Finnish for busy people

Object Sentence Examples – Luen kirjaa / kirjan / kirjat

The object of a sentence can appear in multiple cases. You can learn more about the object rules elswhere. The object sentence examples on this page will hopefully help you make more sense of what the different object cases can mean.

Below, I will list some object sentence examples which differ from each other mainly in what their object looks like. Analyzing these object sentence examples side by side should give you a feeling for how they work. I’m also including the English translation but – as you will see – the difference isn’t always clear straight away by translating.

Note: In this article, we will name the total object by what it looks like: the basic form, genetive or plural. In older grammar sources, you will use the term accusative for all of these.

1. Painting a House

Finnish English
Mies maalaa taloa. The man paints the house.
Mies maalaa talon. The man paints the house.
Mies maalaa talot. The man paints the houses.
Mies maalaa taloja. The man paints houses.
  • Mies maalaa taloa. Partitive, because right now, the man is painting the house. He’s not finished yet, and for all we know he could leave it unfinished.
  • Mies maalaa talon. Genitive, because it’s the whole house. The man’s intention is the finish painting the whole house. The verb, which is in the present tense in this sentences, could be translated both as “paints” or “will paint”, because Finnish doesn’t have a future tense.
  • Mies maalaa talot. Plural, because he painted a few houses completely, houses that have been mentioned before. A specific number of houses, not just some houses.
  • Mies maalaa taloja. The plural partitive indicates an unspecific plural quantity of houses. In this sentence, it’s likely that the man’s job is to paint houses. He paints many houses, but no specific ones.

2. Reading a Book

Finnish English
Luen kirjaa. I’m reading a book.
Luen kirjan. I will read the book.
Lue kirja! Read the book!
Luen kirjat. I read the books.
Luen kirjoja. I read books.
  • Luen kirjaa. Partitive, because right now, I am reading the book. It’s not finished, and I might never finish it, but I’m busy doing it now.
  • Luen kirjan. Genetive, because my intention is to read the whole book.
  • Lue kirja! The object of an imperative sentence will generally appear in the basic form. This is an order: read the book!
  • Luen kirjat. Plural, because we’re talking about some specific books we have mentioned before. My intention is to finish all of them.
  • Luen kirjoja. Plural partitive, because I read multiple books that haven’t been specified previously in the conversation.

3. Writing a Letter

Finnish English
Kirjoitan kirjettä. I’m writing a letter.
Kirjoitan kirjeen äidille. I will write a letter to mom.
Minulla on aikaa kirjoittaa kirje. I have time to write a letter.
En kirjoita kirjettä. I don’t write a letter.
Kirjoita kirje! Write a letter!
Älä kirjoita kirjettä! Don’t write a letter!
Kirjoitan kirjeet. I write the letters.
Kirjoitan kirjeitä. I write letters.
En kirjoita kirjeitä. I don’t write letters.
  • Kirjoitan kirjettä. Partitive, because I’m doing it right now and it’s not finished yet. I might finish it or not; the future will tell.
  • Kirjoitan kirjeen äidille. Genitive, because I plan on finishing the letter.
  • Minulla on aikaa kirjoittaa kirje nyt. Always basic form of the word with this kind of sentence construction: I have *something* *to do something* *to something*.
  • En kirjoita kirjettä. Partitive, because it’s the object of a negative sentence.
  • Kirjoita kirje! Basic form, because we’re dealing with the total object of an imperative sentence.
  • Älä kirjoita kirjettä! Partitive for the object of a negative sentence. This rule is true for all tenses and moods when they’re negative.
  • Kirjoitan kirjeet. T-plural, because we’ve talked about certain letters before. I’m writing those letters now, or will write them.
  • Kirjoitan kirjeitä. Partitive plural because it’s a general statement. We’re not focusing on any specific letters. Perhaps I’m stating my hobby, or tell someone what I do at work.
  • En kirjoita kirjeitä. Partitive plural because it’s a negative sentence.

4. Buying a Pen

Finnish English
Haluan ostaa kynän. I want to buy a/the pen.
Ostin kynän. I bought a/the pen.
Ostin kyniä. I bought pens.
Ostin kynät. I bought the pens.
Osta kynä! Buy a pen!
Ostakaa minulle kynä! Buy me a pen!
Minun pitää ostaa kynä. I have to buy a pen.
En ostanut kynää. I didn’t buy a pen.
Ostetaan kynä! Let’s buy a pen!
  • Haluan ostaa kynän. Genetive, because I want to buy the whole pen. This could be a specific pen or just a random pen.
  • Ostin kynän. Genetive, because I bought one whole pen. This could be a specific pen (I bought THE pen) or just a random pen.
  • Ostin kyn. Plural partitive, because I bought an unspecified plural quantity of pens. I’m not mentioning how many and they’re not specific pens.
  • Ostin kynät. T-plural, because I bought “the” pens. This could, depending on the context, mean either ALL the pens, or a certain number of specific pens.
  • Osta kynä! The basic form is used with the total object of an imperative.
  • Ostakaa minulle kynä! The basic form is also used for the total object of a plural imperative sentence (where we give an order to multiple people).
  • Minun pitää ostaa kynä. After “minun pitää”, “minun täytyy” or “minun on pakko” you use the basic form of the word.
  • En ostanut kynää. Partitive, because it’s a negative sentence.
  • Ostetaan kynä! The basic form, because the verb is in the passive.

5. Making Food

Finnish English
Laitan ruokaa. I’m making food.
Laitoin ruokaa. I made food.
Haluan laittaa ruokaa. I want to make food.
Minun täytyy laittaa ruokaa. I have to make food.
Laita ruokaa! Make food!
Minä laitan ruoat. I make the food.
Laitan ruoat jääkaappiin. I put the food in the fridge.
Laita ruoat jääkaappiin. Put the food in the fridge.
Minun täytyy laittaa ruoat. I have to make the food.
  • Laitan ruokaa. Generally, “food” is an uncountable noun, so it will appear in the partitive case in most sentences. I’m making some food. If we want to say we make a specific kind of food, we have to use a different word, like eg. ateria “a meal”, aamiainen “breakfast”, or pihvin “a steak”.
  • Laitoin ruokaa. Partitive, because “food” is an uncountable noun, I made some food.
  • Haluan laittaa ruokaa. Partitive, because I want to make some food.
  • Minun täytyy laittaa ruokaa. Partitive, as above.
  • Laita ruokaa! Partitive, as above. The imperative can not have a genetive object, but it can have an object in the partitive.
  • Minä laitan ruoat. T-plural. Maybe I’m making all the food, as in “I make the food in our family, my husband doesn’t”. Alternatively, I’m making specific foods. We could be speaking about the traditional thanksgiving foods which I’m making. This is not as common as the partitive, and always refers to several dishes!
  • Laitan ruoat jääkaappiin. T-plural, because we’re talking about all the foods. I probably just came back from the store, or finished cooking multiple dishes.
  • Laita ruoat jääkaappiin. T-plural, because we’re talking about all the foods. I probably just came back from the store. The object of an imperative sentence can’t be in the genetive form, but it can be in the T-plural.
  • Minun täytyy laittaa ruoat. T-plural, because we’re talking about multiple specific foods, maybe for a party or a celebration.

That’s it for object sentence examples! I hope these were somewhat helpful on the rocky path towards mastering the Finnish object.

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