Download GPX file for this article

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Finnish (suomen kieli, suomi) is spoken in Finland and by Finns elsewhere, predominantly in Scandinavia. Whether travellers to Finland need to learn Finnish is doubtful, since most Finns — including virtually all under 50 — speak at least some English. However, since so few people make the effort, you're guaranteed to get delighted reactions if you try.

Understand[edit]

Blue = spoken by the majority, green=spoken by a (sizable) minority.

Finnish is a Finno-Ugric language and hence completely unrelated to most other languages. In particular, Finnish has grammatically nothing at all in common with the Nordic languages, English or Russian. Although there are many old loan words especially from Swedish but also from other European languages, they are not necessarily recognizable due to the very different phonology. The use of modern neologisms instead of borrowing is common, but there may be a less used loan word in addition to the neologism: a polygon may be called polygoni, although the common word is monikulmio (a direct translation from the Greek).

The origin of Finnish and its relatives traces back over 5000 years to nomadic peoples of the Ural mountains in Russia that migrated westward. The details of the migration and the relations between languages are still topics of scientific debate. The closest major modern relative, Estonian, is spoken across the Gulf of Finland. The Sámi languages of Lapland and the Murmansk Peninsula are also related, as are a host of small languages in Russia. While Hungarian is not by any means close, Hungary and Finland have a special relationship as Finnish for a long time was the only other Finno-Ugric language that was a main language of a sovereign country. Except for Kven in Northern Norway, Meänkieli in northern Sweden, Karelian, spoken by a minority across the eastern border, some other minority languages in Russia, and arguably Estonian, Finnish is not close to mutual intelligibility with any of its relatives.

Finnish is an agglunative language, and suffixes express what English expresses mostly with prepositions. For instance, junalippu Helsinkiin means "train ticket to Helsinki", while junalippu Helsinki is hard (but possible) to understand.

Also new words are often formed from the same root by endings: kirjain, kirjasin, kirjuri, kirjoitin, kirje, kirjelmä, kirjasto and kirjaamo are all substantives related to kirja, "book" (letter, font, bookkeeper, printer, ...), and then there are related verbs and adjectives.

Reading signboards can be difficult as use of loan words is uncommon, and those used are not necessarily recognized. Using a dictionary, especially for longer texts, is complicated by the word inflection; also the stem of many words varies somewhat (such as lippu, lipun for ticket).

Colloquial speech differs significantly from what is described here: (minä) olenmä oon ("I am"). The formal pronunciation is still more or less what you will hear in the news, what is taught in school and what is easiest for others to understand.

Pronunciation[edit]

The Finnish language is fairly easy to pronounce: it has one of the most phonetic writing systems in the world, with only a small number of simple consonants and relatively few vowel sounds.

Native English speakers tend to have the most problems with vowel length and the distinction between the front vowels (ä, ö, y) and back vowels (a, o, u). English does make similar distinctions – consider the "a" sounds of father (back) and cat (front), or the difference in the "i" sound for bit (short) and beat (long) – but you will need to pay extra attention to it in Finnish.

In Finnish, all vowels are single sounds (or "pure" vowels). Doubled letters are simply pronounced longer, but it's important to differentiate between short and long sounds. Example:

tuli (TO-ly) → fire
tuuli (TOO-ly) → wind
tulli (TUL-ly) → customs
kuuluu (KOO-loo) → is heard
kuluu (KO-loo) → is worn down
kulu (KO-lo) → expense

The basic Finnish alphabet consists of the following letters:

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p r s t u v y z ä ö

Additionally the letters š and ž appear in a small number of loanwords and are pronounced like English sh and as s in treasure, respectively. The letter w also occurs infrequently in proper names and is treated identically to v. Lastly, the letter å occurs in some Swedish proper names and is pronounced like a Finnish "oo" (similar to English "aw" as in "law"). The beginning learner needs not worry about these minutiae.

Vowels[edit]

The harmony of vowels

Finnish has an unusual feature called vowel harmony, which means that the front vowels (ä, ö, y) and the back vowels (a, o, u) can never be found in the same word (compound words don't count, and the mid-vowels i, e are OK anywhere). This extends even into loanwords and conjugations: most Finns pronounce Olympia as olumpia, and suffixes with "a" bend into "ä" when necessary (jaajaata, jääjäätä).

Long vowels are indicated simply by doubling the vowel in question.

a
like a in father, but short and clipped
aa
like a in father
e
like e in get
ee
not found in English, but just stretch out the e sound
i
like i in bit
ii
like ee in beet
o
like o in nor
oo
stretch out the o sound
u
like u in rule — that's the same u as in German, Italian or Spanish
uu
stretch out the u sound
y
like German ü, similar to ew in few but with lips rounded (transcribed uu )
yy
not found in English, but just stretch out the y sound
ä
like a in cat
ää
like a in bad
ö
like German ö, similar to e in her (transcribed eu )
öö
not found in English, but just stretch out the "ö" sound

Diphthongs (vowel sequences) like the uo of Suomi (Finland) are common. They retain the individual sounds of their vowels, but are slightly blended together to be pronounced in one "beat".

Consonants[edit]

Varistaipale canal, Heinävesi

If a Finnish consonant is doubled, it should be pronounced lengthened. For plosives like p, t, k, this means getting your mouth ready to say it, but pausing for a moment. Hence mato (worm) is "MA-to", but matto (carpet) is "MAT-to".

b
as in English or approximated as p (rarely if ever used in native Finnish words)
c
only in loanwords, pronunciation approximated as s or k
d
as in English or as t (in native words only in conjugated words, with big variations between dialects)
f
as in English or approximated as v (rarely if ever used in native Finnish words)
g
like g in get or approximated as k (rarely if ever used in native Finnish words, except in ng, see below)
h
like h in hotel, pronounced more strongly before a consonant
j
like y in yes
k
similar to English k, but unaspirated and slightly voiced
ks
like English x
l m n
as in English
ng
like ng in sing
nk
as ng + k
p
similar to English p, but unaspirated and slightly voiced
r
trilled, as in Spanish perro
s
like ss in hiss
t
as in English
v w
like v in vine
z
like ts in cats (not used in native Finnish words)

Stress and tone[edit]

Word stress is always on the first syllable and is usually weak; compounds words have more than one stressed syllable. Don't confuse stress with vowel length; they occur independently in Finnish. There is no tone whatsoever in Finnish speech, just a long string of fairly monotone sounds, with all syllables given equal value except the first one. Foreigners tend to think this makes the language sound rather depressing; Finns, on the other hand, wonder why everybody else's languages—including Russian—sound so sing-songy.

