Finnish verb conjugation

Verbs in the Finnish language are usually divided into six groups depending on the stem type. All six types have the same set of endings, but the stems undergo (slightly) different changes when inflected.

Please refer to the Finnish language grammar article for more about verbs and other aspects of Finnish grammar.

Type I verbs

These are verbs whose infinitive forms end in vowel + 'a' (or 'ä' for front-vowel containing stems), for example 'puhua' = 'to speak', 'tietää' = 'to know'. This group contains a very large number of verbs. Here is how 'tietää' conjugates in the present indicative:

:minä tiedän = I know:sinä tiedät = you (singular) know:hän/se tietää = (s)he/it knows:me tiedämme = we know:te tiedätte = you (plural/formal) know:he tietävät = they know

The personal endings are thus -n, -t, -(doubled vowel), -mme, -tte, -vat. The inflecting stem is formed by dropping the final '-a', and has a strong consonant in the third-person forms and weak otherwise. Note that for third person plural, this is an exception to the general rule for strong consonants.

Past Tense

In the simple case (which applies to most type I verbs), the imperfect indicative is formed by inserting the characteristic 'i' between the stem and the personal endings, which are the same as in the present tense except that the vowel does "not" double in the 3rd person singular::'puhun' = 'I speak', 'puhuin' = 'I spoke':'puhut' = 'you speak', 'puhuit' = 'you spoke':'puhuu' = '(he) speaks', 'puhui' = '(he) spoke':'puhumme' = 'we speak', 'puhuimme' = 'we spoke' and so on.

However, the insertion of the 'i' often has an effect on the stem. Of type I verbs, one notable exception is 'tietää'::'tiedän' = 'I know', 'tiesin' = 'I knew'

'ymmärtää' = 'to understand' also follows this pattern. Changes of stem for other verb types will be discussed in the relevant sections below.

Indefinite

;Present indefinite: The present indefinite is formed by adding '-taan' to the inflecting stem of the verb with the consonant in its weak form::puhua -> puhu- -> puhutaan:If the vowel at the end of the stem is 'a' or 'ä' it is changed to 'e' before the '-taan' ending::tietää -> tiedä- -> tiede -> tiedetään

;Past indefinite: This is formed in the same way as the present indefinite, except that the ending is '-ttiin', hence 'puhuttiin' = 'it was spoken', 'tiedettiin' = 'it was known'.:Note the presence of the same 'i' marker in the past indefinite as in the imperfect indicative. Note also the presence of the extra 't'.

;Conditional indefinite: This is formed in the same way as the present indefinite, except that the ending is '-ttaisiin', hence 'puhuttaisiin' = 'it would be spoken', 'tiedettäisiin' = 'it would be known'.:Note the presence of the 'isi' conditional marker.

;Potential indefinite: This is formed in the same way as the present indefinite, except that the ending is '-ttaneen', hence 'puhuttaneen' = 'it may be spoken', 'tiedettäneen' = 'it may be known'.:Note the presence of the 'ne' potential marker.

Type II verbs

These are verbs whose infinitive forms end in two consonants + 'a', for example 'mennä' = 'to go'. This is another large group of verbs.

Present indicative

The stem is formed by removing the 'a' and its preceding consonant. Then add 'e' followed by the personal endings: menen, menet, menee, menemme, menette, menevät.

Imperfect indicative

The 'i' of the imperfect is added directly to the stem formed as for the present tense, then the personal endings are added:'pestä' = 'to clean', 'pesen' = 'I clean', 'pesin' = 'I cleaned' etc.

Indefinite

;Present indefinite: In this group, the indefinite has the same '-aan' ending as for group I verbs, but no 't'; the easiest way to form the indefinite is to extend the vowel on the end of the first infinitive and then add 'n':

:mennä -> mennään

All other forms of the indefinite are related to the present indefinite in the same way as for type I verbs, including the 'extra t', except that since there was no 't' to start with, the indefinite forms only have one! Also the double consonant before the ending becomes single.

:mennä -> mennään -> mentiin, mentäisiin:olla -> ollaan -> oltiin (see below), oltaisiin

Type III verbs

Verbs whose infinitives end in vowel + 'da', for example 'juoda' = 'to drink', 'syödä' = 'to eat'. This is a fairly large group of verbs, partly because one way in which foreign borrowings are incorporated into the Finnish verb paradigms is to add 'oida', for example, 'organisoida' = 'to organise'.

Another important verb of this type is 'voida' = 'to be able/allowed to'.

The stem is formed by removing 'da' with no vowel doubling in the third person singular: juon, juot, juo, juomme, juotte, juovat.

