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Plural Partitive of Long Words

The plural partitive of long words is less clear than the rules for short words in the plural partitive. Often there are multiple options. Of those options, one can be less common, or both versions can be equally common.

In the examples below, a large A (e.g. -jA, -itA) means we can be dealing with both an -a or an -ä. Likewise, -O can mean both -o and -ö (-OitA, -OjA).

1. The Plural Partitive of Long Words

1.1. Plural Partitive vs Plural Genitive

Often the plural partitive and genitive of words are similar. This means that if a word’s plural partitive ends in -ita, the most likely plural genitive ending is -iden (e.g. papereita : papereiden). Likewise, a plural partitive ending in –ja is likely to be –jen in the plural genitive (e.g. taisteluja : taistelujen)

1.3. The plural partitive markers -ja and -ita

The markers -ja and -ita are often both possible in the plural partitive. For some words, both versions are equally common (e.g. taisteluja – taisteluita, mansikkoja – mansikoita). However, there are other words where one of the two markers is more common, but you can’t simply figure out which ones (henkilöitä, makkaroita vs fasaaneja, kaupunkeja).

As such, be prepared to be confused. I have marked the more commonly used forms in green. This is based on three factors: 1) on my experiences hearing these forms, 2) on the amount of Google search results and 3) on what linguistic sources online recommend.

The Plural Partitive of Long Words

2. Long words ending in -LI or -RI

For long words ending in -li or -ri, there are often two possible options. Often, one option is more commonly used. To figure out which option is more common, look at the syllable right before the -li or -ri.

  • Words with a short vowel in front of the -li or -ri (pa-pe-ri, lää--ri) are more commonly used with the plural partitive marker -eita/eitä (papereita, lääkäreitä). See #1 in the table below!
  • If there is a long vowel in front of -li or -ri (e.g. sih-tee-ri, up-see-ri), the plural partitive marker tha’s most commonly used is -eja/ejä (sihteerejä, upseereja). See #2 in the table below!
  • For longer words (4 syllables or more), the plural partitive will generally always have -eja/ejä (in-si-nöö-rejä, kro-ko-tii-leja). See #3 in the table below!

For some words, both options are possible. However, for words marked with #3 only one plural partitive form exists. The options listed below are all based on what the kielitoimiston sanakirja lists as the possible plural partitive endings.

# Nominative Partitive #1 Partitive #2
1 kellari kellareja kellareita
1 kolari kolareja kolareita
1 paperi papereja papereita
1 teatteri teattereja teattereita
1 moottori moottoreja moottoreita
1 naapuri naapureja naapureita
1 parturi partureja partureita
1 lääkäri lääkärejä lääkäreitä
1 seteli setelejä seteleitä
1 kaapeli kaapeleja kaapeleita
1 sipuli sipuleja sipuleita
2 banaani banaaneja banaaneita
2 basaari basaareja basaareita
2 sihteeri sihteerejä sihteereitä
2 upseeri upseereja upseereita
2 normaali normaaleja normaaleita
2 tekstiili tekstiilejä tekstiileitä
2 fossiili fossiileja fossiileita
3 krokotiili krokotiileja
3 festivaali festivaaleja
3 miljonääri miljonäärejä
3 insinööri insinöörejä
3 amatööri amatöörejä

3. Long words ending in -LLI

Words that have a double -ll- (e.g. metalli, akvarelli, ampulli) often exclusively get -ja in the plural partitive (e.g. metalleja, akvarelleja, ampulleja). There are, however, a couple of words that have both options often (see #2 in the table below). For these exceptions, the marker -ja is still usually the most common of the two.

# Nominative Partitive #1 Partitive #2
1 metalli metalleja
1 akvarelli akvarelleja
1 ampulli ampulleja
1 kristalli kristalleja
1 lamelli lamelleja
1 makrilli makrilleja
1 pupilli pupilleja
1 pastilli pastilleja
2 hotelli hotelleja hotelleita
2 gaselli gaselleja gaselleita

4. Long words ending in -NTO or -NTA

This group of words seems to be free of exceptions as far as I can tell. Words ending in -nto and -nta will get -ja in the plural partitive.