Grammar[edit]

Finnish grammar is radically different from English (or any Indo-European language, for that matter), making Finnish a rather difficult language to master, and Finns love to regale foreigners with horror stories of compound words a mile long and verbs with seventeen suffixes tacked on. Basically, everything in a sentence (nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns) inflects to indicate who is doing what, why, when and in what way, so constructing even a simple sentence requires lots of tweaking about:

I go to the shop. I quickly buy bread.
Menen kauppaan. Ostan nopeasti leipää.
go-I shop-to. buy-I quick-adverb bread-object.

Nouns can be declined in 14 different cases for handling things like "getting some coffee and getting the coffee, going into a pub, being in a pub, getting out of the pub, being on the roof, getting onto the roof, getting off the roof, using something as a roof and so on, which are encoded into the word endings (kahvia, kahvi, pubiin, pubissa, pubista, katolle, katolta, kattona).

Then there is a whole assortment of additional suffixes, leading to improbable but entirely grammatical monsters like talo ("house") → taloissammekinkohan ("also in our houses, perhaps?") or kala ("fish") → kalastajamaisuudettomuudellansakaan ("even by using his non-fisherman-likeness").

The good news is that most of these monstrosities are limited to formal written Finnish, although something like menisinköhän (go-would-I-question-doubting; thinking aloud: I'd perhaps go, what'd you think) is not too uncommon. It is possible to "speak like Tarzan" (without conjugating anything) in subject-verb-object order like English and still be more or less understood. Minä mennä kauppa, minä nopea ostaa leipä (I go shop, I quick buy bread) will get you a zero in Finnish class, but it gets the message across.

And there are some minor consolations for the aspiring student: Finnish has no articles and no grammatical gender. Rules for conjugation are often complex, but at least they are very regular (rules below are simplifications, which happen to work in many cases).

Phrase list[edit]

Common signs


AUKI, AVOINNA
Open
KIINNI, SULJETTU
Closed
SISÄÄN(KÄYNTI)
Entrance
ULOS(KÄYNTI)
Exit
TYÖNNÄ
Push
VEDÄ
Pull
WC
Toilet
HERRAT, MIEHET or M
Men
NAISET or N
Women
KIELLETTY
Forbidden
SEIS
Stop

Phrases in the following phrase list use the informal singular (sinuttelu), which is by far the most common form in modern Finnish and appropriate for almost all situations a traveller might encounter.

Note: Due to the ease, specificity and regularity of Finnish pronunciation, the difficulty of transcribing long vowels, and the general inaccuracy of English-based phoneticizations, it is highly recommended you take a few minutes to learn the alphabet instead of relying on the phoneticizations. That being said, however, Finns are often quite excited to hear a foreigner attempt to speak the language and tend to be very forgiving of pronunciation blunders.

Basics[edit]

Kuopio as seen from the Puijo observation tower
Good day
Hyvää päivää (HUU-vaa PIGH-vaa)
Hello (informal)
Moi (MOI), Hei (HAY), Terve (TEHR-veh)
How are you?
Mitä kuuluu? (MEE-ta KOO-loo?) (NOTE: this is not used merely as a conversational phrase as in English. Expect a longer story in response if you say this!)
Fine, thank you.
Kiitos, hyvää. (KEE-toss, HUU-vaa)
What is your name?
Mikä sinun nimesi on? (MEE-ka SEE-noon NEE-meh-see ohn?)
My name is ______ .
Nimeni on ______ . (NEE-meh-nee ohn _____ .)
Nice to meet you.
Hauska tavata. (HOWS-kah TAH-vah-tah)

Pretty pretty please?

The word please doesn't translate very easily into Finnish, although starting requests with Saisinko... (Could I please have...) or Voisitko... (Could you please...) can often substitute. If you have been asked something (eg. "What would you like?", or "Where do you want to go?"), you can just state X, kiitos in response. Better yet, just smile!

Thank you.
Kiitos. (KEE-tohss)
You're welcome.
Ole hyvä (OH-lay HUU-va); Ei kestä. (AY KEHSS-ta)
Yes
Kyllä (KUUL-la), Joo (yoh)
No.
Ei. (ay)
Excuse me. (getting attention)
Anteeksi (AHN-tehk-see)
Excuse me. (begging pardon)
Anteeksi (AHN-tehk-see)
I'm sorry.
Anteeksi (AHN-tehk-see)
Goodbye
Näkemiin. (NAK-eh-meen.)
Goodbye (informal)
Hei hei (HAY-hay), Moi moi (MOI-moi)
I can't speak Finnish
En puhu suomea. (EN POO-hoo SOO-oh-meh-ah)
Do you speak English?
Puhutko englantia? (POO-hoot-koh EHNG-lahn-tee-ah?)
Is there someone here who speaks English?
Puhuuko kukaan täällä englantia? (POO-hoo-koh KOO-kahn TAAL-la EHNG-lahn-tee-ah?)
Help!
Apua! (AH-poo-ah!)
Look out!
Varo! (VAH-roh!)
Good morning.
Hyvää huomenta. (HUU-vaa HOO-oh-mehn-tah)
Good evening.
Hyvää iltaa. (HUU-vaa EEL-tah)
Good night.
Hyvää yötä. (HUU-vaa UU-eu-ta)
Good night (to sleep)
Hyvää yötä. (HUU-vaa UU-eu-ta)
I don't understand.
En ymmärrä (EN UUM-mar-ra)
Where is the toilet?
Missä on vessa? (MEES-sa ohn VEHS-sah?) – toilets in Finland are usually marked with a pictogram for men and women (or the letters M and N respectively), the text WC, or a cock, single toilets can also often be recognized by a green (vacant) or red (in use) colour by the lock

Common verbs[edit]

To be

(minä) olen
"I am"
(sinä) olet
"you (sg.) are"
hän on
"he/she is"
(me) olemme
"we are"
(te) olette
"you all are"
he ovat
"they are"

Similarly to Italian and Spanish, the verb by itself reveals the person, therefore the personal pronoun is often omitted, except in third person.

