According to Hakulinen, from earlier *-kahan, composed of -ka (as seen in joka and kuka) and -han, and why the particle is restricted to contexts with negative polarity is not clear.[1] Räisänen (1996) presents an alternative etymology, in which the particle originates from the partitive forms of indefinite pronouns like ketään, mitään, in which it is developed from a reduction of -ka through partitive forms like *mitä-kä > *mitä-ɣä > mitää, and eventually this long vowel was adapted by analogy to other forms. The ending would have developed into a particle that represents negation, as the partitive case is used for objects in negative sentences. According to this theory, the final -n would be analogous to -kin,[2] but this results in a cyclical etymology, as the -n in -kin is generally taken as analogous to -kaan. The particle has also been compared and probably cognate to Erzya -как (-kak).[3]



-kaan (front vowel harmony variant -kään, linguistic notation -kAAn) (enclitic, chiefly in the negative)

  1. neither, not ... either (also not)
    Jos sinä et korjaa sitä, minäkään en sitä tee.
    If you won’t correct it, neither will I.
  2. Used to emphasize lack of alternatives.
    Mitä muutakaan olisin voinut tehdä?
    What else could I have done?
  3. Used to soften a question, e.g. when the speaker is asking to be reminded of something, or when the speaker is seeking agreement or confirmation.
    Kuka tämä herra olikaan?
    Who was this gentleman again?
  4. Emphasizes a negative (lack of) action.
    Se tehtävä ei kuulunut minulle, ja minä en sitä tehnytkään.
    That task didn't belong to me, and indeed, I didn't do it.
  5. even (implying an extreme example)
    En haluaisi tehdä sitä työtä päivääkään.
    I would not want to do that job for even one day.
    Ahtisaarikaan ei osaisi ratkaista tätä riitaa.
    Even Ahtisaari could not solve this dispute.
  6. Used to indicate change of mind or circumstances; indicates confirmation of not doing something, e.g. if someone doubts it, or, when someone is more or less surprised at an occurrence, indicates the reason why some thing was not successful – which is by not doing that something
    En matkustakaan Italiaan, vaan menen tervehtimään vanhaa äitiäni.
    Instead of travelling to Italy, I'll go to greet my elderly mother.
    Tänään ei satanutkaan, vaikka aamulla näytti synkältä.
    It didn't rain today after all, although the morning looked gloomy.
    En syönytkään jäätelöä jälkiruoaksi, vaan piirakkaa.
    After all, I didn't eat ice-cream for dessert, but pie.
  7. -ever (when used with a verb that has an interrogative pronoun, often with ikinä for emphasis)
    Kuka ikinä onkaan, hän yrittää vain saada huomiosi.
    Whoever that person is, they are just trying to get your attention.
  8. Used to form exclamations of wonder, with clauses that begin with an interrogative.
    Kuinka katoavaista maine onkaan.
    How fleeting fame can be.

Usage notes

positive -kin
negative -kaan
  • The exact meaning of (-kin and) -kaan depends significantly on its placement within the sentence and the part of speech of the word to which it is attached.
  • This particle can be appended to almost any word that hasn't got any previous enclitic particle, and sometimes also to such words that already have an enclitic particle. One of the few words that -kaan can never be attached to is the negative verb (ei). Note that the difference of the meaning or the message changes depending on which word -kaan is attached to:
    Kaverinikaan ei juo huomenna kahvia.
    Neither will my friend drink coffee tomorrow.
    [My friend will be one of those who won't drink coffee tomorrow.]
    Kaverini ei juokaan huomenna kahvia.
    But my friend won't drink coffee tomorrow.
    [Contrary to what might be expected, my friend will not drink coffee tomorrow.]
    Kaverini ei juo huomennakaan kahvia.
    My friend won't drink coffee tomorrow either.
    [As has happened before, my friend won't drink coffee tomorrow.]
    Kaverini ei juo huomenna kahviakaan. (This sentence has two possible interpretations, this one and the one below)
    Tomorrow my friend won't drink coffee either.
    [Coffee is one of the things my friend won't drink tomorrow.]
    Kaverini ei juo huomenna kahviakaan.
    Tomorrow my friend won't drink even a coffee.
    [My friend will not drink even one cup of coffee tomorrow.]


  • (antonym(s) of neither, not ... either): -kin

See also



  1. ^ Hakulinen, Lauri. 1941–2000. Suomen kielen rakenne ja kehitys ('The Structure and Development of the Finnish Language'). Helsinki: Otava/Helsingin yliopisto.
  2. ^ Räisänen, Alpo. Suomen kaan-liitteen alkuperä. Virittäjä Vol 100, Issue 3 (1996)
  3. ^ Erina Olga. Particles in the Mordvin Languages (1997), p. 37