# Nominative Partitive #1 Partitive #2
1 hallinto hallintoja
1 ravinto ravintoja
1 avanto avantoja
1 toiminto toimintoja
1 tuotanto tuotantoja
2 ammunta ammuntoja
2 arvonta arvontoja
2 toiminta toimintoja
2 tartunta tartuntoja
2 hankinta hankintoja

5. Long words ending in -STO

Words ending in -stO almost always have the marker -jA in the plural partitive. For words which have four syllables (e.g. e-li-mis-tö, aa-te-lis-to) only one option is possible (see #1). For words with only three syllables (e.g. kir-jas-to, ai-neis-to) there is a theoretical second option with -ita (see #2). Note however that this second option sounds very unusual to most Finns!

# Nominative Partitive #1 Partitive #2
1 elimistö elimistöjä
1 enemmistö enemmistöjä
1 henkilöstö henkilöstöjä
1 aatelisto aatelistoja
1 astiasto astiastoja
1 edustusto edustustoja
1 hakemisto hakemistoja
1 hampaisto hampaistoja
1 ympäristö ympäristöjä
2 aineisto aineistoja aineistoita
2 huoneisto huoneistoja huoneistoita
2 koneisto koneistoja koneistoita
2 hermosto hermostoja hermostoita
2 hinnasto hinnastoja hinnastoita
2 kirjasto kirjastoja kirjastoita
2 kasvisto kasvistoja kasvistoita
2 kartasto kartastoja kartastoita

6. Other Long Words Ending in -O

Apart from the wordtypes listed above, in general, the plural partitive of long words ending in -O generally favors -OitA over -OjA. However, both are possible. For words that have a long vowel in the last-but-one syllable, -OjA is more common.

# Nominative Partitive #1 Partitive #2
1 vartalo vartaloja vartaloita
1 henki henkilöjä henkilöitä
1 kotelo koteloja koteloita
1 jääte jäätelöjä jäätelöitä
1 kainalo kainaloja kainaloita
1 karpalo karpaloja karpaloita
2 numero numeroja numeroita
2 lokero lokeroja lokeroita
2 komero komeroja komeroita
2 kukkaro kukkaroja kukkaroita
2 pusero puseroja puseroita
3a näyttä näyttämöjä näyttämöitä
3a huoltamo huoltamoja huoltamoita
3a laskimo laskimoja laskimoita
3b vuokraamo vuokraamoja vuokraamoita
3b korjaamo korjaamoja korjaamoita
3b kampaamo kampaamoja kampaamoita

7. Long Words Ending in -LA, -NA, -RA

When a long word ends in –lA, -nA or –rA, you should look at what type of word it is: nouns (#1) will generally only have the variantOitA. If the word you’re dealing with is an adjective (#2), however, they will generally only have the -ia/iä variant.

# Nominative Partitive #1 Partitive #2
1 peruna perunoita
1 porkkana porkkanoita
1 pähki pähkinöitä
1 kipi kipinöitä
1 myymä myymälöitä
1 ravintola ravintoloita
1 kattila kattiloita
1 kyntti kynttilöitä
1 makkara makkaroita
1 kamera kameroita
1 tavara tavaroita
1 ympy ympyröitä
1 kytty kyttyröitä
2 kamala kamalia
2 ihana ihania
2 ankara ankaria
2 avara avaria
2 näppä näppäriä

There are fairly many exceptions to this rule. One interesting word is kihara (#3), which can be used both as a noun and an adjective. That’s because it can be used as both: kihara can both mean “a curl” (noun) or “curly” (adjective). When we use it as an adjective, you will use -ia (e.g. Rakastan kiharia hiustyylejä! “I love curly hair styles”). When we use it as a noun, you will use -oita (e.g. Katso noita ihania kiharoita! “Look at those wondeful curls”).

I have yet to figure out the tendencies the other exceptions might be following. Any word marked with #4 is an exception that I currently do’t know how to explain.

