Finnish language basics are fascinating for two reasons. First, Finnish seems so random to most people. Second, the language explains many hidden cultural things.
I think it’s always a good idea to learn a little bit about the language of any country if the information is easily accessible!
Table of Contents
Soft Introduction to Finnish
You might have seen the hilarious memes of a word similar in every other language but Finnish.
It’s like other languages are smoothly playing football together. Then the Finnish language arrives with ice-hockey skates.
I think you got my point.
Finnish belongs to the Finno-Ugric family of languages. Most of the other languages spoken in Europe belong to the Indo-European languages.
We Finns are used to being different. Nobody in Finland is expecting a visitor to speak Finnish.
That being said, we are deeply honored if you try to speak a couple of words or know a bit of our language. That makes us feel very special. Also, the Finnish language is a great conversation topic if you are trying to make friends with a Finn.
Five Finnish Language Basics
#1 Finnish has no article
A, an or the – Finnish has no such things. It’s the reason why we always forget articles in other languages.
#2 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. It may seem that a Finn is plain rude when he actually thinks he is being very polite.
#3 Finnish has no gender
There’s a strong emphasis on gender equality in the Finnish culture. It’s also hidden in our language. We don’t have she or he. Our one word meaning the third person is hän and it can be a female or male.
#4 Finnish has no prepositions
We kind of put prepositions at the end of the actual word connected to it and build the word longer.
#5 Finnish has a lot of compound words
Do Finnish words look long to you? Yep, that’s because of our love for compound words.
A Wednesday evening, a summer holiday, a family gathering are all compound words in Finnish. Combine #4 and #5 and you’ll get word monsters.
Basic Phrases in Finnish
How to Learn Finnish and Have Fun?
Learning languages should be fun! I believe fun also helps our brain to remember and absorb new words.
If you want ‘to put on your Finnish antennas’ (that’s a Finnish idiom that sounds ga-ga in English), try:
- Listening Finnish music in Spotify (just type suomi into the Search box)
- Checking 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!
Free Tools to Help Learning Finnish
#1 Online Finnish Language Course
This online course by the University of Helsinki is the best I have seen. Although designed for students coming to study here, it is very useful for anybody interested in the Finnish language. I love the simple and informative style it has!
#2 Online Pronunciation Dictionary
How to pronounce Finnish words? 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.
#3 Online Dictionary
Sanakirja.org is a quality online English-Finnish-English dictionary. I use it all the time.
#4 A List of 200 Useful Finnish Words
I’ve made a handy list of 200 Finnish words for a traveler or expat. The list has the most important words you’ll need in everyday communication in Finland.
The list goes from A to Z in English, giving each word a Finnish counterpart. If you’re an advanced Finnish learner, you can use the list as a quiz!
Download the list below by subscribing to my posting list! I’ll send helpful Finland tips to my subscribers, never spam. And of course, you can unsubscribe anytime.
Is there anything you would like to know about the Finnish language? Comment below!
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