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The Genetive Plural – Monikon Genetiivi

This article describes the usage and the formation of the genetive plural case, aka monikon genetiivi.

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Plural Genetive Case
    1. When indicating possession (miesten autot)
    2. In front of postpositions (talojen takana)
    3. When expressing necessity (lasten täytyy)
    4. Important note
  2. The Formation of the Plural Genetive Case
    1. Words ending in –u/-y, -o/-ö
    2. Words ending in
    3. Words ending in -a
      1. Words of two syllables (kissa-words)
      2. Words of two syllables (koira-words)
    4. Words ending in -i
      1. New words ending in -i
      2. Old words ending in -i
      3. Old words ending in -si
      4. Old -li/-ni/-ri words
    5. Words ending in an -e
    6. Words ending in -nen
    7. Words ending in two vowels
    8. Words ending in diphtongs -ie, -uo, -yö
    9. Words ending in a consonant
      1. Words ending in -s
      2. Words ending in –ton
      3. Words ending in -in
      4. Words ending in -ut
    10. Advanced: genetive plural’s -in
  3. Consonant Gradation in the Plural Genetive Case

1. Use of the Genetive Plural (minkä, keiden)

1.1. When indicating possession

The genetive is used to express someone possessing something. When there are multiple possessors, we use the plural genetive. When a group of words all belong together (say: a pronoun, an adjective and a noun), all three of them will be put in the genetive.

Nominative Finnish English
nuo miehet noiden miesten vaimot the wives of those men
kissat kissojen lempiruoka the favorite food of cats
naapurit naapureiden apu the neighbors’ help
suomalaiset suomalaisten asenne Finns’ attitude
oppaat oppaiden koulutus the guides’ education
äidit äitien mielipiteet the opinions of mothers

1.2. In front of postpositions

Postpositions in Finnish are often used to indicate location in relation to another object. Postpositions generally require their complement to be inflected in the genetive case.

Example English
[Pöytien päällä] on kukkia. There are flowers [on top of the tables].
[Näiden talojen takana] on lampi. There’s a pond [behind these houses].
Tyttö istuu [vanhempiensa välissä]. The girl sits [between her parents].
Vesi virtaa [siltojen alla]. The water streams [under the bridges].
[Kirjahyllyjen vieressä] on peili. There’s a mirror [next to the book shelves].
Käyn kävelyllä [tyttöjen kanssa]. I’m going on a walk [with the girls].

1.3. When expressing necessity

In Finnish you will need to use the genetive with verbs expressing necessity (täytyy, pitää, kannattaa).

Finnish English
[Opiskelijoiden täytyy] käydä kaupassa. The students have to go to the store.
[Hakijoiden kannattaa] tulla ajoissa. The applicants should come on time.
[Lasten pitää] siivota huoneensa. The kids have to clean their room.
[Näiden äitien on pakko] siivota. These mothers have to clean.
[Poliisien ei pitäisi] olla täällä. The police officers shouldn’t be here.

1.4. Important note

The singular genetive case also functions as the marker for the total object (eg. Syön omenan; Luen kirjan). The plural genetive is NOT used in the same function. You will use the plural nominative or partitive for plural objects.


2. The Formation of the Plural Genetive Case

The singular genetive’s marker -n also appears in the plural genetive. In addition to that -n, the plural genetive will also have the plural marker’s -i-. However, there are many possible options for how the genetive plural can look. In addition, different language sources will present them in a different way. This means that one source might list the plural genetive variants as: -jen, -ien, -eiden, -eiten and -sten. Another source might list them as -en, -den, -ten, -tten.

One thing that will make the genetive plural a little easier to learn is having studied the plural partitive already. Fairly often, the plural partitive’s and the plural genetive’s markers will have a similar look. Not included here is the plural genetive of long words.

2.1. Words ending in -u/-y, -o/-ö: add -jen

Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
talo talojen tyttö tyttöjen
katu katujen hylly hyllyjen
pallo pallojen aamu aamujen
pöllö pöllöjen helppo helppojen

(In the plural partitive, these words would have -ja).

2.2. Words ending in : replace the with -ien

Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
kynä kynien metsä metsien
isä isien kesä kesien
leipä leipien kylmä kylmien
pöytä pöytien hätä hätien

(In the plural partitive, these words would have -ia/-iä).

2.3. Words ending in -a

The same rules for grouping words ending in -a applies to both the plural partitive and the plural genetive: I call the two groups of words ending in -a by the names “kissa-words” and “koira-words”. These two words are easy to remember and each belongs to a different group of words ending in -a. If you can remember “kissa – kissojen” and “koira – koirien” and apply that rule to other, similar words, you’re on your way to mastering the partitive plural!

