Huom! This website is currently under heavy construction!

The Partitive Plural – Monikon Partitiivi

This article describes the usage and the formation of the partitive plural tense, aka monikon partitiivi.

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Plural Partitive Case
    1. Generally after the word ”paljon”
    2. To express indefinite amounts
    3. To express indefinite amounts of time
    4. To express the plural of numbers
    5. For the complement (predikatiivi) of a plural subject
    6. With negative sentences
    7. With partitive verbs
  2. The Formation of the Plural Partitive 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
    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
  3. Consonant Gradation in the Plural Partitive Case

1. Use of the Partitive Plural

1.1. Generally after the word ”paljon”

The general rule goes that the singular partitive is used after ”monta”, while the plural partitive is used after the word ”paljon”. There isn’t always a big difference between those two, eg. ”monta kirjaa” and ”paljon kirjoja” generally mean the same thing.

Finnish English
Minulla on paljon hyv ystäv. I have a lot of good friends.
Metsässä on paljon sien tänä syksynä. There are a lot of mushrooms in the forest this autumn.
Maija on ostanut paljon vaatteita. Maija has bought a lot of clothes.

There are certain exception to the ”paljon + plural partitive” rule (eg. paljon rahaa, paljon rakkautta), when the main word of the phrase is something abstract.

1.2. To express indefinite amounts

If you want to express that there are many of something, but don’t want to get into the specifics of how many, you can use the partitive plural. You can do that in several sentence types.

  • In the existential sentence ”Torilla on ihmisiä”, the partitive expresses that there are multiple people, but doesn’t give any information about the quantity of said people.
  • In object sentences like ”Ostan omenoita”, the partitive plural expresses that you buy multiple apples without specifying the amount.
Finnish English
Ostan perunoita. I buy potatoes.
Metsässä on pien eläim. There are small animals in the forest.
Syön mansikoita. I eat strawberries.

1.3. To express indefinite amounts of time

Finnish English
Hän on ollut Suomessa vuosia. She’s been in Finland for years.
Hän oli sairaslomalla kuukausia. He was on sickness leave for months.
Hän oli kadoksissa useita päiv. She was missing for several days.

1.4. To express the plural of numbers

Yes, numbers can also be inflected into the partitive plural! This is mostly the case for 10, 100, 1000 etc.

Finnish English
Festareissa oli satoja kauniita naisia. At the festival were hundreds of beautiful women.
Hän käveli kymmen kilometrejä. She walked tens of kilometers.
Kaupungissa asuu tuhansia maahanmuuttajia. In the city live thousands of immigrants.

1.5. For the complement (predikatiivi) of a plural subject

You can read more about the complement elsewhere. Below you can find some examples of sentences with their complement in the plural partitive. There are certain types of words that will not have their complement in the plural partitive, but you can read more about those elsewhere.

Finnish English
Naiset ovat kauniita ja miehet komeita. The women are beautiful and the men handsome.
Me olimme väsyneitä. We were tired.
Mansikat olivat tuoreita. The strawberries were fresh.
Ihmiset olivat hiljaisia hautajaistilaisuudessa. The people were quiet during the funeral service.

1.6. With negative sentences

Regular negative object sentences always have their object in the partitive. That can be the partitive singular when we’re dealing with a singular thing, or the partitive plural when there are multiple things.

Finnish English
En osta uusia kenk I don’t buy new shoes.
Me emme avaa ikkunoita talvella. We don’t open windows in winter.
Antti ei halunnut syödä lätty. Antti didn’t want to eat pancakes.
Ihmiset eivät ymmärrä ulkomaalaisia. The people don’t understand foreigners.

1.7. With partitive verbs

Some verbs always require the object to appear in the partitive case. These are called ”partitive verbs”. You will need to learn these by heart, because English doesn’t have anything comparable. You can use both the singular and the plural partitive with partitive verbs, depending on the amount of the object.

Verb Singular Plural
rakastaa Minä rakastan suklaata. Minä rakastan makeisia.
odottaa Sinä odotat bussia. Sinä odotat kavereita.
pelata Hän pelaa tennis. Hän pelaa koko ajan tietokonepele.
pelätä Minä pelkään pimeää. Me pelkäämme hevosia.
opiskella Te opiskelette suomea. Te opiskelette reaaliaineita.
auttaa Me autamme hän. Me autamme kodittomia ihmis.