Shown is the imperative. Add -n to get menen, tulen "I go, I come", etc. Add -nko to get the question "Do I ...?", for instance saanko... "Can I take ...?". For the second person (sg.) the ending is -t: saat is "you may", voitko? is "can you?"

no
ei (Ay); see infobox
don't
älä (AH-la); plural or formal älkää (AHL-kaa), conjugation more complex
can
voi (voy)
can?
voiko? (VOY-koh?) – the -n comes before the -ko, so "can I?" is voinko?
buy
osta (OH-sta)
come
tule (TO-leh)
drive
aja (AH-yah)
eat
syö (see-euh) – tricky one
go
mene (MEH-neh)
get (receive)
saa (sUH) – stretch the vowel
give
anna (AH-nna)
keep
pidä + noun (PE-dah) – "I keep" adds an ending: pidän + noun-n as in pidä vaihtoraha/pidän vaihtorahan/pidämme vaihtorahan (keep/I keep/we keep the change)
like
pidä + noun-sta – "I like you" is pidän sinusta
put/place/set
laita (LIE-tah)
say
sano (SAH-no)
sell
myy (muu)
take
ota (OH-tah)
walk
kävele (KA-ve-leh)

Problems[edit]

I no, you no, we all no

In Finnish, the word "no" — ei — is a verb, so it can be conjugated. Thus, as juo or juoda means "drink"...

en juo
"I don't drink"
et juo
"you don't drink"
ei juo
"he/she doesn't drink"
emme juo
"we don't drink"
ette juo
"you all don't drink"
eivät juo
"they don't drink".
ei juoda
"let's not drink"
Leave me alone!
Anna minun olla rauhassa! (AHN-nah MEE-noon OHL-lah RAU-has-sah)
Don't touch!
Älä koske! (AL-ah KOHSS-keh!)
Let go! (if grabbed)
Päästä IRTI! (PAHS-tah EER-tee)
I will call the police.
Kutsun poliisin. (KOOT-soon POH-lee-sin)
Police!
Poliisi! (POH-lee-see!)
Stop! Thief!
Pysähdy! Varas! (PUU-sa-duu! VAH-rahs!)
I need your help.
Tarvitsen apuasi. (TAHR-veet-sehn AH-poo-ah-see)
It's an emergency.
Nyt on hätä. (NUUT ohn HA-ta)
I'm lost.
Olen eksynyt. (OH-lehn EHK-suu-nuut)
I lost my bag.
Laukkuni katosi. (LAUK-koo-nee KAH-toh-see)
I lost my wallet.
Lompakkoni katosi. (LOHM-pahk-koh-nee KAH-toh-see)
I'm sick / I've fallen ill
Olen kipeä / sairastunut. (OH-lehn KEE-peh-a)
I've been injured.
Olen loukkaantunut. (OH-lehn LOH-ook-kahn-too-noot)
I need a doctor.
Tarvitsen lääkärin. (TAHR-veet-sehn LAA-ka-reen)
Can I use your phone?
Saanko käyttää puhelintasi? (SAAN-koh KA-UU-dAh POO-heh-LIN-tah-sih)

Numbers[edit]

Chopping up numbers

Does saying things like seitsemänkymmentäkahdeksan for "78" seem terribly long-winded? Finns think so too, and in colloquial speech they abbreviate brutally, leaving just the first syllable of each component: seit-kyt-kahdeksan. Here are the short "prefix" forms, but note that they can only be used in compounds.

1
yks-
2
kaks-
3
kol-
4
nel-
5
viis-
6
kuus-
7
seit-
8
kaheks-
9
yheks-
10
-kyt
1
yksi (UUK-see)
2
kaksi (KAHK-see)
3
kolme (KOHL-meh)
4
neljä (NEHL-ya)
5
viisi (VEE-see)
6
kuusi (KOO-see)
7
seitsemän (SAYT-seh-man)
8
kahdeksan (KAHH-dehk-sahn)
9
yhdeksän (UUHH-dehk-san)
10
kymmenen (KUUM-mehn-nehn)
11
yksitoista (UUK-see-tois-tah)
12
kaksitoista (KAHK-see-tois-tah...)
1X
X-toista (the "teens" have their inflection after the "X", before "toista", "of the second": kaksitoista -> kahdentoista)
20
kaksikymmentä (KAHK-see-KUUM-mehn-ta)
21
kaksikymmentäyksi (KAHK-see-KUUM-mehn-ta-UUK-see)
2X
kaksikymmentä-X
30
kolmekymmentä (KOHL-meh-KUUM-mehn-ta)
XY
X-kymmentä-Y
100
sata (SAH-tah)
200
kaksisataa (KAHK-see-SAH-tah)
300
kolmesataa (KOHL-meh-SAH-tah)
1000
tuhat (TOO-haht)
2000
kaksi tuhatta (KAHK-see TOO-haht-tah)
1,000,000
miljoona (MEEL-yoh-nah)
1,000,000,000
miljardi (MEEL-yahr-dee)
1,000,000,000,000
biljoona (BEEL-yoh-nah)
number _____ (train, bus, etc.)
numero _____ (NOO-meh-roh _____)
half
puoli (POO-oh-lee)
less
vähemmän (VA-hehm-man)
more
enemmän (EH-nehm-man)

Decimal fractions[edit]

Note that the decimal comma is used. Decimal points can occur on badly localized computerized displays and similar, but usually the point is used to separate groups of three digits:

a million
1.000.000
one euro twenty cent
1,20
one euro
1€, 1,– (you will never encounter the version used in English speaking countries with the currency symbol before the amount)

Time[edit]

now
nyt (NUUT)
later
myöhemmin (MUU-eu-hehm-meen)
before
ennen (EHN-nehn)
morning
aamu (AH-moo)
afternoon
iltapäivä (EEL-tah-pigh-va)
evening
ilta (EEL-tah)
night
yö (UU-eu)

Clock time[edit]

Kaksikymmentä yli kaksitoista (in the night).

