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The Elative Case (Mistä) – Finnish Grammar

Mistä sinä tulet? Mistä sinä tykkäät? The marker -sta is the elative case. If you’re looking for an overview about missä, mistä and mihin, look here.

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Elative Case
    1. When something comes FROM something/somewhere
    2. When giving your opinion
    3. When using certain verbs (eg. tykätä and pitää)
  2. The Formation of the Elative 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 Elative Case

1. Use of the Elative Case (Mistä)

1.1. When something comes FROM something/somewhere

When the missä-form ends in -ssa, then you can be pretty sure the mistä-form will end in -sta. So if you’re IN the library (-ssa), you will come FROM the library (-sta). This is different from eg. IN the kiosk (-lla) and FROM the kiosk (-lta).

Finnish English
Otan leivän kaapista. I take the bread from the cupboard.
Me tulemme Suomesta. We come from Finland.
Minä olen kotoisin Argentiinasta. I originate from Argentina.

1.2. When giving your opinion

This is a special use of the -sta-form: it expresses that something is your personal opinion.

Finnish English
Minusta suklaa on liian makaaa. In my opinion, chocolate is too sweet.
Leenasta tämä on kivaa.
In Leena’s opinion this is great.
Minun poikaystävästä minä olen kaunis. In my boyfriend’s opinion I’m beautiful.

1.3. When using certain verbs (eg. tykätä and pitää)

Finnish has this concept of “rections“: most words will require other words that they get combined with to appear in a certain case. There are several verbs that require -sta. Two important ones are tykätä and pitää, synonyms that both mean “to like“. You can learn more about rections here.

Finnish English
Minä pidän suklaasta. I like chocolate.
Pidätkö minusta?
Do you like me?
Me tykkäämme musiikista. We like music.
He pitävät hyvästä ruoasta. They like good food.

2. The Formation of the Elative Case

The elative is one of the six location cases. Its ending is -sta or -stä, according to the vowel harmony rules. It gets added to the same form as most of the other locations cases (-ssa, -lla, -lta, -lle)

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

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

Basic Elative Basic Elative
kala kalasta tyyny tyynystä
talo talosta seinä seinästä
työ työstä melu melusta
hylly hyllystä pallo pallosta

2.2. Words ending in -e: add an extra -e- before the -sta/-stä

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

Basic Elative Basic Elative
huone huoneesta perhe perheestä
kappale kappaleesta kirje kirjeestä
lentokone lentokoneesta taide taiteesta
parveke parvekkeesta koe kokeesta
aste asteesta suihke suihkeesta

2.3. Words ending in -nen: replace the -nen with -se- before the -sta/-stä

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

Basic Elative Basic Elative
nainen naisesta hevonen hevosesta
suomalainen suomalaisesta eteinen eteisestä
iloinen iloisesta ihminen ihmisestä
sininen sinisestä toinen toisesta
tavallinen tavallisesta pikkuinen pikkuisesta

2.4. Words ending in -i

We have a separate article that goes into more detail about new and old words ending in -i. Check that out after you’ve read the basic rules below!

2.4.1. New words ending in -i: add -sta/-stä

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.

Basic Elative Basic Elative
banaani banaanista paperi paperista
kahvi kahvista pankki pankista
posti postista maali maalista
tili tilistä adverbi adverbista
dollari dollarista hotelli hotellista

2.4.2. Old words ending in -i: replace -i- with -e- and add -sta/-stä

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!

Basic Elative Basic Elative
suomi suomesta ovi ovesta
järvi järvestä kivi kivestä
suuri suuresta nimi nimestä
pieni pienestä lehti lehdestä
pilvi pilvestä joki joesta

2.4.3. Old words ending in -si: replace -si with -de- and add -sta/-stä

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

Basic Elative Basic Elative
uusi uudesta vuosi vuodesta
si destä kuukausi kuukaudesta
vesi vedestä reisi reidestä

3. Consonant Gradation in the Elative Case

Wordtype A
Nominative Elative Nominative Elative
tyttö tytöstä pankki pankista
puku puvusta pöytä pöydästä
hattu hatusta kauppa kaupasta
silta sillasta kampa kammasta
hiekka hiekasta apu avusta

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Nominative Elative Nominative Elative
savuke savukkeesta opas oppaasta
keitin keittimestä tavoite tavoitteesta
rakas rakkaasta hammas hampaasta
soitin soittimesta puhallin puhaltimesta
allas altaasta työtön työttömästä

I have a separate article on wordtype B.


That concludes the article on the elative case!

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[…] to express a timespan by saying on what weekdays something began and when it ended, you can use the elative (-sta) and the illative (mihin) for this purpose. This way, you can express, for example, that […]

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[…] case (Rakastan ratsastamista = I love horse riding) and nauttia will require the mistä-form aka the elative (Pidän ratsastamisesta = I like horse […]

Robert Meaney
Robert Meaney

As I understand, the elative case is also used when describing photographs e.g. a photo of my mother is [kuva äidistä]. Also used when talking about someone or something e.g I am talking about Leena [Minä puhun Leenasta].

Inge (admin)
Inge (admin)

Yeps, that’s true! Thanks for mentioning this. We have puhua on our “location case rections” page https://uusikielemme.fi/finnish-grammar/syntax/rections/verb-rections-rektiot-verbit/

Shanna
Shanna

So to make sure I’m understanding this correctly: pitää and tykätä must take nouns (even as the 4th infinitive noun form of a verb)?

Inge (admin)
Inge (admin)

Pitää will always take a noun, just as you’ve understood (pidän sinusta, pidän uimisesta). Tykätä has the additional option of using the infinitive (tykkään uida). You CAN say “tykkään uimisesta”, but it’s less common than uida.

Check these verbs out in another article: https://uusikielemme.fi/finnish-grammar/syntax/rections/tykata-and-pitaa-saying-you-like-things-in-finnish/