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Verbs in the Finnish language are usually divided into six main groups when teaching the language to non-native speakers 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.
Tables of conjugation are given here for the regular verb (of type I,) 'puhua', to speak.
|active voice||present tense||imperfect||perfect||pluperfect|
|1st||sg.||minä||puhun||en puhu||puhuin||en puhunut||olen puhunut||en ole puhunut||olin puhunut||en ollut puhunut|
|2nd||sinä||puhut||et puhu||puhuit||et puhunut||olet puhunut||et ole puhunut||olit puhunut||et ollut puhunut|
|3rd||hän||puhuu||ei puhu||puhui||ei puhunut||on puhunut||ei ole puhunut||oli puhunut||ei ollut puhunut|
|1st||pl.||me||puhumme||emme puhu||puhuimme||emme puhuneet||olemme puhuneet||emme ole puhuneet||olimme puhuneet||emme olleet puhuneet|
|2nd||te||puhutte||ette puhu||puhuitte||ette puhuneet||olette puhuneet||ette ole puhuneet||olitte puhuneet||ette olleet puhuneet|
|3rd||he||puhuvat||eivät puhu||puhuivat||eivät puhuneet||ovat puhuneet||eivät ole puhuneet||olivat puhuneet||eivät olleet puhuneet|
|passive voice||puhutaan||ei puhuta||puhuttiin||ei puhuttu||on puhuttu||ei ole puhuttu||oli puhuttu||ei oltu puhuttu
ei ollut puhuttu
The present, imperfect, perfect, and pluperfect correspond fairly well to English: "speaks", "spoke", "has spoken", and "had spoken", resp., or in the passive voice, "it is spoken", "it was spoken", "it has been spoken", and "it had been spoken". Note the helping verb 'ei' used for negation, usually with the naked stem of the main verb, but with the past participle in the negative imperfect. Finnish lacks a true future tense, so normally the present tense must suffice for future time as well.
|conditional mood||potential mood|
|active voice||present tense||perfect||present tense||perfect|
|1st||sg.||minä||puhuisin||en puhuisi||olisin puhunut||en olisi puhunut||puhunen||en puhune||lienen puhunut||en liene puhunut|
|2nd||sinä||puhuisit||et puhuisi||olisit puhunut||et olisi puhunut||puhunet||et puhune||lienet puhunut||et liene puhunut|
|3rd||hän||puhuisi||ei puhuisi||olisi puhunut||ei olisi puhunut||puhunee||ei puhune||lienee puhunut||ei liene puhunut|
|1st||pl.||me||puhuisimme||emme puhuisi||olisimme puhuneet||emme olisi puhuneet||puhunemme||emme puhune||lienemme puhuneet||emme liene puhuneet|
|2nd||te||puhuisitte||ette puhuisi||olisitte puhuneet||ette olisi puhuneet||puhunette||ette puhune||lienette puhuneet||ette liene puhuneet|
|3rd||he||puhuisivat||eivät puhuisi||olisivat puhuneet||eivät olisi puhuneet||puhunevat||eivät puhune||lienevät puhuneet||eivät liene puhuneet|
|passive voice||puhuttaisiin||ei puhuttaisi||olisi puhuttu||ei olisi puhuttu||puhuttaneen||ei puhuttane||lienee puhuttu||ei liene puhuttu|
The conditional mood corresponds mostly to "would" or "should" or to the past subjunctive in English. (Finnish lacks a subjunctive mood.) The potential mood is rather rare, and corresponds to "may" or "might" in English. The perfect forms of these moods are easily understood as "would've", "should've", "might've", etc.
|imperative mood||indicative mood|
|active voice||present tense||perfect||present prospective||imperfect prospective|
|1st||sg.||minä||—||—||—||—||olen puhuva||en ole puhuva||olin puhuva||en ollut puhuva|
|2nd||sinä||puhu||älä puhu||ole puhunut||älä ole puhunut||olet puhuva||et ole puhuva||olit puhuva||et ollut puhuva|
|3rd||hän||puhukoon||älköön puhuko||olkoon puhunut||älköön olko puhunut||on puhuva||ei ole puhuva||oli puhuva||ei ollut puhuva|
|1st||pl.||me||puhukaamme||älkäämme puhuko||olkaamme puhuneet||älkäämme olko puhuneet||—||—||—||—|
|2nd||te||puhukaa||älkää puhuko||olkaa puhuneet||älkää olko puhuneet||—||—||—||—|
|3rd||he||puhukoot||älkööt puhuko||olkoot puhuneet||älkööt olko puhuneet||—||—||—||—|
|passive voice||puhuttakoon||ei puhuttako
|olkoon puhuttu||älköön olko puhuttu||on puhuttava||ei ole puhuttava||oli puhuttava||ei ollut puhuttava|
The first and third person imperative forms here correspond to English "let us speak", "let him not speak", "let it not be spoken", etc. The perfect imperative is still valid, if somewhat awkward and contrived, e.g. as in English "let it (not) have been spoken". The first person plural imperative 'puhukaamme' sounds rather formal and archaic, so in everyday speech, the passive present indicative 'puhutaan', is used instead, although this may not quite be considered correct. There are many variations of the imperative forms: in old writings, one may also see the forms 'puhukaat' or 'puhukaatte' for the second person plural, 'puhukaan' for the third person plural, or 'puhuttakaan' for the passive. In the passive or third person, the imperative is sometimes used for the present or perfect subjunctive of other languages, a mood which is lacking in Finnish.
