viikkoa aikaa myydä tuota rakennusta, i.e. with a partitive object, but this means that the action will not be completed in the given time. In other words they spend the time advertising and trying to sell, but the sales agreement will not be signed. Without further context such sentence sounds awkward because of the tense. Given appropriate context and tenses the partitive object makes sense: He möivät tuota rakennusta kolme viikkoa, mutta kukaan ei ollut kiinostunut : They tried to sell that building three weeks, but nobody was interesting in it. The selling failed, was not completed.

(1) Besides voice and tense verbs have what is called grammatical aspect, the meaning of which varies from language to language. For instance in Arabic aspects are used to denote whether the verb contain movement (possibly other things, I do not know). English has two aspects: continuity (or lack thereof) and perfectness (or lack thereof). To my understanding the Slavic languages have a clear distinction regarding perfectness. Finnish and Estonian have an aspect system that is related to that of the Slavic languages. In linguistics it is called telicity, whether the goal of action is achieved (accusative object) or that is not signalled (partitive object).

See my example of the book reading. Let another example be the one in that Wikipedia article:

  • Ammuin karhun (acc.) : I shot the bear (succeeded; it is done) i.e., I shot the bear dead.
  • Ammuin karhua (part.) : I shot at the bear i.e. the bear may have survived.


Hi Juha. This is an impressive explanation of uses of the partitive. I am also struggling with Russian with perfective and imperfect forms of most verbs. In fact I had trouble with this terminology: your explanation is a big help. There are quite a few interesting parallels between Finnish and Russian eg the use of -on me is- for -I have-; also the word for arm is the same as for hand as it is the word for leg and foot.


It is generally acknowledged that there are six layers in the Finnish language. Already during the second oldest period (ca. 1000 BCE – 500 CE) the proto-Finno-Baltic tribes came into contact with proto-Germanic and proto-Russian tribes, so there are very old loan words and grammatical structures that are common at least to a degree. Expressing possession is surely one of those, but I am not sufficiently versed in the language history to say who invented what.


Could someone eXPlain the phrase...aikaa myydä...??


"aikaa" is the partitive of "aika" (time) - "kolme viikkoa aikaa"

"myydä" is "to sell"

"minä myyn" - I sell

"sinä myyt" - you sell

"hän myy" - she sells



Can you specify more what part you want to have clarified?


Why aika? Why not just three weeks?


See my reply elsewhere in this exercise. There is also more discussion in a related exercise.


Why isn't it tuota rakennusta?


See here my comment that begins with "A very short answer".

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