1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Finnish
  4. >
  5. Learning vocabulary with word…


Learning vocabulary with word associations

  • 1322

I am sure you all have at least heard about the concept that language learners memorize words much better by creating an association in their minds with images or sentences.

I have been trying with no success to find associations for the Finnish words, some of which constantly seem to fall through the cracks between my gray cells, even if one sentence before I knew them perfectly well. :(

With one single exception! This association popped immediately into my mind and really anchored this Finnish word in my memory: kaukana. Since I am a German native, my association works definitely better in German: Der Kaukasus ist nicht nah, sondern kaukana. (The Caucasus is not nearby, but kaukana.) Works like a charm!

I wish I could come up with more associations like this one because the principle really works. But maybe some of you had some other useful associations that help you remember words? Or maybe we can create a list of those associations in a communal brainstorm?

July 23, 2020



Everyone may have another method that works best for them, but I am using this method, too. Together with watching Finnish movies, that works really great for me. For kaukana, my association was actually Finnish: kaupunki ("The town is far away").

I had the problem that I could not find one for veitsi and thus I kept forgetting the word veitsi. But then I was watching "Karppi" on Netflix and there is one episode where she is yelling "Put the knife away! Drop the knife!" several times, and after that, "veitsi" was in my brain. :o) Only after that I thought of the German "wetzen" - too late. :D

Some of my mnemonics were:

For lattia - the German Latten - "Der Fußboden ist aus Latten gemacht."
For lapsi - the German tapsig - "Ein Kind ist tapsig."
For hauska - the German Haus - "In unserem Haus ist es lustig."
For murre - the German murren - "Der murrt so rum in seinem Dialekt, man versteht gar nichts."
For "tärkeä" - the German Teer - "Wenn man Straßen baut, ist Teer ziemlich wichtig."
For "helppo" - the English "help" - "When someone is helping you, everything is easy."

But I guess, coming up with one by yourself is the best way to get the word into your brain. And of course, the best moment is when you don't need your associations anymore.

  • 1322

Thanks! You gave me a better idea of how this might work.


Sure I agree it is a great principle - but it can waste a lot of time when trying to learn a lot of words. I do 250/week when at school. Try and come up with associations for verítékezik (perspire) or kényszerít (compel). Frankly I go for brute force - flashcards.

  • 1322

Well, the argument is that the initial learning of words might take a bit longer, but you'll save a lot of repetitions since the words will be stored in your long term memory much faster.

But it definitely does take some time. That's why I am asking here if someone has some ideas we could share.

Re verítíkezik: What about something with the French vérité? "In vérité, woman don't sweat, they perspire - unless they're sick."


250 sentences like this every week? 50 a night (after a 5 hour study day)?


Just pointing out that most sentences contain more than one word. So, 250 words doesn't translate into 250 sentences. One page in a book typically has about 500 words. Some of them are probably duplicates, but you are likely to encounter at least 250 unique words on one page.


And I doubt that the vocab I am learning would all be found on one page of a book. The vocab is set. No one sentence could realistically use more than one word.

Then at the start of this year, my new teacher could punch through 130+ words a day. This was impossible to keep up with. Even setting up the flashcard decks were a real time killer - let alone drilling and reviewing. I cannot imagine writing 130 sentences every day for a month! (on top of full time study and set homework).

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