# Nominative Partitive #1 Partitive #2
3 kihara kiharia kiharoita
4 miljoona miljoonia
4 persoona persoonia
4 legioona legioonia
4 kypä kypäriä
4 jumala jumalia
4 sitruuna sitruunoja sitruunoita
4 areena areenoja areenoita
4 faktuura faktuuroja faktuuroita
4 kitara kitaroja kitaroita
4 sikala sikaloja sikaloita
4 kanala kanaloja kanaloita
4 sairaala sairaaloja sairaaloita

8. Long Words Ending in MA,  LMA and VA

These are a little easier! Long words ending in -mA (often –lmA) and -vA will almost always have –iA as their plural partitive marker

# Nominative Partitive #1 Partitive #2
1 asema asemia
1 kuolema kuolemia
1 maisema maisemia
1 satama satamia
1 purema puremia
1 ihottuma ihottumia
1 sanoma sanomia
1 glaukooma glaukoomia
2 suunnitelma suunnitelmia
2 ohjelma ohjelmia
2 kokoelma kokoelmia
2 kuvitelma kuvitelmia
2 vadelma vadelmia
2 hedelmä hedelmiä
3 kanava kanavia
3 tehtä tehtäviä
3 orava oravia
3 ystä ystäviä
3 mukava mukavia
3 lihava lihavia
3 elokuva elokuvia
3 sopiva sopivia
3 harava haravia (haravoita)

Some exceptions do exist for words ending in -mA. The word maailma, for example, technically consists of the words maa and ilma, so it makes sense for it to inflect just like the base word ilma does: ilmoja.

The word salama is usually salamoita, because the sausage salami and its singular partitive form salamia can cause a mix-up.

I found some other exceptions, but keep in mind that there is only a minimum of exceptions like these. They are definitely not as common as have the ending -ia for words ending in -ma, -lma and –va.

# Nominative Partitive #1 Partitive #2
4 maailma maailmoja (maailmoita)
4 salama (salamia) salamoita
4 karisma karismoja (karismoita)
4 dilemma dilemmoja
4 ekseema ekseemoja
4 probleema probleemia probleemoja (probleemoita)

9. Long Words Ending in -JA

For words ending in -ja, you should pay attention to the letter in front of the -ja. If you’re dealing with an -i- in front of it e.g. (opiskelija, #1), the plural partitive’s marker will be -oita (opiskelijoita). If there is another vowel in front of the -ja (opettaja, #2), the plural partitive’s marker will be –ia (opettajia).

# Nominative Partitive #1 Partitive #2
1 opiskelija opiskelijoita
1 tutkija tutkijoita
1 kirjailija kirjailijoita
1 virkailija virkailijoita
1 kirjailija kirjailijoita
1 suunnittelija suunnittelijoita
1 jalankulkija jalankulkijoita
2 opettaja opettajia
2 lentä lentäjiä
2 kirjoittaja kirjoittajia
2 siivooja siivoojia
2 hieroja hierojia
2 hiihtä hiihäjiä
2 sopeutuja sopeutujia

10. Long Words Ending in -LU

For long words ending in -lU, both plural partitive options usually sound equally correct to Finns. However, when you google how often both are used, there is usually a clear preference for one or the other. The green in the table below is solely based on Google results.

There are some tendencies here:

  • Words with a long vowel in front of the –lu more often get -jA (see #1).
  • Words of 4 syllables also generally get the shorter variant jA (see #2).
  • For other words, it’s more hit-or-miss without any immediately clear reason for the preference (see #3).
# Nominative Partitive #1 Partitive #2
1 vertailu vertailuja vertailuita
1 kokeilu kokeiluja kokeiluita
1 tarjoilu tarjoiluja tarjoiluita
1 arvailu arvailuja arvailuita
1 säteily säteilyjä säteilyitä
1 risteily risteilyjä risteilyitä
1 kilpailu kilpailuja kilpailuita
2 arvostelu arvosteluja arvosteluita
2 haastattelu haastatteluja haastatteluita
2 keskustelu keskusteluja keskusteluita
2 neuvottelu neuvotteluja neuvotteluita
3 käsittely käsittelyjä käsittelyitä
3 näyttely näyttelyjä näyttelyitä
3 puhelu puheluja puheluita
3 palvelu palveluja palveluita
3 taistelu taisteluja taisteluita

11. Long Words Ending in -kkO or -kkA

Words ending in -kkO or -kkA have two possible endings, both of which are used commonly, depending on the person’s preference. I would say -kOitA is slightly more common than -kkOja.

