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The T-Plural – T-Monikko – Plural Nominative

This article deals with the plural nominative (often called the T-plural, or T-monikko in Finnish). This is a topic that can (and should be) addressed at many levels in your Finnish studies. If you’re a beginner, you should perhaps just remember that the T-plural is used for plural subjects, and leave the rest of this topic for a later point of your studies.

The T-plural is not the only plural in Finnish. There are plural forms of all the Finnish cases (eg. plural genetive, plural -ssa, plural illative). However, those are advanced topics. You can deepen your understanding of this form when you’re learning the plural partitive for example (T-plural vs plural partitive).

Table of Contents
  1. The Usage of the T-Plural
    1. With plural subjects
    2. When your plural refers to ALL items
    3. With plurale tantum words
    4. With things that are mirrored
    5. When NOT to Use the T-Plural
  2. The Formation of the T-Plural
    1. Words ending in a single vowel
    2. Words ending in -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
    5. Words ending in a consonant
      1. Words ending in -as
      2. Words ending in -is
      3. Words ending in -os/-us
      4. Words ending in -ton
      5. Words ending in -in
      6. Words ending in -ut
      7. Words ending in -tar
  3. Consonant Gradation in the T-Plural

1. Usage of the T-Plural

The T-plural is used to express that there is more than one of something. This might sound simple, but Finnish is a complicated language. There are multiple situations where you will not use the T-plural to express plurality. So let’s take a look at when you will need it.

1.1. With plural subjects

The plural subject of a sentence will appear at the beginning of a sentence in its plural form.

Finnish English
Tytöt leikkivät. The girls are playing.
Koirat nukkuvat. The dogs are sleeping.
Makkarat ovat pöydällä. The sausages are on the table.
Siskot ovat keittiössä. The sisters are in the kitchen.

1.2. When your plural refers to ALL items

The opposition between the partitive plural and the T-plural is as follows: you will use the T-plural when you are refering to all objects, while you use the partitive plural for many but not all. In some cases, the T-plural will not refer to all, but just to a specific set that we have talked about before (eg. not all the bikes, but all the bikes we talked about earlier).

Finnish English
Syön omenat. I eat (all) the apples.
Ostan kaikki muumikirjat. I buy all the Moomins books.
Nuoret varastivat pyörät. The youths stole (all) the bikes.
Avaan ikkunat. I open (all) the windows.

1.3. With plurale tantum words

Plurale tantum” words are words that are always plural, despite their meaning being singular. This is the case for many celebrations and clothing items.

Finnish English
Tupaantuliaiset olivat eilen. The housewarming party was yesterday.
Häät olivat stressaavat. The wedding was stressful.
Hautajaiset järjestettiin hyvin. The funeral was well-organized.
Ristiäiset kestivät tunnin. The christening took an hour
Synttärit pidettiin takapihalla. The birthday party happened in the back yard.
Markkinat kiinnostavat minua. The market interests me.
Läksiäiset olivat ikimuistoiset. The goodbye party was memorable.
Avajaiset olivat heti ohi. The opening ceremony was over right away.

1.4. With things that are mirrored

Some things just naturally come in pairs. That’s the case for example for socks and eyes. In addition, there are quite a few things that seem to consist of a pair. These often have the same thing mirrored. Think for example of the two sides of your glasses or the way scissors consist of two blades. Most of these are also plurale tantum words, when they form a whole.

Finnish English
Ostin housut eilen. I bought the pants yesterday.
Silmälasit ovat siniset. The glasses are blue.
Sakset olivat terävät. The scissors were sharp.
Tikapuut nojaavat seinään. The ladder leans against the wall.
Hänen kasvot ovat pyöreät. His face is round.
Rintaliivit unohtuivat. The bra was forgotten.
Aivot toimivat hyvin. The brain works well.
Minulla on siniset sukat. I have blue socks.
Keuhkot heikkenivät. The lungs got weaker.
Kengät olivat liian pienet. The shoes were too small.
Munuaiset ovat tärkeä elin. Kidneys are an important organ.
Sieraimet ovat tukossa. The nostrils are blocked.
Ostan uudet sukset. I buy new skis.
Ostin lämpimät saappaat. I bought warm boots.
Silmäsi ovat siniset. Your eyes are blue.
Korvamme olivat punaiset. Our ears were red.

