The Finnish Verbtypes
According to the way Finnish is currently taught to immigrants, there are six verbtypes in Finnish. Over time, there have been many different ways of dividing verbs into categories. The model with 6 verbtypes presented below is definitely not the only one. There have been attempts to limit the amount of Finnish verbtypes to 3, but there has also been a system with 45 verbtypes. If you’d like to hear more about those, Michael Hämäläinen has brought up some of these alternative ways in the comments
Verbs are divided into verbtypes based on what they look like in their basic (infinitive) form as well as how they change when being conjugated. If you know what verbtype verbs belong to, it will be easier for you to remember how it is conjugated.
This article called Your First 100 Finnish Verbs will help you get started!
- Verbtype 1– puhua, sanoa, kysyä
- Verbtype 2 – syödä, juoda, imuroida
- Verbtype 3 – opiskella, mennä, pestä
- Verbtype 4 – haluta, tavata, siivota
- Verbtype 5 – valita, tarvita, häiritä
- Verbtype 6 – lämmetä, vanheta, paeta
- Verbtype 4, 5 and 6 Crossovers
1. Verbtype 1
Verbtype 1 is the most common of the 6 Finnish verbtypes. Verbs belonging to this verbtype have an infinitive that ends in 2 vowels (-aa, -ea, -eä, -ia, -iä, -oa, -ua, -yä, -ää, -öä). To find this type of verb’s infinitive stem, you remove the final -a or -ä from the infinitive.
|Puhua (to speak)|
|Sanoa (to say)|
|kysyä (to ask)|
Please note that verbtype 1 verbs can undergo consonant gradation! Verbs below that undergo consonant gradation are marked with KPT below.
Some other common type 1 verbs:
- ajaa (to drive)
- alkaa (to start, to begin*) KPT
- antaa (to give) KPT
- asua (to live in a place)
- auttaa (to help) KPT
- etsiä (to look for, to search)
- herättää (to wake so. up) KPT
- hoitaa (to take care of) KPT
- huutaa (to shout) KPT
- katsoa (to watch*)
- kieltää (to deny) KPT
- kiertää (to go around) KPT
- kirjoittaa (to write) KPT
2. Verbtype 2
This verbtype consists of verbs that end in -da/-dä. To find this type of verb’s infinitive stem, you remove the -da/-dä. Notice that the third person singular doesn’t get the final letter doubled like in verbtype 1!
|Saada (to get)|
|Juoda (to drink)|
|Syödä (to eat)|
Verbtype 2 only has two verbs that undergo consonant gradation: tehdä and nähdä. Their consonant gradation mirrors that of verbtype 1: e.g. tehdä — teen, teet, tekee.
Some other common type 2 verbs:
- analysoida (to analyse)
- haravoida (to rake leaves)
- imuroida (to vacuum)
- juoda (to drink)
- jäädä (to stay)
- kommunikoida (to communicate)
- käydä (to visit*)
- luennoida (to lecture)
- tehdä (to do, to make) KPT
- terrorisoida (to terrorize)
- tuoda (to bring)
- tupakoida (to smoke)
- uida (to swim)
- viedä (to take)
- viipaloida (to slice)
- voida (to be able to*)
3. Verbtype 3
Verbs belonging to this verbtype end in -lla/-llä, -nna/-nnä, -rra/-rrä, -sta/-stä (in other words: in two consonants and a vowel). To find these verbs’ infinitive stem, remove the -la/-lä, -na/-nä, -ra/-rä, or -ta/-tä. To this stem, you add an -e- before adding the personal ending!
|Tulla (to come)|
|Mennä (to go)|
|Nousta (to get up)|
|minä||nousen||I get up|
|sinä||nouset||you get up|
|hän||nousee||he/she gets up|
|me||nousemme||we get up|
|te||nousette||you get up|
|he||nousevat||they get up|
Remember that verbtype 3 verbs can undergo consonant gradation! The ones in the list below that do so are marked with KPT.