In the spoken language the 12-hour clock is more common, with AM/PM specified informally where necessary (no fixed words). The 24-hour clock can be used also then, and it is used almost exclusively in tables, for opening hours and the like.

one o'clock AM
kello yksi (yöllä) KEHL-loh UUK-see UU-eu-lah
seven o'clock AM
kello seitsemän (aamulla) KEHL-loh SAYT-seh-man AHM-mool-lah
noon
kello kaksitoista or keskipäivä (KEHS-kee-pigh-va)
one o'clock PM
kello yksi or kolmetoista (KEHL-loh UUK-see or KOHL-meh-tois-tah)
two o'clock PM
kello kaksi or neljätoista (KEHL-loh KAHK-see or NEHL-ya-tois-tah)
midnight
keskiyö (KEHS-kee-uu-eu)

The hours are often inflected:

at one o'clock PM
kello yksi (päivällä) or yhdeltä (KEHL-loh UUK-see PAI-va-lla) or (UUH-del-ta)
at two o'clock
kello kaksi or kahdelta (KEHL-loh KAHK-see PAI-va-lla) or (KAH-del-ta)
at noon
kello kaksitoista, keskipäivällä or kahdeltatoista (KEHL-loh KAHK-see-toy-stah, KEH-ski-pai-va-lla or KAH-del-tah-toy-stah)

Minutes and fractions:

twenty past (one)
kaksikymmentä yli (yksi/yhden) (KAHK-see-kuum-men-ta UU-lee UUK-si/UUH-den)
five to (two)
viisi vaille (kaksi) (VEE-see VY-lleh KAHK-see)
a quarter to (three)
varttia vaille (kolme) (VAHR-tti-ah VY-lleh KOHL-meh)
a quarter past (four)
vartin yli (neljä) (VAHR-teen UU-lee NEHL-ya)
half past (one)
puoli (kaksi) – sic! think half to, not half past (POO-oh-lee KAHK-see)

Duration[edit]

_____ minute(s)
_____ minuutti(a) (MEE-noot-tee-[ah])
_____ hour(s)
_____ tunti(a) (TOON-tee-[ah])
_____ day(s)
_____ päivä(ä) (PIGH-va[a])
_____ week(s)
_____ viikko(a) (VEEK-koh-[ah])
_____ month(s)
_____ kuukausi / kuukautta (KOO-kow-see / KOO-kowt-tah)
_____ year(s)
_____ vuosi / vuotta (VOO-oh-see / VOO-oh-tah)

Days[edit]

today
tänään (TA-naan)
day before yesterday
toissapäivänä (TOY-ssah-pai-va-na)
yesterday
eilen (AY-lehn)
tomorrow
huomenna (HOO-oh-mehn-nah)
day after tomorrow
ylihuomenna (UU-lee-hoo-oh-mehn-nah)
this week
tällä viikolla (TAL-la VEE-kohl-lah)
last week
viime viikolla (VEE-meh VEE-kohl-lah)
next week
ensi viikolla (EHN-see VEE-kohl-lah)
Sunday
sunnuntai (SOON-noon-tigh)
Monday
maanantai (MAH-nahn-tigh)
Tuesday
tiistai (TEES-tigh)
Wednesday
keskiviikko (KEHS-kee-veek-koh)
Thursday
torstai (TOHRS-tigh)
Friday
perjantai (PEHR-yahn-tigh)
Saturday
lauantai (LAU-ahn-tigh)

Months[edit]

Wintry landscape in Multia, Central Finland
January
tammikuu (TAHM-mee-koo)
February
helmikuu (HEHL-mee-koo)
March
maaliskuu (MAH-leess-koo)
April
huhtikuu (HOOHH-tee-koo)
May
toukokuu (TOH-koh-koo)
June
kesäkuu (KEH-sa-koo)
July
heinäkuu (HAY-na-koo)
August
elokuu (EH-loh-koo)
September
syyskuu (SUUS-koo)
October
lokakuu (LOH-kah-koo)
November
marraskuu (MAHR-rahss-koo)
December
joulukuu (YOH-oo-loo-koo)

Writing time and date[edit]

Dates are written in the day-month-year order, eg. 2.5.1990 for May 2nd, 1990. If the month is written out, both the forms 2. toukokuuta (2nd of May) and toukokuun 2. päivä (May's 2nd) are used.

"Best before" dates and similar are often written with other systems; 150214 will probably mean 15.2.2014, but may mean something else, e.g. 14.2.2015. The American month/day/year is never used, though.

Colors[edit]

black
musta (MOOS-tah)
white
valkoinen (VAHL-koy-nehn)
gray
harmaa (HAHR-mah)
red
punainen (POO-nigh-nehn)
blue
sininen (SEE-nee-nehn)
blue-green
turkoosi (TOOR-koh-see)
yellow
keltainen (KEHL-tigh-nehn)
green
vihreä (VEEHH-reh-a)
orange
oranssi (OH-rahns-see)
purple
violetti (VEE-oh-leht-tee)
brown
ruskea (ROOS-keh-ah)
pink
pinkki (PEENK-kee)

Transportation[edit]

Due to the difficulty of conjugating various place names, the phrases below are not always grammatically correct. They will, however, definitely be understood.

