Appendix:Finnish possessive suffixes
Finnish has a system of possessive suffixes. There are five distinct suffixes, depending on the person that is acting as the possessor:
|3rd person||-nsa, -nsä (-an, -än, -en)|
The suffix attaches to the end of the word, but assimilates a final -n in the genitive and illative forms. Note that there are no separate nominative forms for inflected words; both the nominative singular and plural have identical forms to the genitive singular, if a possessive suffix is present. The suffixes themselves make no distinction for the number of the possessed, but can be attached to inflected forms; that is, words can be inflected even if they have a possessive suffix.
The first-person singular possessive suffix has an alternative version, -in, which is poetic and thus chiefly used in poetry and music (however, its use is restricted; see the entry for more). The third-person possessive suffix also has a short form -Vn (V represents the previous vowel that is made long), which can only be used after the short vowels a, ä, e, and may not be used in the nominative or genitive cases.
The first-person and second-person suffixes can be used to not just supplant, but also replace the pronoun, which can be omitted if a possessive suffix is present; thus taloni and minun taloni are synonymous. The third-person suffix however in many cases still requires the third-person pronoun (except with reflexive usage) or another corresponding pronoun and is not used if the headword in genitive is not a pronoun (such as if it is a name).
In colloquial language, possessive suffixes are usually not used, and the possessive structure instead uses the personal pronoun in the genitive case (which is never omitted). The comitative suffix, which requires a possessive suffix, is rarely used in colloquial speech anyway.
Most nouns can receive a possessive suffix. In addition, the comitative case requires a possessive suffix for nouns (but not adjectives).
Adjectives usually do not receive a possessive suffix, even when used with a noun that has a possessive suffix. Thus, as an example, ×keltaiseni autoni is wrong, and should instead be keltainen autoni.
However, if the adjective is used being substantively, i.e. without a modifying noun, it may receive a possessive suffix.
In addition, adjectives used for comparisons of equality (such as ikäinen (“of ... age, as old as”), pituinen (“of ... length, as long as”) etc.) can receive a possessive suffix (such as ikäiseni (“of my age, the same age as me, as old as me”)). In this case, the modified noun does not automatically receive a possessive suffix.
Some adverbs receive a possessive suffix, and out of those most require it. The adverbs that require a possessive suffix are referred to as predicative adverbials (list).
In some verb phrases, the object or some other word may receive a possessive suffix. There are two main types:
- reflexive verbs, in which the possessive suffix corresponds to the person of the verb
- non-reflexive verbs, in which the possessive suffix corresponds to the object; the possessive suffix is only used if the object is a personal pronoun
- for first-person and second-person pronouns, the pronoun may be omitted if the possessive suffix is used
- for third-person pronouns, the third-person pronoun must be included, since a third-person possessive suffix without a person has a reflexive meaning (object = self)
Agent participles require either a possessive suffix or a subject in the genitive case. For other types of participles, possessive suffixes are used as for adjectives.
Some verb forms, including participles, have special uses for possessive suffixes:
- present active participle in genitive singular, with verbs like tajuta (“to realize”), ymmärtää (“to understand”), pelätä (“to fear, be afraid”): "(subject) would/will..."
- hän pelkäsi joutuvansa... – he/she was afraid he/she would end up (in)...
- inessive of active second infinitive: "while/as (subject) is/was..."
- (minun) katsoessani... – while/as I was watching...
- past passive participle in partitive singular: "(subject) having done..."
- (minun) katsottuani... – (me) having watched... / after I watched...
- long form of the first infinitive (requires a suffix): "in order for (subject) to do..."
- tehdäksesi – in order for you to do
- fifth infinitive (requires a suffix): "(subject) was about to..."
- olimme ostamaisillamme sen – we were about to buy it
- (uncommon, optional) instructive of active second infinitive: "while (subject)..."
- minun nähteni – before my eyes, before me ("as I was watching")
Certain postpositions, such as kanssa or luona, can also receive a possessive suffix. For some, such as mielestä, it is required when the complement is a personal pronoun; thus henkilön mielestä and jonkun mielestä, but hänen mielestään and (minun) mielestäni (however, in colloquial use, the suffix is often dropped here).
(Cardinal) numerals cannot receive a possessive suffix.