Finnish for busy people

The Instructive Case – Instruktiivi – omin silmin

The instructive case is another of those rare Finnish grammatical cases that are mostly used in fossilized phrases. The instructive can be formed from both nouns and verbs.

Table of Contents
  1. The instructive form of nouns
    1. In certain phrases
    2. In certain fossilized expressions
    3. Instructive particles
  2. The instructive form of verbs
    1. With two actions at the same time
    2. With fossilized verb instructives

1. The instructive form of nouns

The instructive form of nouns has the basic meaning of “by means of”. In modern Finnish, many of its instrumental uses are being superseded by the adessive case, as in “minä matkustin junalla” -> “I traveled by train.”

Some commonly used expressions in which the instructive is used are “omin silmin” (= with one’s own eyes) and “omin käsin” (= with one’s own hands). Those are two examples where a direct translation yields a result that is understandable. However, some more fossilized phrases are hardly understandable anymore by translating directly. In 1.1.1 you can find a list of the understandable ones, while 1.1.2 deals with the fossilized expressions.

For nouns, the instructive’s -n is usually added to the plural stem of the word, which is why people generally talk about the instructive’s ending as -in. The -i- is the plural marker and the -n the instructive case’s ending. There are some cases where the instructive appear in the singular. The most notable of these is “jalan” (by foot).

1.1. In certain phrases

Finnish English
Ota yksi tabletti [aamuin illoin]. Take one pill every morning and every evening.
Ikävöin äitiäni [päivin öin]. I miss my mother every day and every night.
Sinun pitää lähestyä asiaa [avoimin mielin]. You have to approach the matter with an open mind.
Anna piti palloa [molemmin käsin] edessään.
Anna was holding the ball in front of her with both hands.
Pidä ratista kiinni [kaksin käsin]! Hold the steering wheel with two hands!
Pidän miehestäni kiinni [kynsin hampain]. I’m frantically (“with nails and teeth”) holding on the my husband.
Kerro [omin sanoin] mitä on tapahtunut! Tell what has happened in your own words!
Antti uskoi minua, koska hän näki sen [omin silmin]. Antti believed me because he saw it with his own eyes.
Se on totta! Kuulin sen [omin korvin]. It’s true! I heard with with my own ears.
On ihanaa kävellä rannalla [paljain jaloin]. It’s wonderful to walk on the beach with bare feet.
Sain haavan, koska olin [avojaloin]. I got the wound because I was barefooted.
Emme voi selvitä tästä tilanteesta [kuivin jaloin]. We can’t survive this situation with dry feet (“without consequences”).
Susanna selvisi kolarista [ehjin nahoin]. He survived the car crash unharmed (“with unbroken skin”).
Kirkossa pitää olla [paljainin]. In church you should have a bare head (no hat).
Hän suostui [pitkin hampain] auttamaan siskoaan. He agreed to help his sister reluctantly (“with long teeth”).
Lähdin juhliin [iloisin mielin] / [ilomielin]. I went to the party happily (“with a happy mind”).
Hiero muutama tippa [puhtain käsin] ikeniisi. Rub a couple of drops on your gums with clean hands.
Hänet otettiin vastaan [avosylin]. They took him in with open arms (“with an open lap”).
Toivotan sinut tervetulleeksi [täysin sydämin]. I welcome you fullheartedly (“with full hearts”).
Koira nautti automatkasta [täysin rinnoin]. The dog enjoyed the car trip wholeheartedly (“with full chests”).
Kevät ja kesä lähenevät [pitkin askelin]. Spring and summer are approaching quickly (“with long strides”).
Koko elämä oli kääntynyt [nurin niskoin]. Her whole life was turned topsy-turvy (“with upside down neck”).
Juha kiitti [kyynelsilmin] vanhempiaan tuesta. Juha thanked his parents for the support tearfully (“with tear eyes”).
Varusmiehiä kuulusteltiin [kovin ottein]. The conscripts were interrogated brutally (“with hard grips”).
Alkoholinkäyttö lisääntyi [vähin erin]. The alcohol usage increased slowly (“with small batches”).
Myimme kirjat [yksin kappalein]. We sold the books individually (“with one piece”).
Toisinaan lintuja on [tuhatmäärin]. Sometimes there are thousands (“thousand quantities”) of birds.
Puutarhassani on kukkia [yllin kyllin]. In my garden there are flowers abundantly (“above plenty”).
Tänään saat syödä [mielin määrin]. Today you can eat as much as you want (“with minds quantities”).
Leila taipui [kaksinkerroin] naurusta. Leila bent over in half (“in two times”) from laughing.
[Näillä tienoin] asuu paljon mustalaisia. There live a lot of gypsies hereabout (“in these parts”).