1.5. When NOT to Use the T-Plural

The plural nominative shares some of its functions in English with different cases. For example:

  • After numbers you use the partitive (eg. kaksi autoa “two cars”) instead of the T-plual (eg. kaksi autot)
  • When you mean many rather than all, you will use the plural partitive (eg. Syön mansikat “I eat (all) the strawberries” vs Syön mansikoita “I eat (some) strawberries”.
  • In existential sentences we generally (not always!) use the plural partitive (eg. Talossa on vieraita. “There are guests in the house”).
  • When you’re forming a negative sentence, the object will be in the plural partitive (eg. Syön omenat “I eat the apples” vs En syö omenoita “I don’t eat the apples”).

2. The Formation of the T-Plural

The marker of the T-plural is always –t. Words undergo certain changes when you add the –t to the end of them.

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

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

Singular T-plural Singular T-plural
kala kalat tyyny tyynyt
talo talot taulu taulut
seinä seinät työ työt
melu melut kissa kissat

2.3. Words ending in -e: add an extra -e- + -t

Words ending in -e belong to wordtype B, which means their basic form will be weak (eg. parveke, koe) and their T-plural strong (eg. parvekkeet, kokeet).

Singular T-plural Singular T-plural
huone huoneet perhe perheet
kappale kappaleet herne herneet
kirje kirjeet lentokone lentokoneet
aste asteet ohje ohjeet
taide taiteet tietokone tietokoneet
parveke parvekkeet koe kokeet

2.4. Words ending in -nen: replace the -nen with -se + -t

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

Singular T-plural Singular T-plural
nainen naiset hevonen hevoset
suomalainen suomalaiset tavallinen tavalliset
eteinen eteiset iloinen iloiset
ihminen ihmiset vihainen vihaiset
sininen siniset toinen toiset
lautanen lautaset poikanen poikaset

2.5. Words ending in -i

You can read more about the difference between the different kinds of words ending in -i here.

2.5.1. New words ending in -i: add -t

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.

Singular T-plural Singular T-plural
banaani banaanit paperi paperit
kahvi kahvit dollari dollarit
pankki pankit posti postit
maali maalit tuoli tuolit
tili tilit adverbi adverbit
kioski kioskit kuppi kupit

2.5.2. Old words ending in -i: replace -i- with -e- and add -t

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!

Singular T-plural Singular T-plural
pilvi pilvet ovi ovet
järvi järvet kivi kivet
suuri suuret nimi nimet
meri meret lehti lehdet

2.5.3. Old words ending in -si: replace -si- with -de- and add -t

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

Singular T-plural Singular T-plural
uusi uudet vuosi vuodet
si det liesi liedet
kuukausi kuukaudet vesi vedet
reisi reidet täysi täydet

Find out more about the inflection of the different types of words ending in –i!

2.6. Words ending in a consonant

2.6.1. Words ending in -as: replace -as with -aa- + -t

Words ending in -as (or -äs, depending on vowel harmony rules) belong to wordtype B, so they will have the weak grade in their basic form (eg. rakas, opas) and the strong grade in their T-plural form (eg. rakkaat, oppaat).

You could also check out the separate article on words ending in -As

Singular T-plural Singular T-plural
rakas rakkaat rikas rikkaat
taivas taivaat lipas lippaat
opas oppaat itsekäs itsekkäät

2.6.2. Words ending in -is: two groups

For words ending in -is, we have two groups: words like kallis that get -ii- when inflected, and words like roskis which that get -ikse- when inflected.

Singular T-plural Singular T-plural
kallis kalliit roskis roskikset
kaunis kauniit kirppis kirppikset
kauris kauriit fiilis fiilikset
ruis rukiit futis futikset

2.6.3. Words ending in -us/-os: two groups

Words ending in -os will get -okse- when inflected. Part of words ending in -us are the same, but they can belong to two groups: some get -ukse-, others get -ude- before the plural -t. You will want to check out this article to get the specifics.

Singular T-plural Singular T-plural
mahdollisuus mahdollisuudet vastaus vastaukset
rakkaus rakkaudet kysymys kysymykset
ystävyys ystävyydet keskus keskukset
pimeys pimeydet tarjous tarjoukset

Some general guidelines:

  • If the word is based on a verb (such as opettaa > opetus), it will generally get –ukse-.
  • If the word is based on an adjective (such as pimeä > pimeys), it will get –ude-.
  • If the word is based on a noun (such as ystävä > ystävyys), it will get –ude-.
  • If the word ends in –uus/yys (double vowel), you will get –ude-.

2.6.4. Words ending in -ton: replace -ton with -ttoma- + -t

Read more about words ending in -ton here.

