Finnish for busy people

The Ablative Case (Miltä) – Finnish Grammar

The ablative case (miltä) is closely related to the adessive case (millä). It’s wise to read and compare both of these at the same time if you’re a beginner. If you’re looking for an overview about missä, mistä and mihin, look here.

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Ablative Case
    1. Like -lla, but for going away
    2. When talking about time
    3. When using certain verbs
  2. The Formation of the Ablative Case
    1. Words ending in a vowel (a, ä, o, ö, u, y)
    2. Words ending in an -e
    3. Words ending in -i
      1. New words ending in -i
      2. Old words ending in -i
      3. Old words ending in -si
    4. Words ending in a consonant
      1. Words ending in -nen
      2. Words ending in -as
      3. Words ending in -is
      4. Words ending in -os/-ös
      5. Words ending in -us/-ys
      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 Ablative Case

1. Use of the Ablative Case (Miltä)

1.1. Like –lla, but for going away

When the missä-form ends in -lla, then you can be pretty sure the mistä-form will end in -lta. So if you’re at the kiosk (kioskilla), you will also come from the kiosk (kioskilta). Similarly, in the library (kirjastossa), will require FROM the library (kirjastosta).

When talking about open places
-lla -lta
Odotan kioskilla. Lähden pois kioskilta.
Seison pihalla. Lähden pois pihalta.
Keskustelen keskustorilla. Menen kotiin keskustorilta.
When something comes OFF something
-lla -lta
Leipä on pöydällä. Leipä putoaa pöydältä.
Kirja on hyllyllä. Nostan kirjan hyllyltä.

1.2. When talking about time

When numbers have the -lta ending, it signifies at what time things happened. You can only use the ablative for this when you’re talking about whole or half hours. That’s why you can say “puoli kymmeneltä“, but can’t use -lta for “kymmenen vaille viisi“.

Kello Ablative
kello yksi yhdeltä
kello kaksi kahdelta
kello kolme kolmelta
kello neljä neljältä
kello viisi viideltä
kello kuusi kuudelta
kello seitsemän seitsemältä
kello kahdeksan kahdeksalta
kello yhdeksän yhdeksältä
kello kymmenen kymmeneltä
kello yksitoista yhdeltätoista
kello kaksitoista kahdeltatoista
Finnish English
Bussi saapuu kahdelta. The bus arrives at two o’clock.
Koulu loppuu puoli neljältä. School ends at 3:30 pm.
Uutiset alkavat kahdeksalta. The news starts at eight o’clock.
Herään aina puoli seitsemältä. I always wake up at 6:30 am.
Lounastauko alkaa kahdeltatoista. Lunch break starts at 12.

1.3. When using certain verbs

Finnish has this concept of “rections”: most words will require other words that they get combined with to appear in a certain case.

  1. The ablative case will most often be the rection of a verb when we’re talking about people. The question word in these cases is keneltä rather than miltä. Read more here.
  2. There is a series of perceptional verbs that all use -lta as their rection. More about that in our article on the senses and perceptional verbs.
# Finnish English
1 Hän osti auton minulta. He bought the car from me.
1 Hän varasti auton minulta. She stole the car from me.
2 Se tuoksuu hyvältä. It smells good.
2 Hän näyttää onnelliselta.
He/she looks happy.

2. The Formation of the Ablative Case

The ablative is one of the six location cases. Its ending -lta gets added to the same form as most of the other locations cases (-ssa, -sta, -lla, -lle)

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

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

Nominative Ablative Nominative Ablative
kala kalalta tyyny tyynyltä
talo talolta seinä seinältä
työ työltä melu melulta
radio radiolta puu puulta

2.2. Words ending in -e: add an extra -e- before the -lta/-ltä

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 ablative strong (e.g. parvekkeelta, kokeelta).

Nominative Ablative Nominative Ablative
huone huoneelta perhe perheeltä
kappale kappaleelta kirje kirjeeltä
lentokone lentokoneelta taide taiteelta
parveke parvekkeelta koe kokeelta

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 -lta/-ltä

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 Ablative Nominative Ablative
banaani banaanilta paperi paperilta
kahvi kahvilta pankki pankilta
posti postilta maali maalilta
tili tililtä adverbi adverbilta

2.3.2. Old words ending in -i: replace -i- with -e- and add -lta/-ltä

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 Ablative Nominative Ablative
ovi ovelta suuri suurelta
suomi suomelta pieni pieneltä
pilvi pilveltä veri vereltä
lehti lehdeltä huuli huulelta
joki joelta lohi lohelta

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 illative case.

2.3.3. Old words ending in -si: replace -si- with -de- and add -lta/-ltä

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 Ablative Nominative Ablative
uusi uudelta vuosi vuodelta
si deltä kuukausi kuukaudelta
vesi vedeltä reisi reideltä

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

2.4. Words ending in a consonant

2.4.1. Words ending in -nen: replace the -nen with -se before the -lta/-ltä

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

Nominative Ablative Nominative Ablative
nainen naiselta hevonen hevoselta
suomalainen suomalaiselta eteinen eteiseltä
iloinen iloiselta ihminen ihmiseltä
sininen siniseltä toinen toiselta

2.4.2. Words ending in -as: replace -as with -aa--lta

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 ablative (e.g. rakkaalta, oppaalta). Read more about words ending in -as here.

