Finnish Superlative of Adjectives – Superlatiivi

The superlative expresses that something has a certain quality the most. In this article, we will focus on the Finnish superlative of adjectives.

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

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Superlative
    1. Not all adjectives have a superlative form
    2. Hän on maailman kaunein
    3. Hän on kaunein meistä
    4. Hän on kaikkein kaunein
    5. Hän on mitä kaunein
  2. The Formation of the Superlative
    1. Adjectives ending in -o/-ö/-u/-y
    2. Adjectives ending in -a/-ä
    3. Adjectives ending in -i
      1. New adjectives ending in -i
      2. Old adjectives ending in -i
    4. Adjectives ending in a consonant
    5. Adjectives ending in -e
    6. Adjectives ending in -nen
    7. Exceptions
  3. Consonant Gradation in the Superlative
  4. Putting Comparative Forms in the Cases

1. Use of the Finnish Superlative

The Finnish superlative of adjectives is used when we’re comparing the qualities of three or more things, and one of those is has the most of a certain quality.

1.1. Not all adjectives have a superlative 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 the most free? Someone can be unique; but can someone be the most unique? Someone can be unemployed, but is there a way for someone else to be the most unemployed?

Adjectives that don’t have a superlative 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 maailman kaunein

We can use the genetive case to express what group we’re comparing something to.

Finnish English
Hän on maailman paras juoksija. She’s the world’s best runner.
Suomi ei ole Euroopan kylmin maa. Finland isn’t Europe’s coldest country.
Turku on Suomen vanhin kaupunki. Turku is Finland’s oldest city.
Iida asuu Ranskan suurimmassa kaupungissa. Iida lives in France’s largest city.
Oletko käynyt kaupungin pienimmässä baarissa? Have you been in the city’s smallest bar?

1.2. Hän on meistä kaunein

We can use the elative case in comparisons to express the group we’re comparing to.

Finnish English
Kuka meistä on kaunein? Who of all of us is the most beautiful?
Anna on teistä nuorin. Anna is the youngest of all of you.
Liisa on heistä paras laulamaan. Liisa is the best of all of them at singing.
Hän on kiltein opiskelija koko koulusta. She’s the nicest student of the whole school.
Ani on juoksijoista nopein. Ani is the fastest of the runners.

1.3. Hän on kaikkein kaunein

The superlative can also be used in combination with the word kaikkein. When using this word, you don’t have to specify the group from which something is superior because we’re including everything. In spoken language, kaikista is often used instead of kaikkein.

Finnish English
Kakku on kaikkein paras jälkiruoka. Cake is the best desert of all.
Jalkapallo on kaikkein hauskin urheilulaji. Soccer is the most fun sport of all.
Kuka on kaikkein kaunein? Who is the most beautiful of all?
Tää on just kaikista pahin mahdollisuus. This is exactly the worst possibility of all.
Mika oli kaikista nopein. Mika was the fastest of all.

1.4. Hän on mitä kaunein

The superlative can be used in expressions utilizing the pronoun mitä. In these cases, the meaning can be both superlative or just strengthened by the presence of the mitä.

Finnish English
Kultaseni, sinulla on mitä kaunein vartalo. Honey, you have the most beautiful body.
Ilma on mitä ihanin. The weather is wonderful.
Elokuva oli mitä mielenkiintoisin. The movie was super interesting.

2. The Formation of the Superlative

2.1. Adjectives ending in -o/-ö/-u/-y

The general rule for Finnish superlative of adjectives is to add –in to the weak stem of the word.

Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative
helppo helpoin paksu paksuin hassu hassuin
hieno hienoin iso isoin heikko heikoin
hölmö hölmöin huono huonoin kesy kesyin

2.2. Adjectives ending in -a/-ä

For all words (short and lone) ending in -a/-ä, the superlative will replace the final -a/-ä with the superlative’s marker –in. The only exception to this is kiva, which can be both kivoin and occasionally kivin. This exception was probably caused by kivin being so close to kivi (stone). Remember consonant gradations! These words are weak.

Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative
halpa halvin mukava mukavin ihana ihanin
vankka vankin laiska laiskin hauska hauskin
terävä terävin köyhä köyhin kiva kivoin

2.3. Adjectives ending in -i

2.3.1. 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 final –i will be replaced with –ein. This is most probably the case because without the –e-, the words would look exactly like their genetive form (eg. siistin, intiimin).

Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative
siisti siistein akuutti akuutein moderni modernein
kiltti kiltein elegantti elegantein populaari populaarein
villi villein intiimi intiimein radikaali radikaalein

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 –in.

Adjective Superlative
suuri suurin
nuori nuorin
pieni pienin

2.4. Adjectives ending in a consonant

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

  • Adjectives ending in –is: replace –is with –ein → strong stem!
  • Adjectives ending in –as: replace –as with –in → strong stem!
  • Adjectives ending in -ut/yt: replace –ut/yt with –in
  • Adjectives ending in –nut/nyt: replace –ut/yt with –ein
Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative
puhdas puhtain hidas hitain rikas rikkain
kaunis kaunein kallis kallein tyyris tyyrein
kevyt kevyin ohut ohuin lyhyt lyhyin/lyhin
väsynyt väsynein masentunut masentunein kyllästynyt kyllästynein

2.5. Adjectives ending in -e

Another small group: add –in to the end of the word.

Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative
ahne ahnein tuore tuorein terve tervein

2.6. Adjectives ending in -nen

For these words, you should remove the –nen and add –sin. From a morphological point of view, the -s- is actually part of the stem of the word (eg. vihais-, suomalais-), and you’re adding –in to that stem.

Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative
suomalainen suomalaisin tavallinen tavallisin sininen sinisin
iloinen iloisin vihainen vihaisin hiljainen hiljaisin

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 Superlative

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

Wordtype A
Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative
helppo helpoin tuttu tutuin kiltti kiltein
halpa halvin heikko heikoin tanakka tanakin
märkä märin vankka vankain arka arin

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative Adjective Superlative
rikas rikkain hidas hitain älykäs älykkäin
puhdas puhtain altis alttein valpas valppain

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 the Finnish superlative of adjectives!

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