Appendix:Finnish nominal forms

All nouns, adjectives (including different degrees of comparison), pronouns, numerals and participles can be inflected using nominal cases.

Quick reference table edit

Table of Finnish nominal cases
Group Case Finnish name Ending Rough meaning
Singular Plural
Nominative nominatiivi -t subject
Accusative akkusatiivi -t (personal pronouns only) object
Genitive genetiivi -n -jen/-iden/-itten/-in of
Partitive partitiivi -a/-ta/-tta -ja/-ita some of
Locative Internal Inessive inessiivi -ssa -issa in
Elative elatiivi -sta -ista from, out of
Illative illatiivi -Vn/-hVn/-seen -ihin/-isiin to, into
External Adessive adessiivi -lla -illa on, at, possession
Ablative ablatiivi -lta -ilta from
Allative allatiivi -lle -ille into, to, for
Abstract Essive essiivi -na -ina as
Translative translatiivi -ksi -iksi (become a...)
Marginal Abessive abessiivi -tta -itta without
Instructive instruktiivi -in with, using
Comitative komitatiivi -ine with
Example: auto (car)
Case Singular Plural
Nominative auto autot
Accusative auto
Genitive auton autojen
Partitive autoa autoja
Inessive autossa autoissa
Elative autosta autoista
Illative autoon autoihin
Adessive autolla autoilla
Ablative autolta autoilta
Allative autolle autoille
Essive autona autoina
Translative autoksi autoiksi
Abessive autotta autoitta
Instructive autoin
Comitative autoine + possessive suffix

Main cases edit

Nominative edit

The "default", unmarked case for words.

Ending: -t (nominative plural only). The nominative singular is unmarked, except for nominals with the -nen suffix which have a distinct nominative singular.

Uses include:

  • The dictionary form is the nominative singular, or the nominative plural if no singular forms exist.
  • For subjects in a sentence: auto ajaa sillalla (a car drives on the bridge).
  • For predicatives: tämä on auto (this is a car).
  • For certain attributes, such as titles: tohtori X:n ((of) doctor X).
  • For addressing someone: voi äiti (oh mother).
  • In the nominativus absolutus: siinä hän istui pää täynnä ajatuksia (there he sat, head full of thoughts).

Accusative edit

Used primarily for direct objects.

Ending: -n (singular, but see below), -t (plural or personal pronouns only)

Only the personal pronouns (and the interrogative kuka/ken) have their own accusative forms, ending in -t. For all other nominals, the accusative form is identical to either the nominative ("nominative-accusative" or "unmarked accusative") or the genitive ("genitive-accusative" or "marked accusative").

The nominative-accusative is used:

  • in the plural (the genitive plural is never used as an accusative form)
  • with a verb in the imperative mood (except for third-person imperatives)
  • with an impersonal ("passive") verb (arguably syntactically a subject)
  • with a verb in the first infinitive (dictionary form), if it is used independently without a main verb (otherwise the alignment is as with the main verb)
  • with some passive/reflexive verb structures, like täytyä
  • for cardinal numerals (except for yksi (one))

and the genitive-accusative in all other cases.

Uses include:

  • The total object of a telic action (cf. partitive): pesin eilen autonI washed the car yesterday, huomasin hänetI noticed her
    • Nominative-accusative: pese auto!wash the car!
  • For object-like adverbials of quantity:
    • for expressing a period of time for the duration of an action ("for"): se kestää tunninit will take an hour, anna sen paistua viisitoista minuuttialet it cook for fifteen minutes
    • for expressing a quantity ("by", "for"): nousi prosentinwent up by (one) percent, juoksi metrinran for (one) meter
    • for expressing times, instances, occurrences: sanoi kerranonce said

Note that the accusative is replaced with the partitive in negative sentences.

Not all grammars (particularly 21st century ones) recognize the accusative as a distinct case outside the few cases where it has its own forms. According to this interpretation, uses of the 'nominative-accusative' and the 'genitive-accusative' are uses of the nominative and genitive cases instead respectively.

Genitive edit

Ending: -n. In the plural, multiple different genitive plural suffixes exist depending on the inflection class. Variants include -in, -jen, -iden, -itten, -ten.

