Finnish for busy people

The Genitive Case – Genetiivi – Finnish Grammar

In this article, you can find information about the genitive case. We’ll go over when to use it and how you inflect words into the genitive.

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Genitive Case
    1. When indicating possession (John’s, Pekka’s)
    2. In front of postpositions (takana, edessä)
    3. When expressing necessity (täytyy)
    4. With the object of a sentence
    5. In certain more advanced constructions
  2. The Formation of the Genitive Case
    1. The genitive of the personal pronouns
    2. Words ending in a vowel
    3. Words ending in an -e
    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 -nen
      2. Words ending in -as
      3. Words ending in -is
      4. Words ending in -us/-ys
      5. Words ending in -os/-ös
      6. Words ending in -ton
      7. Words ending in -in
      8. Words ending in -ut
      9. Words ending in -tar
      10. Non-Finnish words ending in a consonant
  3. Consonant Gradation in the Genitive Case

1. Use of the Genitive Case (minkä, kenen)

1.1. When indicating possession

The genitive is used to express someone possessing something. The genitive’s marker -n will be added to the end of the possessor of the sentence.

When a group of words all belong together (say: a pronoun, an adjective and a noun), all three of them will be put in the genitive.

  • “[This young woman]’s dress is blue” becomes “[Tämän nuoren naisen] mekko on sininen”
  • “[Anna’s sister’s ex-husband]’s cupboard is locked” becomes “[Annan siskon entisen miehen] kaappi on lukossa.”
  • “[That angry man’s dangerous dog]’s collar is loose” becomes “[Tuon vihaisen miehen vaarallisen koiran] kaulapanta on irti.”
Finnish English
[Tuon miehen lompakko] jäi pöydälle. [That man’s wallet] was left on the table.
[Mikon lempiväri] on musta. [Mikko’s favorite color] is black.
[Naapurin apua] ei tarvita. [The neighbor’s help] is not needed.
[Suomalaisten asenne] on kielteinen. [Finns’ attitude] is negative.
[Oppaan selitykset] olivat mielenkiintoisia. [The guide’s explanations] were interesting.
[Äidin tyttönimi] on Nieminen. [Mom’s maiden name] is Nieminen.

1.2. In front of postpositions

Postpositions in Finnish are often used to indicate location in relation to another object (e.g. päällä “on top”; lähellä “close by”; vieressä “next to”). Postpositions generally require their complement to be inflected in the genitive.

Finnish English
[Television päällä] on kukkaruukku. There is a flower pot [on top of the television].
[Television takana] on seinä. [Behind the television] is a wall.
[Television lähellä] tapahtuu kaikenlaista. [Close to the television] happen many things.
Hiiri on [jääkaapin alla]. The mouse is [underneath the fridge].
[Koulun vieressä] on karkkikauppa. [Next to the school] there’s a candy store.
[Liisan kanssa] on aina hauskaa. [With Liisa] there’s always fun.

1.3. When expressing necessity

In Finnish you will need to use the genitive with verbs expressing necessity (täytyy, pitää, kannattaa). Necessity can also be expressed with the more advanced on mentävä” sentence construction, which also requires the genitive.

Finnish English
Minun täytyy käydä kaupassa tänään. I have to go to the store today.
Sinun kannattaa tulla ajoissa. You should come on time.
Aleksin pitää siivota huoneensa nyt. Aleksi has to clean his room now.
Isoäidin on pakko asua vanhainkodissa. Grandma has to live in a retirement home.
Sinun ei pitäisi olla täällä. You shouldn’t be here.

1.4. With the object of a sentence

The -n ending is also used with the object of affirmative sentences. Depending on how familiar you are with linguistics and cases in general, you might call this case the genitive or the accusative. I’m adding it on my genitive page, but there are plenty of people who would rather I’d only add it on the accusative page.

The -n (call it either the genitive or the accusative) is used for objects in normal affirmative sentences. It expresses that whatever is being done is happening to the whole object.

Finnish Explanation
Minä syön omenan. I eat a whole apple. / I plan to eat a whole apple.
Minä syön omenaa. I eat some apple. / I am currently eating an apple.
Minä luen kirjan. I am reading the whole book. / I plan on reading the whole book.
Minä luen kirjaa. I’m reading part of this book. / I am currently reading this book.
Minä luin kirjan eilen. I read the whole book yesterday. / I finished reading the whole book.
Minä luin kirjaa eilen. I read part of this book yesterday.

I’m simplifying the matter here, but these sentences are the core of the object phenomenon. You can read about it more in my article about the object.

