The basics of the Finnish Language are fascinating for two reasons.

First of all, Finnish seems so random to the majority of people around the world. For example, Finnish is not even remotely related to either languages of our neighboring countries, Russia and Sweden.

Secondly, the Finnish language is interesting because it explains many hidden cultural things. Let’s look at the word “sauna,” which originated from the Finnish language. This word is so culturally important, it’s also used as a verb in Finland.

Whether you’re a Finnish language enthusiast or just curious about languages as a whole, it’s completely possible to learn some Finnish when there’s so many easy, accessible resources available! Allow me to help you nail down the foundations for your introduction to basic Finnish.

Psst… Follow me on Instagram and join my Finnish lesson every Tuesday on Instagram Stories.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Henkilön Varpu 🇫🇮 Her Finland Blog (@her_finland) jakama julkaisu

Soft Introduction to Finnish Basics

You might have seen the hilarious memes of a word similar in every other language but Finnish.

It’s like other languages are united and playing football together. Then, the Finnish language arrives late and with ice-hockey skates. Finnish words learning by Her FinlandFinnish belongs to the small Finno-Ugric family of languages. The closest “relatives” in this language family are Estonian and Hungarian. In comparison, most of the other languages spoken around Europe belong to the Indo-European languages.

We Finns are used to being different and we don’t have high expectations for a visitor to speak Finnish. That being said though, we are deeply honored if you try to speak a couple of words or are practicing our language. That makes us feel very special. 

Five KEY Rules about the Finnish Language

Finnish has a handful of core principles which are super easy and important to remember.

Finnish has no articles

“A,” “an,” or “the” – Finnish has no such things. It’s the reason why we always forget articles when speaking other languages. 

Finnish has no ‘please’

We are straight-forward as it is, but then there’s the fact that in Finnish we have no word for ‘please’.

There are plenty of ways to be polite in Finnish but none of them have ‘please’ in them. Maybe you can change your tone of voice, perhaps you can ask a question instead of demanding it. But “please” just simply doesn’t exist in Finnish. This nonexistent word is why Finns can be considered rude at first take. 

Finnish has no gender

In Finland, there’s a strong emphasis on gender equality. (Did you know Finland was the first country to grant women equal political rights?) Well, gender equality is also revealed in the structure of our language.

Finnish words have no grammatical gender. There are no feminine, masculine, or neuter words. With that being said, we don’t even have “she” or “he.”

Our one word meaning the third person is hän and it can be a female or male or “it” (yep, sometimes pets can be called with hän). For example, if you used “Hän” in a sentence without context like “hän ran to the park;” it could translate to “she” or “he” or even “it.”  

Finnish has no prepositions

Okay, here is the biggest reason why Finnish words look so weird and super long.

With Finnish, instead of tiny prepositions (in, on, to, for, etc.) in front of a noun, we use endings that are connected to the body of the word. Let me show you some examples:

a dog = koira

for a dog = koiralle

a chair = tuoli

on a chair = tuolilla

To understand a Finnish expression, in most cases, you need to check what is at the end of the word. There are only a couple of individual words that can be used as prepositions without needing to be connected to the body of the word. 

Finnish has A LOT of compound words

Here’s another reason why Finnish words are long: we love compound words.

Most English compound words are also compound words in Finnish. Let’s look at some examples:

dishwasher = tiskikone [dish machine]

sailboat = purjehdusvene [sailing boat]

railroad = rautatie [iron road]

sunscreen = aurinkorasva [sun lotion]

On the other hand, some single English words are still compound words in Finnish. For example:

refrigerator  = jääkaappi [ice box]

computer = tietokone [info machine]

chore = kotityö [house job]

The longest word in Finnish

Combine a compound word with an ending or two and you’ll get word monsters. Here’s the longest word Finland has to offer:

Lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoototoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas (61 letters long)

But even with long, compounded word monsters like this, the Finnish language is super logical and based on rules without many exceptions.

Ten Simple Phrases in Finnish (+ Video Pronunciation)

Here are the most popular phrases in Finnish. Finns are welcoming even when you try a little bit of Finnish. For us, it is a big honor that you want to learn our language. Here are the 10 most popular Finnish phrases. Save this cheatsheet on Pinterest or take a screenshot. Finnish language basic words by Her Finland blog

Free Tools to Help You Learn Finnish

Free resources are the best place to start when learning any language. I handpicked 3 free resources to help you learn Finnish online.

