Category Archives: kirjoittaminen

Seitsemän kuukautta myöhemmin / Seven months later…

It is now 7 months since I took the YKI test and the last few days have shown me that my Finnish learning journey is far from over.

I am a Doctoral student (tohtoriopiskelija) and I need to apply for funding. My supervisor recommended the Karjalaisen Kulttuurin Edistämissäätiö (Karelian Cultural Fund) as a place to apply. One problem. The application and all supporting documents had to be in Finnish.

Doing this application (which I have just sent) really brought home to me the difference between being able to use Finnish in everyday life, which is what the YKI test should test you on, and trying to write an academic text in Finnish and translate all my wooly theoretical ideas from English to Finnish.

The first thing I tried was to just copy and paste everything from my english language Research Plan (RP) into Google translate (GT) in big chunks. DO NOT DO THIS! GT will just mangle the text beyond all recognition! GT is fine for translating individual words and simple sentences but it doesn’t usually get the case endings right. A better online tool to use is Wiki Sanakirja as this gives you all the inflections (in the table labelled taivutus). However you can only translate one word at a time so for a 6 -page research plan that would take forever! And translating word by word, even if you get all the endings right probably means you lose a lot of the ‘sense’ of the text. (disclaimer: I am -obviously- not a translator so just guessing here! If any translators are reading this please comment on this below!)

After its GT scrambling I gave the text to M to read. He couldn’t make any sense of it and after many anguished cries of “Mitä sinä haluat sanoo?!” (“What do you want to say?”) we had to give up on his helping me. We tried not looking at the messed up GTed text and me explaining my ideas in simple language which he then translated. This was also very slow and frustrating because, even though M’s English is very good, he didn’t understand my ideas about mental borders, memories, postmemory etc as I expressed them in English and, frankly, I think he thought my whole research idea and theoretical basis was nonsense! With M we managed to correct maybe 2/6 pages.

Alone the next day I went back to basics and just wrote in Finnish in my own words, ie not trying to translate from the English version of my RP at all. This worked better but I was aware I was now using very simple sentences and probably losing the nuances of my argument and reasoning.

Today, I was saved. I went to see my supervisor Kimmo who is very familiar with my research and who re-wrote and corrected my 6 page text and was nice enough not to say what a mess or how ‘dumbed down’ it was. I have now sent my application and am happy to have a decent Finnish version of my RP for future applications.

Lesson learnt: Academic Finnish is a whole new ball game compared with the (relative) simplicity of everyday Finnish!


YKI testi 11.04.2015 / The YKI Test 11.04.2015

EDIT: looking for a more up to date test day experience? My friend, Alexandra, took the test in 2017. Here is her account: YKI Keskitaso 08.04.2017

Yesterday (11.04.2015), along with around 50 others, I took the YKI testi, keskitaso level, in Joensuu.

We began with the tekstin ymmärtäminen paper which lasted 1 hour. There were 24 questions which were either true/false or A/B/C and 3 texts where you had to write sentences in answer to the questions (about 3 questions/text). All the texts were under 1 page and some were only about 10 lines. We had a small news item about an escaped lisko, an advert from a bike repair shop, a text giving advice about pipes freezing (!) and some others. I think there were 6 texts in all. (Amazing how much I’ve forgotten about the texts since yesterday! Must have been the stress!). I found the time very generous, easily enough time to read all the texts and questions and copy the T/F and A/B/C answers onto the answer sheet.

Next, after a 10 min break, came the kirjoittaminen paper which lasted 55 minutes. The time went fast and I was a little worried that I wouldn’t have enough time but in the end It was ok. The tasks were as follows:

  • 1 letter to an yhdistys (organisation) saying that you’d like to volunteer with them
  • 1 email to your building committee’s puheenjohtaja (chairperson) about an upcoming kokous (meeting)
  • 1 opinion piece for an internet forum, choice of 2 topics: I chose oma asunto vai vuokra-asunto?

Both the first two tasks had very clear instructions and bullets points about what to include so it was easy to structure the letter and email and to employ the ‘trick’ of using the words in the instruction bullet points in my writing. Both had the reminder muista aloitus ja lopetus. The mielipideaihe however did not give detailed instructions what to include ie it did not, as in our practice papers, say how many justifications (perusteita) we had to give for our opinion only that we should perustella sinun mielipideesi hyvin. So, for me, it was hard to structure my answer as I wasn’t sure how much to write!

After an unnecessarily long break of 1/2 hour my group went into the kielistudio to do the puheen ymmärtäminen and puhuminen parts of the test. For me the puheen ymmärtäminen was quite challenging. Unlike the practice exercises I had done in class and online the people I was listening to spoke extremely quickly using slang terms. Also, unlike in practice, there were no adverts or simple announcements (bar one informal announcement given by a coach driver during a coach trip) in the test – we were just listening to people talking! The questions again took the form of true/false, A/B/C (20 questions) and written answers. We often had to write 2 things in answer to one question. The time given for reading the questions and choosing the answers after listening was, for me, sufficient. This part seemed to be over very quickly.