For these words, consonant gradation is an issue. In general, the plural partitive does not undergo consonant gradation at all. However, words ending in -kkO or -kkA do have consonant gradation. When you add the marker -OitA to the word, you will have to remove one –k– from the basic form.

# Nominative Partitive #1 Partitive #2
1 mansikka mansikkoja mansikoita
1 lusikka lusikkoja lusikoita
1 pyörykkä pyörykköjä pyöryköita
1 kännykkä kännykköjä kännyköitä
1 kirsikka kirsikkoja kirsikoita
2 kolikko kolikkoja kolikoita
2 lompakko lompakkoja lompakoita
2 yksikkö yksikköjä yksiköitä
2 päällikkö päällikköjä päälliköitä
2 taulukko taulukkoja taulukoita
Syllables and stress - For people with an interest in linguistics

If you’re interested in why we need the strong or weak grade, it has to do with the type of syllables the word has. This is pretty technical linguistic stuff, so you could just skip it and remember that it’s -kkoja but -koita.

 

There are two rules that dictate whether you will use one or two k’s. The first rule says that you will use the strong grade at the beginning of an open syllable. For example, the word mansikka has the strong grade in the partitive case (man-sik-kaa). This is because -kaa is an open syllable. The genitive form of mansikka has the weak grade because its located at the beginning of a closed syllable (man-si-kan). In plural partitive form mansikkoja we have an open syllable (man-sik-ko-ja), so we need the strong grade.

 

For the second rule, you need to pay attention to whether the one-but-last syllable is both stressed and long. You will use the weak grade for words where the one-but-last (stressed) syllable is long. For the form mansikoita, the one but last syllable is long and stressed: man-si-koi-ta. You can compare this to man-sik-ko-ja, where the one-but-last syllable isn’t long nor stressed, so we use the strong grade.

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Ilia

Hello! Is there a separate group kinda “Long Words Ending in -KA”? Or is it a part of “Long Words Ending in -LA, -NA, -RA(, -KA)” group?

Inge (admin)

Long words ending in -KA (like mansikka) can have both -oita and -oja as their ending. Words ending in -LA/NA/RA are inflected differently (nouns get -oita, adjectives get -ia).

You can find long words ending in -KA in the consonant gradation section of the article. There are some words (like katiska) that end in -KA but won’t undergo consonant gradation because of the s in front of the k (katiskoja, katiskoita).

How long should a word be to use these rules?

Inge (admin)

Three syllables or more!

Michael Hämäläinen

I mapped these rules against some frequency lists (in Korpela’s Handbook of Finnish and VISK) and they summarise the patterns very well. Thanks for the practical expedient on this thorny issue!
In the interests of completeness, here are some other patterns:
If the ending of the inflectional stem is two vowels, -ita is always used. This was already described for short words under the 2.7. Words ending in two vowels: remove the last vowel and add –ita/itä  (KOTUS type 18 maa) and 2.8. Words ending in diphtongs –ie, –uo, –: drop the first vowel + ita/itä (KOTUS type 19 suo) sections on the The Partitive Plural – Monikon Partitiivi page.

