Finnish for busy people

Inflection of Foreign Names in Finnish

Just like Finnish words, foreign names in Finnish will be inflected in the Finnish cases. For many names, this poses a problem. Adding endings to names with foreign letters or sounds can be tricky. The inflection of foreign names is often important for students of Finnish: their name or places where they have lived in might not be particularly easy to inflect in Finnish.

This article includes examples of both place names and people’s names. I’ve included information of the inflection of foreign names in the following cases: the genitive, the partitive and the location cases. These are the cases you will use the most.

Table of Contents
  1. General information
    1. Vowel harmony in foreign names
    2. Consonant gradation in foreign names
  2. The genitive case
    1. Genitive of names that end in a vowel
      1. Word ends in vowel + pronunciation ends in a vowel sound
      2. Word ends in vowel / pronunciation ends in a consonant sound
    2. Genitive of names that end in a consonant
      1. Word ends in consonant + pronunciation ends in a consonant sound
      2. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in short vowel sound
      3. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in long vowel sound
  3. The partitive case
    1. Partitive of names that end in a vowel
      1. Word ends in vowel + pronunciation ends in a short vowel sound
      2. Word ends in vowel + pronunciation ends in a long vowel sound
      3. Word ends in vowel + pronunciation ends in a diphthong
      4. Word ends in -y + pronunciation ends in an -i sound
      5. Word ends in vowel / pronunciation ends in a consonant sound
    2. Partitive of names that end in a consonant
      1. Word ends in consonant + pronunciation ends in a consonant sound
      2. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in a short vowel sound
      3. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in a long vowel sound
  4. The location cases
    1. Location case forms of names that end in a vowel
      1. Word ends in vowel + pronunciation ends in a short vowel sound
      2. Word ends in vowel / pronunciation ends in a consonant sound
    2. Location case forms of names that end in a consonant
      1. Word ends in consonant + pronunciation ends in a consonant sound
      2. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in a short vowel sound
      3. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in a long vowel sound
  5. The illative case
    1. Illative of names that end in a vowel
      1. Word ends in vowel + pronunciation ends in a short vowel sound
      2. Word ends in -y + pronunciation ends in an -i sound
      3. Word ends in vowel + pronunciation ends in a long vowel sound
      4. Word ends in vowel / pronunciation ends in a consonant sound
    2. Illative of names that end in a consonant
      1. Word ends in consonant + pronunciation ends in a consonant sound
      2. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in short vowel sound
      3. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in long vowel sound
  6. TL;DR – Summary

1. General information

In order to see the whole picture, you should be aware of the spelling and the pronunciation of names. Both orthography and phonetics can influence the way a word is changed when we want to put it in a case. There are 4 options:

  1. The orthography and the pronunciation both end in a vowel.
    (e.g. Suzuki, Ahura, Pedro, Renee, Aisha, Moussa)
  2. The orthography and the pronunciation both end in a consonant.
    (e.g. Jack, Hamed, Karmen, Amir, Chaewon, Babacar)
  3. The word ends in a mute -e
    (eg.  Charlotte, Joyce, Eloise, Dominique, Luke)
  4. The word ends phonetically in a vowel sound, but is spelled with a consonant.
    (e.g. Noah, Mathis, Jules, Aaliyah, Abdullah)

You might already notice in these examples that some names can be pronounced several different ways depending on where they’re from. The name Louis for example sounds different in English than it does in French.

1.1. Vowel harmony in the inflection of foreign names in Finnish

Foreign names undergo vowel harmony based on their pronunciation. This means Camus becomes Camy’ssä because it’s pronounced as “kamyy“. While this is the rule, I’m sure you can find sources online that spell it as Camy’ssa. This is one of those rules which Finns will often have to look up online themselves.

Vowel harmony is names which contain an -a- such as Mary, Casey and Abbey. When written down, these names contain an -a-, but when spoken, you don’t have the Finnish -a- sound. For example, the name Casey is pronounced something like “keisi“, so it requires dots: Caseyäkeisiä“. For most names such as these, the guidelines originally advised to inflect them according to the orthography (so Marya, Caseya and Abbeya). However, recently more leeway is given towards vowel harmony based on pronunciation (so Maryä, Caseyä and Abbeyä).