The present prospective and the imperfect prospective correspond best to "I am to speak" and "I was to speak" in English. It is not correct Finnish to use these tenses in the plural: the plural form of the present participle, 'puhuvat', would be confusing if used in this sense, as it resembles too closely the third person plural present indicative. Despite the apparently equivalent use of the present participle, the grammatical aspect of these tenses is prospective rather than continuous or progressive as in English.
Verbs of obligation such as 'täytyä', 'tarvita', 'pitää', and 'tulla', with the meanings "must", "need to", "ought to", "shall", respectively are often used in the agent form of construction in which the verb is not conjugated for person but is in the impersonal third person singular. In this construction
There is no equivalent of this type of construction in English.
The verb 'täytyä' can only be used in this construction and therefore has no other personal forms. The other verbs can carry personal endings in other forms of construction with normal subject, verb, and object in which the obligation is less strong or in which the verb takes on a different meaning altogether.
This is the dictionary form of the verb, e.g. 'puhua', and it fully carries the meaning of the English particle "to" that often precedes infinitives. Its suffix is most often -ta/-tä, although -da/-dä is found, and consonant gradation is applied (e.g. karata "to run away" < karkaa-). It can be used in a sentence similarly to the English infinitive, standing for a subject or a direct object, without any additional inflection. It is also governed by verbs like saattaa "might" or voida "be able to", e.g. saattaa mennä "might go" or voi hakea "can be fetched".
Infinitive I also has a so-called "long form", having the ending of the translative case plus an obligatory possessive suffix. The long form is rather archaic, and connotes either extent or intent. Examples:
In modern Finnish, intent is usually expressed with the short form of this infinitive if the subject is implicit or understood by context, or more explicitly with the conditional, e.g. 'että minä muistaisin'. Nevertheless, the long form is still used to signify extent, for another example, 'tietääkseni', "as far as I know".
The first infinitive does not generally take on any inflected forms except for the short (dictionary) form and the long form, nor can the long form exist without a possessive suffix.
This infinitive is usually formed from the first infinitive by replacing the final 'a/ä' with an 'e'. It occurs in the instructive and inessive cases. If the second infinitive has a subject, then the subject is put in the genitive case; in the inessive case the second infinitive also accepts a possessive suffix if appropriate.
The instructive form conveys manner of action, corresponding approximately with "-ing" or "-ingly" in English, less commonly with "-ande/ende" in Swedish, and very commonly with "-ant" in French: Examples:
The inessive form conveys co-terminal action; i.e. something happening at the same time as something else; more properly seen as some action whose accomplishment simultaneously brings about the accomplishment of something else. It corresponds approximately in English to the use of "when", "while", or the somewhat archaic or British) "whilst"; strict co-terminality is still expressed in English with "in", (or "by",) the present participle "-ing", and any subject in the possessive case, in a manner exactly analogous to the Finnish, and similarly in French with "en" and the present participle "-ant". Examples
The inessive of this infinitive also has a passive form:
but this is ambiguous and could be taken for the active inessive infinitive II of the causative 'tiedettää', "to make (someone) know"
The third infinitive is formed by adding the ending '-ma/mä' to the hard grade of the present stem, (described below.) It is a noun in its own right, denoting "the act" of a verb, and thus it is fully declineable as a noun, but some of the cases have special or commonly understood meanings. The illative of the third infinitive is a common inchoative, governed by such verbs as 'ruveta' and 'joutua':
The elative is used in the sense of forbidding or discouraging an action.
The adessive (often with a possessive suffix) is used in the sense of being "just about to" do something, equivalent to the French expression "sur le point de (faire quelque chose)".
