Finnish Comparative of Adjectives

The comparative expresses that something has more of a certain quality than something else. In this article, we will focus on the Finnish comparative of adjectives.

In addition to this, we also have an article about:

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Comparative
    1. Not all adjectives have a comparative form
    2. Hän on kauniimpi kuin minä
    3. Hän on minua kauniimpi
    4. Kumpi on kauniimpi?
  2. The Formation of the Comparative
    1. Adjectives ending in -o/-ö/-u/-y
    2. Short Adjectives ending in -a/-ä
    3. Long Adjectives ending in -a/-ä
    4. Adjectives ending in -i
      1. New adjectives ending in -i
      2. Old adjectives ending in -i
    5. Adjectives ending in a consonant
    6. Adjectives ending in -e
    7. Adjectives ending in -nen
    8. Exceptions
  3. Consonant Gradation in the Comparative
  4. Putting Comparative Forms in the Cases

1. The Use of the Finnish Comparative of Adjectives

1.1. Not all adjectives have a comparative form

Some adjectives just can’t have a comparative and/or a superlative. You can use your own language as a reasoning ground: something can be free of charge, but can something else be more free? Someone can be unemployed, but is there a way for someone else to be more unemployed?

Adjectives that don’t have a comparative form usually express a quality that someone either has or doesn’t have. There is no grey area between the two. Take the adjective kuollut (dead) for example. A person can’t be a little dead, so they can’t be more dead or the most dead either (nobody bring up zombies or vampires here!).

1.2. Hän on kauniimpi kuin minä

The most common way to compare the property of two things is by using the word kuin.

Finnish English
Matti on pitempi kuin Ari. Matti is taller than Ari.
Tämä tyttö on nuorempi kuin tuo tyttö. This girl is younger than that girl.
Suomessa on nyt kuumempaa kuin Espanjassa. It’s hotter in Finland now than in Spain.
Lea ei ole yhtään tyyvyväisempi kuin Pasi. Lea isn’t any more content than Pasi.

1.3. Hän on minua kauniimpi

You can also replace the “kuin” comparison with the partitive case. The phrase “Hän on nuorempi kuin minä” means the exact same as “Hän on minua nuorempi“. The partitive will be placed in front of the comparative adjective. This doesn’t change the meaning in any way.

Finnish English
Matti on Aria pitempi. Matti is taller than Ari.
Tämä tyttö on tuota tyttöä nuorempi. This girl is younger than that girl.
Espanja on Suomea kuumempi maa. Spain is hotter than Finland.
Lea ei ole yhtään Pasia tyyvyväisempi. Lea isn’t any more content than Pasi.
Minä olin muita nopeampi. I was faster than the others.

1.4. Kumpi on kauniimpi?

The word kumpi is used when you’re asking which one of two things is comparatively stronger.

The word kumpi is not only used with the comparative of adjectives. It’s used with any type of comparative question or statement. For example, when you’re asking which one of the two someone likes better, the verb tykätä requires the mistä-case, so you’ll ask ”kummasta tykkäät enemmän?”. As such, kumpi can be inflected into all the cases.

Finnish English
Kumpi on fiksumpi, Leevi vai Lasse? Which one is smarter, Leevi or Lasse?
Kumpi on makeampaa, kakku vai keksi? Which one is sweeter, the cake or the cookie?
Kumpi piirtää paremmin, tyttö vai poika? Who draws better, the girl or the boy?
Kummasta tykkäät enemmän, suklaasta vai kakusta? Which do you like more, chocolate or cake?
Kumpaa juodaan, kahvia vai teetä? Which one shall we drink, coffee or tea?
Kumpaan kaupunkiin mennään, Ouluun vai Turkuun? To which city do you want to go, Oulu or Turku?

2. The Formation of the Finnish Comparative of Adjectives

The marker of the comparative can be -mpi, -mpa- and -mma-.