Nominative Ablative Nominative Ablative
rakas rakkaalta rikas rikkaalta
taivas taivaalta lipas lippaalta
opas oppaalta itsekäs itsekkäältä

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.

Nominative Ablative Nominative Ablative
kallis kalliilta roskis roskikselta
kaunis kauniilta kirppis kirppikseltä
kauris kauriilta fiilis fiilikseltä
ruis rukiilta futis futikselta

2.4.4. Words ending in -os/-ös: replace –os with –okse– and add –lta

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

Nominative Ablative Nominative Ablative
ostos ostokselta jäljennös jäljennökseltä
piirros piirokselta käännös käännökseltä
annos annokselta luonnos luonnokselta

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 ablative’s -lta. 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 Ablative Nominative Ablative
mahdollisuus mahdollisuudelta vastaus vastaukselta
rakkaus rakkaudelta kysymys kysymykseltä
ystävyys ystävyydeltä keskus keskukselta
pimeys pimeydeltä tarjous tarjoukselta

2.4.6. Words ending in -ton: replace -ton with -ttoma--lta

Read more about words ending in -ton here.

Nominative Ablative Nominative Ablative
työtön työttömältä koditon kodittomalta
rahaton rahattomalta rasvaton rasvattomalta
maidoton maidottomalta alkoholiton alkoholittomalta

2.4.7. Words ending in -in: replace -in with -ime- + -lta

Read more about words ending in -in here.

Nominative Ablative Nominative Ablative
puhelin puhelimelta keitin keittimeltä
avain avaimelta kiharrin kihartimelta
puhallin puhaltimelta suoritin suorittimelta

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 ablative’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 ablative’s case ending.

Nominative Ablative Nominative Ablative
kevyt kevyeltä väsynyt väsyneeltä
olut oluelta ollut olleelta
ohut ohuelta mennyt menneeltä

2.4.9. Words ending in -tar

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

Nominative Ablative Nominative Ablative
tytär tyttäreltä kuningatar kuningattarelta
herttuatar herttuattarelta jumalatar jumalattarelta

2.4.10. 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 ablative’s -lta/ltä.

Nominative Ablative Nominative Ablative
Jonathan Jonathanilta Facebook Facebookilta
William Williamilta Windows Windowsilta
Marian Marianilta Steam Steamilta
Mohamed Mohamedilta McDonalds McDonaldsilta

You might also want to check out these two articles:

3. Consonant Gradation in the Ablative Case

Wordtype A
Nominative Ablative Nominative Ablative
tyttö tytöltä pankki pankilta
puku puvulta pöytä pöydältä
hattu hatulta kauppa kaupalta
silta sillalta kampa kammalta
hiekka hiekalta apu avulta

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Nominative Ablative Nominative Ablative
savuke savukkeelta opas oppaalta
keitin keittimeltä tavoite tavoitteelta
rakas rakkaalta hammas hampaalta
soitin soittimelta puhallin puhaltimelta
allas altaalta työtön työttömältä

I have a separate article on wordtype B.

That concludes the article on the ablative case!

5 3 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Michael Hämäläinen

I found some rarer uses of the ablative in my notes, mostly from Korpela:

[Verb rection: person asked to give or do something]

  • Pyysin Villeltä auton lainaksi (I asked Ville to lend me his car, literally “I asked from Ville [the] car for loan”)
  • Lääkäri kielsi minulta tupakanpolton. (The doctor forbade me from smoking tobacco.)
  • Opettaja vaatii oppilailta liian paljon. (The teacher requires too much of the students.)

[Verb rection: person who is successful or unsuccessful in doing something]

  • Meiltähän tämä käy (We can well do it, literally “from us this goes”).

[Verb rection: person who loses something]

  • Minulta loppuivat rahat (I ran out of money)
  • Häneltä meni taju (He lost consciousness)
  • Minulta murtui luu (I broke a bone)…even though it does not refer to really losing a bone.

 [Unit cost]

  • Tämä maksaa kolme euroa litralta (This costs three euros per liter).

[Clarification of the property being described]

[Cause that prevents something]

  • Hän ei kiireiltään ehtinyt tulla (He did not have time to come, due to being so busy, literally “due to his hurries”). 

The word kiireiltään is ablative plural of kiire with 3rd-person possessive suffix –än. Compare with old idiomatic usage of the partitive case, mentioned here.

[Regular repetition]

  • vuosi vuodelta (year after year, every year)
  • kerta kerralta (every time)
  • askele askeleelta (step by step).

Nice additions! Words like luonteeltaan will get an article of their own at some point. I’ve been working on it on and off for a while now.

Michael Hämäläinen

Looking forward to that! It will surely be a valuable resource, especially since most Finnish textbooks are so filled with explanations of the mechanics of the language that little space is given to adverbs or the derivations. It’s also a great vocabulary building hack when you know how to derive adjectives, adverbs, etc. from the base noun form.