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The Translative Case – ksi – Translatiivi

The translative case is usually used to express a change or transition. Its marker is –ksi, and can be seen in phrases like “Valmistuin opettajaksi” (I graduated as a teacher) and “Hän tuli raskaaksi” (she got pregnant).

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Translative Case
    1. When a change of state happens
    2. When a transition happens
    3. When expressing purpose
    4. When translating languages
    5. When expressing the time of a future event
    6. In certain words
    7. With certain verb rections
    8. With certain participle constructions
  2. The Formation of the Translative 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 -os/-us
      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 Translative Case

1. The Use of the Translative Case (-ksi)

1.1. When a change of state happens

By this, I mean that something changes from one state to another: say, from water to wine, or from warm to cold. The verb muuttua “to change, to turn into” is the most typical for this type of sentence.

The state is often expressed by an adjective (cold, sick, red, see #1), but it can also be a noun expressing a “state of being” (see #2). For example, water has three states: liquid, gas and solid. When ice melts, it goes from its solid state to its liquid state, so we can say “Jää muuttui vedeksi“.

# Finnish English Change
1 Ilma muuttui kylmäksi. The weather turned cold. warm > cold
1 Takki tuli märäksi. The coat got wet. dry > wet
1 Maalaa se punaiseksi! Paint it red! white > red
1 Hän kasvoi pitkäksi. He grew tall. short > tall
1 Minä tulen aika nopeasti sairaaksi. I get sick pretty quickly. healthy > sick
2 Se muuttui vedeksi. It turned into water. ice > water
2 Sivut muuttuivat kirjaksi. The pages turned into a book. loose pages > book

1.2. When a transition happens

This is fairly close to 1.1, but deals mostly with people and is often harder for students to grasp. When a person becomes unemployed, pregnant or an engineer, in the Finnish language, that’s also seen as a change: first you’re a student and, then, you are a graduated engineer. Those are more transitions than changes.

Some verbs that are typical for this type of sentence are “päästä”, “opiskella”, “valmistua” and “joutua”. Learn more about translative rections in general here.

Finnish English Transition
Pääsin ylioppilaaksi vuonna 2004. I became a graduate in 2004. student > graduate
Hän opiskelee toimittajaksi. She studies to become a journalist. student > journalist
Hän valmistui insinööriksi. He graduated as an engineer. student > engineer
Hän joutui työttömäksi. He became unemployed. employed > unemployed
Hän tuli raskaaksi. She became pregnant. not pregnant > pregnant
Hän joutui vangiksi. He was imprisoned. free person > prisoner

1.3. When expressing purpose

The translative is also used to express the intended role or purpose of something new that has been made.

Finnish English
Rakennetaan aita suojaksi hirviä vastaan! Let’s build a fence as protection against elks!
Laite on kehitetty apuvälineeksi. The device has been developed as an aid.
Lakana sopii pöytäliinaksi. The sheet is suitable as a tablecloth.
Hänet on kasvatettu kuninkaaksi. He’s been raised to be a king.
Kirja on tarkoitettu käytettäväksi opetuksessa. The book is meant to be used in education.
Kakku on tehty syötäväksi. Cake is made to be eaten.

1.4. When translating languages

Just like all the examples above, the act of translating also deals with a change, between languages this time! The target language will be put in the translative case.

Finnish English
Minä käännän sen suomeksi. I will translate it to Finnish.
Sano se suomeksi! Say it in Finnish!
Kuinka sanotaan viroksi “kirja”? How do you say “kirja” in Estonian?
Käänsin satukirjan englannista suomeksi. I translated a fairytale book from English to Finnish.

1.5. When expressing the time of a future event

When we’re expressing the time by which something will happen or is due to happen, the translative is also used. These expressions of time are usually cases where we know in advance when, and for how long, something is going to happen.

Finnish English
Minä menen kesäksi Suomeen. I’m going to Finland for the summer.
Matkustatteko te kotiin jouluksi? Are you going home for Christmas?
Matkustan Lappiin viikoksi. I’m traveling to Lapland for a week.
Menen Suomeen kolmeksi viikoksi. I’m going to Finland for three weeks.
Hän lähti kaupungille pariksi tunniksi. He went into town for a couple of hours.
Vien sen kotiin viikonlopuksi. I’m taking it home for the weekend.

1.6. In certain words

There are some words that inherently have the translative attached to them, either as a fossilized element, or to express an abstract use of the translative case. This also includes phrase constructions like “tietääkseni” and “muistaakseni”.

