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The Essive Case – na/nä – Essiivi

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Essive Case
    1. When referring to a period of your life.
    2. As an adverb expressing an emotion
    3. When expressing a state of being
    4. When expressing someone’s or something’s function
    5. With certain expressions of time
    6. With certain verb rections
    7. Fossilized in certain words
    8. In “if I were you” type of sentences
    9. In quasi constructions (kvasirakenne)
  2. The Formation of the Essive Case
    1. Words ending in a single vowel
    2. Words ending in an -e
    3. Words ending in -nen
    4. Words ending in -i
      1. New words ending in -i
      2. Old words ending in -i
      3. Old words ending in -si
    5. Words ending in a consonant
      1. Words ending in -as
      2. Words ending in -is
      3. Words ending in -us/os
      4. Words ending in -ton
      5. Words ending in -in
      6. Words ending in -ut
      7. Words ending in -tar
      8. Non-Finnish words ending in a consonant
  3. Consonant Gradation in the Essive Case

1. The Use of the Essive Case (-na/nä)

1.1. When referring to a period of your life

You can use the essive case in many sentences when talking about your age.

Finnish English Finnish English
lapsena as a child aikuisena as an adult
nuorena as a young person vauvana as a baby
nuorena naisena as a young woman nuorena aikuisena as a young adult

1.2. As an adverb expressing an emotion

These adverbs are formed from an adjective with -na at the end. Often there is also a similar adverb that ends in -sti. When using the essive (iloisena) the adverb’s duration is longer than if you would use -sti (iloisesti).

Finnish English
Poika tuli kotiin iloisena. The boy came home happily.
He istuivat penkillä väsynei. They sat tiredly on the bench.
Odotin rauhallisena hänen paluutaan. I waited calmly for her return.
Nauroin hulluna, kun tajusin sen. I laughed crazily when I realized it.

1.3. When expressing a state of being

Finnish English
Ilma pysyy kauniina. The weather stays (in a) beautiful (state).
Hän on ollut sairaana. She has been (in a state of) sick(ness).
Hyönteisiä syödään raakana. Insects are eaten (in a state of being) raw.
Hankin auton käytetty. I bought the car (in a state of) used.

1.4. When expressing someone’s or something’s function

Finnish English
Hän työskenteli vuosia siivoojana. He worked many years as a cleaner.
Hän toimii koulun ohessa myyjä. In addition to school, she works as a salesperson.
Olin matkalla mukana oppaana. I was traveling along as a guide.
Hän oli vankilassa vartijana. He was in prison as a guard.
Televisio toimii lasteni viihdyttäjä. Television works as an entertainer for my kids.

1.5. With certain expressions of time

Finnish English
during this night
vuonna during this year
aamuna during this morning
iltana during this evening
viime aamuna during the previous morning
viime vuonna during the previous year
maanantaina on Monday
keskiviikkona on Wednesday
kuudentena joulukuuta on the 6th of December
viime viikonloppuna (during the) last weekend
kuukauden toisena tiistaina on the 2nd Tuesday of the month
vuoden kolmantena maanantaina on the third Monday of the year

You can read more about expressions of time.

1.6. With certain verb rections

The verbs below will come with the essive case. The last three have a double rection: you will use the verb + the partitive + the essive.

Example Translation
Ilma pysyi kauniina. The weather stayed beautiful.
Minä esiinnyin laulajana viikonloppuna. I performed as a singer in the weekend.
Matti työskentelee sihteeri yliopistossa. Matti works as a secretary at the university.
Mies piti ajatusta huonona pilana. The man considered the idea a bad joke.
Minä pidän sinua hyvä ystävä. I consider you a good friend.
Juhana käyttää autoa varastona. Juhana uses the car as a storage place.

1.7. Fossilized in certain words

Finnish English Finnish English Finnish English
iki ever kokonaan completely raskaana pregnant
täyn full yksiän solely (hänen) luona at his place
mukana with kotona at home solkenaan continuously

1.8. In “if I were you” type of sentences

One special, very specific use of the essive expresses an “if I were you” type sentences.

Finnish English
Sinuna en menisi sinne. If I were you, I wouldn’t go there.
Tei kiirehtisin. If I were you (plural), I would hurry up.

1.9. In quasi constructions (kvasirakenne)

There is a construction that uses the active present participle in order to express that you’re pretending to do something. This construction consists of the (plural) active present participle + the essive + a possessive suffix. The main verb of the sentence is always “olla”!

Finnish English
Olin nukkuvinani. I was pretending to sleep.
He eivät olleet kuulevinaan huomautusta. They pretended they weren’t hearing the comment.

2. The Formation of the Essive Case

The essive marker is -na/nä. It always gets added to the strong stem of the noun.

2.1. Words ending in a single vowel (-a/-ä, -u/-y, -o/-ö): add -na/-nä

This is also true for some words ending in -i, but they generally have a different rule. See below!

Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
kala kalana tyyny tyyny
talo talona seinä seinä
työ työ melu meluna

2.2. Words ending in -e: add an extra -e- before the -na/-nä

Words ending in -e get a second -e- in any case except the partitive. Words ending in -e belong to wordtype B, which means their basic form will be weak (e.g. parveke, koe) and their essive strong (e.g. parvekkeena, kokeena).

Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
huone huoneena perhe perhee
kappale kappaleena kirje kirjee
lentokone lentokoneena taide taiteena
parveke parvekkeena koe kokeena

2.3. Words ending in -nen: replace the -nen with -se before the -na/-nä

This is the same change that -nen words go through when used in any case except the partitive.

Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
nainen naisena hevonen hevosena
suomalainen suomalaisena eteinen eteise
iloinen iloisena ihminen ihmise
sininen sinise toinen toisena

2.4. Words ending in -i

You can read more about the difference between the different kinds of words ending in -i here.

2.4.1. New words ending in -i: add -na/-nä

New words are often loanwords. Usually they’re recognisable because they resemble words in other languages, like pankki for “bank”, or paperi for “paper”. Loanwords are easier than Finnish words because they don’t undergo as many changes when you add endings.

Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
banaani banaanina paperi paperina
kahvi kahvina pankki pankkina
posti postina maali maalina
tili tili adverbi adverbina

2.4.2. Old words ending in -i: replace -i- with -e- and add -na/-nä

Old words are very often nature words. After all, nature has been around for so long that Finns have had names for nature words since the very beginning. Some words’ age can be confusing, for example äiti (mother) is actually a fairly new Finnish word, even though mothers have been around since the beginning of time!

Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
ovi (1) ovena suuri (1) suurena
kivi (1) kive pieni (1) piene
pilvi (1) pilve veri (1) vere
lehti (1) lehte huuli (1) huulena
joki (1) jokena lohi (1) lohena

This section combines words belonging to the OVI-type (1) and the PIENI-type (2) into one because these types undergo the exact same change when inflected in the illative case.

2.4.3. Old words ending in -si: replace -si- with -te- and add -na/-nä

More old words, but this time with -si at their end. This group has its own additional change: the -si will turn into -te-.

Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
uusi uutena köysi köyte
si te kuukausi kuukautena
vesi vete reisi reite

I have a more extensive list of words that belong to this type here.

2.5. Words ending in a consonant

2.5.1. Words ending in -as: replace -as with -aa- + -na

Words ending in -as (or –äs, depending on vowel harmony rules) belong to wordtype B, so they will have the weak grade in their basic form (e.g. rakas, opas) and the strong grade in the essive (e.g. rakkaana, oppaana). Read more about words ending in -as here.

Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
rakas rakkaana rikas rikkaana
taivas taivaana lipas lippaana
opas oppaana itsekäs itsekkää

2.5.2. Words ending in -is: two groups

For words ending in -is, we have two groups: words like kallis that get -ii- when inflected, and words like roskis that get -ikse- when inflected.

Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
kallis kalliina roskis roskiksena
kaunis kauniina kirppis kirppikse
kauris kauriina fiilis fiilikse
ruis rukiina futis futiksena

2.5.3. Words ending in -us/-os: two groups

Words ending in -os will get -okse- when inflected. Some words ending in -us are the same, but they can belong to two groups: some get -ukse-, others get -ute- before the -na. You will want to check out this article to get the specifics.

Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
mahdollisuus mahdollisuutena vastaus vastauksena
rakkaus rakkautena kysymys kysymykse
ystävyys ystävyyte keskus keskuksena
pimeys pimeyte tarjous tarjouksena

Some general guidelines:

  • If the word is based on a verb (such as opettaa > opetus), it will generally get –ukse-.
  • If the word is based on an adjective (such as pimeä > pimeys), it will get –ute-.
  • If the word is based on a noun (such as ystävä > ystävyys), it will get –ute-.
  • If the word ends in –uus/yys (double vowel), you will get –ute-.

2.5.4. Words ending in -ton: replace -ton with -ttoma- + -na

Read more about words ending in -ton here.

Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
työtön työttömä koditon kodittomana
rahaton rahattomana rasvaton rasvattomana
maidoton maidottomana alkoholiton alkoholittomana

2.5.5. Words ending in -in: replace -in with -ime- + -na

Read more about words ending in -in here.

Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
puhelin puhelimena keitin keittime
avain avaimena kiharrin kihartimena
puhallin puhaltimena suoritin suorittimena

2.5.6. Words ending in -ut: two groups

Words that end in -ut/yt can belong to two wordtypes. The smallest group of the two contains words such as olut, kevyt and lyhyt. For these words, you will replace the final -t with an –e- before the essive’s case ending.

The much larger group is made up of NUT-participles such as väsynyt and tottunut. For the words, you will replace the -ut/yt with -ee- before the essive’s case ending.

Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
kevyt kevye väsynyt väsynee
olut oluena ollut olleena
ohut ohuena mennyt mennee

2.5.7. Words ending in -tar

Words endin in -tar are rare, but at least tytär (daughter) is a common word. In the essive case, these words get -ttare- in place of the basic form’s -tar.

Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
tytär tyttäre kuningatar kuningattarena
herttuatar herttuattarena jumalatar jumalattarena

2.6.8. Non-Finnish words ending in a consonant

Loanwords and foreign names (e.g. Jonathan, Facebook) which end in a consonant will have an extra -i- added before the essive’s -na/nä.

Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
Jonathan Jonathanina Facebook Facebookina
William Williamina Windows Windowsina
Marian Marianina Steam Steami
Mohamed Mohamedina McDonalds McDonaldsina

3. Consonant Gradation in the Essive Case

Wordtype A
Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
tyttö tyttö pankki pankkina
puku pukuna pöytä pöytä
hattu hattuna kauppa kauppana
silta siltana kampa kampana
hiekka hiekkana apu apuna

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Nominative Essive Nominative Essive
savuke savukkeena opas oppaana
keitin keittime tavoite tavoitteena
rakas rakkaana hammas hampaana
soitin soittimena puhallin puhaltimena
allas altaana työtön työttömä

I have a separate article on wordtype B.

That concludes the article on the essive case!

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So if I were to say ‘Poika tuli kotiin iloisena,’ that is ‘The boy came home happily.’ (He was in a state of happiness all the way home). But if I were to say ‘Poika tuli kotiin iloisesti,’ that is ‘The boy happily came home.’ (He was happy to come home; he left wherever he was, happy to be going home.) I don’t know if that distinction is translatable, but that’s how I imagine it to be, with a long duration (essive adverb) versus a shorter duration (regular adverb).

Inge (admin)

So word order should make the difference clear in English? Wow. I don’t think my English is good enough to pick up on that difference xD

With iloisena the happiness will also last after coming home, his happy state isn’t tied to the coming home, just a general state he is in while he’s coming home. It could be that something fun happened at school.


Haha, it’s a VERY TINY difference, almost not really existent. I think if the adverb is in front of the verb-phrase, it’s describing how the verb was done or maybe the verb was the reason, like ‘The boy angrily came home.’ (He was angry because he was coming home). I think it can mean either way if the adverb is after the action. ‘The boy came home angrily.’ (He was angry because he was going home, or he was angry during his trip home [for a different/extra reason].)

So iloisesti just would not have the same meaning as iloisena. I think I can understand that! 🙂


I think that usually -na case refers to the quality or state of the actor/subject.
Instead, -sti suffix (that makes the adjective an adverb) refers to the verb of the clause.
Hän lauloi iloisena. She was glad and sung.
Hän lauloi iloisesti. She sung in a joyful way (allegro), we don’t know her inner mood.

Michael Hämäläinen

This is very informative, thank you.

In my notes I found a few other uses from Korpela’s book, including:

Tämä sopimus on tehty kahtena kappaleena (This contract has been made in two copies)

[cause or reason]
Punatukkaisena minun on vältettävä polttamasta itseäni auringossa (As a redhead I need to avoid getting sunburnt)

[something has been made available or submitted to something]
(verb olla + essive form of passive present participle)

*these are further discussed on the Present Passive Participle Sentence Constructions page

Among the 1.7. Fossilized in certain words list are kotona and luona that take the old locational case essive as I mentioned in my comment to Adverbs of Location: Täällä, Kaikkialla, Ylhäällä.

Ülkem Aydın

Kiitos paljon!


While reading some of the HP series I came across the following sentence:

Kerran hän oli näkevinään tulenlieskan yhden käytävän päässä ja käännähti ympäri nähdäkseen, olisiko se lohikäärme, mutta liian myöhään – he syöksyivät yhä syvemmälle, ohi maanalaisen järven, jonka katosta ja lattiasta sojotti valtavia tippukivipuikkoja ja -pylväitä.

This translates to (using google translate):

“Once he saw a flame of fire at the end of one of the corridors and turned around to see if it was a dragon, but too late — they plunged deeper and deeper, past an underground lake with huge stalactite sticks and pillars scattered from the roof and floor.”

I am referring to the word näkevinään that fits the description of 1.9 quasi constructions. As far as I can see this is no pretending situation, but maybe there is a nuance to quasi constructions? Could it mean something like “maybe saw something, but wasn’t sure” ?

Inge (admin)

You’re right! I need to expand that description to say that these constructions express pretending, but also play-pretending, dreams or imagination.


What is the essive for “vuosi” ? “vuotena” or “vuonna”(like in the expression “tänä vuonna”)?

Inge (admin)

Excellent questions! You will indeed most commonly use vuonna rather than vuotena. This holds true for “ensi/viime/tänä vuonna” as well as “vuonna 2023“. However, if you’re saying something took place over a number of years, you will use vuotena, eg. “kolmena peräkkäisenä vuotena” (during three consecutive years)
or “viitenä ensimmäisenä vuotena” (during the first five years).


Could you please explain me the usage of mukana and mukaan?

Inge (admin)

For this topic, the randomfinnishlesson blog has a pretty nice explanation 🙂