Name Partitive
Abbey Abbeya, Abbeyä
Mary Marya, Maryä
Casey Caseya, Caseyä

1.2. Consonant gradation in the inflection of foreign names in Finnish

Internationally loaned names won’t undergo consonant gradation when written down. While Lotta will become Lotan the genitive case, the name Colette will be Coletten in the genitive case. However, in conversations, it’s very much possible for the speaker to apply consonant gradation regardless of the rule.

Please note! There are some things to keep in mind while you’re reading this article:

  • It’s important to realize that not every Finn pronounces every name the same way. Some people try to pronounce names the way they’re said internationally, while others prefer to “finnishize” the names. People can really butcher names when they want to (or when they don’t know any better).
  • I’ve only picked names of which I have found enough information online to be able to be reasonably certain of their inflection and pronunciation.
  • I’ve left out certain names either because my research was inconclusive or because they couldn’t be neatly placed in any of the categories I ended up with.
  • I’m not using IPA-based spelling mainly because I’m not super familiar with it. For example, rather than spelling the name Grace as /ɡɹeɪs/, I have used “greis”, which is based on the pronunciation of the letters in Finnish.

In most cases, Kielitoimisto currently recommends inflecting names based on their pronunciation. You will see below, however, that this isn’t always the case. Older guidelines might give conflicting recommendations. It’s also obvious that – in order to inflect a name based on its pronunciation – you need to actually know how a word is pronounced. That’s one reason why you will find variation in spelling and pronunciation.


2. The Genitive Case

The genitive case is most commonly used to express ownership:

  • Maryn sisko asuu Lontoossa.Mary’s sister lives in London.”
  • Johnin kirja on ohut.John’s book is thin.”
  • Texasin pääkaupunki on Austin.Texas’ capital city is Austin.”
  • Bordeauxn satama on kaunis.Bordeaux’s harbor is beautiful.”

2.1. Genitive of names that end in a vowel

2.1.1. Word ends in vowel + pronunciation ends in a vowel sound

Names that end in a vowel both when pronounced and when written will just get the genitive’s -n glued to their end. The pronunciation of the -y in the names below is more of an -i sound of course.

Name Genitive Name Genitive
Mary Maryn New York City New York Cityn
Ricardo Ricardon Sidney Sidneyn
Mitsuki Mitsukin Shanghai Shanghain
Christi Christin Manila Manilan

2.1.2. Word ends in vowel / pronunciation ends in a consonant sound

Sometimes a name orthographically ends in a vowel, but you don’t pronounce said vowel. All the examples I could think of for this section end in a mute -e. The spelling of these words will be simple: just glue the genitive’s -n straight to the end of the name.

The pronunciation is more difficult. For example, the river Loire will be pronounced in Finnish as “luaar“. We will write the genitive form of this name as Loiren, but it’s possible for Finns to say both “luaaren” and “luaarin“. If the name is well-known, it’s more common to use an -i- in the pronunciation. Less well-known names will generally be pronounced as they’re written.

Name Pronunciation Genitive Pronunciation
Loire luaar Loiren luaaren” or “luuarin
Martinique martinik Martiniquen martiniken” or “martinikin
Grace greis” or “kreis Gracen kreisen” or “kreisin
Marianne marian” or “marianne Mariannen marianin” or “mariannen
Stone stoun Stonen stounen” or “stounin
Seattle siätl Seattlen siätlen” or “siätlin
Baltimore booltimoor Baltimoren booltimooren

2.2. Genitive of names that end in a consonant

2.2.1. Word ends in consonant + pronunciation ends in a consonant sound

Names that end in a consonant both when spoken and when written are easy. For these, you will add an -i to the end of the name, followed by the genitive’s -n.

Name Genitive Name Genitive
Jonathan Jonathanin Bangkok Bangkokin
Mohamed Mohamedin Texas Texasin
Ellen Ellenin Jemen Jemenin
Leith Leithin Peking Pekingin
Lysander Lysanderin Düsseldorf Düsseldorfin

2.2.2. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in a short vowel sound

The following names orthographically end in a consonant. However, when you say then, you don’t pronounce said consonant. If the vowel is short, you will generally add -in for the genitive.