Imperfect indicative

For these verbs whose stems end in two vowels, the first of the vowels is lost when the 'i' is added in the imperfect:'juon = 'I drink', 'join' = 'I drank' etc.

There is an exception to this rule if the stem already ends in an 'i' - for example 'voida' or the '-oida' verbs mentioned earlier. In this case the stem does not change between present and imperfect indicative, so the imperfect forms are the same as the present forms, and the distinction between them must be made from context.

Indefinite

Indefinites in this group are formed in the same way as for group II verbs::syödä -> syödään, syötiin, syötäisiin:juoda -> juodaan, juotiin, juotaisiin

Type IV verbs

This, and the following two groups, have infinitives ending in vowel + 'ta'. Most commonly, type IV verbs end with 'ata', 'ota', 'uta', but the other two vowels are possible. Examples are 'tavata' = 'to meet', 'haluta' = 'to want', 'tarjota' = 'to offer'.

The inflecting stem is formed by dropping the 'a' changing the final consonant into its strong form::haluta -> halut- :tavata -> tavat-:tarjota -> tarjot-

In the present indicative, the final 't' mutates into an 'a' . After this, the personal ending is added (or the vowel doubled in the 3rd person singular) as usual::haluan, haluat, haluaa, haluamme, haluatte, haluavat:tapaan, tapaat, tapaa etc.:tarjoan, tarjoat, tarjoaa etc.

Imperfect indicative

The same stem is used as for the present except that the final 't' becomes 's' rather than 'a'. This is followed by the imperfect 'i' marker and the personal endings: 'halusin' = 'I wanted', 'tapasimme' = 'we met' etc.

Indefinite

Indefinites in this group are formed in the same way as for type II verbs, except that since the present indefinites will all have a 't' (from the first infinitive) the 'extra t' appears in the other forms as for type I verbs::haluta -> halutaan, haluttiin, haluttaisiin:tavata -> tavataan, tavattiin, tavattaisiin

Type V verbs

All the verbs in this groups have infinitives ending in 'ita'. There are not that many of them, the most 'important' being 'tarvita' = 'to need'

The stem is formed by dropping the final 'a' and adding 'se': tarvitsen, tarvitset, tarvitsee, tarvitsemme, tarvitsette, tarvitsevat.

Imperfect indicative

-Si takes the place of -se, but in the third-person singular, there is only one vowel, e.g. tarvitsin, tarvitsit, tarvitsi, tarvitsimme, tarvitsitte, tarvitsivat.

Indefinite

The indefinite forms of these verbs are built just like those of type IV, since both types end in -ta::valita -> valitaan, valittiin, valittaisiin:merkitä -> merkitään, merkitty, merkittäisiin

Type VI verbs

Almost all the verbs of this type have infinitives ending in 'eta'. There are not many verbs which fall into this category of their 'own right', and these don't tend to be commonly used. However, it is a reasonably common route for turning adjectives into verbs (for example 'kylmä' = 'cold', 'kylmetä' = 'to get cold')

The stem for this type is formed by removing the 'ta' then adding 'ne' with the additional change that the final consonant of the stem is in its strong form::'rohjeta' = 'to dare'::'rohkenen' = 'I dare'::'rohkenet' = 'you dare'::'rohkenee' = 'he/she/it dares' etc.:'paeta' = 'to escape', 'pakenen' = 'I escape':'kylmetä' = 'to get cold', 'kylmenen' = 'I get cold'

Imperfect indicative

Indefinite

Indefinites of this type are formed in the same way as for type IV verbs.

Non-derivable and irregular stems

Standard Finnish has comparatively very few irregular verbs in addition to 'olla' discussed above. However, because the infinitive is an inflected form of the root, the consonant gradation may obscure the root. The root of the word 'juosta' = 'to run' is "juoks-"; when generating the infinitive, the pattern "ks" → "s" is applied: "juoks+ta" → "juosta". Epenthetic 'e' is added for personal forms, e.g. "juoksen".

There is a rare pattern "-hd-" → nought, followed by the addition of an epenthetic 'e', e.g.::'tehdä' = 'to do, make': tee-; teen, teet, tekee, teemme, teette, tekevät, etc.:'nähdä' = 'to see': näe-; näen, näet, näkee, näemme, näette, näkevät, etc.

Spoken language adds some more irregular verbs by assimilative deletion, e.g.::tulla - tule - tuu:mennä - mene - mee:panna - pane - paa

Computer program for inflexion and syntax of the Finnish verb

"Tuuli" available in http://www.wakkanet.fi/%7Epahio/esitteet.html

Online Finnish Verb Conjugator

http://www.romania-sanakirja.net/online/verbs/conjugate_verb.php


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