2. The Formation of the Plural Partitive Case

In general, the plural marker is -i-. For the partitive plural, this ending can be -ia/-iä, ita/-itä or -ja/-jä. What follows is the plural partitive formation for short words. The partitive plural of long words will be addressed in another article.

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

Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
talo taloja tyttö tyttö katu katuja
hylly hylly pallo palloja aamu aamuja
pöllö pöllö helppo helppoja sato satoja

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

Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
kynä kyn metsä mets isä is
kesä kes leipä leip kylmä kylm
pöytä pöyt ystävä ystäv hätä hät

2.3. Words ending in -a

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 – kissoja” and ”koira – koiria” 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)

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 partitive, you will replace the final -a with -oja.

Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
sana sanoja hinta hintoja kala kaloja
kissa kissoja teema teemoja marja marjoja
kirja kirjoja herra herroja liima liimoja

2.3.2. Words of two syllables (koira-words)

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 -ia.

Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
koira koiria kukka kukkia tukka tukkia
muna munia loma lomia oja ojia
kooma koomia tumma tummia kuha kuhia

2.4. Words ending in -i

2.4.1. New words ending in -i: replace the -i with -eja/ejä

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 inflect them.

Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
banaani banaaneja äiti äitejä tiimi tiimejä
pankki pankkeja posti posteja maali maaleja
tili tilejä tyyli tyylejä bussi busseja

2.4.2. Old words ending in -i: add -a/-ä to the basic form

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, even though mothers have been around since the beginning of time!

Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
järvi järviä ovi ovia sieni sieniä
kivi kiviä sormi sormia nimi nimiä
lahti lahtia lehti lehtiä pilvi pilviä

Old -si words follow the same rule as all the other old -i-words, so add -a/-ä to their basic form.

Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
uusi uusia vuosi vuosia si käsiä
kuukausi kuukausia vesi vesiä reisi reisiä

The same thing is also true for -li/-ni/-ri words.

Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
pieni pieniä meri meriä sieni sieniä
suuri suuria nuori nuoria hiiri hiiriä
kieli kieliä tuli tulia uni unia

2.5. Words ending in -e: add -ita/itä

The above ”add -ita/itä” is a little inaccurate, but it’s also the easiest way to think of it. If you want to be correct, you should think of it as adding -ta/tä to the strong plural stem of the word.

Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
huone huoneita perhe perhei kappale kappaleita
kirje kirjei lentokone lentokoneita taide taiteita
parveke parvekkeita koe kokeita aste asteita

2.6. Words ending in -nen: replace the -nen with -sia/-siä

Again, this rule can also be rephrased by saying that you

  1. add -ia/iä to the consonant stem of the word (eg. nais-, sinis-, ihmis-) OR
  2. add -a/ä to the plural stem for the word (naisi-, ihmisi-)

I think the concept of having all these different stems just makes things more complicated. We’re here to learn how to use Finnish, not purely learn grammar. I think removing the -nen and adding -sia is much easier to remember.

Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
nainen naisia hevonen hevosia suomalainen suomalaisia
eteinen eteisiä iloinen iloisia ihminen ihmisiä
sininen sinisiä toinen toisia tavallinen tavallisia

2.7. Words ending in two vowels: remove the last vowel and add -ita/itä

Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
maa maita sää itä DVD DVD:itä
suu suita kuu kuita harmaa harmaita
vapaa vapaita tee teitä jää itä

2.8. Words ending in diphtongs -ie, -uo, -yö: drop the first vowel + ita/itä

Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
tie teitä v vöitä suo soita
öitä t töitä

Consonant Gradation in the Plural Partitive

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

Wordtype A
Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
tyttö tyttöjä pankki pankkeja puku pukuja
pöytä pöyt hattu hattuja kauppa kauppoja
silta siltoja kampa kampoja hiekka hiekkoja

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive Nominative Partitive
savuke savukkeita tavoite tavoitteita soitin soittimia
opas oppaita rakas rakkaita puhallin puhaltimia
keitin keittimiä hammas hampaita allas altaita

I have a separate article on wordtype B.


That concludes the article on the plural partitive case!

 

Leave a Comment

Sähköpostiosoitettasi ei julkaista. Pakolliset kentät on merkitty *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.