Uses include:

  • Possessive genitive
    • Ownership, possession or similar relation: perheen koira (the family's dog), miehen pituus (the man's height), presidentin vaimo (the president's wife), Suomen markka (Finnish mark/markka), lapsen kuva (a photo of the child).
      With personal pronouns, may be replaced or used in combination with a possessive suffix
  • Extensions of the possessive genitive
    • Meronymy: auton rengas (car('s) tire), kirveen terä (the blade of the axe)
    • Holonymy: lintujen parvi (a flock of birds)
    • Indicating quantity or point of comparison: viiden euron ateria (five-euro meal)
    • Certain other grammatical uses in which the suffix may be replaced or used in combination with a possessive suffix:
      • Subject of certain infinitive or participial structures: minun tehdessäni (as I am doing), minun syötyäni (after I had eaten)
      • Agent of an agent participle structure: miehen ostama ... (... that the man bought)
    • Indicating the degree of a quality or property: siedettävän hiljainen (tolerably quiet)
    • With many postpositions: veden alla (under the water), mäen päällä (on top of the hill)
    • With surnames (informal): Meikäläisen Matti [= Matti Meikäläinen]
  • Subject genitive, subject of verbal nouns or action nouns: koiran haukunta (the barking of the dog)
  • Object genitive, object of verbal nouns or action nouns: auton ostaminen (buying a car)
  • The "dative" genitive, now restricted to certain cases (but used more widely in older Finnish):
    • Recipient of an action in certain verb phrases: anna minun mennä (let me go)
    • Subject with verb structures indicating necessity: minun täytyy... (I must... / I have to...)
    • Subject as the recipient of an emotion or a sensation: minun on vaikea tehdä... (it is hard for me to do...)
    • Fixed expressions: Luojan kiitos (thank God), once upon a time literally "thanks be to God"

Partitive edit

Ending: -a, -ta (-tta in the singular only), depending on the inflectional stem. In the plural, the suffix is attached to the plural infix as usual, but a vowel may turn into a glide (taloi- + -ataloja).

Uses include:

  • The object of an atelic (unfinished) action:
    luen kirjaaI am reading the book
    olin pesemässä autoa, kun puhelin soiI was washing the car, when the phone rang
  • The partial object of an action:
    söin leipääI ate (some) bread
    The meaning would be different with the accusative: söin leivän (I ate the bread)
    heitin vettäI threw (some) water
    The meaning would be different with the accusative: heitin veden (I threw the water)
    onko teillä kirjoja?do you have books?
    The meaning would be different with the nominativaccusative/e: onko teillä kirjat? (do you have the books?)
  • The object in negative sentences: en pessyt autoaI did not wash the car
    • The object in questions where the answer may still be or is expected to be negative: oletko nähnyt hän?have you seen her?
  • Uncountable, indefinite predicatives: lasissa on vetthere is (some) water in the glass
  • In place of the nominative singular for nominals quantified with a numeral (if that numeral is not one): kaksi autoatwo cars
  • With some quantifying adverbs: paljon autojamany cars
  • With a possessive suffix, indicates reason or cause: tehdä hyvyyttäänto do out of one's good heart
  • With most prepositions and some postpositions: ilman autoawithout a car, ennen kesääbefore summer
  • Indicating point of comparison: autoa nopeampifaster than the car
  • Indicating the whole that a part (expressed in a locative case) belongs to: tarttui minua kädestägrabbed my arm / grabbed me by the arm
  • For object-like adverbials of quantity (see accusative) in negative sentences: se ei kestä tuntiait won't take an hour, älä anna sen paistua kahtakymmen minuuttiadon't let it cook for twenty minutes, ei juossut sataa metriädidn't run (for) a hundred meters
  • Uses restricted to certain words:
    • manner: hiljaaquietly
    • (period of) time: jonkin aikaafor some time, tällä kertaathis time
  • In the partitivus absolutus (quite rare in modern language): älä syö ruokaa suussa (don't eat with food in your mouth)

The partitive form is also identical to the separative case found in some adverbs with the meaning "from", "out of".

Internal locative cases edit

These cases indicate location. Some of the cases have additional, non-trivial functions.

Inessive edit

Ending: -ssa.

Uses include:

  • Indicating location, "in": istun autossaI sit in the car
  • Indicating time: tunnissa(with)in one hour
  • Indicating place or attachment: sukat jalassawearing socks (literally, “socks in the foot/feet”)
  • Indicating state or being covered or enveloped by: leipä on homeessathe bread is moldy
  • Indicating ongoing action with some verbal nouns (not with -minen): olla ruoanlaitossato be cooking
  • indicating inalienable possessions or features: suomessa on viisitoista sijamuotoaFinnish has fifteen noun cases (literally, “there are fifteen noun cases in Finnish”)


  • maassaon, within the ground
    compare the adessive maalla (in the countryside)

Elative edit

Ending: -sta.