Replace 'i' in '-in' with the preceding vowel, as in Vaasa – Vaasaan. Exceptions where '-lle' is used instead are rife and irregular, for instance Tampere – Tampereelle. Places that take their name from a lake, river, rapids, or other waterway (-järvi, -joki, -koski) are suffixed with -lle, thus Ylöjärvi – Ylöjärvelle, Seinäjoki – Seinäjoelle, Äänekoski – Äänekoskelle. Using the wrong form can sound funny (e.g. when meaning literally going into the body of water), but will usually easily be understood. Other exceptions may sometimes make your sentence more confusing (Tarzan speak can help if you get stuck).

Place names[edit]

Church and station villages

The parish church was usually built in the biggest village of the parish, but when railroads were built the village that grew around the railroad station often become as important. Road signs indicate the two by appending KKO (kirkko, "church") and AS (asema, "station"), as in "LIETO AS". Nowadays many of these stations are nonfunctional, as trains just pass by.

In general, the name of the language is the same as the country, but uncapitalized.
eg. Espanja → Spain, espanja → Spanish

America
Amerikka (AH-meh-reek-kah)
Canada
Kanada (KAH-nah-dah)
Denmark
Tanska (TAHN-skah)
Estonia
Viro (VEE-roh)
Finland
Suomi (SOO-oh-mee)
France
Ranska (RAHN-skah)
Germany
Saksa (SAHK-sah)
Japan
Japani (YAH-pah-nee)
Norway
Norja (NOHR-yah)
Poland
Puola (POUOH-la)
Russia
Venäjä (VEHN-a-ya)
Spain
Espanja (EHS-pahn-yah)
Sweden
Ruotsi (ROO-oht-see)
USA
USA (OO-ehss-ah)
Copenhagen
Kööpenhamina (KEU-pehn-hah-mee-nah)
London
Lontoo (LOHN-toh)
Moscow
Moskova (MOS-koh-va)
Paris
Pariisi (PAH-ree-see)
Saint Petersburg
Pietari (PEE-eh-tah-ree)
Stockholm
Tukholma (TOOK-hohl-mah)

Bus and train[edit]

Oulu railway station
How much is a ticket to _____?
Paljonko maksaa lippu _____in? (PAHL-yohn-koh MAHK-sah LEEP-poo _____in?)
One ticket to _____, please.
Yksi lippu _____in, kiitos. (UUK-see LEEP-poo ____, KEE-tohs)
Where does this train/bus go?
Minne tämä juna/bussi menee? (MEEN-neh TA-ma YOO-nah/BOOS-see MEH-neh?)
Where is the train/bus to _____?
Missä on _____n juna/bussi? (MEES-sa ohn _____n YOO-nah/BOOS-see?)
Does this train/bus stop in _____?
Pysähtyykö tämä juna/bussi _____ssa? (PUU-sa-htuu-keu TA-ma YOO-nah/BOOS-see _____ssah?)
When does the train/bus for _____ leave?
Milloin _____n juna/bussi lähtee? (MEEL-loin ____n YOO-nah/BOOS-see LA-hteh?)
When will this train/bus arrive in _____?
Milloin tämä juna/bussi saapuu _____in? (MEEL-loin TA-ma YOO-nah/BOOS-see SAH-poo ____?)

Directions[edit]

How do I get to _____ ?
Miten pääsen _____lle/in* ? (MEE-tehn PAA-sehn ____ ?)
...the train station?
...juna-asemalle? (...YOO-nah-ah-seh-mahl-leh?)
...the bus station?
...bussiasemalle? (...BOOS-see-ah-seh-mahl-leh?)
...the airport?
...lentokentälle? (...LEHN-toh-kehn-tal-leh?)
...downtown?
...keskustaan? (...KEHS-koos-tahn?)
...the youth hostel?
...retkeilymajaan? (...REHT-kay-luu-mah-yahn?)
...the _____ hotel?
... _____-hotelliin? (...HOH-tehl-leen?)
...the American/ Canadian/ Australian/ British consulate?
...Yhdysvaltojen/ Kanadan/ Australian/ Britannian konsulaattiin? (...UUHH-duus-vahl-toh-yehn/KAH-nah-dahn/OWS-trah-lee-ahn/BREE-tahn-niahn KOHN-soo-laht-teen?)
Where are there a lot of...
Missä on paljon... (MEES-sa ohn PAHL-yohn...)
...hotels?
...hotelleja? (...HOH-tehl-leh-yah?)
...restaurants?
...ravintoloita? (...RAH-veen-toh-loi-tah?)
...bars?
...baareja? (...BAH-reh-yah?)
...sites to see?
...nähtävyyksiä? (...NA-hta-vuuk-see-a?)
Can you show me on the map?
Voitko näyttää kartalla? (VOIT-koh NAUUT-ta KAHR-tahl-lah?)
street
katu (KAH-too)
Turn left.
Käänny vasemmalle. (KAN-nuu VAH-seh-mahl-leh)
Turn right.
Käänny oikealle. (KAN-nuu OI-keh-ah-leh)
left
vasen (VAH-sehn)
right
oikea (OI-keh-ah)
straight ahead
eteenpäin (EH-tehn-pighn)
towards the _____
kohti _____ (KOHH-tee ____)
past the _____
_____n ohi (____n OH-hee)
before the _____
ennen _____ (EH-nehn ____)
Watch for the _____.
Varo _____. (VAH-roh ____)
intersection
risteys (REES-teh-uus)
north
pohjoinen (POHH-yoi-nehn)
south
etelä (EH-teh-la)
east
itä (EE-ta)
west
länsi (LAN-see)
uphill
ylämäki (UU-la-ma-kee)
downhill
alamäki (AH-lah-ma-kee)
  • Generally, -lle is used for open places while -in is used for houses and other indoor locations, but this is irregular, e.g. -lle having a more abstract meaning.

