Compound verbs – Yhdysverbit
Finnish has quite a wide arrange of compound verbs. These are verbs which have a verb at the end but some other part in front of them. For example “koeajaa” consists of the word “koe” (test) and the verb “ajaa” (to drive). Just like in English, this verb means “to test drive”. Here are some other examples:
Please note that I’m translating most of these verbs in a fairly literal way, which may not be the established way to express the action in English. I’m doing this to make sure you can understand how these verbs work.
You can divide the Finnish compound verbs into five groups, ranging from well-established compound verbs to one-time use only verbs.
1. Well-established compound verbs
There are many actions that can be expressed with a compound verb. Some of them are completely accepted and can be conjugated in all the tenses and moods. Below are some examples. Some of these are built the same way as in English, while others aren’t.
|allekirjoittaa||“to under write”||to sign|
|ensiesittää||“to initial present”||to premiere|
|esipaistaa||“to pre bake”||to soft-bake|
|esipestä||“to pre wash”||to prewash|
|hiekkapuhaltaa||“to sand blow”||to sand-blast|
|hienosäätää||“to fine adjust”||to fine-tune|
|koeajaa||“to test drive”||to test drive|
|myötäelää||“to with live”||to empathize|
|pahoinpidellä||“to bad treat”||to brutalize|
|pakkolunastaa||“to forced redeem”||to expropriate|
|peruskorjata||“to base fix”||to renovate|
|salakuljettaa||“to secret transport”||to smuggle|
|salakuunnella||“to secret listen”||to eavesdrop|
|valokuvata||“to picture shoot”||to photograph|
|yliarvioida||“to over estimate”||to overestimate|
2. Partly established compound verbs
2.1. Verbs that only appear in one form
The first group of partly established compound verbs are only considered proper Finnish in certain forms. Fairly often, the compound verb is a specialist term. The accepted form it appears in is most often a TU-participle or the instructive conjugation of the verb.
For example “aurinkokuivattu” (sun-dried) and “tuoresuolattu” (fresh-salted) won’t get conjugated in other forms than the passive past participle.
|Compound Verb||Accepted Form||English|
2.2. Verbs that have two options
Some verbs can appear both as a compound verb and as a word chain. Sometimes both ways are equally common (see #1). In other cases, one has been replaced by the other over time (see #2). For example, the verb anteeksiantaa was changed to antaa anteeksi in the bible in the year 1642.
|#||Compound Verb||Verb Chain||English|
|1||vastaanottaa||ottaa vastaan||to receive (reception)|
|1||laiminlyödä||löydä laimin||to neglect|
|1||aikaansaada||saada aikaan||to achieve|
|1||irtisanoa||sanoa irti||to terminate, denounce|
|1||ylläpitää||pitää yllä||to maintain, preserve|
|1||poissulkea||sulkea pois||to excluse|
|2||antaa anteeksi||to forgive|
|2||ottaa huomioon||to take into account|
3. Not-preferred compound verbs
While it is handy to have a way to describe actions in a compact way, sometimes they are considered unnecessary. In fact, sometimes they’re even considered right-out “bad Finnish”.
Sveticisms are grammatical construction or loanwords originating from the Swedish language. Not everyone likes how common these are in Finnish. They’d rather keep the Finnish language free from the influence of other languages.
Some compound verbs are not “bad”, but are better avoided. It’s not a mistake to use them. However, it’s not advised because there is a better word of phrase to say the same thing. This is the case for eg. sisäänkirjoittaa (better: kirjautua) and kuntourheilla (better: kuntoilla).
4. Temporary, jokingly used compound verbs
Finnish is a language in which you can play with elements fairly freely and arrive at words that actually make sense in the context. This means that you can create your own compound verbs that make sense in the conversation you’re using it in – even if they’re not exactly established words. You won’t find the following verbs in the dictionary:
|Mäntsälässä “kuumailmapalloillaan” sunnuntaina.||In Mäntsälä they’re “hot-air-ballooning” on Sunday.|
|Hän “pätkätyöskentelee” yliopistossa.||She “temporary-job-works” in the university.|
|Neljä autoa “ketjukolaroi” Kekkostiellä.||Four cards “chain-car-crashed” on Kekkostie.|
|Me “savusaunoimme” taas.||We “smoke-sauna’ed” again.|
|Sairaalat “saattohoitivat” satoja vuosittain.||The hospital “terminal-cared” hundreds a year.|
|Jouduin “äkkijaruttamaan” ruuhkassa.||I had to “sudden-break” in the traffic jam.|
5. New compound words
It’s possible that some of these temporary words might become widely accepted words if they catch on and people start using them in different contexts. New words like this are born all the time, e.g. to fill gaps in the vocabulary that new developments have created.
|videoblogata||to “videoblog”, to vlog|
|kantoliinailla||to “sling-carry”, to babywear|
|uudelleentwiitata||to “again-tweet”, to retweet|
|ennakkoäänestää||to “advance-vote”, early voting|
|rauhanturvata||to “peace-secure”, peacekeeping|
That’s all for today on compound verbs! Let me know in the comments if you like this kind of random articles about Finnish grammar and vocabulary that’s not strictly tied to Finnish lesson coursebooks etc!