Finnish English Finnish English
anteeksi I’m sorry. lisäksi in addition
lopuksi in the end esimerkiksi for example
miksi why tarpeeksi enough
aluksi in the beginning terveydeksi bless you
ensiksi first, firstly toiseksi second, secondly
onneksi luckily

1.7. With certain verb rections

As mentioned in 1.1. and 1.2. there are certain verbs that have a rection that requires the translative case. You can read more about translative verb rections here.

1.8. With certain participle constructions

The translative also appears in some verb constructions using the participles. Some examples of this are “tulla tehdyksi” (something gets done), “saada tehdyksi” (I complete something) and “saada tehtäväkseen” (receive as a job). These are pretty terrible translations, I know. You can read more about past passive participle on our separate page.

2. The Formation of the Translative Case

The translative ending is ksi. In the singular, it is added to the weak stem of the word (the same stem to which you add the –n for the genitive). In the plural, it is added to the plural stem (the stem to which you add the –ssa for the plural inessive).

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

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

Nominative Translative Nominative Translative
kala kalaksi tyyny tyynyksi
talo taloksi seinä seinäksi
työ työksi melu meluksi

2.2. Words ending in -e: add an extra -e- before the -ksi

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 translative strong (e.g. parvekkeeksi, kokeeksi).

Nominative Translative Nominative Translative
huone huoneeksi perhe perheeksi
kappale kappaleeksi kirje kirjeeksi
lentokone lentokoneeksi taide taiteeksi
parveke parvekkeeksi koe kokeeksi

2.3. Words ending in -nen: replace the -nen with -se before the -ksi

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

Nominative Translative Nominative Translative
nainen naiseksi hevonen hevoseksi
suomalainen suomalaiseksi eteinen eteiseksi
iloinen iloiseksi ihminen ihmiseksi
sininen siniseksi toinen toiseksi

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 -ksi

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 Translative Nominative Translative
banaani banaaniksi paperi paperiksi
kahvi kahviksi pankki pankiksi
posti postiksi maali maaliksi
tili tiliksi adverbi adverbiksi

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

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 Translative Nominative Translative
ovi (1) oveksi suuri (1) suureksi
suomi (1) suomeksi pieni (1) pieneksi
pilvi (1) pilveksi veri (1) vereksi
lehti (1) lehdeksi huuli (1) huuleksi
joki (1) joeksi lohi (1) loheksi

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 -de- and add -ksi

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

Nominative Translative Nominative Translative
uusi uudeksi vuosi vuodeksi
si deksi kuukausi kuukaudeksi
vesi vedeksi reisi reideksi

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- + -ksi

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 translative (e.g. rakkaaksi, oppaaksi). Read more about words ending in -as here.

Nominative Translative Nominative Translative
rakas rakkaaksi rikas rikkaaksi
taivas taivaaksi lipas lippaaksi
opas oppaaksi itsekäs itsekkääksi

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 Translative Nominative Translative
kallis kalliiksi roskis roskikseksi
kaunis kauniiksi kirppis kirppikseksi
kauris kauriiksi fiilis fiilikseksi
ruis rukiiksi futis futikseksi

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

Words ending in -os will get -okse- when inflected. Words ending in -us can belong to two groups: some get -ukse-, others get -ude- before the -ksi. You will want to check out this article to get the specifics.

Nominative Translative Nominative Translative
mahdollisuus mahdollisuudeksi vastaus vastaukseksi
rakkaus rakkaudeksi kysymys kysymykseksi
ystävyys ystävyydeksi keskus keskukseksi
pimeys pimeydeksi tarjous tarjoukseksi

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-.

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

Read more about words ending in -ton here.

Nominative Translative Nominative Translative
työtön työttömäksi koditon kodittomaksi
rahaton rahattomaksi rasvaton rasvattomaksi
maidoton maidottomaksi alkoholiton alkoholittomaksi

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

Read more about words ending in -in here.

Nominative Translative Nominative Translative
puhelin puhelimeksi keitin keittimeksi
avain avaimeksi kiharrin kihartimeksi
puhallin puhaltimeksi suoritin suorittimeksi

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 translative’s 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 translative’s case ending.

Nominative Translative Nominative Translative
kevyt kevyeksi väsynyt väsyneeksi
olut olueksi ollut olleeksi
ohut ohueksi mennyt menneeksi

2.5.7. Words ending in -tar

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

Nominative Translative Nominative Translative
tytär tyttäreksi kuningatar kuningattareksi
herttuatar herttuattareksi jumalatar jumalattareksi

2.5.8. 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 translative’s -ksi.