2.3.1. Words of two syllables (kissa-words): -ojen

Kissa-words are words of two syllables. Their final letter is -a. In the first syllable, you will have either -e-, -i- or -a-. In other words, the vowels of these words can look like:

  • a…a (kana, maksa, sana, marja)
  • e…a (herra, tela, teema, leija)
  • i…a (kissa, tina, hinta, silta)

When you inflect these words in the plural genetive, you will replace the final -a with -ojen.

Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
sana sanojen hinta hintojen
kala kalojen kissa kissojen
teema teemojen marja marjojen
kirja kirjojen liima liimojen

(In the plural partitive, these words would end in -oja).

2.3.2. Words of two syllables (koira-words): -ien

Koira-words are also words of two syllables. Their final letter is also -a. They differ when it comes to the first syllable: for koira-words you will have either -o-, or -u- in the first syllable. In other words, the vowels of these words can look like:

  • o…a (koira, konna, honda, nokka)
  • u…a (kukka, sukka, suora, juoma)

For koira-words, you will replace the final -a with -ien.

Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
koira koirien kukka kukkien
tukka tukkien muna munien
loma lomien oja ojien
kooma koomien tumma tummien

(In the plural partitive, these words would end in -ia).

2.4. Words ending in -i

Words ending in -i are once again divided into several groups. For most words, the -i will turn into -ien. However, there is often more than one option, of which one can be used in more poetic settings. The following rules only applies to short words. Long words (eg. lääkäri, paperi) have their own rules.

2.4.1. New words ending in -i: add -en

Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
banaani banaanien äiti äitien
tiimi tiimien pankki pankkien
posti postien maali maalien
tyyli tyylien bussi bussien

(In the plural partitive, these words would end in -ia/-iä).

2.4.2. Old words ending in -i: add -en

Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
järvi järvien ovi ovien
sieni sienien kivi kivien
sormi sormien nimi nimien
lehti lehtien pilvi pilvien

2.4.3. Old words ending in -si: add -en / -tten

  • Everyday language: old words ending in -si will have -en added to them in the genetive plural.
  • More poetic style: they can also have -tten as an ending.
Nominative Genetive #1 Genetive #2
vesi vesien vetten
susi susien sutten
si sien tten
reisi reisien reitten

2.4.4. Oldli/-ni/-ri words: -ien or -ten

  • Most often: can be compared to the partitive SINGULAR (eg. pieni : pientä : pienten; kieli : kieltä : kielten).
  • Also fairly common: you can add -en to the basic form of the word (pieni : pienien; kieli : kielien).
Nominative Genetive #1 Genetive #2
pieni pienten pienien
meri merten merien
sieni sienten sienien
hiiri hiirten hiirien
kieli kielten kielien

2.5. Words ending in -e: add -iden or -itten

The genetive plural of words ending in -e have two possibilities: -iden or -itten. Of these, -iden is the most popular, though both are usually considered equally “correct”. The genetive plural of these words in strong.

Nominative -iden -itten
huone huoneiden huoneitten
perhe perheiden perheitten
parveke parvekkeiden parvekkeitten
koe kokeiden kokeitten

(In the plural partitive, these words would end in -ita/-itä).

2.6. Words ending in -nen: replace the -nen with -sten

For words ending in -nen, there is also the possibility of using -sien for the plural genetive (iloisien suomalaisien naisien), but using -sten is much more popular (iloisten suomalaisten naisten).

Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
nainen naisten hevonen hevosten
suomalainen suomalaisten eteinen eteisten
iloinen iloisten ihminen ihmisten

2.7. Words ending in two vowels: -iden/-itten

These words have two possibilities: -iden or -itten. Of these, -iden is the most popular, though both are usually considered equally ”correct”.

Nominative -iden -itten
maa maiden maitten
suu suiden suitten
jää iden itten
harmaa harmaiden harmaitten
vapaa vapaiden vapaitten

2.8. Words ending in diphtongs -ie, -uo, -yö: -iden/-itten

These words have two possibilities: -iden or -itten. Of these, -iden is the most popular, though both are usually considered equally ”correct”.

Nominative -iden -itten
tie teiden teitten
v vöiden vöitten
öiden öitten
t töiden töitten

(In the plural partitive, these words would end in -ita/-itä).

2.9. Words ending in a consonant

2.9.1 Words ending in -s

Please look at this overview of words ending in -s: here.

For the plural partitive, you will have two different types of inflection, which you can identify based on their singular genetive form.

