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Verbtype 6 Consonant Gradation

Verbtype 6 has 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 (e.g. -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 6 consonant gradation. Find out more about verbtype 6 and the other verbtypes here.

2. When Do You Use Consonant Gradation?

Verbtype 6 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. This is what is sometimes called “reverse consonant gradation” (käänteinen astevaihtelu).

Verbtype 6 is cool because it has often been developed from an adjective. The adjective will have the strong grade of the verb, while the verb’s infinitive is weak. Thanks to that, you’re able to predict consonant gradation if you know the adjective.

Other tenses and moods:

  • The past participle of verbtype 6 verbs will always be weak:
    en heikennyt, olen rohjennut, eivät ole pidenneet
  • The passive of verbtype 6 verbs will always be weak:
    heiketään, rohjetaan, heikettiin, rohjettaisiin
  • The conditional of verbtype 6 verbs will always be strong:
    heikkenisin, rohkenisimme, pitenisivät
  • The singular imperative will be strong and the plural imperative weak:
    Heikkene! Heiketkää! Rohkene! Rohjetkaa!

3. Which Consonants Change?

Consonant gradation only happens with the following consonants.

Weak Strong Adjective Verb Strong Conjugation
k kk heikko heiketä minä heikkenen, sinä heikkenet, hän heikkenee
me heikkenemme, te heikkenette, he heikkenevät
p pp hapan* hapata minä happanen, sinä happanet, hän happanee
me happanemme, te happanette, he happanevat
t tt loitto loitota minä loittonen, sinä loittonet, hän loittonee,
me loittonemme, te loittonette, he loittonevat
nn nt kiint kiinnetä minä kiintenen, sinä kiintenet, hän kiintenee,
me kiintenemme, te kiintenette, he kiintenevät
ng nk ? ? ?
mm mp lämmin* mmetä minä lämpenen, sinä lämpenet, hän lämpenee
me lämpenemme, te lämpenette, he lämpenevät
ll lt ? ? ?
d t pitkä** pidetä minä pitenen, sinä pitenet, hän pitenee
me pitenemme, te pitenette, he pitenevät
Ø k pako paeta minä pakenen, sinä pakenet, hän pakenee
me pakenemme, te pakenette, he pakenevat
v p kalpea** kalveta minä kalpenen, sinä kalpenet, hän kalpenee
me kalpenemme, te kalpenette, he kalpenevat
lje lke valkea** valjeta minä valkenen, sinä valkenet, hän valkenee
me valkenemme, te valkenette, he valkenevat
hje hke rohkea** rohjeta minä rohkenen, sinä rohkenet, hän rohkenee
me rohkenemme, te rohkenette, he rohkenevat
tarjeta minä tarkenen, sinä tarkenet, hän tarkenee
me tarkenemme, te tarkenette, he tarkenevat

? 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.

* Lämmin and hapan are weak in their basic form, but have a strong stem. Look, for example at their genitive form: lämpimän and happaman.

** Kalpea, valkea and rohkea as adjectives will never become weak! The genitive forms of these adjectives are kalpean, valkean and rohkean.

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-.

You can read more about consonant gradation of both verbs and nouns in this overview.

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Michael Hämäläinen

Using the method I described in my comment on the Why Doesn’t Siivota Become “Siipoan”? page, I found (only) these 2 examples of additional verbtype 6 (KOTUS type 72 vanheta) gradation types:

It seems that the v:k gradation is limited to a few nouns (see here) and ng:nk also doesn’t exist for verbtype 6. 

Your method is too complicated for me, so thanks for doing the work! I’ve never heard either of those verbs but they do fit nicely into the scheme and their meaning actually makes sense within the system, nice!

Anupama Sharma

Hei!! voisithan kertoa vähän “läpäistä” verbistä?