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Verbtype 1 Consonant Gradation

1. What is Consonant Gradation?

Consonant gradation is something you’re going to run into all the time when learning Finnish. It’s something that affects both nouns and verbs, though in different ways. It’s called gradation, because words can have a “strong” grade and a “weak” grade. This change takes place when we add an ending to a word. For verbs this can be the personal endings (-n, -t) or any of the tense modifiers.

Consonant gradation only affects certain consonants (K, P and T). When conjugating a verb, the K, P and T in the middle of the word can change. Different verbtypes undergo a different system of consonant gradation.

In this article, we will only be looking at verbtype 1 consonant gradation. Find out more about the other verbtypes here.

2. When Do You Use Consonant Gradation?

Verbtype 1 consonant gradation takes place when you add the following personal endings: -n, -t, -mme, -tte. As you can see, this leaves the third person forms out.

For verbtype 1, the infinitive of the verb (the basic form) will always be strong. Minä, sinä, me and te will become weak when you add the personal ending, while hän and he will remain as they were in the basic form.

3. Which Consonants Change?

Consonant gradation only happens with the following consonants.

Weak Strong Verb Infinitive Weak Strong
k kk nukkua minä nukun, sinä nukut
me nukumme, te nukutte
hän nukkuu, he nukkuvat
p pp tappaa minä tapan, sinä tapat
me tapamme, te tapatte
hän tappaa, he tappaavat
t tt soittaa minä soitan, sinä soitat
me soitamme, te soitatte
hän soittaa, he soittavat
nn nt antaa minä annan, sinä annat
me annamme, te annatte
hän antaa, he antavat
ng nk tink minä tingin, sinä tingit
me tingimme, te tingitte
hän tinkii, he tinkivät
mm mp ampua minä ammun, sinä ammut
me ammumme, te ammutte
hän ampuu, he ampuvat
ll lt kieltää minä kiellän, sinä kiellät
me kiellämme, te kiellätte
hän kieltää, he kieltävät
rr rt kiertää minä kierrän, sinä kierrät
me kierrämme, te kierrätte
hän kiertää, he kiertävät
d t tietää minä tiedän, sinä tiedät
me tiedämme, te tiedätte
hän tietää, he tietävät
Ø k lukea minä luen, sinä luet
me luemme, te luette
hän lukee, he lukevat
v k ? ? ?
v p sopia minä sovin, sinä sovit
me sovimme, te sovitte
hän sopii, he sopivat
lje lke sulkea minä suljen, sinä suljet
me suljemme, te suljette
hän sulkee, he sulkevat
rje ki ? ? ?

The question marks mean I haven’t been able to come up with a verb that fits that type of consonant gradation. This might either be due to me not thinking long enough, or because there just simply aren’t any verbs of that type.

4. Limitations on Consonant Gradation

If a certain consonant combination is not included in the list above, they’re not subject to consonant gradation. For example: -ss- is not in the list, so you will never consonant gradate -ss- to -s-.

Generally, consonant gradation does not happen when there is an -s-, -h- or a -t- next to the consonants that normally change. This is the case for example with the verb maksaa. Because there is an -s- next to the -k-, you don’t get consonant gradation. Other verbs in this category: etsiä, katsoa, itkeä, kytkeä, leuhkia.

Consonant gradation can only take place at the border between the last and the one-but-last syllable. This means that certain longer verbs won’t be subject to consonant gradation. I can’t currently think of an example of this, but there is always that one student that finds an example! Maybe it’s you? Let me know!

That concludes the article on verbtype 1 consonant gradation!


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