Nominative Translative Nominative Translative
Jonathan Jonathaniksi Facebook Facebookiksi
William Williamiksi Windows Windowsiksi
Marian Marianiksi Steam Steamiksi
Mohamed Mohamediksi McDonalds McDonaldsiksi

3. Consonant Gradation in the Translative Case

Wordtype A
Nominative Translative Nominative Translative
tyttö tytöksi pankki pankiksi
puku puvuksi pöytä pöydäksi
hattu hatuksi kauppa kaupaksi
silta sillaksi kampa kammaksi
hiekka hiekaksi apu avuksi

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Nominative Translative Nominative Translative
savuke savukkeeksi opas oppaaksi
keitin keittimeksi tavoite tavoitteeksi
rakas rakkaaksi hammas hampaaksi
soitin soittimeksi puhallin puhaltimeksi
allas altaaksi työtön työttömäksi

I have a separate article on wordtype B.

That concludes the article on the translative case!

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Michael Hämäläinen

Korpela’s Handbook of Finnish explores some interesting nuances and less common uses of the translative. I’ve copied some excerpts below:

[unexpected (temporary) state]

Nettotulo jäi pieneksi (The net income was low)..says the same [thing] as Nettotulo oli pieni but suggests that the income was expected to be higher. Compare this with the…essive [cf. When expressing a state of being under The Essive Case]: Nettotulo pysyi pienenä, which suggests a more permanent condition, [or] continuation of previous trend.

[new state – purpose]

…used about something new that is made, expressing its intended role or property. Examples:

[+olla: suitable for some position]

When used with the verb olla, the translative can be used in the meaning being suitable, adequate, or fit for some position. The person or other entity that is so characterized is expressed by a word in the elative (-stA case). Usually the sentence is negative or presents doubtful question. Examples:

[purpose: concrete or abstract]

[in regard to being…]

In an expression like Hän teki sen hyvin aloittelijaksi (He did it well for a beginner), the translative corresponds to the English preposition “for” in the sense “in regard to being…”. In such usage, the translative can also associated with an adjective or a noun, e.g. terve ikäisekseen (healthy for his age), liian vanha uutiseksi (too old for news).

[relative superlatives]

An expression like “third best” can be described as relative superlative: it does not refer to the best but to the best among a set from which the two best have been omitted. In Finnish, we say kolmanneksi paras means “third best” (i.e., “best”=superlative, but only relative to the others except first and second best). This construction uses the translative of ordinal numerals, such as kolmas:kolmannen.

José Luis Ortiz Berenguer

Very interesting! Thanks!

Guus Bonnema

Your articles continue to enrich and help my understanding of Finnish, I am very grateful for the contents of your website!

Inge (admin)

Thank you 🙂


Mitä teen työkseni?

In this sentence, how come we get kseni? is that ksi+ni? is there any rules used in this concept? Hopefully can hear from you soon!

Last edited 2 years ago by Inge (admin)
Inge (admin)

Correct deduction, yeah! That is the translative plus a possessive suffix. I’ve mentioned it here:

Last edited 2 years ago by Inge (admin)
Daniel Rajeish Kelly

Hän lähti kaupungille pariksi tunniksi. Is not a future event, it is a past event so i dont think it fits there.

You’re right, based on my description in that section, it doesn’t fit. I need to adjust the part a little bit so it says that -ksi is used to express the intedend duration of an action. It doesn’t so much matter whether the sentence is present or past. Rather, it matters what the intention of the person was when they start the action. Thanks! I will add a point for you.

Ole Kirkeby

I was wondering about the same thing. If you change “Minä menen kesäksi Suomeen” to “Minä menin kesäksi Suomeen”, is it still translative? Apparently, yes it is.

Daniel Rajeish Kelly

2.4.1. New words ending in -i: add -ksi/-ksiwhy have ” -ksi/-ksi” twice ? must be a mistake. Point deserved 🙂

Hehe, yeah, that’s a weird thing. Thanks!

Ole Kirkeby

What if the translative part includes a number? That usually takes singular partitive. “Haluaisin varata huoneen yhdeksi yöksi”. What if it is two nights? “Kahdeksi yöksi”? Plural translative exists but is it ever used?

Inge (admin)

The plural translativeis used, but not after numbers! Kahdeksi/kolmeksi/neljäksi yöksi all have the singular partitive.

You could talk to your friend afterwards and say “Varasin huoneen moniksi/useiksi öiksi” because moni and usea can be inflected in the plural partitive.

Other contexts are easier, eg. “He opiskelivat toimittajiksi” or “Maalasin kivet sinisiksi“.