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Verbtype 3 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 3 consonant gradation. Find out more about verbtype 3 and the other verbtypes here.

2. When Do You Use Consonant Gradation?

Verbtype 3 consonant gradation takes place in all the conjugated forms of the present tense. The infinitive of the verb (the basic form) will always be weak, while every conjugated form will be strong.

3. Which Consonants Change?

Consonant gradation only happens with the following consonants.

Weak Strong Verb Infinitive Weak
k kk ? ?
p pp tapella minä tappelen, sinä tappelet, hän tappelee
me tappelemme, te tappelette, he tappelevat
t tt ajatella minä ajattelen, sinä ajattelet, hän ajattelee
me ajattelemme, te ajattelette, he ajattelevat
nn nt juoksennella minä juoksentelen, sinä juoksentelet, hän juoksentelee
me juoksentelemme, te juoksentelette, he juoksentelevat
ng nk ? ?
mm mp ommella minä ompelen, sinä ompelet, hän ompelee
me ompelemme, te ompelette, he ompelevat
ll lt jokellella minä j0keltelen, sinä jokeltelet, hän jokeltelee
me jokeltelemme, te jokeltelette, he jokeltelevat
rr rt imarrella minä imartelen, sinä imartelet, hän imartelee
me imartelemme, te imartelette, he imartelevat
d t riidellä minä riitelen, sinä riitelet, hän riitelee
me riitelemme, te riitelette, he riitelevät
Ø k ? ?
v k ? ?
v p ? ?

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-.

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. Some examples: aivastella (aivastelen, not aipastelen), ammuskella (ammuskelen, not ampuskelen) and anniskella (anniskelen, not antiskelen)

Generally, consonant gradation does not happen when there is an -s- or a -t- next to the consonants that normally change. This is the case for example with the verb annostella. Because there is an -s- next to the -t-, you don’t get consonant gradation (minä annostelen, not annosttelen). Other verbs in this category: opiskella (minä opiskelen, not opiskkelen)

There is no rule for which verbs ones do and which ones don’t undergo consonant gradation. Time to learn them by heart, one by one, when they come your way.

That concludes the article on verbtype 3 consonant gradation!


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