Taxi[edit]

Taxi!
Taksi! (TAHK-see!)
Take me to _____, please.
_____, kiitos. (____, KEE-tohss)
How much does it cost to get to _____?
Paljonko maksaa mennä _____(long vowel+n)?, e.g. "Helsinkiin" (PAHL-yohn-ko MAHK-sah MEHN-na ____?)
(Take me) there, please.
Sinne, kiitos. (SEEN-neh, KEE-tohss)

Lodging[edit]

The Las Vegas'esque Hotel Onnentähti in Tuuri, Southern Ostrobothnia
Do you have any rooms available?
Onko teillä vapaita huoneita? (OHN-koh tail-ah vah-pie-tah hoo-oh-nay-tah?)
How much is a room for one person/two people?
Miten paljon maksaa huone yhdelle/kahdelle hengelle? (...)
Does the room come with...
Tuleeko huoneen mukana... (TOO-leh-koh hoo-oh-nehn moo-kah-nah...)
...bedsheets?
...lakanat? (LAH-kah-nat)
...a bathroom?
...kylpyhuone? (KUUL-puu-hoo-oh-neh)
...a telephone?
...puhelin? (POO-heh-lin)
...a TV?
...televisio? (TEH-leh-vee-see-oh)
May I see the room first?
Voinko nähdä huoneen ensin? (VOYN-koh NAH-da HOO-oh-nehn EHN-seen?)
Do you have anything quieter?
Onko teillä mitään hiljaisempaa? (OHN-koh TAIL-la ME-tahn HEL-yah-ee-sehm-pah?)
...bigger?
...isompaa? (EE-som-pah?)
...cleaner?
...puhtaampaa? (POOH-tahm-paah)
...cheaper?
...halvempaa? (HAHL-vehm-paah)
OK, I'll take it.
Otan sen. (OH-tan SEHN)
I will stay for _____ night(s).
Yövyn _____ yötä. (UU-eu-veun _____ UU-eu-ta)
Can you suggest another hotel?
Voitteko ehdottaa toista hotellia? (VOY-tteh-koh EH-doh-ttah TOY-stah HOH-tehl-lya?)
Do you have a safe?
Onko teillä turvasäilöä? (OHN-koh TAIL-la TOOR-vah-sa-eel-eua?)
...lockers?
...turvalokeroita? (TOOR-vah-loh-keh-roy-tah?)
Is breakfast/supper included?
Kuuluuko aamiainen/illallinen hintaan? (KOO-loo-koh AH-me-i-nehn/EEll-ahll-ee-nehn HE-n-tahn?)
What time is breakfast/supper?
Mihin aikaan on aamiainen/illallinen? (ME-he-en I-kahn OHN AH-me-i-nehn/EEll-ahll-ee-nehn)
Please clean my room.
Olkaa hyvä ja siivotkaa huoneeni. (OHL-kah HUU-va YA SEE-voht-kah HOO-oh-neh-nee)
Can you wake me at _____?
Voitteko herättää minut kello _____? (VOY-tte-koh HEH-rat-taa ME-noot KEH-lloh ______?)
I want to check out.
Haluaisin kirjautua ulos. (HAH-loo-i-sin KEER-ya-oo-too-ah OO-lohs)

Money[edit]

Counting out your dough

Common slang words for amounts of money:

ege (EH-geh)
euro, one euro
femma (FEHM-mah)
five
kymppi, kybä (KUUM-ppe, KUU-ba)
ten
huntti, satku (HOON-tte, SAHT-koo)
hundred
tonni (TOHN-ne)
thousand
Do you accept American/ Australian/ Canadian dollars?
Hyväksyttekö Amerikan/ Australian/ Kanadan dollareita? (HUU-vak-suut-teh-keu AH-meh-ree-kan/AH-oo-strah-lee-ahn/KAH-nah-dahn DOH-llah-rey-tah?)
Do you accept British pounds?
Hyväksyttekö Britannian puntia? (HUU-vah-suut-teh-keu BREE-tah-nee-ahn POOHN-tee-ah?)

NOTE: Finland's currency is the Euro, one of the world's major currencies, which can be exchanged everywhere in the world. Hence Australian or Canadan dollars are about as accepted as Malawian kwacha – in other words shopkeepers would probably think you're joking. US dollars, Swedish kronor and Russian roubles might be accepted at select souvenir shops and hotels but don't count on that. In practice, if you do not have Euros at hand, pay by card.

Do you accept credit cards?
Voinko maksaa luottokortilla? (VOYN-koh MAHK-sah LOO-oh-ttoh-kohr-tee-lla?)
Can you change money for me?
Voiko teillä vaihtaa rahaa? (VOY-koh TAIL-la VY-h-tah RAH-haa?)
Where can I get money changed?
Missä voin vaihtaa rahaa? (MEES-sa VOYN VY-h-tah RAH-haa?)
Can you change a traveler's check for me?
Voiko teillä vaihtaa matkashekkejä? (VOY-koh TAIL-lah VY-h-tah MAHT-kah-sheh-kay-a?)
Where can I get a traveler's check changed?
Missä voin vaihtaa matkashekkejä? (MEES-sa VOYN VY-h-tah MAHT-kah-sheh-key-a?)
What is the exchange rate?
Mikä on vaihtokurssi? (MEE-ka OHN VY-h-toh-koor-ssee)
Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)?
Missä on (pankki/raha)-automaatti? (MEE-ssa OHN PAHN-kki/RAH-ha-AOO-toh-maah-ttee)
Most Finnish ATMs are orange-coloured, with the logos "Otto" or "Solo".