For the words in this group, Finns usually don’t pronounce the final consonant in the basic form of the name. However, when you use the genitive form of these names, you will usually hear this silent letter in the inflected form. The name Sarah, for example, can be pronounced as “särä“, but the genitive case of this name (Sarahin) would generally be pronounced as “särähin” rather than “särän“. There is only one way to spell it, but the pronunciation can differ.

Name Pronunciation Genitive Pronunciation
Sarah särä” or “sarah Sarahin särähin” or “sarahin
Hanieh hanie“, or “hanieh Haniehin haniehin” or “hanien
Abdullah abdulla Abdullahin abdullahin” or “abdullan
Baker bäkö Bakerin bäkörin
Clément klemã Clémentin klemãntin
Lyon liõ Lyonin liõnin
Edinburgh edinbur“, “edinbörö Edinburghin edinburin” or “edinbörön
Manchester mänchestö Manchesterin mänchestörin
Leicester lestöö“, “lester Leicesterin lestöön
Derby, Reading and Leicester

English names are often complicated for the typical Finn. On this forum post, people do their best to explain how they pronounce the English city names Derby, Reading and Leicester. Some of the results are as follows:

  • Daarbi, Reding, Lestö
  • Daapi, Reding, Lester
  • Daabi, Reding, Lestö
  • Daabi, Redin, Lestö
  • Dööbi, Teding, Lestö
  • Dööbi, Riidin'(g), Leisesthöö’

2.2.3. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in a long vowel sound

If the vowel sound at the end of the name is long, you will use an apostrophe and -n. That’s why we write Bordeauxn rather than Bordeauxin. The apostrophe helps remind the reader that the name ends in a silent letter.

In addition, names that in their own language clearly have their stress on the last syllable usually also get an apostrophe before the genitive’s -n. That’s how we get Calais’n, Chabat’n and Chartier’n.

Name Pronunciation Genitive Pronunciation
Bordeaux bordoo Bordeauxn bordoon
Camus kamyy Camusn kamyyn
Montpellier mõpeljee Montpelliern mõpeljeen
Glasgow glaasgou Glasgown glasgoun
Poirot puaroo Poirotn puaroon
Calais kale Calaisn kalen
Chabat shaba Chabatn shaban
Chartier shartie Chartiern shartien
Petit peti Petitn petin

3. The partitive case

The partitive case has many functions in Finnish. The partitive case of place names and people’s names will definitely come up in conversations.

  • En tavannut Michelangeloa tänään. “I didn’t meet Michelangelo today.”
  • Rakastan Jenniferiä. “I love Jennifer.”
  • Myrsky lähestyy Texasia. “The storm is approaching Texas.”
  • Poirotta näyttelee David Suchet. “Poirot is played by David Suchet.”

3.1. Partitive of names that end in a vowel

3.1.1. Word ends in vowel + pronunciation ends in a short vowel sound

The base rule for names that end in a single vowel (both when pronounced and when written) is to add an -a/ä to their end for the partitive case. Note that these names will undergo vowel harmony! That’s why we have Denizliä rather than Denizlia.

Name Partitive Name Partitive
Ricardo Ricardoa Manila Manilaa
Mitsuki Mitsukia Bologna Bolognaa
Ali Alia Nairobi Nairobia
Christi Christiä Denizli Denizliä

3.1.2. Word ends in vowel + pronunciation ends in a long vowel sound

Many foreign names may be written with a single vowel at their end, but are pronounced with a half-long or a long vowel sound at their end (e.g. Malmö is pronounced as “malmöö“). Just like regular Finnish words, we will use -ta/tä as the partitive’s marker for names that end in a long vowel (so “malmöötä“).

Many of the names where this happens are two-syllable names which have the main stress on the second syllable in the language or origin. In Finnish, the stress of a word is always on the first syllable. This results in Finns pronouncing the name as if it has a long vowel sound in the second syllable.

Name Pronunciation Partitive Pronunciation
Milou miluu Milouta miluuta
Amélie amelii Amélieta ameliita
Rameau ramoo Rameauta ramoota
Zemlja zemljaa Zemljata zemljaata
Malmö malmöö Malmö malmöötä
László laasloo Lászlóta laasloota
Örebro örebruu Örebrota örebruuta

There is often variation between speakers for these names: some people will use a long vowel while others will use a short vowel sound (e.g. it’s up to debate if Milou is “milu” or “miluu“). As a result, some names have several options in the partitive form. For example, the name Aubrey could become Aubreya “oobria” (short vowel sound) or Aubreyta “oobriita” (long vowel sound) depending on the speaker’s pronunciation.

