The T-Plural – T-Monikko – Plural Nominative
This article deals with the plural nominative (often called the T-plural, or T-monikko in Finnish). This is a topic that can (and should be) addressed at many levels in your Finnish studies. If you’re a beginner, you should perhaps just remember that the T-plural is used for plural subjects, and leave the rest of this topic for a later point of your studies.
The T-plural is not the only plural in Finnish. There are plural forms of all the Finnish cases (e.g. plural genitive, plural -ssa, plural illative). However, those are advanced topics. You can deepen your understanding of the difference between the plural forms when you’re learning the plural partitive for example (T-plural vs plural partitive).
- The Usage of the T-Plural
- With plural subjects
- When your plural refers to ALL items
- With plurale tantum words
- With things that are mirrored
- When NOT to Use the T-Plural
- The Formation of the T-Plural
- Words ending in a single vowel
- Words ending in -e
- Words ending in -i
- New words ending in -i
- Old words ending in -i
- Old words ending in -si
- Words ending in a consonant
- Words ending in –nen
- Words ending in -as
- Words ending in -is
- Words ending in -os/-ös
- Words ending in -us/-ys
- Words ending in -ton
- Words ending in -in
- Words ending in -ut
- Words ending in -tar
- Consonant Gradation in the T-Plural
1. Usage of the T-Plural
The T-plural is used to express that there is more than one of something. This might sound simple, but Finnish is a complicated language. There are multiple situations where you will not use the T-plural to express plurality. So let’s take a look at when you will need it.
1.1. With plural subjects
The plural subject of a sentence will appear at the beginning of a sentence in its plural form.
|Tytöt leikkivät.||The girls are playing.|
|Koirat nukkuvat.||The dogs are sleeping.|
|Makkarat ovat pöydällä.||The sausages are on the table.|
|Siskot ovat keittiössä.||The sisters are in the kitchen.|
1.2. When your plural refers to ALL items
The opposition between the partitive plural and the T-plural is as follows: you will use the T-plural when you are referring to all objects, while you use the partitive plural for many but not all. In some cases, the T-plural will not refer to all, but just to a specific set that we have talked about before (e.g. not all the bikes, but all the bikes we talked about earlier).
|Syön omenat.||I eat (all) the apples.|
|Ostan kaikki muumikirjat.||I buy all the Moomins books.|
|Nuoret varastivat pyörät.||The youths stole (all) the bikes.|
|Avaan ikkunat.||I open (all) the windows.|
1.3. With plurale tantum words
“Plurale tantum” words are words that are always plural, despite their meaning being singular. This is the case for many celebrations and clothing items.
|Tupaantuliaiset olivat eilen.||The housewarming party was yesterday.|
|Häät olivat stressaavat.||The wedding was stressful.|
|Hautajaiset järjestettiin hyvin.||The funeral was well-organized.|
|Ristiäiset kestivät tunnin.||The christening took an hour|
|Synttärit pidettiin takapihalla.||The birthday party happened in the back yard.|
|Markkinat kiinnostavat minua.||The market interests me.|
|Läksiäiset olivat ikimuistoiset.||The goodbye party was memorable.|
|Avajaiset olivat heti ohi.||The opening ceremony was over right away.|
1.4. With things that are mirrored
Some things just naturally come in pairs. That’s the case for example for socks and eyes. In addition, there are quite a few things that seem to consist of a pair. These often have the same thing mirrored. Think for example of the two sides of your glasses or the way scissors consist of two blades. Most of these are also plurale tantum words, when they form a whole.
|Ostin housut eilen.||I bought the pants yesterday.|
|Silmälasit ovat siniset.||The glasses are blue.|
|Sakset olivat terävät.||The scissors were sharp.|
|Tikapuut nojaavat seinään.||The ladder leans against the wall.|
|Hänen kasvot ovat pyöreät.||His face is round.|
|Rintaliivit unohtuivat.||The bra was forgotten.|
|Aivot toimivat hyvin.||The brain works well.|
|Minulla on siniset sukat.||I have blue socks.|
|Keuhkot heikkenivät.||The lungs got weaker.|
|Kengät olivat liian pienet.||The shoes were too small.|
|Munuaiset ovat tärkeä elin.||Kidneys are an important organ.|
|Sieraimet ovat tukossa.||The nostrils are blocked.|
|Ostan uudet sukset.||I buy new skis.|
|Ostin lämpimät saappaat.||I bought warm boots.|
|Silmäsi ovat siniset.||Your eyes are blue.|
|Korvamme olivat punaiset.||Our ears were red.|
1.5. When NOT to Use the T-Plural
The plural nominative shares some of its functions in English with different cases. For example:
- After numbers you use the partitive (e.g. kaksi autoa “two cars”) instead of the T-plural (e.g.
