Kieliopista: Objekti / About Grammar: the object

I find studying the nitty-gritty of Finnish grammar a nightmare. Reading about grammar rules is just not how I learn a language but without a grasp of Finnish grammar I can’t expect to do well in either the kirjoittaminen or puhuminen parts of the YKI test.

I know I make a LOT of grammatical mistakes when writing and speaking and, with 5 days until the test, it’s probably too late to change my ingrained bad habits…But I’m going to try by looking at objekti, the object, and when and why it takes the partitiivi, akkusatiivi and nominaatiivi / perus muoto (partitive, accusative, nominative or basic) form, something we covered briefly in our prep classes.

The Finnish Teacher blog has a very good and simple explanation (as ever) of objekti here which I have used for my self-teaching/revision along with a 2 page explanation in Finnish provided by Ope.

First you need to know which word in the sentence is the objekti. As the Finnish Teacher (FT) says it “is that which is having something DONE TO IT.” FT’s example sentence is Mies lukee kirjaa. Here kirja (the book) is the objekti as it is being read by mies (the man).

Then you need to decide whether the objekti needs to be in partitiivi, akkusatiivi or nominaatiivi form (it is only ever in these 3 cases).

For example, it’s the kirjoittaminen part of the exam and I want to write in Finnish that “I play guitar.” I know (thanks to FT) that ‘guitar’ is the objekti as it is being played by me. Now I have to decide whether the word ‘guitar’ should be in partitiivi, nominaatiivi or akkusatiivi form. To do this I need to know when each case should be used. Here are the rules for each case:

The objekti is in partitiivi when:

  1. The sentence is negative eg “I haven’t watered the flowers” -> En ole kastellut kukkia
  2. The objekti is an abstract noun, a mass or uncountable noun eg “I drink coffee (uncountable)” -> Minä juon kahvia
  3. The sentence describes an ongoing process / the verb is a process verb which normally needs a partitive object in Finnish eg “I love you” -> Minä rakastan sinua
  4. it comes after a number eg “I waited 3 hours” -> Minä odotin kolme tuntia
  5. When the sentence is talking about a part or some of something eg “I ate a little bit of pizza” -> Söin vähän pizzaa

The objekti is in nominatiivi when:

  1. the sentence is an order, imperative eg “Do the YKI test!” -> Tee YKI testi!
  2. the sentences talks about having to do something eg “I always have to clean” Aina minun pitää sivota
  3. The sentence’s verb is passive eg “One can buy eggs from the market” -> Torilta ostetaan munat (literally from the market can be bought eggs)
  4. the objekti needs to be plural eg “I the read the books” -> Minä luin kirjat

And finally the objekti is in akkusitiivi when:

  1. The sentence is talking about a completed process eg “Dad took care of the boy” -> Isä hoiti poikan 
  2. The object is the whole or all of something eg “I ate the whole cake” -> Minä söin koko kakun

Short version (and aide memoires):

Negative sentence, Ongoing process, Number, object is Uncountable, Partitive verb, part or Some of something (using words vähän or osa) = partitiivi

NON UPS = partitiivi

sentence is about Having to do something, object is Plural, sentence gives an Order, sentence’s verb is Passive.

H POP = nomanaatiivi / perusmuoto

Completed process, objekti is whole or All of something = akkusatiivi

CA = akkusatiivi

FT has a really good series of questions  in Finnish at the bottom of his blog post which you could use as a kind of keilioppikone (grammar machine) where you put your sentence through a series of questions to see which case the objekti should take. I’ll use this on my sentence to decide which case kitara should take:

So, should my sentence be: Minä soitan kitara (nominaatiivi) or Minä soitan kitaran (akkusatiivi) or Minä soitan kitaraa (partitiivi)?

Is ‘soittaa’ is a process verb / is ‘to play’ is an ongoing process? YES! so I need partitiiviMinä soitan kitaraa! Phew!

PS If in doubt, go for partitiivi as there are the most ‘reasons’ for an objekti to take this form. As FT puts it partitiivi voitaa! (Partitiivi wins!) over the other cases.

You can test yourself on choosing the correct case by using FT’s fill in the blanks exercise at the bottom of his post.

I have ‘complete the sentences’ exercises from Ope – titled partitiivi vai akkusatiivi objekti? (although some sentences need nominaatiivi!)- which I will do… Scores:  7/11 or 63%, 10/16 or 62.5%, 9/14 or 64%

So, I still have a way to go to get this right! I think I am still going on instinct rather than these rules! Sometimes I can’t see how the rules apply. Sometimes I correctly think it’s partitiivi but I can’t form the partitive correctly (something else to revise!) I think /hope these rules will be more useful for creating Finnish text ie the kirjoittaminen part of the exam.

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3 thoughts on “Kieliopista: Objekti / About Grammar: the object

      1. I’ve got a much better idea now what’s in store. I will practise writing over the summer – maybe get some feedback on my written Finnish if I can. I ordered the Harjoitus tekee mestariin 4 book. I’ll pay more attention to all the Finnish emails I get at work now! Great blog – will be a big help!

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