Name Pronunciation Partitive Pronunciation
Aubrey oobri” or “oobrii Aubreya or Aybreyta oobria” or “oobriita
Barrie bäri” or “bärii Barriea or Barrieta bäriä” or “bäriitä
Abbey äbi” or “äbii Abbeya or Abbeyta äbiä” or “äbiitä

3.1.3. Word ends in vowel + pronunciation ends in a diphthong

Names that have a diphthong at their end when they’re said out loud will also get -ta/tä in the partitive case. Finnish words undergo that same change (e.g. työ > työtä; suo > suota).

Name Pronunciation Partitive Pronunciation
Shanghai šanghai Shanghaita šanghaita
Marlowe maalou Marloweta maalouta
Poe pou Poeta pouta
Gilray gilrei Gilrayta gilreitä
Grey grei” or “krei Grey greitä” or “kreitä

3.1.4. Word ends in -y + pronunciation ends in an -i sound

Some names that are pronounced with an -i sound at their end, have -ey, -ay, -ie or -ee when written down. The vowel harmony rules are a little loose for these words. The guidelines originally advised to inflect them follow the orthography (so Marya, Caseya and Abbeya). However, recently more leeway is given towards vowel harmony based on pronunciation (so Maryä, Caseyä and Abbeyä).

Name Pronunciation Partitive Pronunciation
Casey keisi Caseya or Caseyä keisiä
Mary märi Marya or Maryä märiä
Abbey äbi Abbeya or Abbeyä äbiä
Barkley baaklii Barkleya baaklia
Lily lili Lilyä liliä
Sidney sidni Sidneyä sidniä
Jersey djöözi Jerseyä djööziä

3.1.5. Word ends in vowel / pronunciation ends in a consonant sound

If the name ends in a mute vowel, you will glue the partitive’s -a/ä straight to the end of the name. The pronunciation can have some variation depending on the speaker.

For example, the river Loire will be pronounced in Finnish as “luaar“. We will write the partitive form of this name as Loirea, but it’s possible for Finns to say both “luaarea” and “luaaria“. Generally, an -i- is used when the speaker is familiar with the name and its pronunciation, while an -e- is more popular when the speaker sees the name written down.

Name Pronunciation Genitive Pronunciation
Loire “luaar” Loirea “luaarea” or “luuaria”
Martinique “martinik” Martiniquea “martinikea” or “martinikia”
Grace “greis” or “kreis” Gracea “kreiseä” or “kreisiä”
Marianne “marian” or “marianne” Mariannea “mariania” or “mariannea”
Stone “stoun” Stonea “stounea” or “stounia”
Seattle siätl Seattlea siätleä” or “siätliä
Baltimore booltimoor Baltimorea booltimoorea“ or “booltimooria

*Seattle and Grace commonly don’t undergo vowel harmony (i.e. it’s Gracea; not Graceä).

3.2. Partitive of names that end in a consonant

3.2.1. Word ends in consonant + pronunciation ends in a consonant sound

Names that end in a consonant both when said and when written are relatively easy. For these, you will add an -i to the end of the name, followed by the partitive’s -a/ä. Pay attention to vowel harmony.

Name Partitive Name Partitive
Jonathan Jonathania Bangkok Bangkokia
Mohamed Mohamedia Texas Texasia
Ellen Elleniä Jemen Jemeniä
Leith Leithiä Peking Pekingiä

3.2.2. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in a short vowel sound

The following names orthographically end in a consonant. However, when you say then, you don’t pronounce said consonant. If the vowel is short, you will generally add -in for the genitive.

For the words in this group, Finns usually don’t pronounce the final consonant in the basic form of the name. However, when you use the genitive form of these names, you will usually hear this silent letter in the inflected form. The name Sarah, for example, can be pronounced as “särä“, but the genitive case of this name (Sarahia) would generally be pronounced as “särähiä” rather than “särän“. There is only one way to spell it, but the pronunciation can differ.