- When you mean many rather than all, you will use the plural partitive (e.g. Syön mansikat “I eat (all) the strawberries” vs Syön mansikoita “I eat (some) strawberries”).
- In existential sentences we generally (not always!) use the plural partitive (e.g. Talossa on vieraita. “There are guests in the house”).
- When you’re forming a negative sentence, the object will be in the plural partitive (e.g. Syön omenat “I eat the apples” vs En syö omenoita “I don’t eat (the) apples”).
2. The Formation of the T-Plural
The marker of the T-plural is always –t. Words undergo certain changes when you add the –t to the end of them.
2.1. Words ending in a single vowel (-a/-ä, -u/-y, -o/-ö): add –t
This is also true for some words ending in -i, but they generally have a different rule. See below!
2.2. Words ending in -e: add an extra -e- + -t
Words ending in -e belong to wordtype B, which means their basic form will be weak (e.g. parveke, koe) and their T-plural strong (e.g. parvekkeet, kokeet).
2.3. Words ending in -i
You can read more about the difference between the different kinds of words ending in -i here.
2.3.1. New words ending in -i: add -t
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.
2.3.2. Old words ending in -i: replace -i- with -e- and add -t
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!
2.3.3. Old words ending in -si: replace -si- with -de- and add -t
More old words, but this time with –si at their end. This group has its own additional change.
Find out more about the inflection of the different types of words ending in –i!
2.4. Words ending in a consonant
2.4.1. Words ending in -nen: replace the -nen with -se + -t
This is the same change that –nen words go through when being used in any case except the partitive.
2.4.2. Words ending in -as: replace -as with -aa- + -t
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 T-plural form (e.g. rakkaat, oppaat).
You could also check out the separate article on words ending in -As
2.4.3. 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 that get -ikse- when inflected.
2.4.4. Words ending in -os/-ös: replace –os with –okse– and add -t
Words ending in -os and –ös will respectively get -okse- and –ökse– when inflected.
2.4.5. Words ending in -us/-ys: two groups
Words ending in –us can belong to two groups: some get -ukse-, others get -ude- before the T-plural’s -t. 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.
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-.
- If the word is based on a noun (such as ystävä > ystävyys), it will get –ude-.
- If the word ends in –uus/yys (double vowel), you will get –ude-.
2.4.6. Words ending in -ton: replace -ton with -ttoma- + -t
Read more about words ending in -ton here.
2.4.7. Words ending in -in: replace -in with -ime- + -t
Read more about words ending in -in here.
2.4.8. 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 –t.
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 –t.
2.4.9. Words ending in -tar
Words endin in -tar are rare, but at least tytär (daughter) is a common word. In the T-plural, these words get -ttare- in place of the basic form’s -tar.
3. Consonant Gradation in the T-Plural
I have a separate article on wordtype A.
I have a separate article on wordtype B.
Thanks for the excellent summary. Below are a few related points from my notes.
As mentioned, the plural is often used for celebrations and sometimes overlaps with ordinary usage, e.g. from Korpela:
(I see more hits for syntymäpäiväkutsut (colloquial: synttärit)
Wiktionary has over 1,200 entries for plural tantum words.
Special plural words are also used for mutual relations (i.e., two or more parties in the same relationship to each other). Korpela explains as follows:
These mutual relation words are an expansion on the vocabulary presented in the Family Members page.
The plural form is also used for surnames, both in nominative (e.g., Virtaset (the Virtanens, i.e., the Virtanen family)) as well as in case forms, such as the allative plural form Virtasille, as excerpted here.
“Wiktionary has over 1,200 entries for plural tantum words.” Wow :O My version of this will be much more limited lol when I publish it :p
Hey, just ran into a word kuningatar and wondered how’s that in Finnish : appereantly it is kuningattaret eli The on this article there’s nothing related to words ending in r-s
You can find a table of the inflection of -tAr words here: https://uusikielemme.fi/finnish-vocabulary/words-ending-in/words-ending-in-tar-kuningatar/ It’s such a rare wordtype that I decided to leave it out here. I might just as well add it really. Thanks for drawing my attention to this!
Hi! I ended up finding this website after googling for some explanations about the plural, and in other websites one of the words being used as an example is:
askel -> askelet
You don’t have a category here (or anywhere else that I can find?) for words ending in L, and to be fair there don’t seem to be a lot of them. Would I be right in assuming that the rule for making the plural for those words is just adding “-et”?
kyynel -> kyynelet? ; sävel -> sävelet?