Among long words, the same pattern is easiest to see in KOTUS type 3 valtio (yksiö : yksiöitä) and KOTUS type 15 korkea (pehmeä : pehmeitä) since these types have nominative ending in two vowels. However, it also applies to KOTUS type 48 hame (sade (nominative) : sateen (genitive) : sateita (plural partitive)) because of the long –e– in the genitive (as further described in 2.3. Words ending in –e: add an extra –e– + –n on The Genetive Case page). All of the (short) words listed under 2.5. Words ending in –e: add –ita/itä on The Partitive Plural – Monikon Partitiivi page belong to this type (huone, kirje, parveke, perhe, etc.).
A similar principle applies to KOTUS type 41 vieras, which also has a long vowel stem (kirves (nominative) : kirveen (genitive) : kirveitä (plural partitive)); likewise for KOTUS 43 ohut (neitsyt : neitsyen : neitsyitä), KOTUS 44 kevät (kevät : kevään : keväitä) and active past participles belonging to KOTUS 47 kuollut (elänyt : eläneen : eläneitä).

Similar to miljoona, persoona has partitive plural form persoonia. Long words ending in –stO (varasto : varastoja ~ varastoita), –CVlU (menettely : menettelyjä ~ menettelyitä) and –CVVlU (kokeilu : kokeiluja ~  kokeiluita) rarely take –ita form for partitive plural.

Inge (admin)

Nice additional details, thanks 🙂

Kalevo

Why in ”kolikko” in the first plural is strong (two k) and in the second ole is weak (one k)? Kiitos.

Marcin

It’s explained in the last section of this article. For words ending in -kkO or -kkA, one k is removed when the -OitA ending is added.

Kalevo

I asked why, not how it works. Thanks.

Marcin

That’s simply a rule that applies to that group of words.

Inge (admin)

It’s easiest to just accept that that’s how it goes :p

The reason: words that are at least four syllables long once you add the case ending of the plural partitive, genetive and illative forms usually have two possible forms. For words ending in -kko or -kka, the -oita ending undergoes a different type of consonant gradation than -oja.

The -oja form follows the rule that at the beginning of an open syllable, you use the strong grade (man-sik-kaa), while at the beginning of a closed syllable, you use the weak grade (man-si-kan).

man-sik-ko-ja > -ko- is an open syllable

The oita-form follows the rule that words of at least 4 syllables whose one-but-last (stressed) syllable is long will have the weak grade at the beginning of said syllable.

man-si-koi-ta > -koi- is a long syllable

This type of consonant gradation only happens with nouns ending in -kka or -kko.

iliya

About long words ending in -o – I know 6 that only go for -ja in Plural Partitive – asunto, aurinko, uskonto, toiminto, ravinto, lähistö. I thought it might be because of the consonant gradation, so they don’t become e.g. “asunnoita”, “auringoita”. But then it came “lähistö” which doesn’t undergo consonant gradation in Genetive (lähistön)…so I still don’t get any rule about which kind of long words ending in -o don’t accept ita- in Plural Partitive.

Last edited 1 month ago by iliya
Inge (admin)

I’ve never given this more thought than I did to write this article, but it is interesting indeed! I don’t think it has anything to do with consonant gradation.

You can definitely find more words though! I noticed that all the words I can think of that end in -nto only have one alternative (e.g. hallinto, ravinto, avanto, toiminto all get -ja).

For words ending in -sto, a tendency I picked up on is that if the word has three syllables before the -sto, they tend to only have -ja (e.g. enemmistö, ympäristö, edustusto, johtajisto). If they have two syllables, they can have both –ja and –ita (e.g. kalasto, jaosto, juuristo). Lähistö is interesting though, as you already noticed!

I’m at the moment not super invested in looking for more tendencies, but if you end up finding some more hypotheses about what type of words only have one option, I’d gladly hear it!

iliya

Well, more than finding tendencies, I found out something that actually breaks some of them (sorry 🙁 ).

  • 3 words ending in -la that, apart from -oita, take also -oja: sikala, koala and sairaala.
  • 1 -na word which also accepts –oja: sitruuna
  • 1 -ra with both –oita and -oja: kitara
  • maailma takes neither -ia-ending (as word in -lma), nor only -oja-option (as compound word of ilma), but allows instead, together with the last one, the –oita alternative (and even seems to prefer maailmoita to maailmoja!).
  • paprika, despite not ending in one of the described options (-Va,-la,-na,-ra,-ija), only allows -oita.