1.5. In Certain More Advanced Constructions

The genitive will also appear in some constructions that are meant for advanced learners of Finnish. Check out the following pages if you want to learn more:

2. The Formation of the Genitive Case

The marker of the genitive is always –n. Words undergo certain changes when you add the genitive case to the end of them.

2.1. The genitive case ending of the personal pronouns

Personal pronouns inflect as follows:

Nominative Genitive English
minä minun my, mine
sinä sinun your, yours (singular)
hän hänen his, her, hers
me meidän  our, ours
te teidän your, yours (plural)
he heidän their, theirs

In addition to the genitive, you can also use a possessive suffix to express possession with personal pronouns (e.g. minun auto – minun autoni).

Finnish English
Minun autoni on rikki. My car is broken.
Sinun siskosi on raskaana. Your sister is pregnant.
Meidän koiramme on nukahtanut. Our dog has fallen asleep.

2.2. Words ending in a vowel (-a/-ä, -u/-y, -o/-ö): add -n

Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
kala kalan tyyny tyynyn
talo talon seinä seinän
työ työn melu melun
vaikea vaikean takuu takuun
museo museon televisio television

2.3. Words ending in -e: add an extra -e- + -n

Words ending in -e belong to wordtype B, which means their basic form will be weak (e.g. parveke, koe) and their genitive strong (e.g. parvekkeen, kokeen).

Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
huone huoneen perhe perheen
kappale kappaleen kirje kirjeen
lentokone lentokoneen taide taiteen
parveke parvekkeen koe kokeen

2.4. Words ending in -i

Find out more about the inflection of the different types of words ending in –i!

2.4.1. New words ending in -i: add -n

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 Genitive Nominative Genitive
banaani banaanin paperi paperin
kahvi kahvin pankki pankin
posti postin maali maalin
tili tilin adverbi adverbin

2.4.2. Old words ending in -i: replace -i with -e- and add -n

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

Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
ovi oven suuri suuren
suomi suomen pieni pienen
pilvi pilven veri veren
lehti lehden huuli huulen
joki joen lohi lohen

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

2.4.3. Old words ending in -si: replace -si with -de- and add -n

More old words, but this time with –si at their end. This group has its own additional change.

Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
uusi uuden vuosi vuoden
si den kuukausi kuukauden
vesi veden reisi reiden

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 -nen: replace the -nen with -se + -n

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

Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
nainen naisen hevonen hevosen
suomalainen suomalaisen eteinen eteisen
iloinen iloisen ihminen ihmisen
sininen sinisen toinen toisen

2.5.2. Words ending in -as: replace -as with -aa- + -n

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 their genitive form (e.g. rakkaan, oppaan).

Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
rakas rakkaan rikas rikkaan
taivas taivaan lipas lippaan
opas oppaan itsekäs itsekkään

2.5.3. 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 which get -ikse- when inflected.

Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
kallis kalliin roskis roskiksen
kaunis kauniin kirppis kirppiksen
kauris kauriin fiilis fiiliksen
ruis rukiin futis futiksen

2.5.4. Words ending in -os/-ös: replace –os with –okse– and add –n

Words ending in -os and –ös will respectively get -okse- and –ökse– when inflected.

Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
ostos ostoksen jäljennös jäljennöksen
piirros piiroksen käännös käännöksen
annos annoksen luonnos luonnoksen

2.5.5. Words ending in -us/-ys: two groups

Words ending in –us can belong to two groups: some get -ukse-, others get -ude- before the genitive’s -n. This depends on whether the word is derived from an adjective (e.g. pimeä > pimeys) or not. Words which have been derived from an adjective get –ude-, while other words get –ukse-. You will want to check out this article to get the specifics.

Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
mahdollisuus mahdollisuuden vastaus vastauksen
rakkaus rakkauden kysymys kysymyksen
ystävyys ystävyyden keskus keskuksen
pimeys pimeyden tarjous tarjouksen

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 –ude- in the genitive.
  • If the word is based on a noun (such as ystävä > ystävyys), it will get –ude- in the genitive.
  • If the word ends in –uus/yys (double vowel), you will get –ude-.

2.5.6. Words ending in -ton: replace -ton with -ttoma- + -n

Read more about words ending in -ton here.

Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
työtön työttömän koditon kodittoman
rahaton rahattoman rasvaton rasvattoman
maidoton maidottoman alkoholiton alkoholittoman

2.5.7. Words ending in -in: replace -in with -ime- + -n

Read more about words ending in -in here.

Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
puhelin puhelimen keitin keittimen
avain avaimen kiharrin kihartimen
puhallin puhaltimen suoritin suorittimen

2.5.8. Words ending in -ut: two groups

Words ending in -ut are most commonly NUT-participles (e.g. kuollut “dead” from kuolla “to die”). These nouns will get -een in the genitive case. Separate from this group there are regular nouns ending in -ut (e.g. ohut, kevyt, lyhyt, olut). This is a pretty rare wordtype, which has a genitive ending in -uen/yen.

Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
väsynyt väsyneen rakastunut rakastuneen
kuollut kuolleen pudonnut pudonneen
ohut ohuen lyhyt lyhyen

2.5.9. Words ending in -tar

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

Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
tytär tyttären kuningatar kuningattaren
herttuatar herttuattaren jumalatar jumalattaren

2.5.10. 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 genitive’s -n.

Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
Jonathan Jonathanin Facebook Facebookin
William Williamin Windows Windowsin
Marian Marianin Steam Steamin
Mohamed Mohamedin McDonalds McDonaldsin

You might also want to check out these two articles:

3. Consonant Gradation in the Genitive Case

Wordtype A
Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
tyttö tytön pankki pankin
puku puvun pöytä pöydän
hattu hatun kauppa kaupan
silta sillan kampa kamman
hiekka hiekan apu avun

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Nominative Genitive Nominative Genitive
savuke savukkeen opas oppaan
keitin keittimen tavoite tavoitteen
rakas rakkaan hammas hampaan
soitin soittimen puhallin puhaltimen
allas altaan työtön työttömän

I have a separate article on wordtype B.

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Michael Hämäläinen

Korpela’s Handbook of Finnish also addresses some less common genitive-related topics — I’ve copied them below:

The genitive form of an adjective can be used to qualify another adjective or an adverb. In these constructs, the adjective is always in singular, and it typically characterizes the amount of the quantity expressed by the other adjective. Additional examples:


Similar examples of genitive modifier + adjective written together as one word (e.g., hiuksenhieno super fine, subtle; kristallinkirkas crystal clear) are included in the Adjectives with Fixed Modifiers page, as well as more general-purpose examples in the Compound Adjectives page.

A genitive form of an adjective can be used in adverb-like manner to qualify another adjective or an adverb, e.g. tavattoman halpa (unusually inexpensive). In English, an adverb ending with “-ly” is typically used instead.

The genitive of a superlative form can also be used as a qualifier. Finnish has three ways of expressing e.g. “as large as possible”:


Ah, nice! At one point I was planning to make a separate article about these, but when I started I just couldn’t think of enough examples to warrant doing so. Thanks for listing these!

Christ Zury

‘Genetive’ should be ‘Genitive’. Ohterwise people have trouble to find this page.


The word “read” in the following explanations is ambiguous because it can also mean the past tense of read in English, but the Finnish sentences are not in past tense. Should they be changed to “am reading” for clarity?

Minä luen kirjan. I read the whole book. / I plan on reading the whole book.
Minä luen kirjaa. I read some of this book. / I am currently reading this book.

Inge (admin)

That’s a good point! I changed it, but also added “Minä luin kirjan/kirjaa” example sentences because this also holds true in the past tense. Thank you for your comment!


Thanks for this! Quick piece of feedback for English speakers: when denoting possession, this isn’t limited to apostrophe-denoted possession (that’s the easy part). We often use nouns as qualifiers in English which also denotes possession (‘shoe size’- ‘the size of the shoe’; ‘Windsor Castle’- ‘the Castle of Windsor’). It’d be great if you could also expressly call this out- I’m finding it tough!

Inge (admin)

Thanks Eva!


I misread a word and would like to point out a possible addition:

tili - tilin


tiili - tiilen

Obviously you can’t just look at the last letter or three of the word, but have to consider it as a whole. Sure, the tiilen type is rare, cf. siili – siilin. Tiili is an old word, siili is newer.


The part that is missing for me is how to form a genitive case for a word like ‘mies’. It doesn’t fall under any category here.

Inge (admin)

That’s because there are no “words like mies” 🙂 Mies is an exception all by itself, there are no other words that inflect the same way.


Why does “tekevät” use ä instead of a?

Inge (admin)

Vowel harmony: words without the vowels AOU, get -ä


As a new learner, I’m wondered in topic 2.3 above. When conjugate KPT from weak to be strong form, why does kirje not become kirkeen but remain kirjeen? Thank you for your wisdom.


In that word ”j” is not a weak grade of ”k” but original ”j” that does not change. It is the same ”j” than in the word ”kirjoittaa” (to write).
There are also words with original sound ”v” that is not a weak grade of ”p”.


For example:
Haapa (aspen) – haavan
Haava (wound) – haavan
So if you see the word ”haavan” you cannot know for sure if it was the genitive case of ”haapa” or ”haava”. But the context will usually tell which one is the right one.


That’s great to know. Thank you.


That helps a lot. Thank you soooo much.