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Wordtype A Consonant Gradation

Wordtype A consonant gradation is the reason why pöytä becomes pöydällä and tyttö becomes tytöllä.

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 a case ending to a word.

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 look at what kind of consonant gradation wordtype A words have.

1. What is Wordtype A?

Wordtypes are based on what kind of letters are at the end of the word. Since Finnish has so many cases that you add to the end of words, there are a lot of changes that happen at the border of the word and the case ending.

Wordtype A is for the most common type of words. If you’ve been studying for a short period of time, you probably haven’t learned yet about wordtype B. If that’s the case, focus on this first type of consonant gradation until you have a decent grasp on it before learning wordtype B. Save yourself some confusion!

2. When Do You Use Consonant Gradation?

Wordtype A consonant gradation takes place when you add certain cases to the end of words. It happens for the following endings: -n, -t, -ssa, -lla, -sta, -lta, -lle, -ksi and -tta. These cases have one thing in common: when adding them to a word, the last syllable becomes closed. You could also see it this way: these are all cases that end in either one consonant, or two consonants and a vowel.

For Wordtype A, the nominative of the word (the basic form) will always be strong. All the cases mentioned in the last paragraph will make a word weak.

Strong forms:

  • nominative: pankki, pöytä, matto
  • partitive: pankkia, pöytää, mattoa
  • illative (mihin?): pankkiin, pöytään, mattoon

Weak forms:

  • plural (-t, mitkä?): pankit, pöydät, matot
  • genetive (-n, minkä?): pankin, pöydän, maton
  • inessive (-ssa, missä?): pankissa, pöydässä, matossa
  • elative (-sta, mistä?): pankista, pöydästä, matosta
  • adessive (-lla, millä?): pankilla, pöydällä, matolla
  • ablative (-lta, miltä?): pankilta, pöydältä, matolta
  • allative (-lle, mille?): pankille, pöydälle, matolle
  • translative (-ksi, miksi?): eg. pankiksi, pöydäksi, matoksi

3. Which Consonants Change?

Consonant gradation only happens to the following consonants.

Weak Strong Example 1 Example 2
k kk pankki → pankissa paikka → paikassa
p pp kauppa → kaupassa kuppi → kupissa
t tt konsertti → konsertissa kartta → kartassa
nn nt Skotlanti → Skotlannissa Englanti → Englannissa
ng nk kaupunki → kaupungissa Helsinki → Helsingissä
mm mp kampa → kammassa lampi → lammessa
ll lt silta → sillalla ilta → illalla
rr rt virta → virralla kerta → kerralla
d t pöytä → pöydällä katu → kadulla
Ø k polku → polulla Turku → Turussa
v k luku → luvussa puku → puvussa
v p apu → avulla kylpy → kylvyssä
lje lki lki → jäljessä kylki → kyljessä
rje rki rki → järjellä rki → särjessä

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 word suihku. Because there is an –h– next to the –k-, you don’t get consonant gradation. Other nouns in this category: tuhka, rahka. There are some words that can have the -k- disappear or not, depending on personal preference: eg. vihkovihossa / vihkossa.

Consonant gradation can only take place at the border between the last and the one-but-last syllable. This means that certain longer words won’t be subject to consonant gradation. Teatteri has a –tt-, but it won’t be subject to consonant gradation because it’s not located in the right part of the word (te-at-te-ri). Compare this to kon-sert-ti, where the -tt- IS located at the right part of the word. This means teatteri becomes teatterissa, but konsertti becomes konsertissa.

Patron Perks

Would you like a printable version of this page to use offline? Consider signing up for Patreon! Patrons have access to a 19-page file about all the different kinds of consonant gradation that exist in Finnish. Don’t pass up this opportunity!

It contains all these topics:

  1. Wordtype A consonant gradation
  2. Wordtype B consonant gradation
  3. Verbtype 1 consonant gradation
  4. Verbtype 3 consonant gradation
  5. Verbtype 4 consonant gradation
  6. Why doesn’t siivota because “siipoan”?
  7. Verbtype 6 consonant gradation

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In the table on this page, lki, rki are in the “weak” column while lje, rje are in the “strong” column. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?


On “Wordtype A Consonant Gradation” page: Based on the text above, it seems that instead of “one consonant, or two vowels and one consonant” it should be said “one consonant, or two consonants and one vowel”