Whenever I have practiced for the puhuminen part of the test (Hanna will attest to this!) I normally have trouble filling the allotted time to speak and trail off into silence. I was dreading having to talk for 2 minutes during the mielipide monologues part of the test but, perhaps it was the stress, the time flew by and I talked non stop, occasionally getting cut off! I hope this is/was a good thing…Although what I was saying might well have been mostly nonsense! The puhuminen test included:

  • A phone call to the police to report your bike stolen
  • a phone call to sort out an unpaid phone bill
  • 4/5 25 second tilanteita including asking your neighbour for help moving some furniture, telling a department store you’d left something behind there (in both cases you had to keksi itse mitä)
  • a monologue about men and women’s work and roles at home (there was a choice of two topics for this part)
  • a monologue about visiting people and people visiting you (who visits? How often? What do you offer them to eat and drink? etc) (no choice you had to speak about this!)

So. it’s over. I feel quite flat and deflated today and it’s weird not to feel compelled to spend every bit of spare time practicing for the test! I should get the results in about 2 months’ time and of course I’ll post about them! But, for now, it’s Näkemiin!” from me.

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.

Läpäisinkö testin? Ja kirjoittaminen harjoitella / Will I pass the test? And writing practice

With just under 3 weeks to go until the YKI testi I am starting to wonder what my chances are of passing it.

I went back through all the puheen ymmärtäminen and tekstin ymmärtäminen practice papers we did during the prep course and checked my scores. I need 70% to pass.

In puheen ymmärtäminen my average score (from 6 practice papers) was 78% and scores ranged from 93% ( olin liekeissä 😉) to a total fail of 46%. In tekstin ymmärtäminen my scores ranged from 56% to 84% and the average (from 6 papers) was 70% so it looks like i’m heading to fail this part of the test unless the real test is easier than the practice papers we’ve had! As I said in an earlier post I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to improve my reading comprehension in such a short timeframe… I have found a good website for practicing tekstin ymmärtäminen online so I’ll be using that to try to improve although this site only has multiple choice answers and it’s mostly the free text answers which I’m getting wrong.

I just did my kirjoittaminen homework and then got M to check it (as I won’t be in class next week when they go through it). The homework was an opinion piece (mielipideteksti) and I’ll copy out my answer below. As ever this is NOT a ‘perfect’ answer but it is correct grammar and spelling wise, does what is required, and gives some examples of how to express your opinion (marked in green). For more on writing opinion pieces check this post.


Valitse alla olevista aiheista ja kirjoita siitä mielipideteksti. Muista perustella oma mielipiteesi ainakin kolmella eri tavalla. 

Yleiset kulkuvälineet vai oma auto?

Kotiruoka vai valmisruoka?

Minun mielipideeni on, että kotiruoka on parempi kuin valmisruoka.

Vaikka valmisruoka on nopeampi laittaa, minusta kotiruoka on parempi koska se on maistuvampi kuin valmisruoka.

Minun mielestäni kotiruoka on myös tervellisempi ja halvempi kuin valmisruoka.

Kun minulla on kiire tai minä olen väsynytvalmisruoka on kätevampi laitaa kuin valmisruoka mutta usein laitaa kotiruokaa koska minulle on tärkeää että syön hyvin.

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.

Elämänkoulusta oppimisesta / Learning from the School of Life

I missed my Finnish lesson on Friday because M and I went on a weekend away to Kuopio so this week’s blog post will be about learning Finnish informally, that is from everyday life in Finland, the way I have learnt most of what I know! Aside from the UEF Finnish classes and Kansalaisopisto’s Suomi 1.2 course (both part time only 1.5-3 hrs/week) I have not studied Finnish formally and I have never sat down and worked my way through a textbook on my own at home. Perhaps I *should* do that but I don’t think that is how I  learn best. I feel (eli minun mielstäni) I learn best by doing: by trying to speak, write, understand Finnish either in Suggestopidian method lessons or in everyday life.

Here are (some of) my everyday learning situations from this weekend:


Filling out this guest satisfaction form (tekstin ymmärtäminen)

IMG_4771And the other side ( tekstin ymmärtäminen ja kirjoittaminen) I hope you can read my writing! M did contribute / help with this a bit.

I also:

  • asked for tickets at a museum,
  • checked on our table reservation at the hotel reception,
  • got us seated at the restaurant,
  • ordered food and drink.

To be honest these are situations (tilanteita) that I have dealt with in Finnish quite a few times before but it is good to take the chance to practice them as they could easily be the kind of situations we are faced with in the puhuminen part of the test. In the test it will be more difficult as I won’t be face-to-face with the other person, they will just be a recorded voice, so I can’t use gestures or pointing to get what I want!

