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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 -ä
    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
    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 Genetive Finnish English
nuo miehet noiden miesten [Noiden miesten vaimot] vihaavat toisiaan. [The wives of those men] hate each other.
kissat kissojen [Kissojen lempiruoka] on Friskies. [The favorite food of the cats] is Friskies.
naapurit naapureiden [Naapureiden apua] ei tarvita. [The neighbors’ help] is not needed.
suomalaiset suomalaisten [Suomalaisten asenne] on kielteinen. [Finns’ attitude] is negative.
oppaat oppaiden [Oppaiden koulutus] on riittämätön. [The guides’ education] is lacking.
äidit äitien [Äitien mielipiteita] ei kunnioiteta. [The opinions of mothers] aren’t accepted.

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.

Postposition English Example English
gen + päällä on top of [Pöytien päällä] on kukkia. There are flowers [on top of the tables].
gen + takana behind [Näiden talojen takana] on lampi. There’s a pond [behind these houses].
gen + välissä in between Tyttö istuu [vanhempiensa välissä]. The girl sits [between her parents].
gen + alla underneath Vesi virtaa [siltojen alla]. The water streams [under the bridges].
gen + vieressä next to [Kirjahyllyjen vieressä] on peili. There’s a mirror [next to the book shelves].
gen + kanssa with 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 tänään. The students have to go to the store today.
[Hakijoiden kannattaa] tulla ajoissa. The applicants should come on time.
[Lasten pitää] siivota huoneensa. The kids have to clean their room.
[Näiden isoäitien on pakko] asua vanhainkodissa. These grandma’s have to live in a retirement home.
[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 Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
talo talojen tyttö tyttöjen katu katujen
hylly hyllyjen pallo pallojen aamu aamujen
pöllö pöllöjen helppo helppojen sato satojen

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

2.2. Words ending in -ä: replace the -ä with -ien

Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
kynä kynien metsä metsien isä isien
kesä kesien leipä leipien kylmä kylmien
pöytä pöytien ystävä ystävien 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 Nominative Genetive
sana sanojen hinta hintojen kala kalojen
kissa kissojen teema teemojen marja marjojen
kirja kirjojen herra herrojen liima liimojen

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

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

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

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 Nominative Genetive
banaani banaanien äiti äitien tiimi tiimien
pankki pankkien posti postien maali maalien
tili tilien 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 Nominative Genetive
järvi järvien ovi ovien sieni sienien
kivi kivien sormi sormien nimi nimien
lahti lahtien 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 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 Nominative Genetive #1 Genetive #2
pieni pienten pienien meri merten merien
sieni sienten sienien suuri suurten suurien
nuori nuorten nuorien hiiri hiirten hiirien
kieli kielten kielien uni unten unien

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”.

Nominative -iden -itten Nominative -iden -itten
huone huoneiden huoneitten perhe perheiden perheitten
kirje kirjeiden kirjeitten kone koneiden koneitten
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 Nominative Genetive
nainen naisten hevonen hevosten suomalainen suomalaisten
eteinen eteisten iloinen iloisten ihminen ihmisten
sininen sinisten toinen toisten tavallinen tavallisten

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 Nominative -iden -itten
maa maiden maitten sää iden itten
suu suiden suitten DVD DVD:iden DVD:itten
vapaa vapaiden vapaitten kuu kuiden kuitten
harmaa harmaiden harmaitten jää iden itten

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 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

Separate page coming!

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 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 Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
tyttö tyttöjen pankki pankkien puku pukujen
pöytä pöytien hattu hattujen kauppa kauppojen
silta siltojen kampa kampojen hiekka hiekkojen

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

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

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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