Some other common type 3 verbs:
- ajatella (to think) KPT
- haista (to smell like*)
- hymyillä (to smile)
- julkaista (to publish)
- juosta (to run) KPT
- jutella (to chat) KPT
- keskustella (to chat)
- kiistellä (to quarrel)
- kuulla (to hear)
- kuunnella (to listen) KPT
- kävellä (to walk)
- olla (to be)
- ommella (to sew) KPT
- opetella (to learn) KPT
- opiskella (to study)
- panna (to put)
- pestä (to wash)
- purra (to bite)
- pyöräillä (to ride a bike)
- ratkaista (to solve)
- riidellä (to argue) KPT
- surra (to mourn)
- suudella (to kiss) KPT
- tapella (to fight) KPT
- työskennellä (to work) KPT
4. Verbtype 4
Verbs belonging to verbtype 4 end in -ata/-ätä, -ota/-ötä, -uta/-ytä. To find this type of verb’s infinitive stem, you remove the -t (so NOT the final -a!). Some sources will tell you to remove the -ta and then add an -a. This comes down to the same thing.
The third person singular gets an -a added to the end when the two vowels from the stem are different vowels. When the two vowels are -aa- it wouldn’t make sense to add a third one, so we add nothing (e.g. hän halua+a is correct, but hän osaa+a doesn’t work).
|Haluta (to want)|
|Osata (to be able to)|
|minä||osaan||I am able to|
|sinä||osaat||you are able to|
|hän||osaa||he/she is able to|
|me||osaamme||we are able to|
|te||osaatte||you are able to|
|he||osaavat||they are able to|
|Pakata (to pack)|
Remember that verbtype 4 verbs can undergo consonant gradation! The ones in the list below that do so are marked with KPT.
Some other common type 4 verbs:
- avata (to open)
- erota (to divorce)
- hakata (to beat) KPT
- haluta (to want)
- herätä (to wake up)
- huomata (to notice)
- hypätä (to jump) KPT
- juoruta (to gossip)
- kadota (to disappear) KPT
- lakata (to stop) KPT
- luvata (to promise) KPT
- maata (to lie down) KPT
- määrätä (to determine)
- pelata (to play*)
- pelätä (to be scared) KPT
- piffata (to treat)
- pihdata (to skimp) KPT
- pudota (to fall) KPT
- siivota (to clean)
- tarjota (to offer, to serve)
- tavata (to meet) KPT
- tilata (to order)
- tykätä (to like*) KPT
- vastata (to answer)
- älytä (to get something, to understand)
Many -ATA verbs are loanwords. You can find out more about Swedish origin loanverbs.
5. Verbtype 5
Verbtype 5 is quite rare compared to the other Finnish verbtypes. Verbs belonging to this verbtype end in -ita/-itä. To find this type of verb’s infinitive stem, you remove the final -ta/-tä. To this stem, you then add -tse- before adding the personal ending!
Some sources will give you a different rule. They recommend removing the -ita/-itä (so also removing the -i-) and adding -itse- to that stem before adding the personal ending. The end result is the same, so choose whichever method makes more sense to you.
There are some sources that combine verbtype 3 and verbtype 5, based on how both receive an extra -e- when being conjugated.
|Häiritä (to disturb)|
|Tarvita (to need)|
|Hallita (to rule)|
Verbtype 5 verbs do not undergo consonant gradation.
Some other common type 5 verbs:
- hallita (to rule, to govern, to master)
- havaita (to perceive)
- hillitä (to restrain)
- häiritä (to disturb, bother)
- kyyditä (to give someone a lift)
- mainita (to mention)
- merkitä (to mark)
- palkita (to reward, to award)
- tarvita (to need)
- tulkita (to interpret)
6. Verbtype 6
Verbtype 6 is the most rarely used of all the Finnish verbtypes. Most of these verbs have something in common when you translate them: their meaning will usually be “to become something”. This implies a change from one state to another (becoming cold, hot, old, etc). There are, however, exceptions that do not follow this pattern. Most of these verbs that imply a change will have an adjective as their base (e.g. vanheta – vanha, lämmetä – lämmin, laajeta – laaja).