Over breakfast I also read a newspaper article about the talvisota (Winter War) which I have an interest in. We get the Karjalainen newspaper every day at home and I try to read something in it every day but it helps if the topic is something which interests me! This is another way for me to practice tekstin ymmärtäminen. I also usually browse websites in Finnish (today its and for news headlines in Finnish (that’s often where my word of the day comes from)

On the journey to Kuopio we listened to YLE Puhe radio station which was broadcasting commentary from a ski race. I found this quite hard to follow as the commentator spoke very fast and also my concentration wandered but I got the gist I think. I was joking with M that it would be quite awful if the puheen ymmärtäminen was as fast-paced as that commentary.

I also watch quite a lot of TV in Finnish. Another way , aside from the radio, of passive learning. I’m not sure how effective it is. On Saturday night we watched Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu. I jumped up and down on the bed when PKN won! They rock!

Screen shot 2015-03-01 at 20.44.14

UMK15 // Finaali – Pertti Kurikan NimipäivätKuva: Tiia Santavirta/YLE

Minun mielestäni… / In my opinion…

As promised here is a post about how to express opinions in Finnish. You need to know how to do this for the kirjoittaminen (writing) part of the YKI test where you will need to write a mielipidekirjoitus (opinion piece). It is worth memorising a few different ways of expressing your opinion and how to form sentences with these expressions.

Oman mielipiteen ilmaisu (expressing your own opinion):

Minusta  X on / ei ole  Y  eg  Minusta talvi on paras vuodenaika.  (For me winter is the best time of the year)

Minun mielestäni X on / ei ole Y  eg Minun mielestäni nuorten elämä ei ole helppoa. (In my opinion young people’s lives are not easy.)

Olen sitä mieltä, että X eg Olen sitä mieltä että suomessa on liian paljon puita. (I am of the opinion, that there are too many trees in Finland)

Minun mielipiteeni on, että X eg Minun mielipiteeni on, että kaupat voisivat olla sunnuntaina kiinni. (My opinion is, that shops could be closed on Sundays)

Minulla on käsitys, että X eg Minulla on käsitys, että monet eurooppalaiset ovat pessimistisiä tulevaisuuden suhteen. (I have the impression, that many Europeans are pessmistic about the futute).

Minusta tuntuu, että X eg  Minusta tuntuu, että paras hoitopaikka pienelle lapselle on päiväkoti. (I feel, that the best place for small children to be cared for is daycare.)

It might be an idea to Google these phrases to get a better idea how you can form sentences with them and see how people argue their opinions in Finnish!

Ok, so you have your opinion, good! Now you need to give perusteita (reasons / examples) to back it up! The instructions will likely ask you to Perustele ainakin kolmella tavalla näkemyksesi (give at least three reasons for your point of view). Take careful note of how many reasons you need to give and plan and write your answer accordingly!

Minusta X on Y koska…

..on tärkeää, etta Z eg …on tärkeää että lapsilla on paras hoito. (…it is important that a child has the best care)

…on selvää, että Z eg …on selvää että myyjät tarvitsevat lisää vapaa aikaa. (…it is clear that shop workers need more free time)

…on hienoa, kun Z  eg …on hienoa, kun lumi peittää kaiken (…it is great, when the snow covers everything)

…on harvinaista, että Z eg ...on harvinaista, että nuoret voi nauttia elämää. (it is rare that young people can enjoy life)

…olisi ihana, jos Z eg …olisi ihana jos voisi ostaa, mitä haluaa. (It would be lovely if one could buy what one wanted)

There are LOTS more of these type of sentences, these are just a few examples! You can build your own reason sentences like this:  On/ olisi ADJEKTIIVI PARTITIIVISSA, että / jos / kun… 

Another way of building these reason sentences is: On/olisi ADJEKTIIVI VERBI PERUSMUOTOeg On mielenkiintoista tutustua uusiin kulttuureihin (It is really interesting to get to know new cultures)

So the whole sentence could be:

Minusta matkailu on tärkeää koska on mielenkiintoista tutustua uusiin kulttuureihin. (For me travel is important because it is really interesting to get to know new cultures)

Lisää käteviä lauseita – Some more useful phrases

Kaikki tietävät, että X… (everyone knows, that X)

Minusta X on Y vaikka Z… (For me X is Y even though Z)

Minusta X ei ole Y vaan Z … (For me X is not Y but rather Z)

On mahdotonta kuvitella X… (It is impossible to picture X)

Lots more of these too, but I’m not going to do all the work for you 😉

The point I am trying to make with this post is:

Memorise how to express your opinion (3-4 different ways) and how to give your reasons for your opinion. Have a good stock of joining and comparing words (koska, jos, kun, siksi etc) in the memory bank!

With this toolkit you should be able to write clear accurate sentences giving your opinion and the reasons for it! Do not make your sentences too long or complicated!

EXTRA TIP: You will have a choice of 2 or 3 topics to write about for example:

  1. Opiskelu kannattaa aina
  2. Raha ei ole tärkeintä elämässä
  3. Rikollisuus lisääntyy maailmassa

So take a minute to think and pick the one you can think of the most arguments/reasons for!