Name Pronunciation Partitive Pronunciation
Sarah särä” or “sarah Sarahia särähiä
Hanieh hanie“, or “hanieh Haniehia haniehia
Abdullah abdulla Abdullahia abdullahia
Baker bäkö Bakeria bäköriä
Clément klemã Clémentia klemãntia
Lyon liõ Lyonia liõnia
Edinburgh edinbur“, “edinbörö Edinburghia edinburia” or “edinböröä
Manchester mänchestö Manchesteria mänchestöriä
Leicester lestöö“, “lester Leicesteriä lestööriä” or “lesteriä

3.2.3. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in a long vowel sound

Names of which the pronunciation ends in a long vowel or diphthong will get an apostrophe before the partitive’s -ta/tä. All the examples below are pronounced in Finnish with a long vowel: Bordeaux “bordoo“, Montpellier “montpeljee“, Camus “kamyy” and Glasgow “glaasgou“.

In addition, names that in their own language clearly have their stress on the last syllable usually also get an apostrophe before the genitive’s -ta. That’s how we get the French names Calais’ta, Chabat’ta and Chartier’ta.

Name Pronunciation Partitive Pronunciation
Bordeaux bordoo Bordeauxta bordoota
Camus kamyy Camusta, Camus kamyyta“, “kamyytä
Montpellier mõpeljee Montpellierta mõpeljeeta
Glasgow glaasgou Glasgowta glasgouta
Poirot puaroo Poirotta puaroota
Calais kale Calaista kaleta
Chabat shaba Chabatta shabata
Chartier shartie Chartierta shartieta
Petit peti Petit petitä

Note how Camus can get both -ta and -tä in the partitive case. Vowel harmony dictates that words with the vowels -a- and -u- will get -ta, while words with the vowels -ä- and -y- will get -tä. The name Camus messes with this system because the pronunciation ends in -yy. Hence, both versions are used: Camus’ta and Camus’tä.


4. The location cases

This section groups together 5 of the 6 Finnish location cases: the inessive (-ssa), elative (-sta), adessive (-lla), allative (-lle) and ablative (-lta). These 5 cases all have the same type of inflection. The sixth location case, the illative (mihin) form, has its own section because it behaves differently.

Name Adessive Ablative Allative Inessive Elative
Lilly Lillyllä Lillyltä Lillylle Lillyssä Lillystä
Stone Stonella Stonelta Stonelle Stonessa Stonesta
Jonathan Jonathanilla Jonathanilta Jonathanille Jonathanissa Jonathanista
Petit Petitlla Petitlta Petitlle Petitssa Petitsta

In the examples below, I’ve picked a random case for each table. All 5 of the cases undergo the exact same change.

4.1. Location case forms of names that end in a vowel

4.1.1. Word ends in vowel + pronunciation ends in a vowel sound

The base rule for names that end in a single vowel (both when spoken and when written) is to add the case ending without any changes to the word. Note that these names with only the vowels -e and -i will undergo vowel harmony! That’s why we have Christillä rather than Christilla.

Name Adessive Name Elative
Ricardo Ricardolla New York City New York Citystä
Mitsuki Mitsukilla Shanghai Shanghaista
Ali Alilla Manila Manilasta
Christi Christillä Denizli Denizlistä

Vowel harmony for names that have the vowel -a which is pronounced more like an -e or an are more problematic. This means names such as Mary, Casey and Abbey. For most names such as these, the guidelines originally advised to inflect them follow the orthography (so Marylla, Caseylla and Abbeylla). However, recently more leeway is given towards vowel harmony based on pronunciation (so Maryllä, Caseyllä and Abbeyllä).

The more common of the two systems is still the one based on the spelling, so -a is for many names more common than . The pronunciation, however, usually leans towards vowel harmony,

Name Pronunciation Adessive Pronunciation
Abbey äbi Abbeylla or Abbeyllä äbillä
Mary märi
Marylla or Maryllä märillä
Casey keisi Caseylla or Caseyllä keisillä
Grace greis” or “kreis Gracella kreisillä
Seattle siatl Seattlella siatlillä” (also “siatlellä“)

4.1.2. Word ends in vowel / pronunciation ends in consonant

If the name orthographically ends in a vowel, but you don’t pronounce said vowel, the spelling will be simple, but the pronunciation might cause some problems.