The fourth infinitive is formed just like the third, but with the ending '-minen', which is declined like all other Finnish nouns in '-nen'. It is also a noun, but its meaning is more "the process" rather than the very act of a verb. This often corresponds to "-ation" words in English:
The use of this form as a proper infinitive, rather than an "action noun" is generally restricted to forms such as the following, where it implies a sort of obligation:
or this construction, where the finite verb is repeated in the partitive with a possessive suffix:
The rarely used fifth infinitive is a "diminutive" of the third infinitive. It is apparently used only in the adessive plural with a possessive suffix, indicating that at some point in time the action of the verb is "but little" accomplished:
The active present participle is formed by adding '-va/vä' to the hard grade of the present indicative stem of the verb.
(In the nominative plural this form nearly always coincides with the third person plural present indicative.)
There is also a passive present participle formed by adding the same ending to the passive stem.
This form is also ambiguous: it could equally well be the active present participle of the causative 'puhuttaa', "to cause (someone) to speak", thus:
The active past participle is usually formed by adding '-nut/nyt' to the short stem, omitting any epenthetic vowel. Verbs of type III (ending in '-lla/llä', '-rra/rrä', and '-sta/stä') assimilate the 'n' of this ending, thus:
The stem of the active past participle, for all other cases but the nominative singular, ends in '-nee-', which may be likewise assimilated. See tables of conjugation.
The passive past participle has the ending '-tu/ty' or '-ttu/tty' to the soft grade of the stem. For a verb of type I, a final '-a/ä-' of the stem is replaced by '-e-' for the passive past participle.
The passive past participle is subject to consonant gradation:
and for verbs of type III:
Without exception, all other passive forms of the verb may be derived from the passive past participle in a regular manner, by replacing the final '-u/y' with the following endings:
The following table shows the basic changes and marks for conjugating each of the types of Finnish verbs.
|Type||Example||1. Pers. Pres.||3. Pers. Imp.||Participle||Passive||Passive Imp.||Infinitive ends in||Translation|
|1a||puhua||puhun||puhui||puhunut||puhutaan||puhuttiin||-oa, -ua/yä||to speak|
|1b||oppia||opin||oppi||oppinut||opitaan||opittiin||-ea/eä, -ia/iä||to learn|
|1c||antaa||annan||antoi||antanut||annetaan||annettiin||-aa, 1. vowel a/e/i||to give|
|1d||johtaa||johdan||johti||johtanut||johdetaan||johdettiin||-aa, 1. vowel o/u||to lead|
|2a||saada||saan||sai||saanut||saadaan||saatiin||(long vowel)+da/dä||to get|
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:
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.
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:
However, the insertion of the 'i' often has an effect on the stem. Of type I verbs, one notable exception is 'tietää':
'ymmärtää' = 'to understand' also follows this pattern. Changes of stem for other verb types will be discussed in the relevant sections below.
These are verbs whose infinitive forms end in two consonants + 'a', for example 'mennä' = 'to go'. This is another large group of verbs.
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.
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.
All other forms of the passive are related to the present passive in the same way as for type I verbs, including the 'extra t', except that since there was no 't' to start with, the passive forms only have one! Also the double consonant before the ending becomes single.
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.
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.
Passives in this group are formed in the same way as for group II 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:
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:
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.
Passives in this group are formed in the same way as for type II verbs, except that since the present passives will all have a 't' (from the first infinitive) the 'extra t' appears in the other forms as for type I 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.
-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.
The passive forms of these verbs are built just like those of type IV, since both types end in -ta:
Almost all the verbs of this type have infinitives ending in 'eta' (notable exceptions being 'parata' = 'to improve/become better' and 'huonota' = 'to deteriorate/become worse'. 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:
The imperfect indicative of this type of verb is formed by replacing the final 'e' of the 'ne' stem with 'i'. Thus
Passives of this type are formed in the same way as for type IV verbs.
Verbs of this category have infinitives ending in 'ata' or 'ätä'. The stem is formed by replacing this ending with 'aa' or 'ää', and hardening the grade of the final consonant, if applicable. Thus:
The imperfect infinitive is formed by shortening the final 'aa' or 'ää' on the stem, leaving it in the hard grade, and adding 'si'.
The passive is almost identical to the infinitive:
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 where a stem with -k- is rendered as -hdä in the infinitive, but disappears in gradation, e.g.:
That is, teke- and näke- forms are rendered as tehdä and nähdä in the infinitive but are subject to gradation of 'k' in personal forms like teen. In some colloquial forms, the 'e' is rendered as a chroneme instead: nään instead of näen etc.
Spoken language adds some more irregular verbs by assimilative deletion, e.g.:
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