This type of verb ends in -eta/-etä. To find the infinitive stem for verbtype 6, you remove the final -ta/-tä. To this stem, you then add -ne- before adding the personal ending.
|Vanheta (to become old)|
|minä||vanhenen||I become old|
|sinä||vanhenet||you become old|
|hän||vanhenee||he/she becomes old|
|me||vanhenemme||we become old|
|te||vanhenette||you become old|
|he||vanhenevat||they become old|
|Lämmetä (to become warm)|
|minä||lämpenen||I become warm|
|sinä||lämpenet||you become warm|
|hän||lämpenee||he/she becomes warm|
|me||lämpenemme||we become warm|
|te||lämpenette||you become warm|
|he||lämpenevät||they become warm|
Remember that verbtype 6 verbs can undergo consonant gradation!
Some other common type 6 verbs:
- aueta (to come loose, open) KPT
- heiketä (to become weaker) KPT
- kalveta (to turn pale) KPT
- kyetä (to be able to*) KPT
- kuumeta (to become hot)
- kylmetä (to get colder)
- laajeta (to become wider)
- lyhetä (to become shorter)
- nuoreta (to become younger)
- paeta (to run away) KPT
- pidetä (to become longer) KPT
- pimetä (to become darker)
- rohjeta (to dare to) KPT
- tarjeta (to stand the cold) KPT
- tummeta (to darken)
- vaieta (to become silent) KPT
- valjeta (to brighten up) KPT
- vanheta (to become older)
7. Verbtype 4, 5 and 6 Crossovers
While the Finnish verbtypes system has very few exceptions, there are some verbtype 4, 5 and 6 verbs that cross over from one verbtype to another. These verbs do not fit in with the (simplified) rules used in most course books.
Mainly because of this problem with Finnish verbtypes 4, 5 and 6, some linguists consider all three of these verbtypes as one large groups of verbs ending in -Vta (vowel+ta), which has three subgroups. That way, they avoid the issue of these exceptions completely. However, for Finnish language learners, this combination of three verbtypes isn’t practical.
The following verbs look like verbtype 5 (-ita/-itä) but get conjugated like verbtype 4. See the struck out words for how these would have been conjugated if we would follow the rules to the letter.
- selvitä (to become clear) — selviän (not
- hävitä (to lose, to disappear) — häviän (not
Next, we have some verbs that look like verbtype 6 (-eta/-etä) but get conjugated like verbtype 4.
- hävetä (to be ashamed) KPT — häpeän (not
- kiivetä (to climb) KPT — kiipeän (not
- ruveta (to start*) KPT — rupean (not
- todeta (to state) KPT — totean (not
Last but not least, here are some verbs that look like verbtype 4 but get conjugated like verbtype 6.
- hapata (to acidify) KPT — happanee (not
- loitota (to divert away) KPT — loittonee (not
- helpota (to get easier) KPT — helpponee (not
- parata (to get better) — paranee (not
Note: The problem with verbtype 6 verbs in general is that their basic form is used very rarely and often substituted for another verb’s basic form. For example, the infinitive parata isn’t in active use at all despite its existence. You can read more about these verbs in my article on verbtype 6. If you’re an advanced student, you might also benefit from googling sekaparadigma (mixed paradigm).
That’s all there is to say currently about the Finnish verbtypes!
As mentioned in the first paragraph, there are various other typologies in use; I am familiar with two others. I came across the first in Daniel Abondolo’s _Colloquial Finnish_ textbook, and perhaps it was developed by Prof. Abondolo uniquely. Unlike the standard 6-category scheme based on the dictionary form (1st infinitive / A-infinitive), his scheme uses the verb stem (i.e., the part taking the personal endings (-n/-t/-mme/-tte/etc.):
The capital letters here are a bit strange, but function as a special notation encoding a useful pedagogical crutch: namely, they represent the letters that are omitted in non-stem forms, such as the A-infinitive. For example, taking Class II examples, Abondolo writes ‘tarviTSE-‘ as the stem of A-infinitive ‘tarvita’ (to need); ‘vaikEXE-‘ as the stem of ‘vaieta’ (to fall silent); X is a marker for the contraction verbs (supistumaverbit) stem ending: ‘tapaX-‘ [note the strong form] is ‘tavata’ (to meet).
Apart from simplifying 6 categories into 4, the genius (and/or madness!) of this contrived notation is two-fold: (1) every verb stem is already in its strong form (consonant gradation) and there are no ‘hidden’ characters, (2) every stem can be inflected into any other form with only a single step involving removing or transforming the stems (no letters are ever added, only removed).