My Free Finnish Online Class

Start learning Finnish with my completely free Finnish class, Spark Your Finnish. With this free course, you will take steps to learning conversational Finnish and how actual Finns talk (not that complicated textbook stuff).

Spark Your Finnish is the ultimate free, go-to resource for busy Finland lovers who want to learn easy methods of saying Finnish words. After taking this class, you’ll know how to say any Finnish word and see why Finnish isn’t as difficult as they say. *Hint hint* Finnish has a phonetic alphabet, so every letter you see you will learn how to pronounce confidently no matter how complicated the word looks.

Free Finnish class with spoken Finnish by Her Finland

There are over 6000 students already in my courses. By starting my free course, you’ll also gain helpful emails filled with free advice too.

I can’t wait to help you with your Finnish language journey. Enroll here in my FREE Finnish class – Spark Your Finnish.

Online Pronunciation Dictionary

Want to hear other Finns besides me pronouncing Finnish? For that, I recommend a site called FORVO. It’s a free online pronunciation dictionary.

Just type the word into the search box, and native Finnish speakers will say the word for you so you know how it should sound. There are over 50 000 Finnish words & phrases on the website. The best way to practice is to get comfortable speaking Finnish out loud!

Online Dictionary

Sanakirja.org is a quality online English-Finnish-English dictionary. I find referencing an online dictionary to be very helpful in learning more diverse and specific vocabulary. Also, since it’s made by a Finn, it has a lot of options for different translations to Finnish. I use this dictionary all the time. 

Fun and Creative Ways to Learn Finnish

Learning languages should be fun! Fun activities help our brain remember and absorb new words. If you want “to put on your Finnish antennas” (that’s a Finnish idiom which sounds silly in English), try:

4 Simple Methods You Can Try Today

  • Listening to Finnish music in Spotify, for example, my Completely Finnish Playlist
  • Finding Finnish recipes, translating them into English, and then cooking Finnish food
  • Checking if your local library has any Finnish books
  • Following Finnish-English Instagram accounts. Like mine. I have a FREE Finnish lesson every Tuesday on my Instagram Stories.

Sending Informal Messages to Friends: Add these easy Finnish phrases

  • Start with “Moi” or “Hei” followed by the recipient’s first name. “Moi” is more relaxed than “Hei”.
  • If you’re friends, you can continue with “Mitä kuuluu?” aka “How are you?”
  • It’s popular to just answer that you’re fine (if you are fine). You can say “Mulle hyvää” in spoken Finnish.
  • End the letter with “terkuin Your name” or only “t. Your name”. Terkuin is spoken Finnish. It’s a relaxed way to say “best wishes”.

Sending More Formal Messages: Add these easy Finnish phrases

  • Start with “Hei” followed by the recipient’s first name.
  • End the letter with “Ystävällisin terveisin, Your name”. Translated word-to-word from Finnish, it means “friendly wishes”.

Teeleidi in Jyväskylä

The Secret to Remembering Finnish Words

Some studies suggest that it takes around 17 times to study a word in order to start remembering it. So, when it comes to learning words, repetition is key.
 
 
 
Here’s the trick that makes the biggest difference in memory: try to apply as many senses as you can.
 
 
 
For example: if you’re trying to remember the word “sun” in Finnish, which is “aurinko,” don’t read these two words as only text, try the following:
– Write the pair of words on a piece of paper.
– Draw a picture of the sun next to the line.
– Stand up & imagine you turn your head in the direction of the sun and feel yourself basking in the sun, your neck stretched.
 
 
 
You have now used multiple senses to build a solid memory path for the word “aurinko”. I use this approach in all my studies.
 
I often don’t even try to remember the word itself, I try to remember my physical movement attached to it. Thus, I’ll remember myself standing up and basking in the sun. Then suddenly, in my mind, I can see the picture of the sun on the paper and next to it the correct word.
 
 
 
 
Are you ready to take the next step in learning Finnish? You don’t have to put off learning Finnish any longer.
 
 

Looking for more information about the Finnish language and culture? Check out some of my other posts:

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Warm wishes from Finland, 
Varpu

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Hello there!

I’m Varpu. One blonde,
travel-loving,
Finnish engineer driving this site.