Category Archives: kielioppi

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.


Viimeinen oppitunti! / The last lesson!

Yesterday was the last YKI prep lesson for me as I’ll be in England next Friday when the real final lesson is held.

The lesson began with a student teacher asking us to complete a questionnaire for her…on Finnish grammar. We had to select to correct option for each sentence of a paragraph of text. A couple of examples:

Asuin / Olen asunut Suomessa jo neljä vuotta.

Isi soitti / on soitellut eilen.

Each time we had to chose between the perfecki (perfect) and imperfekti (past) tenses. I did this ‘by feel’ – what felt like the right choice to me. If I have ever studied when and how to use perfekti / imperfekti I have no memory of it! The student teacher gave us the answers afterwards and I got about 60-70% correct so I guess my instincts are ok!

I just looked up perfekti and imperfekti on The Finnish Teacher blog which explains the Finnish aikamuodot (tenses) very simply and clearly and shows how to change all verb types into their imperfekti and perfekti forms. If, like me, you struggle with the rules of grammar and/or dislike tackling grammar I really recommend you check this blog out! 

Perfekti (the perfect tense) is used: “when we are talking about something that started in the past and is ongoing or if something happened in the past and is finished but it’s not important when exactly it happened.”

eg (my own) Minä olen lukenut The Finnish Teacher blogia.

Imperfekti (the past tense) is used: “when something happened in the past and it’s finished.” or when you mention a specific time when something happened

eg Minä menin pubiin eilen.

We then had to write explanations of why we had chosen imperfekti / perfekti…in Finnish. It was difficult to express my reasoning (or lack thereof) in Finnish but it did make me stop and think about the answers I had chosen and why I chose them which made it a useful exercise. We then had to write a few sentences (again in Finnish) about our äidinkieli (mother tongue) and how it’s use of tenses differ or is similar to Finnish! Hui!!

We then began the lesson proper by going through the answers to last week’s tekstin ymmärtäminen homework which was based on short uutisia (news) texts and one tiedote (notice). I got 42/50 or 84% 😀 Although I’m pretty sure this was a lot easier than our previous tekstin ymmärtäminen homeworks as the texts were all very short (only 1/4 page each).

Ope then gave us some vinnkiä (tips) about the email writing part of the kirjoittaminen part of the test. These were based on writing emails about attending a Finnish course.

  • You can copy words and sentences from the introduction / instructions for writing the email. For example if the instructions say “Sinä näit ilmoitus lehdissä…” You could begin your email with  “Näin ilmoituksen lehdessä”
  • If the instructions ask you to express your hopes (toiveita) for something you need to use the konditionaali case eg “Toivotaan että…” 
  • If you need to talk about your skills (taidot) or abilities you can write ” X:sen taitoni ovat Y:t” eg “puhumisen taitoni ovat huonot” (my speaking skills are poor)
  • If you want to register for / give notice about something (eg attending Finnish course) you can say “Ilmoittautuisin kursille” or “Haluisin ilmoittautua kursille” Again here you should use konditionaali case.
  • If you can’t attend something you can write “En pääse…koska…”
  • If youhave asked questions in our email you can end it by writing “Odotan vastaustanne. Terveisin, …”

We then did a puheen ymmärtäminen mock exam based on mainoksia (adverts), uutisia (news) and kertomuksia (report or story, in this case it was a guy talking abuot his job) and checked the answers. I scored 33/42 or 78% so I passed 😀

Next week when I am away the class will focus on the puhuminen part of the test especially the quick fire answers and do another listening exam. Therefore I will try to practice the speaking part of the test. There are lots of examples I can use to practice at the bottom of Random Finnish Lessons blog post about verbs you should know for the YKI test.

Opi suomea Pertti Kurkikan Nimipäivien kanssa! / Learn Finnish with PKN!

Unless you live under a rock you probably know that Finland’s entry for Eurovision 2015 is a punk band, Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (PKN), whose song, Aina mun pitää contains loads of different verbs as well as demonstrating how you use the verb pitää (here meaning ‘to have to’) with another verb. And what could be a more fun way of learning Finnish than singing along with Kari and the boys?!

First a little something about the verb pitää. It can be used to mean lots of different things. Random Finnish Lessons has a good blog post about this so I recommend you read that and I’ll list here, off the top of my head, just a few examples of the versatility of pitää.

EDIT thanks to the good people of Let’s Learn Finnish Language for their corrections. Example updated accordingly:

  • Minä pidän siitä (I like it)
  • Hän pitää Suomesta (She likes Finland)
  • Pitäisi olla… (It should be…)
  • Pitää olla… (It must be)
  • Pidä kiini! (Hold on!)
  • Pidä minusta kii! (Hold on to me!)
  • Pitää huolto! (Take care of it!)
  • Voit pitää sen (You can keep it)
  • Pitää mennä! (Got to go!)

More examples on the Wiktionary page (in Finnish, click here for English version) for pitää.