Eating[edit]

Street food including fried vendace at a market in Turku, in the front traditional wooden mugs for sale (as souvenirs)
A table for one person/two people, please.
Pöytä yhdelle/kahdelle kiitos. (PEU-uu-ta UUH-deh-lleh/KAH-deh-lle KEE-tos)
Can I look at the menu, please?
Saisinko ruokalistan? (SIGH-sin-koh ROO-oh-kah-lees-tahn?)
Can I look in the kitchen?
Voinko nähdä keittiön? (VOYN-koh NA-h-da KAY-ttee-euhn)
Is there a local specialty?
Onko teillä paikallisia erikoisuuksia? (OHN-ko TAIL-lah PI-kah-llee-see-ah EH-ree-koy-sook-see-ah?)
I'm a vegetarian.
Olen kasvissyöjä. (OH-lehn KAHS-vees-suu-euh-yah)
I don't eat pork.
En syö sianlihaa. (EHN SUU-euh SEE-ahn-lee-hah)
I don't eat beef.
En syö naudanlihaa. (EHN SUU-euh NOW-dahn-lee-hah)
I only eat kosher food.
Syön vain kosher-ruokaa. (SUU-euhn VINE KOH-shehr ROO-oh-kaah)
Can you make it "lite", please? (less oil/butter/lard)
Voitteko tehdä siitä kevyttä? (VOY-tteh-koh TEHH-da SEE-ta KEH-vuu-tta?)
fixed-price meal
päivän ateria (PIGH-van AH-teh-ree-ah)
a la carte
a la carte (AH-lah-kahrt)
breakfast
aamiainen (AAH-mee-i-nehn)
lunch
lounas (LOH-oo-nahs)
dinner
päivällinen (PA-I-va-llee-nehn)
supper
illallinen (EEL-lal-eenen)
I want _____.
Saisinko _____. (SIGH-sin-koh_____)
I want a dish containing _____.
Saisinko jotain _____n kanssa. (SIGH-sin-koh JOH-tighn ______n KAHN-ssah)
chicken
kana (KAH-na)
beef
naudanliha (NOW-dahn-lee-hah)
reindeer
poro (POH-roh)
fish
kala (KAH-lah)
herring
silli (SEEL-lee)
baltic herring
silakka (SEEL-ahk-kah)
ham
kinkku (KEEN-kkooh)
sausage
makkara (MUCK-ah-rah)
cheese
juusto (YOOS-toh)
eggs
munia (MOOH-ne-ah)
salad
salaatti (SAH-laah-ttee)
(fresh) vegetables
(tuoreita) vihanneksia (TOO-oh-ray-tah VEE-hahn-nehk-see-ah)
(fresh) fruit
(tuoreita) hedelmiä (TOO-oh-ray-tah HEH-dehl-mee-ah)
bread
leipä (LAY-pa)
toast
paahtoleipä (PAH-toh-lay-pa)
noodles
nuudelit (NOO-deh-leet)
rice
riisi (REE-see)
beans
pavut (PAH-voot)
May I have a glass of _____?
Saisinko lasin _____? (SIGH-sin-koh LAH-sin______)
May I have a cup of _____?
Saisinko kupin _____? (SIGH-sin-koh KOO-pin_____)
May I have a bottle of _____?
Saisinko pullon _____? (SIGH-sin-koh POOL-lohn______)
coffee
kahvia (KAH-vee-ah)
tea (drink)
teetä (TEH-ta)
juice
mehua (MEH-oo-ah)
(bubbly) water
soodavettä (SOOH-dah-veht-tah)
water
vettä (VEH-tah)
beer
olutta (OHL-oo-ttah)
red/white wine
puna/valko-viiniä (POO-nah/VAHL-koh-vee-nee-a)
May I have some _____?
Saisinko _____? (SIGH-sin-koh____?)
salt
suolaa (SOO-oh-laah)
black pepper
pippuria (PEEP-ooh-ree-ah)
butter
voita (VOY-tah)
Excuse me, waiter? (getting attention of server)
Anteeksi, tarjoilija? (AHN-tehk-see TAHR-yoy-lee-ah?)
I'm finished.
Olen valmis. (OH-lehn VAHL-mees)
It was delicious.
Se oli herkullista/hyvää. (SEH OH-lee HEHR-kool-lees-tah/HUUH-vaa)
Please clear the plates.
Voitteko tyhjentää pöydän? (VOY-tteh-koh TUUH-yen-taa PEU-uu-dan)
The check, please.
Lasku, kiitos. (LAHS-kooh, KEE-tohs)

Bars[edit]

Night in Joensuu
Do you serve alcohol?
Myyttekö alkoholia? (MUU-tte-keuh AHL-koh-hohl-eeah?)
Is there table service?
Onko teillä pöytiintarjoilua? (OHN-koh TAIL-la PEU-uu-teen-tahr-yoy-loo-ah?)
A beer/two beers, please.
Yksi olut/kaksi olutta kiitos. (UUK-see OH-loot/KAHK-see OH-loot-tah, KEE-tohs)
A glass of red/white wine, please.
Lasi puna/valkoviiniä kiitos. (LAH-see POO-nah/VAHL-koh vee-nee-a KEE-tohs)
A pint, please.
(Yksi) tuoppi kiitos. ((UUK-see) TOO-oh-ppee, KEE-tohs)
A bottle, please.
Yksi pullo kiitos. (UUK-see POOL-loh, KEE-tohs)
_____ (hard liquor) and _____ (mixer), please.
_____-_____, kiitos. (___-____, KEE-tohs)
whiskey
viskiä (VEE-skee-a)
vodka
vodkaa (VOHT-kah)
rum
rommia (ROH-mmee-ah)
water
vettä (VEH-tta)
club soda
soodavettä (SOOH-dah-veh-tta)
tonic water
tonic-vettä (TOH-nic-veh-tta)
orange juice
appelsiinimehua (AHP-pehl-see-nee-meh-oo-ah)
Coke (soda)
kolaa (KOH-laah)
Do you have any bar snacks?
Onko teillä pikkupurtavia? (OHN-koh TAIL-la PEEK-kooh-poor-tah-vee-ah?)
One more, please.
Yksi vielä, kiitos. (UUK-seeh VEE-eh-la KEE-tohs)
Another round, please.
Toinen kierros, kiitos. (TOY-nehn KEE-eh-rrohs)
When is closing time?
Mihin aikaan suljette? (MEE-heehn I-kahn SOOL-yet-teh?)