For example, the river Loire will be pronounced in Finnish as “luaar“. We will write the mistä-form of this name as Loiresta, but it’s possible for Finns to say both “luaaresta” and “luaarista“. If the name is well-known, it’s more common to use an -i- in the pronunciation. Less well-known names will generally be pronounced as they’re written.

Name Pronunciation Elative Pronunciation
Loire luaar Loiresta luaaresta” or “luuarista
Martinique martinik Martiniquesta martinikesta” or “martinikista
Grace greis” or “kreis Gracesta kreisestä” or “kreisistä
Marianne marian” or “marianne Mariannesta marianista” or “mariannesta
Stone stoun Stonesta stounesta” or “stounista
Seattle siätl Seattlesta siätlen” or “siätlin
Baltimore booltimoor Baltimoresta booltimooresta

4.2. Location case forms of names that end in a consonant

4.2.1. Word ends in consonant + pronunciation ends in consonant

Names that end in a consonant both when said and when written are easiest. For these, you will add an -i to the end of the name, followed by the location case. Pay attention to vowel harmony.

Name Adessive Name Elative
Jonathan Jonathanilla Bangkok Bangkokista
Mohamed Mohamedilla Texas Texasista
Ellen Ellenillä Jemen Jemenistä
Leith Leithillä Peking Pekingistä
Lysander Lysanderilla Düsseldorf Düsseldorfista

4.2.2. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in a short vowel sound

The following names orthographically end in a consonant. However, when you say then, you don’t pronounce said consonant. If the vowel is short, you will generally add -in for the genitive.

For the words in this group, Finns usually don’t pronounce the final consonant in the basic form of the name. However, when you use the genitive form of these names, you will usually hear this silent letter in the inflected from. The name Sarah, for example, can be pronounced as “särä“, but the genitive case of this name (Sarahin) would generally be pronounced as “särähin” rather than “särän“. There is only one way to spell it, but the pronunciation can differ.

Name Pronunciation Inessive Pronunciation
Sarah särä” or “sarah Sarahissa särähissä” or “sarahissa
Hanieh hanie“, or “hanieh Haniehissa haniehissa” or “haniessa
Abdullah abdulla Abdullahissa abdullahissa” or “abdullassa
Baker bäkö Bakerissa bäkörissä
Clément klemã Clémentissa klemãntissa
Lyon liõ Lyonissa liõnissa
Edinburgh edinbur“, “edinbörö Edinburghissa edinburissa” or “edinbörössä
Manchester mänchestö Manchesterissa mänchestörissa
Leicester lestöö“, “lester Leicesterissä lestössä

4.2.3. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in a long vowel sound

If the vowel sound at the end of the name is long, you will use an apostrophe and the case ending. That’s why we write Bordeauxssa rather than Bordeauxissa. The apostrophe helps remind the reader that the name ends in a silent letter.

In addition, names that in their own language clearly have their stress on the last syllable usually also get an apostrophe before the genitive’s -n. That’s how we get Calais’sta, Chabat’sta and Chartier’sta in the elative case.

Name Pronunciation Elative Pronunciation
Bordeaux bordoo Bordeauxsta “bordoosta”
Camus kamyy Camussta or Camusstä “kamyysta” or “kamyystä”
Montpellier mõpeljee Montpelliersta “mõpeljeesta”
Glasgow glaasgou Glasgowsta “glasgousta”
Poirot puaroo Poirotsta “puaroosta”
Calais kale Calaissta “kalesta”
Chabat shaba Chabatsta “shabasta”
Chartier shartie Chartiersta “shartiesta”
Petit “peti Petitstä “petistä”

5. The illative case

5.1. Illative of names that end in a vowel

5.1.1. Word ends in vowel + pronunciation ends in a short vowel sound

The base rule for names that end in a single vowel (both when said and when written) is to lengthen the final vowel.

Name Illative Name Illative
Ricardo Ricardoon Manila Manilaan
Mitsuki Mitsukiin Bologna Bolognaan
Ali Aliin Nairobi Nairobiin
Christi Christiin Denizli Denizliin

5.1.2. Word ends in -y + pronunciation ends in an -i sound

Some names that are pronounced with an -i sound at their end, have -y, -ey or -ay when written down. For the illative case, this means you will write -yyn but say -iin.