Uses include:

  • Indicating motion out of, "out of", "from": tulin autostaI came out of the car
  • Indicating source material, "(out) of": raudasta tehtymade (out) of iron
  • Indicating that something is missing, "(out) of": takista puuttuu nappithere is a button missing out of the coat
  • Indicating a topic or subject (for discussion), "of", "about": puhua sinustato talk about you
  • Indicating the holder of an opinion: minusta se on hyvä ajatusI think it's a good idea
  • Indicating a price or something given in exchange, "for": myydä auto tuhannesta eurostato sell a car for a thousand euro
  • Indicating time, especially when emphasizing it as the earliest time possible for something: heti aamustaright in the morning
  • Indicating holding onto: pitää autosta kiinnito hold onto the car
  • Indicating cause, reason, "of", "due to": suuttui leikistägot angry due to (some) playing around, epäillä murhastato suspect of murder
  • Indicating prevention, "from": estin tekemästäI prevented from doing

Illative edit

Ending: -hVn, -Vn, -seen, depending on the inflectional class (the V corresponds to the preceding vowel).

Uses include:

  • Indicating motion into, "to", "into", "in": menen autoonI'll go in the car
  • Indicating direction: vasempaan(to the) left
  • Indicating a target state: kyykkyyninto a squat
  • Indicating something that is started or begun: alkaa töihinto start to work (on)
  • Indicating extent up to: tie päättyi aitaanthe road ends at the fence, extends to the fence
  • Indicating grasping, grabbing, "onto": tarttua minuunto grab onto me
  • Indicating the target of an inchoative action, particularly one that involves emotions or feelings: ihastua häneento fall in love with him/her
  • Indicating the target of some action, particularly an inanimate object that one strives to do something for: rahat kuluivat takkiinthe money was spent on the coat
  • Indicating the cause of some actions: kuolla kylmäänto die of cold
  • Indicating the capability or what something is good "for": ei hänestä ole mihinkäänhe's good for nothing
  • Indicating manner with some adverbs and adjectives: homma sujui joutuisaanthe work progressed speedily

External locative cases edit

Adessive edit

Ending: -lla.

Uses include:

  • Indicating a location on top of something, "on": se on pöydälläit's on the table
  • Indicating an approximate or rough location, "at": olen autollaI'm at the car, meillä on vieraitathere are guests at our house, olen huomenna toimistollaI'll be at the office tomorrow
  • Indicating possession: minulla on autoI have a car
    • Indicating certain feelings or sensations: minulla on nälkäI am hungry (literally, “I have hunger”)
  • Indicating a tool or an instrument, "with": lyödä vasarallato hit with a hammer, syön veitsellä ja haarukallaI eat with a knife and fork
    • Indicating the agent of causative or curative verbs: kaivatti kuopan hänellähad the pit dug by him
  • Indicating a cause or motive: tahallaanon purpose
  • Indicating means: millä ehdolla teet sen?on what condition will you do it?, Kalle elättää perheensä pienellä palkallansaKalle supports his family with his small salary
  • Indicating state of being: vatsallaanon one's stomach
  • Indicating time with some nouns: illallain the evening
  • Indicating quantity, "by": kasvoi kahdellawent up by two
  • Indicating something that comes with something else (proscribed, but common): kahvi maidolla ja sokerillacoffee with milk and sugar

Ablative edit

Ending: -lta.

Uses include:

  • Indicating motion away from on top of something: otin sen pöydältäI took it from/off the table
  • Indicating motion away from an approximate or rough location: tulin autoltaI came from the car (but not from inside the car), tulin matkoiltaI came from a trip, löysin kadulta lompakonI found a wallet on the street
  • Indicating from whom something is received, requested or taken away: hän otti sen minultahe took it from me, kysyn sinultaI'm asking you, sinulta tuli hyvä ehdotusyou made a good proposal (literally, “from you came a good proposal”)
  • Indicating the patient of some actions: se ei sinulta onnistuyou cannot do that / you're not going to be able to do it (literally, “it will not succeed from you”)
  • Indicating a state of being that will cease to be: vatsaltaanfrom being on one's stomach
  • Indicating a quantity relative to some other (usually regular) quantity: euro litraltaeuro every litre, viisi euroa tunniltafive euro every hour
  • Indicating time: kello kuudeltaat six o'clock, jääkiekkoharjoitukset loppuvat puoli kuudeltathe ice hockey training ends at half past five
  • Indicating appearance or apparent property: maistuu hyvältätastes good, vaikuttaa hyvältäseems good, kuulostaa hyvältäsounds good
  • In expressions discussing some aspect of something, "by": luonteeltaan vilkaslively by nature
  • Indicating a cause or reason: en saa melulta nukuttuaI can't get sleep because of the noise

Allative edit

Ending: -lle.

Uses include:

  • Indicating motion onto, on top of something: kissa hyppäsi pöydällea cat jumped on the table
  • Indicating motion towards an approximate or rough location: menen autolleI'll go to the car, menen matkoilleI'll go for a trip
  • Indicating direction: oikealle(to the) right
  • Indicating to whom something is given: anna se minullegive it to me, tein äidille kakunI made my mom a cake
  • Indicating a state of being that will be: vatsalleenonto one's stomach
  • Indicating the target to whom something suits or does not suit: sopiiko se sinulle?is that fine with you?
  • Indicating appearance or apparent property (same as ablative; the choice between the two is personal, but using allative risks ambiguity): maistuu hyvälletastes good

Abstract locative cases edit

These cases indicate being or becoming.