I don’t know if all these are exceptions, or there could be some hidden rule/s behind some of them. Anyway, thank you for your enormous job, efforts, dedication and for being always there. Maailma tarvitsee ennemän ihmistä kuin sinä! (Onko tuo lause oikein?)

Inge (admin)

I suppose there will ALWAYS be exceptions :p Finnish doesn’t have THAT much exceptions compared to other languages, but the plural partitive and genitive surely cross into exception-land.

I don’t know WHERE you found that maailmoita would be preferred over maailmoja but that definitely isn’t true. It’s also important to realize that – even if something technically EXISTS – it doesn’t necessarily SOUND good to most native speakers.

Melkein oikein! “enemmän ihmisiä” “more people”

iliya

I just discovered another long word that only goes for -ja in Plurar Partitive, this time ending in -a: veranta. And funnily it also undergoes consonant gradation (verannan).

There are also the words balalaikka and papukaija which only become balalaikkoja and papukaijoja, even though this last one ends in -ja! (That on the other hand could maybe be explained if we look at them as compound words of laikka and kaija?)

Last edited 1 month ago by iliya
Inge (admin)

About papukaija: this article tells that -kaija was already used in bird’s names, so yes, you can look at that one as a compound word.

Words ending in -nta and in -nto both behave the same way in the plural partitive (so they get -ja). Viltsu on the Uusi kielemme discord server found that words ending in -hko also only get -ja.

Inge (admin)

I’ve given you three points for your contributions to this article!

iliya

Kiitos paljon sinulle tästä (I’m not quite sure whether a Finn would phrase it this way or not 😀 )! And yes, after I closed the page, I had the feeling I misspelled enemmän 😀 .
BTW another curiosity I forgot about: there are 3 words (that I know about – there sure can be more) that normally take –oita, but as alternative allow -ia instead of -oja: omena, peruna and päärynä. At least the sources i have access to give no option with the last ending.

iliya

(I couldn’t edit my last comment 🙁 ) For point 7 I have another exception word which, being a noun, takes –ia and not –oita: leijona.

Eric

When looking at the words marked as exceptions under point 7. A fair share of them looks like they are borrowed from Swedish.
In Swedish as in most germanic languages, main stress falls on the first syllable. However Swedish is known to accept any stress pattern and also preserve it in the language for centuries.
If looking at the list under point 7. Stress in Swedish is underlined:
miljoona miljon
persoona person
legioona legion
sitruuna citron
areena arena
faktuura faktura
kitara gitarr
One might wonder if the original educated Finish pronunciation was more like two words with a first unstressed word like mil and the second a bi-syllabic joo.na with stress on joo.

Inge (admin)

The influence of Swedish on Finnish is indeed extensive. The long vowels in the basic form of these words extremely likely is a result of the Swedish pronunciation.

I picked 4 from your list:
miljoona > miljoonia
persoona > persoonia
sitruuna > sitruunoita
areena > areenoita

For the plural partitive, however, it still seems mostly random while some words get -ia and others -oita.

Eric

You can see the Swedish stress phenomenon on other places too. Look at the words under point 2. The one market #1 are all stressed on first syllable (teater is interesting, but in spoken Swedish it is often pronounced tja.ter as just two silabels, and then the stress is of course on the first). Thus marked #2 and 3 all have stress on the last sylabel in Swidish. (sikter is not a form used in Swedish, back when it was used it had the stress on last sylabel).

Thus under point 3 has the stress on last syllable in Swedish.

Exceptions under point 8, karisma, dilemma, eksem, problem (Swedish stress underlined)

It’s striking that so many of the problematic words has an odd stress pattern in the source language/s. Could that have made them a particular challenge to adopt to Finnish. And is their oddities just a result of that.

Marcin

Not listed here but also words like musiikki and muusikko seem to be influenced by Swedish, where it is musik and musiker, respectively. The same with fysiikka (fysik) and fyysikko (fysiker).