Name Pronunciation Illative Pronunciation
Lily lili Lilyyn liliin
Sidney sidni Sidneyyn sidniin
Cindy sindi Cindyyn sindiin
Barklay baakli Barklayyn baakliin

5.1.3. Word ends in vowel + pronunciation ends in a long vowel sound

Many foreign names are pronounced with a half-long, a long or a double vowel sound at their end. This section isn’t fool-proof: some people can say these as long vowels while others will use a short vowel sound (e.g. it’s up to debate if Milou is “milu” or “miluu“).

These names behave in the same way as a one-syllable Finnish word would. For example, the word täi “flea” becomes täihin, so Taipei becomes Taipeihin and Shanghai becomes Shanghaihin. For foreign names, the pronunciation for the name tells us which vowel (V) to use in the ending -hVn.

Name Pronunciation Illative Pronunciation
Rameau ramoo Rameauhon ramoohon
Malmö malmöö Malmöhön malmööhön
Amélie amelii Améliehin ameliihin
Zemlja zemljaa Zemljahan zemljaahan
Milou miluu Milouhun miluuhun

Interesting are a couple of two-syllable names which have the main stress on the second syllable in the language or origin. In Finnish, the stress of a word is always on the first syllable. This results in Finns pronouncing the name as if it has a long vowel sound in the second syllable. Some names have several options in the mihin form. For example, the word Abbey could become Abbeyyn “äbiin” (short vowel sound) or Abbeyhin “äbiihin” (long vowel sound) depending on the speaker’s pronunciation. The most standard spelling for this name would be Abbeyyn.

Name Pronunciation Illative Pronunciation
Abbey äbi” or “äbii Abbeyyn or Abbeyhin äbiin” or “äbiihin
Aubrey oobri” or “oobrii Aubreyyn or Aubreyhin oobriin” or “oobriihin
Barrie bäri” or “bärii Barrieen or Barriehin bäriin” or “bäriihin

5.1.4. Word ends in vowel / pronunciation ends in a consonant sound

The spelling of places like Cambridge and Melbourne ends in a vowel, but it’s a silent -e. For names like this, you usually just add -en for the mihin form.

The tricky part is the pronunciation of this form. A city like Alsace, which is unfamiliar to most people, will generally be pronounced the way it’s written (i.e. Alsaceen will be pronounced as “alsaseen“). A more familiar place like Cambridge will generally be pronounced as “keimbridʒiin” rather than “keimbridʒeen”. It’s hard to draw the line between which place names are familiar and which ones aren’t. In addition, there can be variation between different speakers.

Name Pronunciation Illative Pronunciation
Cambridge keimbridʒ Cambridgeen keimbridʒiin
Melbourne melböön Melbourneen melbööniin
Grace greis” or “kreis Graceen kreisiin
Loire luaar Loireen “loiriin” or “loireen
Luke luuk” or “luke Lukeen luukiin” or “lukeen
Martinique martinik Martiniqueen martinikiin” or “martinikeen
Baltimore booltimoor Baltimoreen booltimooreen“ or “booltimooriin

5.2. Illative of names that end in a consonant

5.2.1. Word ends in consonant + pronunciation ends in a consonant sound

Names that end in a consonant both when pronounced and when written are easiest. For these, you will add an -iin to the end of the name without changing anything.

Name Illative Name Illative
Jonathan Jonathaniin Bangkok Bangkokiin
Mohamed Mohamediin Texas Texasiin
Ellen Elleniin Jemen Jemeniin
Leith Leithiin Peking Pekingiin

5.2.2. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in a short vowel sound

If the name orthographically ends in a consonant, but you don’t pronounce said consonant, there are two groups. First, when you pronounce the name with a single vowel in the end, you will add an -i- and then an -a. For example, the name Sarah is pronounced as “särä“, but the partitive case of this name Sarahia would generally be pronounced as “särähiä“.