Essive edit

Ending: -na.

Uses include:

  • Indicating state, "as": lääkärias a doctor, pidän sitä hyvä kirjanaI consider it a good book, odottaa hermostuneenato wait nervously, olla sairaanato be ill, ehtiä kotiin ensimmäiseto get home first
  • To represent a unit for a quantity, "in": kymmenen euroa dollareinaten euros in dollars, paino kilogrammoinaweight in kilogrammes
  • Indicating time: iltana(at) this evening/night, ensi vuonnanext year, juhannuksenathis midsummer

The essive form is also identical to the locative case found in some adverbs with the meaning "in", "at".

Translative edit

Ending: -ksi (-kse- with a possessive suffix).

Uses include:

  • Indicating assuming or entering a state: hän tuli hulluksihe became mad, kirja käännettiin englanniksithe book was translated into English, hän tuli toiseksihe came/finished second, antaa lahjaksito give as a gift, pestä puhtaaksito wash clean
  • Indicating a state that is perceived but not correct: luulin sinua varkaaksiI thought you were a thief
  • Indicating manner: puhua suomeksito speak in Finnish, olla ihmisiksito behave properly
  • Indicating a point of reference or a comparison, "for": ikäisekseen pitkätall for one's age, tuomariksi kansanomainenfolksy for a judge
  • Indicating time that is a deadline or target: valmiina viideksiready by five, siirretään se ensi kesäksilet's postpone it to next summer
  • Indicating purpose (including the first infinitive): tehdä työkseento do for a living, to do as a job
  • With present participles, indicating purpose: ei ole tarkoitettu juotavaksiis not meant to be drunk
  • With past participles, indicating an action that was carried out inadvertently: taisin tulla sanoneeksi jotain sopimatontaI may have inadvertently said something inappropriate
  • In some adverbs, motion towards: kauaksi(to) far away, tuonnemmaksi(to) further over there
  • In the long first infinitive

Rare cases edit

These cases are not as productive, especially in the colloquial language.

Abessive edit

Ending: -tta.

Means "without". Using ilman is more common in the modern language, and abessive forms are generally restricted to fixed expressions. Abessive forms of the third infinitive remain common, however.

rahatta [= ilman rahaa]without money, syyttäfor no reason, huolettawithout worry, maksuttaat no charge, vaivattawithout effort, vahingottaundamaged / without damage, kiistattaundeniably, tuloksettawithout result / to no avail, pitemmittä puheittawithout further ado, tekemättänot done / undone

Instructive edit

Ending: -n.

The instructive indicates a tool, instrument or manner. It is for the most part constrained to certain fixed expressions, and the adessive case is much more commonly used to mark a tool or instrument. Possessive forms are only used in practice in a single expression.

There is quite a bit of tendency to use two words with instructives: omin silminwith my own eyes, pitkin askelinwith/in long steps, niin muodoinconsequently / accordingly, suurin ponnistuksinwith great effort, kaksin verroindoubly, monin paikoinin many areas/places, suurin toiveinwith great hopes, paljaininwith a bare head (i.e. not wearing any headwear).

However, single-word instructives exist as well: säännöinwith rules, hartiavoiminwith one's strength (in terms of physical exertion), ilomielinwith joy / joyfully, vuoroviikoinon alternate weeks. Many of them are lexicalized, e.g. harvoin, hyvin, oikein, osin, yksin.

There are some cases where the attribute has a different case: llä tavoin(in) this way, hyvissä ajoinin good time, väärälle puolento the wrong side, näillä näkymincurrently it seems that....

Comitative edit

Ending: -ne (+ possessive suffix with nouns).

Corresponds to the English preposition with (usually in the sense of bringing something along). No singular form exists. A possessive suffix is added to the inflected form, except for the attribute (often an adjective).

haukkuvine koirineenwith one's barking dog(s), likaisine sorminesiwith your dirty fingers, kaikkine varusteineenwith all its equipment

The postposition kanssa is much more common in general use, though.

Adverbial cases edit

Only a small number of words, mostly pronouns, inflect in the adverbial cases. As the name suggests, the inflected words are adverbs. See Appendix:Finnish adverbial cases for full information.

Possessive suffixes edit

See Appendix:Finnish possessive suffixes.

Number edit

The rules regarding number (singular or plural) in Finnish are roughly the same as those of English: singular for one, plural for every other quantity. However, there are also differences: for example, the plural form isn't necessarily used of multiple things if the number is specified (see Partitive).