Abondolo’s scheme also makes clear the special role of the so-called ‘dental consonants’ of n/l/r (important for formation of the passive and active past participles (–NUT-partisiippi)), and marks boundary gemmination (using capital ‘Q’), which is important for keeping track of consonant gradation.
Cross-referencing against the standard 6 categories, the closest overlap is seen with Class I, which contains only verbtype 1 verbs, and Class IV, which holds only verbtype 2. Class II broadly covers verbtypes 4,5,6; Class III covers the dental stems in verbtypes 1, 2 (nähdä) and 3.
It’s a big commitment to adopt Abondolo’s scheme for your studies, but once his special markup scheme is adopted, the “algorithms” needed for manipulating the stems (both for verbs and nominals) are greatly simplified. Sadly, I am only aware of the scheme through its brief introduction in _Colloquial Finnish_ – to go beyond this, you must expand upon it yourself. I was so enthralled with the Abondolo scheme that I took every KOTUS verb type (see follow-on comment) and worked it into this scheme in an Excel spreadsheet.
The second typology should scratch the itch felt by database administrators, logicians and purists who seek the Holy Grail of “MECE” (Mutually Exclusive Collectively Exhaustive). This is the typology developed by KOTUS (Kotimaisten kielten tutkimuskeskus | Research Institute for the Languages of Finland) and used for the inflection and conjugation tables in Wiktionary. It is precisely because this typology is so refined that the inflection/conjugation tables can be automatically generated based on templates (every headword in Wiktionary, including nominals, is mapped to a KOTUS number). Incidentally, Zsuzsanna Oinas’s _Guide to Finnish Verbs: 120 Finnish Verbs Fully Conjugated_ follows the same principles (essentially, Wiktionary already includes everything in that book).
The 27 KOTUS verb types are categorized by stem types, as explained in tabular format here:
Clicking on the KOTUS verb tables in Wiktionary will open up additional tables for each subcategory based on consonant gradation or specific vowel cluster.
Some will be put off by the excessive detail; others may adopt the maxim that ‘nothing succeeds like overkill’ (obviously, of American origin). Those wishing to fully reprogram their brains could try using the tables with cloze deletion in the Anki flashcard application ().
This is such a lovely topic really 🙂 If you like grammar rules and putting things in compartments, the different ways to divide verbs into groups is like the holy grail.
Currently in Finland languages courses are generally provided by unemployment office and it is called “integration courses” and it is only for foreigners and immigrants.
Pidetä ei tarkoittaa to get longer. Pidetä tarkoittaa !let’s have) esim pidetään tauko lets have a break! Pidetään juhlat! Let’s get a party! Mieheni on suomalainen ja hän korjasi minua. Pidentää tarkoittaa to get longer.
“Pidetä” voi olla sekä verbin perusmuoto (PIDETÄ > se pitenee), että pitää-verbin passiivin imperfekti (PITÄÄ > ei pidetä taukoa). Kysy mieheltäsi vaikka, mitä tarkoittaa: Voiko ihmisen keskimääräinen elinikä vielä pidetä? Siinä lauseessa on verbi PIDETÄ. Se tarkoittaa: “Can a human’s average life expectancy still get longer?”
Pidentää on myös hyvä verbi! Se tarkoittaa “to make longer” eikä “to get longer”. Voit esimerkiksi pidentää elinaikaasi urheilemalla.
On tosi hieno juttu, että miehesi auttaa sinua 🙂 Monet puolisot eivät jaksa.
I’m confused about the verb “to ask”.
I put in google translate “I ask for” and it changed it all to “pyydän”.
I can’t think how else the verb / sentence would be used. Thanks for the lists though, it is all great and really helping me learn.
“To ask” is kysyä when you ask for information:
“To ask” is pyytää when you ask someone to do something:
Do you have all verb type for colloquial? and anything that related to colloquial?
I have a lot of articles about spoken language, both grammar and vocabulary.
This article contains lots of links to spoken language grammar topics: https://uusikielemme.fi/spoken-language/typical-features-of-finnish-spoken-language-puhekieli
This article has some vocabulary as well as a couple of links for further reading: https://uusikielemme.fi/spoken-language/spoken-language-vocabulary/finnish-spoken-language-vocabulary