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!
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Table of Contents
- 1 Soft Introduction to Finnish Basics
- 2 Five Things You Must Know about the Finnish Language
- 3 Basic Phrases in Finnish
- 4 How to Learn Finnish and Have Fun?
- 5 Free Tools that Help You Learn Finnish
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. 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 You Must Know about the Finnish Language
Finnish has a couple of core principles which are super easy to remember.
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.
In Finnish, instead of tiny prepositions (in, on, to, for, etc.), we use endings that are connected to the body of the word. That’s one reason why Finnish words look long.
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 the end of the word. We have only a couple individual words to express relations which we use without connecting them to the body of the word.
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. Let’s see some examples.
a Wednesday evening = keskiviikkoilta
a summer holiday = kesäloma
a kitchen cabinet = keittiökaappi
Some English single words are compound words in Finnish.
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.
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 book
- Following Finnish-English Instagram accounts. Like mine! I have a Finnish lesson every Tuesday on my Instagram Stories.
Free Tools that Help You Learn Finnish
I handpicked three free resources if you want to learn Finnish online.
My Free Finnish Online Class
My free Finnish class, Spark Your Finnish, is brought to you by my paid in-depth beginner’s course, Conversational Finnish.
Spark Your Finnish is the ultimate free go-to resource for busy Finland lovers who want to learn simple methods of saying Finnish words. After taking this class, you’ll know how to say any Finnish word and see why Finnish isn’t impossible.
There are over 2700+ students already on my courses. By enrolling you’ll be subscribing to my helpful emails 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
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.
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:
Warm wishes from Finland,