Name Pronunciation Illative Pronunciation
Sarah särä Sarahiin särään” or “sarahiin
Abdullah abdulla Abdullahiin abdullaan” or “abdullahiin
Hanieh hanie“, or “hanieh Haniehiin haniehiin
Jean zaan“, or “ʒɑ̃
Jeaniin zaaniin” or “ʒɑ̃niin
Cannes kan” or “kannes
Cannesiin kanniin” or “kannesiin
Baker bäkö Bakeriin bäköriin
Clément klemã Clémentiin klemãntiin
Lyon liõ Lyoniin liõniin
Edinburgh edinbur“, “edinbörö Edinburghiin edinburiin” or “edinböröön
Manchester mänchestö Manchesteriin mänchestöriin
Leicester lestöö“, “lester Leicesteriin lestööriin” or “lesteriin

5.2.3. Word ends in consonant / pronunciation ends in long vowel sound

Names of which the pronunciation ends in a long vowel or diphthong will get an apostrophe ‘ before the illative’s -hVn. All of the examples below are pronounced in Finnish with a long vowel.

Name Pronunciation Illative Pronunciation
Bordeaux bordoo Bordeauxhon bordoohon
Camus kamyy Camushyn kamyyhyn
Montpellier mõpeljee Montpellierhen mõpeljeehen
Glasgow glaasgou Glasgowhon glasgouhon
Shaw šoo Shawhon šoohon
Poirot puaroo Poirothon puaroohon

Another tendency you might notice is related to how the word is stressed. French two-syllable names, for example, generally have the stress on the second syllable. These names will generally have an apostrophe.

Name Pronunciation Illative Pronunciation
Petit peti Petithin petihin
Calais kale Calaishen kalehen
Dumas dyma Dumashan dymahan
Chabat shaba Chabathan shabahan

6. TL;DR version – Summary

6.1. Names where you pronounce the final vowel

Name Genitive Partitive Adessive Illative
Ali Alin Alia Alilla Aliin
Ricardo Ricardon Ricardoa Ricardolla Ricardoon
Mitsuki Mitsukin Mitsukia Mitsukilla Mitsukiin
Manila Manilan Manilaa Manilalla Manilaan
Denizli Denizlin Denizliä Denizlillä Denizliin

6.2. Names where the final vowel is silent

Name Genitive Partitive Adessive Illative
Loire Loiren Loirea Loirella Loireen
Seattle Seattlen Seattlea Seattlella Seattleen
Grace Gracen Gracea Gracella Graceen
Stone Stonen Stonea Stonella Stoneen

6.3. Names which you pronounce with a long vowel sound

Name Genitive Partitive Adessive Illative
Rameau Rameaun Rameauta Rameaulla Rameauhon
Malmö Malmön Malmö Malmöllä Malmöhön
Amélie Amélien Amélieta Améliella Améliehin
Zemlja Zemljan Zemljata Zemljalla Zemljahan

6.4. Names where you pronounce the final consonant

When a foreign name ends in a consonant, generally the rule is to add an -i and then the case ending. Do note that your name will undergo vowel harmony. This means that names which only have the vowels e and i will get -llä rather than -lla.

Name Genitive Partitive Adessive Illative
Jonathan Jonathanin Jonathania Jonathanilla Jonathaniin
Mohamed Mohamedin Mohamedia Mohamedilla Mohamediin
Evelyn Evelynin Evelyniä Evelynillä Evelyniin
Leith Leithin Leithiä Leithillä Leithiin
Bangkok Bangkokin Bangkokia Bangkokilla Bangkokiin
Houston Houstonin Houstonia Houstonilla Houstoniin

6.5. Names where you don’t pronounce the final consonant

Some names unfortunately may end in a consonant when written down, but you don’t actually pronounce this consonant. The main rule for these names in Finnish is that the inflection is based on how you pronounce the name rather than how it’s written.

  • Bordeaux is pronounced as [bɔrˈdo:] (“bordoo“)
  • Montpellier is pronounced as [mõpeljee] (“mompeljee“)
  • Petit is pronounced as [pəti] (“pöti“)
Name Genitive Partitive Adessive Illative
Bordeaux Bordeauxn Bordeauxta Bordeauxlla Bordeauxhon
Montpellier Montpelliern Monpellierta Montpellierlla Monpellierhen
Camus Camusn Camus Camusllä Camushyn
Petit Petitn Petit Petitllä Petithin

Get more information elsewhere on the internet:

That’s all for this article about the inflection of foreign names in Finnish. This article does not contain all the possible exceptions and specific rules, but I hope it does help you.

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