1.2. In certain fossilized expressions

Finnish English
Tatiana syöksyi suhteeseen [suinin]. Tatiana jumped into a relationship head over heals (“with mouths heads”).
Me istumme hevosella [hajareisin]. We sit on the horse astride.
Pekka on ollut [selvinin] jo vuosia. Pekka has been sober for years already (“with clear heads”).
Hän mahtui [hädin tuskin] enää istuimeen. She barely fit into the seat anymore.
Hoitaisitko asian [mitä pikimmin]? Could you take care of that as soon as possible?
Miehet saapuivat [hyvissä ajoin]. The men arrived well in advance (“in good times”).
Olen maksanut velan takaisin jo [monin verroin]. I’ve paid back the debt in many ways already.
“[Ystävällisin terveisin], Maija” With friendly greetings, Maija (at the end of a letter).

1.3. Instructive particles

There seem to be a lot of particles that are actually instructives! However, these are no longer seen as instructive forms, but rather as words on their own with their own specific meaning.

Finnish English Example sentence
harvoin rarely Hän tulee harvoin ajoissa.
aivan really Tämä on aivan liian suuri annos minulle.
tyystin completely Asia unohtui tyystin.
alun perin originally Tämä oli alun perin isoäitini pyörä.
samoin likewise Kiitos samoin!
väkisin forcibly Hän yritti väkisin sisään.
takaperin backwards Osaatko luistella takaperin
läpikotaisin through and through Poliisi tutki asuntoa läpikotaisin.
oikein correct(ly) Haluan tehdä asiat oikein.
noin like that Oletko yrittänyt tehdä sen noin?
varsinkin especially Kaipaan häntä varsinkin sunnuntaisin.
ylen mightily Hän oli ylen iloinen.

2. The instructive form of verbs

This instructive can also be formed with a verb as its base. This requires you to use the second infinitive of the verb, and add the instructive’s -n to it.

2.1. With two actions at the same time

Most of the time these instructive verbs appear in a verb+verb construction. In these sentences, the instructive verb describes how the main verb’s action was done or what other action coincided with it. For example, you could arrive while crying (saavuin itkien), while singing (saavuin laulaen), while dancing (saavuin tanssien) or while sighing (saavuin huokaisten).

Verb Instructive Example Explanation
kävellä kävellen Matti tuli töihin kävellen. How did he come to work? By foot.
juosta juosten Hän saapui paikalle juosten. How did he come to work? Running.
seistä seisten Maria söi seisten. How did she eat? Standing up.
huutaa huutaen Anja puhui huutaen. She talked + yelled
laulaa laulaen Kuljimme laulaen. We moved + we sang
ihmetellä ihmetellen Hän poistui ihmetellen. He left + he wondered
itkeä itkien Lapsi saapui itkien. The child arrived + cried

2.2. With fossilized verb instructives

Verb Instructive Example
johtua [Säästä johtuen] peruimme tapaamisen. due to, because of
liittyä Minulla on [siihen liittyen] kysymys. related to that
lähteä [Mistä lähtien] olet seisonut siellä? starting from (how long?)
olla [Näin ollen] en pysty tulemaan. thus
puhua [Totta puhuen] en edes tiennyt asiasta. to tell (you) the truth
riippua [Päivästä riippuen] teen 2-5 tuntia töitä. depending on the day
sanoa Hän on [toisin sanoen] pätemätön. in other words
sanoa Olen [suoraan sanoen] pettynyt sinuun. frankly, to put it bluntly
tietää / tahtoa Hän avasi lukon [tieten tahtoen]. willfully, purposely
tulla Autan [tarpeen tullen]. if the need arises

That concludes the article on the instructive case!

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