Shopping[edit]

The Market Square in Helsinki
Do you have this in my size?
Onko teillä tätä minun koossani? (OHN-koh TAIL-la TA-ta MEE-noon KOH-ssah-nne?)
How much is this?
Paljonko tämä maksaa? (PAHL-yohn-ko TA-ma MAHK-saah?)
That's too expensive.
Se on liian kallis. (SEH OHN LEE-ahn KAH-lles)
Would you take _____?
Miten olisi _____? (ME-tehn OHL-eese____?)
expensive
kallis (KAHL-lees)
cheap
halpa (HAHL-pah)
I can't afford it.
Minulla ei ole varaa siihen. (MEEN-ooh-llah AY OH-leh VAH-raah SEE-hehn)
I don't want it.
En tahdo sitä. (EHN TAH-doh SEE-ta)
You're cheating me.
Huijaatte minua. (HOO-yaah-tteh MEE-noo-ah)
I'm not interested.
En ole kiinnostunut. (EHN OH-leh KEEN-nohs-tooh-noot)
OK, I'll take it.
Hyvä, otan sen. (HUU-va, OH-tahn SEHN)
Can I have a bag?
Voinko saada muovipussin? (VOYN-koh SAH-dah MOO-oh-vee-pooss-een?)
Do you ship (overseas)?
Lähetättekö tavaroita myös (ulkomaille)? (LAHEH-ta-tte-keuh MUU-euhs TAH-vah-roy-tah OOL-koh-my-lleh?)
I need...
Tarvitsen... (TAHR-veet-sehn...)
...toothpaste.
...hammastahnaa. (...HAH-mmahs-tahh-naah)
...a toothbrush.
...hammasharjan. (...HAH-mmahs-hahr-yan)
...tampons.
...tampooneita. (...TAHM-poh-nay-tah)
...soap.
...saippuaa. (...SIGH-poo-aah)
...shampoo.
...shampoota. (...SHAHM-poo-tah)
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen)
...särkylääkettä. (...SAR-kuu-laak-keht-ta)
...cold medicine.
...flunssalääkettä. (...FLOON-sah-laak-keht-ta)
...stomach medicine.
...vatsalääkettä. (...VAHT-sah-laak-keht-ta)
...a razor.
...partaterän. (...PAHR-tah-tehr-an)
...an umbrella.
...sateenvarjon. (...SAHT-eehn-vahr-yon)
...sunblock lotion.
...aurinkovoidetta. (...OW-reen-koh-voy-deh-ttah)
...a postcard.
...postikortin. (...POHS-tee-kohr-ten)
...postage stamps.
...postimerkkejä. (...POHS-tee-mehr-kkaya)
...batteries.
...pattereita/paristoja. (...PAHT-eh-ray-tah/PAH-rees-toy-ah)
...writing paper.
...kirjepaperia. (...KEER-yeh-pah-peh-ree-yah)
...a pen.
...kynän. (...KUU-nan)
...English-language books.
...englanninkielisiä kirjoja. (...EHNG-lahn-nin-kee-eh-lee-see-ya KEER-yo-yah)
...English-language magazines.
...englanninkielisiä lehtiä. (...EHNG-lahn-nin-kee-eh-lee-see-ya LEH-tee-a)
...an English-language newspaper.
...englanninkielisen sanomalehden. (...EHNG-lahn-nin-kee-eh-lee-sehn SAH-noh-mah-leh-dehn)
...an English-Finnish dictionary.
...englanti-suomi sanakirjan. (...EHNG-lahn-tee SOO-oh-mee SAH-nah-keer-yan)

Driving[edit]

I want to rent a car.
Haluaisin vuokrata auton. (HAH-loo-i-seen VOO-oh-krah-tah OW-tohn)
Can I get insurance?
Voinko saada vakuutuksen? (VOYN-koh SAAH-dah VAH-koo-toohk-sehn=)
stop (on a street sign)
stop (STOHP)
one way
yksisuuntainen (UUK-see-soon-tigh-nehn)
yield
antaa tietä (literally "give way")/'kolmio' (triangle, the common European yield sign) (...AHN-taah TEE-eh-ta/KOHL-mee-oh)
no parking
ei pysäköintiä (...AY PUU-sa-keu-een-tee-a)
speed limit
nopeusrajoitus (...NOH-peh-oos-rye-oy-toos)
gas (petrol) station
bensa-asema/huoltoasema (...BEHN-sah-ah-seh-mah/HOO-ohl-toh-ah-seh-mah)
petrol
bensiini (...BEHN-see-neeh)
diesel
diesel (...DEE-sehl)

Authority[edit]

Finnish police and border guard in a patrol boat
I haven't done anything wrong.
En ole tehnyt mitään väärää. (EHN OH-leh TEH-nuut MEEH-ta-an VAA-raa)
It was a misunderstanding.
Se oli väärinkäsitys. (SEH OH-lee VAA-reen-ka-see-toos)
Where are you taking me?
Minne viette minut? (MEE-heen VEE-eh-tteh MEE-noot?)
Am I under arrest?
Olenko pidätetty? (OH-lehn-koh PEE-da-teh-ttuu?)
I am an American/ Australian/ British/ Canadian citizen.
Olen Amerikan/ Australian/ Britannian/ Kanadan kansalainen. (OH-lehn AH-meh-ree-kahn/OW-strah-lee-ahn/BREET-ahn-ee-ahn/KAHN-ah-dahn KAHN-sah-lye-nehn)
I want to talk to the American/ Australian/ British/ Canadian embassy/ consulate.
Haluan puhua USA:n (oo-ass-ahn)/ Australian/ Britannian/ Kanadan konsulaatin kanssa. (HAH-loo-ahn POO-hoo-ah AH-meh-ree-kahn/OW-strah-lee-ahn/BREET-ahn-ee-ahn/KAHN-ah-dahn SOOR-la-heh-tuus-teuhn KAHN-ssah)
I want to talk to a lawyer.
Haluan puhua lakimiehelle/asianajajalle. (HAH-loo-ahn POO-hoo-ah LAH-kee-mee-eh-heh-lleh/AHS-ee-ahn-ah-yaah-yah-lleh)


This Finnish phrasebook has guide status. It covers all the major topics for traveling without resorting to English. Please contribute and help us make it a star!