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The Adessive Case (Millä) – Finnish Grammar

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Adessive Case
    1. When something is ON something
    2. When something is NEAR something
    3. When talking about open places
    4. Possession (having something)
    5. ”By” or ”with” something
    6. With certain expressions of time
  2. The Formation of the Adessive Case
    1. Words ending in a single vowel
    2. Words ending in an -e
    3. Words ending in -nen
    4. Words ending in -i
      1. New words ending in -i
      2. Old words ending in -i
      3. Old words ending in -si
  3. Consonant Gradation in the Adessive Case

1. Use of the Adessive Case (Millä)

1.1. When something is ON something

When a thing is on top of something.

Finnish English
Leipä on pöydällä. The bread is on the table.
Taulu on seinällä. The picture is on the wall.
Minä seison vuorella. I stand on a mountain.

1.2. When something is NEAR something

When something is near something, you will often also use -lla. Say you’re meeting a friend, and you tell them you’ll meet inside Stockmann, you would use Stockmannissa. If you’re agreeing to meet just outside of Stockmann, maybe near the front door or in the near vicinity of it, you would use Stockmannilla. Often, you will use ”at” in English.

Finnish English
Minä odotan sinua Stockmannilla. I wait for you at Stockmann.
Tavataan kaupungilla. Let’s meet in the city.
Joni seisoo ovella. Joni is standing at the door.
Lapseni ovat koululla. My kids are at school.

1.3. When talking about open places

By ”open places” I mean places without a roof, usually outdoor places (think: a yard, bus stop, market square).

This is not a 100% clear rule, because it does come with exceptions. For example, a street is a place without a roof (kadulla), but a forest and a park do have some kind of ”roof” formed by the trees inside it (metsässä, puistossa). On the other hand, some kiosks clearly HAVE a roof, but you still say kioskilla. This most probably has to do with the history of kiosks. Originally, the salesperson would be inside the kiosk, but the customers were always outside.

Because the rule is so full of holes, you might want to just learn these words by heart. There really aren’t that many of them.

Finnish English
Minä seison bussipysäkillä. I stand at the bus stop.
Sinä seisot (juna/bussi)asemalla. You’re standing in the (train/bus) station
Hän seisoo torilla. He is standing on the market square.
Me seisomme kioskilla. We are standing at the kiosk.
Te seisotte pihalla. You are standing in the yard.
He seisovat kadulla. They are standing on the street.

1.4. Possession (having something)

Finnish doesn’t have a separate verb for ”to have”. Instead it uses a different sentence construction, centered around the verb ”olla”, ”to be”, and the adessive case (-lla). You can read more about that in our separate article.

Finnish English
Minulla on hyvät juoksukengät. I have good running shoes.
Mikolla on harmaa tukka. Mikko has grey hair.

1.5. ”By” or ”with” something

The adessive case is also used with means of transportation. However, it’s not just limited to those. Any tool you use can get -lla added to it to express that you use it to perform an action. You can find more example in this blog post.

Finnish English
Matkustan autolla. I travel by car.
Me kirjoitamme kynällä. We write with a pen.
Syötkö sä lusikalla? Do you eat with a spoon?
Avaan oven avaimella. I open the door with a key.
Pesen itseni saippualla. I wash myself with soap.

1.6. With certain expressions of time

You can learn more about these here.

Finnish English
kesällä in summer
keväällä in spring
llä viikolla this week
viime viikolla last week
llä at night
Finnish English
syksyllä in autumn
talvella in winter
ensi viikolla next week
päivällä during day time
illalla in the evening

2. The Formation of the Adessive Case

To signify that something is ON or AT something, you don’t use a preposition like in English. Instead, you add -lla/-llä to the word. The adessive is one of the six location cases.

You will notice that the -lla case is added to the exact same form of the word as -ssa!

2.1. Words ending in a single vowel (-a/-ä, -u/-y, -o/-ö): add -lla/-llä

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

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
kala kalalla tyyny tyynyllä talo talolla
seinä seinällä työ työllä melu melulla

2.2. Words ending in -e: add an extra -e- before the -lla/-llä

Words ending in -e get a second -e- in any case except the partitive.

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
huone huoneella perhe perheellä kappale kappaleella
kirje kirjeellä lentokone lentokoneella taide taiteella
parveke parvekkeella koe kokeella aste asteella

2.3. Words ending in -nen: replace the -nen with -se/-se before the -lla/-llä

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

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
nainen naisella hevonen hevosella suomalainen suomalaisella
eteinen eteisellä iloinen iloisella ihminen ihmisellä
sininen sinisellä toinen toisella tavallinen tavallisella

2.4. Words ending in -i

2.4.1. New words ending in -i: add -lla/-llä

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 Adessive Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
banaani banaanilla paperi paperilla kahvi kahvilla
pankki pankilla posti postilla maali maalilla
tili tilillä adverbi adverbilla dollari dollarilla

2.4.2. Old words ending in -i: replace -i- with -e- and add -lla/-llä

Old words are very often nature words. After all, nature has been around for so long that Finns have had names for them since the very beginning. Some words’ age can be confusing, for example ”äiti” (mother) is actually a new Finnish word, eventhough mothers have been around since the beginning of time!

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
suomi suomella ovi ovella järvi järvellä
kivi kivellä suuri suurella nimi nimellä
pieni pienellä lehti lehdellä pilvi pilvellä

2.4.3. Old words ending in -si: replace -si- with -de- and add -lla/-llä

More old words, but this time with -si at their end. This group has its own additional change

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
uusi uudella vuosi vuodella si dellä
kuukausi kuukaudella vesi vedellä reisi reidellä

3. Consonant Gradation in the Adessive Case

Wordtype A
Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
tyttö tytöllä pankki pankilla puku puvulla
pöytä pöydällä hattu hatulla kauppa kaupalla
silta sillalla kampa kammalla hiekka hiekalla

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
savuke savukkeella opas oppaalla keitin keittimellä
tavoite tavoitteella rakas rakkaalla hammas hampaalla
soitin soittimella puhallin puhaltimella allas altaalla

I have a separate article on wordtype B.


That concludes the article on the adessive case!

 

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