Words with -kse- in the singular genetive can have a plural genetive that’s based on its singular genetive (eg. keskuksen → keskuksien), or based on its basic form (eg. keskus → keskusten).

# Nominative SG genetive PL -ien PL -ten
1 keskus keskuksen keskuksien keskusten
1 ostos ostoksen ostoksien ostosten
1 kasvis kasviksen kasviksien kasvisten
1 fiilis fiiliksen fiiliksien fiilisten
1 ananas ananaksen ananaksien ananasten

Words with a long vowel in the singular partitive can have either -iiden or -iitten in the plural genetive.

# Nominative SG genetive PL -den PL -tten
2 kallis kalliin kalliiden kalliitten
2 valmis valmiin valmiiden valmiitten
2 hammas hampaan hampaiden hampaitten
2 saapas saappaan saappaiden saappaitten

2.9.2 Words ending in -ton/-tön

Words ending in -ton/-tön will get -ien added to their stem, which ends in -ttoma- (eg. rahattoman, rahattomassa, rahattomalle). Note that we use the the strong form of the word. It’s also possible to have -ten as the plural partitive ending for these words (eg. työtönten), but this is very rare.

Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
työtön työttömien koditon kodittomien
rasvaton rasvattomien järjetön järjettömien

(In the plural partitive, these words end in -ia/-iä).

2.9.3 Words ending in -in

Words ending in -in can have two pretty different plural genetive forms: they can end in -ien or in -ten. This is tricky becaue the -ien ending will be added to the strong stem, while the -ten ending gets added to the weak stem. Both forms are used.

Nominative -ien -ten
puhelin puhelimien puhelinten
puhallin puhaltimien puhallinten
kahvinkeitin kahvinkeittimien kahvinkeitinten
kiharrin kihartimien kiharrinten
avain avaimien avainten

2.9.4. Words ending in -ut

Words ending in -ut can belong to two groups. The smaller of the two are words such as olut, kevyt and ohut. In the plural genetive, these words will end in -uiden and -uitten (both endings are allowed).

The much larger group are NUT-participles, such as väsynyt, kuollut, mennyt and juossut. These words will have –eiden or –eitten in the plural genetive. As you can see, the ending of both wordtypes ending in -ut is -iden or -itten, but the vowel right before the plural -i- is different.

Nominative -iden -itten
olut oluiden oluitten
kevyt kevyiden kevyitten
lyhyt lyhyiden lyhyitten
väsynyt väsyneiden väsyneitten
tottunut tottuneiden tottuneitten
kuollut kuolleiden kuolleitten

2.10. Advanced: genetive plural’s -in

There is one more option for the ending of the plural genetive: -in. This is only possible with some words: words ending in an -a (in the singular) or in an -e (in the plural).

Usually this form appears in compound words as the first part (eg. vanhempainilta, vanhainkoti, pyhäinpäivä). When not part of a compound word, it can sound old-fashioned.

Nominative Genetive #1 Genetive #2
opiskelija opiskelijain opiskelijoiden
köyhä köyhäin köyhien
pyhä pyhäin pyhien
pappi pappein pappien
vanhempi vanhempain vanhempien
vanki vankein vankien
kaikki kaikkein kaikkien
vanha vanhain vanhojen

Consonant Gradation in the Plural Genetive

The genetive plural will always be strong, both for wordtype A and wordtype B. That’s different than the partitive singular, where wordtype A words functioned with the weak grade, and wordtype B with the strong grade.

Wordtype A
Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
tyttö tyttöjen pankki pankkien
puku pukujen pöytä pöytien
hattu hattujen kauppa kauppojen
silta siltojen kampa kampojen

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
savuke savukkeiden tavoite tavoitteiden
soitin soittimien opas oppaiden
rakas rakkaiden puhallin puhaltimiena
keitin keittimien hammas hampaiden

I have a separate article on wordtype B.


That concludes the article on the plural genetive case!

If you want a chance to compare the genetive plural to the partitive plural, you can do so! There is also our page about the plural genetive of long words.

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Ip null
Ip null

Great article! Very helpful although I am slightly intimidated by the different rules I need to remember. I don’t want to be too forward, but I think it is spelt ‘genitive’, but great article nonetheless.

Inge (admin)
Inge (admin)

It’s “genetiivi” in Finnish, so “genetive” in English as far as I’m concerned! Other sources do use genitive, yes 🙂

Ip null
Ip null

Sorry

Inge (admin)
Inge (admin)

No, no! I didn’t mean it like that! THANK YOU for your comment and for you input. I love that you wanted to set this thing right, eventhough I’m stubborn 😉