Finnish for busy people

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 verbtypes to 3, but there has also been a system with 45 verbtypes.

Verbs are divided into verbtypes based on what they look like in their basic (infinitive) form as well as how they change while being conjugated. If you know what verbtypes verbs belong to, it will be easier for you to remember how it is conjugated.

Of course you will need to learn some verbs to conjugate as well. Maybe this article called Your First 100 Finnish Verbs will help you!

Table of Contents

1. Verbtype 1

Verbtype 1 is the most common of the 6 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) Istua (to sit)
Person Conjugation English Conjugation English Conjugation English
minä puhun I speak sanon I say istun I sit
sinä puhut you speak sanot you say istut you sit
hän puhuu he/she speaks sanoo he/she says istuu he/she sits
me puhumme we speak sanomme we say istumme we sit
te puhutte you speak sanotte you say istutte you sit
he puhuvat they speak sanovat they say istuvat they sit

Please note that verbtype 1 verbs can undergo consonant gradation! Verbs below that undergo to consonant gradation are marked with KPT.

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 someone 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
  • kysyä (to ask)
  • laajentaa (to expand) KPT
  • laskea (to count)
  • lukea (to read) KPT
  • lähteä (to leave) KPT
  • maksaa (to pay, to cost)
  • muistaa (to remember)
  • neuvoa (to give advice)
  • odottaa (to wait, to expect) KPT
  • ostaa (to buy)
  • ottaa (to take) KPT
  • paistaa (to fry, to shine)
  • puhua (to speak)
  • rakastaa (to love)
  • rakastua (to fall in love)
  • sallia (to allow)
  • sanoa (to say)
  • soittaa (to call, to play an instrument) KPT
  • sortaa (to collapse) KPT
  • tietää (to know) KPT
  • tuntea (to feel) KPT
  • unohtaa (to forget) KPT
  • unohtua (to be forgotten) KPT
  • vaatia (to demand) KPT
  • ymmärtää (to understand) 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) Syö(to eat)
Person Conjugation English Conjugation English Conjugation English
minä saan I get juon I drink syön I eat
sinä saat you get juot you drink syöt you eat
hän saa he/she gets juo he/she drinks syö he/she eats
me saamme we get juomme we drink syömme we eat
te saatte you get juotte you drink syötte you eat
he saavat they get juovat they drink syövät they eat

Verbtype 2 only has a couple of verbs that undergo consonant gradation. These verbs don’t really follow the rules of verbtype 2 to the letter. Their consonant gradation mirrors that of verbtype 1: eg. tehdäteen, teet, tekee.

Some other common type 2 verbs:

  • analysoida (to analyse)
  • haravoida (to rake leaves)
  • imuroida (to vaccuum)
  • juoda (to drink)
  • jäädä (to stay)
  • kommunikoida (to communicate)
  • käydä (to visit)
  • luennoida (to lecture)
  • myydä (to sell)
  • nähdä (to see) KPT
  • paketoida (to package)
  • pysäköidä (to park)
  • saada (to get, to be allowed)
  • soida (to ring)
  • syödä (to eat)
  • 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)
Person Conjugation English Conjugation English Conjugation English
minä tulen I come menen I go nousen I get up
sinä tulet you come menet you go nouset you get up
hän tulee he/she comes menee he/she goes nousee he/she gets up
me tulemme we come menemme we go nousemme we get up
te tulette you come menette you go nousette you get up
he tulevat they come menevät they go 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

The 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 (eg. hän halua+a is correct, but hän osaa+a doesn’t work).

Haluta (to want) Osata (to be able to) Pakata (to pack)
Person Conjugation English Conjugation English Conjugation English
minä haluan I want osaan I am able to pakkaan I pack
sinä haluat you want osaat you are able to pakkaat you pack
hän haluaa he/she wants osaa he/she is able to pakkaa he/she packs
me haluamme we want osaamme we are able to pakkaamme we pack
te haluatte you want osaatte you are able to pakkaatte you pack
he haluavat they want osaavat they are able to pakkaavat they 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)

5. Verbtype 5

Verbtype 5 is quite rare. 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)
Person Conjugation English Conjugation English Conjugation English
minä häiritsen I disturb tarvitsen I need hallitsen I rule
sinä häiritset you disturb tarvitset you need hallitset you rule
hän häiritsee he/she disturbs tarvitsee he/she needs hallitsee he/she rules
me häiritsemme we disturb tarvitsemme we need hallitsemme we rule
te häiritsette you disturb tarvitsette you need hallitsette you rule
he häiritsevät they disturb tarvitsevat they need hallitsevat they 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 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 (eg. 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) Lämmetä (to become warm)
Person Conjugation English Conjugation English
minä vanhenen I become old lämpenen I become warm
sinä vanhenet you become old lämpenet you become warm
hän vanhenee he/she becomes old lämpenee he/she becomes warm
me vanhenemme we become old lämpenemme we become warm
te vanhenette you become old lämpenette you become warm
he vanhenevat they become old lämpenevät they become warm

Remember that verbtype 6 verbs can undergo consonant gradation!

Some other common type 6 verbs:

  • aueta (to come loose) 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 presume) 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 division into verbtypes is exceptionally clear without many 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 the verbtypes, some linguists consider all three of these verbs 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 striked out words for how these should be conjugated if we would follow the rules to the letter.

  • selvitä (to become clear) — selviän (not selvitsen)
  • hävitä (to lose, to disappear) — häviän (not hävitsen)

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 häpenen)
  • kiivetä (to climb) KPT — kiipeän (not kiipenen)
  • ruveta (to start) KPT — rupean (not rupenen)
  • todeta (to state) KPT — totean (not totenen)

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Michael Hämäläinen
Michael Hämäläinen

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.): Class I: (1) any vowel other than “-e” | (2) {other than: n / l / r / s / X} – e Class II: (1) X | (2) TSE |(3) (E)XE Class… Read more »

Michael Hämäläinen
Michael Hämäläinen

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… Read more »

Inge (admin)
Inge (admin)

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.