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!

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 smoothly playing football together. Then the Finnish language arrives with ice-hockey skates. 

Finnish language basics start from the fact that Finnish comes from another language family than most other European languages

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 Things to Know about the Finnish Language

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. 

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 courteous in Finnish but none of them have ‘please’ in them. It simply doesn’t exist in Finnish. This specialty is why Finns are many times considered rude. 

Finnish has no gender

There’s a strong emphasis on gender equality in the Finnish culture. It’s also hidden in our language. Finnish words have no grammatical gender. There are no feminine, masculine or neuter words.

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.   

Finnish has no prepositions

Okay, here is the biggest reason why written Finnish looks so weird. We don’t have those short and sweet prepositions or other individual words to express relations.

To understand a Finnish expression, in most cases, you need to check the end of the word. In Finnish, instead of tiny prepositions, we use endings that are connected to the body of the word. That’s one reason why Finnish words look long.  

Finnish has a lot of compound words

Here is the other reason why Finnish words are long. We love compound words.  

Most English compound words are compound words also in Finnish. For example:

  • a Wednesday evening = keskiviikkoilta
  • a summer holiday = kesäloma
  • a kitchen cabinet = keittiökaappi

Some English single words are compound words in Finnish. For example:

  • a fridge = jääkaappi
  • a computer = tietokone
  • a chore = kotityö

Combine a compound word with an ending or two and you’ll get word monsters. On the other hand, Finland is super logical and based on rules without exceptions.

 

Basic Phrases in Finnish

Here are the most popular phrases in Finnish. Finns love it if you can speak 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 common phrases for a Finland visitor!

How to Learn Finnish and Have Fun?

Learning languages should be fun! That helps our brain to remember and absorb new words.

If you want ‘to put on your Finnish antennas’ (that’s a Finnish idiom which 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! I have a regular Tuesday Tutor series which helps you learn easy Finnish. 

Free Tools that Help You Learn Finnish

I handpicked three free resources if you want to learn Finnish online.

My Free Finnish Online Course

I can’t wait to help you with your Finnish language journey! There are 1100+ enrolled students already in my free Finnish pronunciation course. By enrolling in course you’ll be subscribing to my email list.

The course is the go-to course for busy Finland lovers who want to learn simple methods of saying Finnish words. It includes:

  • Five detailed lessons: How to master the Finnish pronunciation
  • Helpful step-by-step tutorial: How to roll the Finnish R
  • 200 most useful Finnish words

After taking this course, you can check any Finnish word in a dictionary and you’ll know how to say it.

Online Pronunciation Dictionary

Want to hear more 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.

Online Dictionary

Sanakirja.org is a quality online English-Finnish-English dictionary. Because it’s made by a Finn, it has a lot of options for different words in Finnish. I use this dictionary all the time. 

Is there anything you would like to know about the Finnish language? Would you like to learn Finnish? Comment below and let me know!

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

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Hello there!

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