Your question touches on something that’s very confusing: mixed paradigms. This is advanced stuff, so if you’re still a beginner, just learn the most common forms.
Both of the twin verbs listed above have their own partitive, genetive, plural forms. For kyynel this means:
In practice, however, people will mix and match these two paradigms. The forms most often used are kyynel : kyyneleet : kyyneltä : kyyneleissä
The words askeleet and kyyneleet are the most common, but sävelet has only one option.
You can find a much more in-depth explanation of all this here: https://uusikielemme.fi/finnish-vocabulary/words-ending-in/finnish-words-ending-in-l-n-r/
Hello, I have a question. Here is the sentence: Perhe odottaa potilasta odotushuoneessa. I have to change ‘potilasta’ into T-plural and I have no idea. I tried Google translate and it said ‘potilaita’. Why is its ending become ‘aita’?
Oh, Google translate also give one more option which is ‘potilaista’. I want to know why too. Thank you!
That sentence can’t have the T-plural form of potilas. When you use the verb “odottaa“, you always have to use the partitive form, because it’s a partitive verb.
If there’s one patient, it’s potilasta (the singular partitive) and if there are multiple patients, it’s potilaita (the plural partitive).
Potilaista doesn’t fit at all in that context. Can’t trust google translate, though their first guess was a good one!
I’m so glad that you are back. All the Finnish students were worried about you and your page. I would like to ask how is “eläintarha” in the monikko of “mistä”. I know is “eläintarhahoisa” but I don’t understand why because “oi” is just if the word has two syllabus and a,e in the first one and finish in “ä”. What’s the answer? Kiitos paljon.
It’s good to be back! 🙂 Eläintarha is a compound word: eläin+tarha. The rule you remember applies to the word tarha: it’s a word of 2 syllables, with “a” in the first syllable and “a” at the end.
Syön omenat “I eat the apples” vs En syö omenoita “I don’t eat the apples.
does en syö omenoita means that I don’t eat the (specified) apples. or it just mean I don’t eat (unidentified) apples. Because syön omenoita means I eat (some) apples.
The sentence in the article perhaps leans closer to “I don’t eat apples” because there is no extra information provided. However, all we need to do is add one word to the sentence and it’s not as straight-forward anymore: “En syö omenoita TÄNÄÄN” could mean both “I don’t eat THE apples today” (specific apples) or “I don’t eat APPLES today” (unspecified). So it’s kind of dependent on the context there. I will put the word “the” between brackets in the sentence.
could you please give examples of T-plural when the singular words end in (i)? i cliched the link ( here) but I did not find it and also I got confused. thanks
Hei Mustafa! Look at section 2.3 (2.3.1. – 2.3.2. and 2.3.3)
I have this time a really difficult question (well, I guess 😛 ). I read a quotation from “Kalevala“, where I can’t recognize the half of the words!! And I tried many variations for posible basic/stem/dictionnary words (kata, kaata; kades, kates, katehi), but still I wasn’t able to find anything in any of the sources I have 🙁
As two of them seem to be plural forms, I’m putting my question here and I rely on your magical power to resolve any obstacle you find in the Finnish language.
Here is the text with the underlined problematic words (I give you also the preceding lines, in case that might clear up a bit more the whole stuff) :
(Also I guess here voita comes from vuo (flow, flux) and not from voi (butter 😀 )
One tip: if you’re going to be reading Kalevala, get a couple of different versions from the library. There are ones that are pretty much the same but more “modern” and then some that rephrase a lot. It would help you understand by comparing the versions.
“Varjele, vakainen Luoja, – Protect, steadfast Creator,
kaitse, kaunoinen Jumala, – shepherd (us), beautiful God
miesten mielijohteista, – from the caprices of men,
akkojen ajatuksista! – from the thoughts of women,
Kaada maalliset kateet, – Overturn the worldly jealousies
vedelliset velhot voita! – overcome the witches of the water
It translates as something like that :p
I’m a non-native Finnish speaker, but this type of language has been addressed in my courses related to old Finnish dialects. Kalevala has been written in the language of the people, so it’s different from modern Finnish.
If you do decide to read more:
– If the word contains an -h-, try removing it and see if it makes more sense. Adding an -h- to words is common in many dialects (e.g. meen nukkumahan, meen methään) in different contexts. Try looking up the word in a dictionary without the -h- and guessing at the basic form.
– If the word contains a heittomerkki ‘ in the middle of a word, it’s likely to be a -d- in modern Finnish.