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|
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.
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 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, with pronouns in genitive being the preferred option.
Most nouns can receive a possessive suffix. In addition, the comitative case requires a possessive suffix for nouns (but not adjectives).
Adjectives do usually 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.
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 genitive. 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.