2.1. Adjectives ending in -o/-ö/-u/-y

Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
helppo helpompi paksu paksumpi hassu hassumpi
hieno hienompi iso isompi heikko heikompi
hölmö hölmömpi huono huonompi kesy kesympi

2.2. Short adjectives ending in -a/-ä

Words of two syllables that end in -a/-ä will have their final -a/-ä replaced by an -e- when you add the comparative’s marker. The adjective kiva is the only one where some variation is possible: in addition to the regular rule following kivempi-form, the alternative kivampi is also accepted. This is most likely due to the fact that the form kivempi seems too close to the noun kivi (stone).

Remember consonant gradation! These words are weak.

Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
halpa halvempi vankka vankempi laiska laiskempi
köyhä köyhempi hauska hauskempi kiva kivampi / kivempi

2.3. Long adjectives ending in -a/-ä

Long words don’t undergo the same change as short words: they retain their final vowel before the comparative’s marker.

Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
mukava mukavampi ihana ihanampi vakava vakavampi
terävä terävämpi matala matalampi väkevä väkevämpi

2.4. Adjectives ending in -i

2.4.1. New adjectives ending in -i

New words are often loanwords. Usually they’re recognisable because they resemble words in other languages. For these words, the comparative will consist of the adjective’s basic form with the comparative’s marker –mpi added to it.

Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
siisti siistimpi akuutti akuutimpi moderni modernimpi
kiltti kiltimp elegantti elegantimpi populaari populaarimpi
villi villimpi intiimi intiimimpi radikaali radikaalimpi

2.3.2. Old adjectives ending in -i

For old adjectives ending in –i (which is a really small group), you will replace the final –i with –e-mpi.

Adjective Comparative
suuri suurempi
nuori nuorempi
pieni pienempi

2.4. Adjectives ending in a consonant

There are many groups of adjectives that end in a consonant.

  • Adjectives ending in –as: replace –as with –aa– and add –mpi → strong stem!
  • Adjectives ending in –is: replace –is with –ii– and add –mpi → strong stem!
  • Adjectives ending in –ut/yt: replace –ut/yt with -e- and add –mpi
  • Adjectives ending in –nut/nyt: replace –ut/yt with –ee– and add –mpi
Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
puhdas puhtaampi hidas hitaampi rikas rikkaampi
kaunis kauniimpi kallis kalliimpi tyyris tyyriimpi
kevyt kevyempi ohut ohuempi lyhyt lyhyempi / lyhempi
väsynyt väsyneempi masentunut masentuneempi kyllästynyt kyllästyneempi

2.5. Adjectives ending in -e

Another small group: add –e- and then –mpi.

Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
ahne ahneempi tuore tuoreempi terve terveempi

2.6. Adjectives ending in -nen

For these words, you should remove the –nen and add –sempi. From a morphological point of view, the -se- is actually part of the stem of the word (eg. vihaise-, suomalaise-), and you’re adding –mpi to that stem.

Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
suomalainen suomalaisempi tavallinen tavallisempi sininen sinisempi
iloinen iloisempi vihainen vihaisempi hiljainen hiljaisempi

2.7. Exceptions

The following words are important because they inflect a little differently than you might expect.

  • hyvä – parempi – paras/parhain
  • pitkä – pidempi/pitempi – pisin
  • uusi – uudempi – uusin
  • lämmin– lämpimämpi – lämpimin
  • hapan – happamampi – happamin

3. Consonant Gradation in the Comparative

The Finnish comparative of wordtype A words is always weak. The comparative of wordtype B is always strong.

Wordtype A
Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
helppo helpompi tuttu tutumpi kiltti kiltimpi
halpa halvempi heikko heikompi tanakka tanakampi
märkä märempi vankka vankempi arka arempi

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
rikas rikkaampi hidas hitaampi älykäs älykkäämpi
puhdas puhtaampi altis alttiimpi valpas valppaampi

I have a separate article on wordtype B.


4. Putting Comparative Forms in the Cases

In addition to having a nominative form, the comparative forms of adjectives can also be inflected in all the different cases – both in the singular and the plural. I made a page with examples for you to check out.

That’s all for now about the Finnish comparative of adjectives!

Let me know if there is more you’d like to learn about it!

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