Our boys from Kallio, PKN, use pitää to mean ‘to have to.’ Here are the lyrics to their song. Notice how the verb following pitää is always in perusmuoto (basic form):

Aina mun pitää siivota!
Aina mun pitää tiskata!
Aina mun pitää käydä töissä!
Aina mun pitää käydä lääkärissä!
Ei saa mennä koneelle!
En katsoa telkkarii!
En saa edes nähdä mun kavereita!
Aina mun pitää olla kotona!
Aina mun pitää hoitaa tehtäviä!
Aina mun pitää syödä kunnolla!
Aina mun pitää juoda kunnolla!
En saa syödä karkkia, juoda limua!
En saa edes juoda alkoholia!
Aina mun pitää levätä!
Aina mun pitää nukkua!
Aina mun pitää herätä!
Aina mun pitää käydä suihkussa!

Sing along with their YouTube video here.

You may have noticed the phrase en saa is also repeated. Saa comes from the verb saada another multi use verb! Here it means ‘allowed to’ so en saa means ‘I’m not allowed to.’ En saa edes juoda alkoholia! = I’m not even allowed to drink alcohol! Again, after saa, as with pitää, the next verb takes the basic form.

More uses of the verb saada here.

All thats left is to wish PKN tsemppiä for the Eurovision semis in Austria…Aina teidän pitää rokkaa!! 😉

Neljas oppitunti / The Fourth Lesson

Sorry that this post is a little late: did a LOT of x-country skiing today! Here’s one of the hills I skied down – it was worse than it looks in the picture but I made it!


So, the fourth lesson. We had a puheen ymmärtäminen (listening comprehension) mock exam in which I did well: 24/31, 77%, a solid pass! There was one part I even enjoyed where we were listening in to patients and medical staff and we had to write where they were  and what was happening to them! I got the results of my tekstin ymmärtäminen (reading comprehension) homework which this time I spent a full hr on: 28/40, 70%, just scraped a pass!

We also corrected a text: an email which was our homework last week. From that exercise here is a  kirjoittaminen (writing) exercise and model answer with colour code linking the answer to the instructions. HUOM! As ever this is not a ‘perfect’ answer but one which does everything that is asked for!

Sähköposti Ystäväsi on lähtenyt lomamatkalle ja pyytänyt sinua kastelemaan hänen poissa ollessaan kukat. Kun ole ystäväsi asunnossa, rikot siellä vahingossa jonkin esineen. Kirjoita hänelle nyt vietsi jossa kerrot

  • Mikä esine meni rikki
  • Kuinka vahinko tapahtui
  • Miten aiot korvata vahingon

Muista sopiva aloitus ja lopetus



Aihe: Kukkien kastelu

Hei Sanna, Toivattavasti lomasi on mennyt hyvin. 

Kun tulin kastelemaan kukat, pudotin vahingossa muumimukin pöydältä. 

Muki oli pöydällä ja se putosi lattialle kun minä laiton pöydälle yhden kukan.

Olen todella pahoillani ja pyydän vahinkoa anteeksi. Yritän löytää samanlaisen mukin kaupasta.

Nähdään, Chloe 

We then had a puhuminen (speaking) practice using the same tilanteita (scenarios) as in previous lessons. Mine was: Puhelimsi soi ja soittaja on lehtimyyjä. Hän haluaa myydä sinulle sanomalehden kestotilauksen. Et halua tilata lehteä (keski itse, miksi). Mitä sanot?

I answered: Kiitos, mutta en halua tilata sanomalehtia koska en osaa lukea hyvin suomeksi!

Ope then gave us some vinkkeja (tips) for the speaking part of the exam:

  • If you have to give a reason (syy) why you do or do not want something (as in the scenario above) or why you can’t do something it can be a ‘bad’ or ‘stupid’ reason eg “Koska en jaksaa.” But you should learn some stock reasons you could give eg “En pääse koska minulla on kokous.”
  • Use the words and phrases in the scenarios (as I have in the example above)
  • Read the scenarios carefully! One student got the wrong idea about the scenario, and so gave a nonsensical answer, because she misread it.
  • Just say something! You have 30s per tilanne which is a loooong time
  • Ask the question you were asked back or ask eg “Entä siellä?” “Entä sinulle / sinua?” (but only if the scenario is appropriate!!)

To conclude we had a short grammar (kielioppi) lesson on objekti cases (partitiivi, genetiivi, nominatiivi) which involved Ope reading out 2 pages of rules which we had copies of. Grammar is crucial to succeeding in the YKI test, even if their is no specific test of grammar or grammar exercises in the test, your answers in the writing, speaking and reading parts of the test will suffer if you can’t construct grammatically correct sentences. But grammar is definitely not my strong point, and I hate learning it in this by rote, formal way, so I won’t repeat the lesson here. I have learnt my Finnish grammar through practice: by listening and speaking and because of this it is messy and often incorrect.

The lessons go by so fast (they are only 90 mins) we don’t get that much done. But we do have 2hrs of homework as well!