Singular T-plural Singular T-plural
työtön työttömät koditon kodittomat
rahaton rahattomat rasvaton rasvattomat
maidoton maidottomat alkoholiton alkoholittomat

2.6.5. Words ending in -in: replace -in with -ime- + -t

Read more about words ending in -in here.

Singular T-plural Singular T-plural
puhelin puhelimet keitin keittimet
avain avaimet kiharrin kihartimet
puhallin puhaltimet suoritin suorittimet

2.6.6. Words ending in -ut: two groups

Words that end in -ut/yt can belong to two wordtypes. The smallest group of the two contains words such as olut, kevyt and lyhyt. For these words, you will replace the final -t with an –e- before the –t.

The much larger group is made up of NUT-participles such as väsynyt and tottunut. For the words, you will replace the -ut/yt with -ee- before the –t.

Nominative T-plural Nominative T-plural
kevyt kevyet väsynyt väsyneet
olut oluet ollut olleet
ohut ohuet mennyt menneet

2.6.7. Words ending in -tar

Words endin in -tar are rare, but at least tytär (daughter) is a common word. In the T-plural, these words get -ttare- in place of the basic form’s -tar.

Nominative T-plural Nominative T-plural
tytär tyttäret kuningatar kuningattaret
herttuatar herttuattaret jumalatar jumalattaret

3. Consonant Gradation in the T-Plural

Wordtype A
Singular Plural Singular Plural
tyttö tytöt pankki pankit
puku puvut pöytä pöydät
hattu hatut kauppa kaupat
silta sillat kampa kammat
hiekka hiekat apu avut

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Singular Plural Singular Plural
savuke savukkeet opas oppaat
keitin keittimet tavoite tavoitteet
rakas rakkaat hammas hampaat
soitin soittimet puhallin puhaltimet
allas altaat työtön työttömät

I have a separate article on wordtype B.

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Michael Hämäläinen

Thanks for the excellent summary. Below are a few related points from my notes.

[plural tantum]

As mentioned, the plural is often used for celebrations and sometimes overlaps with ordinary usage, e.g. from Korpela:

kutsu (invitation) is used normally in singular and in plural, but in the meaning “party (for invited people)”, it is used only in plural: kutsut. Similarly, we have syntymäpäivä (birthday) as a normal word but syntymäpäivät (birthday party) in plural only.

(I see more hits for syntymäpäiväkutsut (colloquial: synttärit)

Wiktionary has over 1,200 entries for plural tantum words.

[mutual relations]

Special plural words are also used for mutual relations (i.e., two or more parties in the same relationship to each other). Korpela explains as follows:

Veljekset refers to two or more person who are each other’s brothers. Note than in an expression like Villen veljet (Ville’s brothers) the simpler word veli : veljen is used. Instead, we say e.g. He ovat veljeksiä (They are brothers [of each other]) [*veljeksiä is the partitive plural form of veljes].

There are few words in this category, all with a suffix including –kset : –sten in plural, e.g. siskokset (sisters), sisarukset (siblings), serkukset (cousins), kaverukset (pals), ystävykset (friends), naapurukset (neighbours), kumppanukset (companions). The word sisarukset refers to both brothers and sisters, despite being derived from sisar (sister).

These mutual relation words are an expansion on the vocabulary presented in the Family Members page.

[proper nouns]

The plural form is also used for surnames, both in nominative (e.g., Virtaset (the Virtanens, i.e., the Virtanen family)) as well as in case forms, such as the allative plural form Virtasille, as excerpted here.

Inge (admin)

“Wiktionary has over 1,200 entries for plural tantum words.” Wow :O My version of this will be much more limited lol when I publish it :p

Rando

Hey, just ran into a word kuningatar and wondered how’s that in Finnish : appereantly it is kuningattaret eli The on this article there’s nothing related to words ending in r-s

Inge (admin)

You can find a table of the inflection of -tAr words here: https://uusikielemme.fi/finnish-vocabulary/words-ending-in/words-ending-in-tar-kuningatar/ It’s such a rare wordtype that I decided to leave it out here. I might just as well add it really. Thanks for drawing my attention to this!

Jan Almeida

Hi! I ended up finding this website after googling for some explanations about the plural, and in other websites one of the words being used as an example is:

askel -> askelet

You don’t have a category here (or anywhere else that I can find?) for words ending in L, and to be fair there don’t seem to be a lot of them. Would I be right in assuming that the rule for making the plural for those words is just adding “-et”?

kyynel -> kyynelet? ; sävel -> sävelet?

Inge (admin)

Your question touches on something that’s very confusing: mixed paradigms. This is advanced stuff, so if you’re still a beginner, just learn the most common forms.

  • askel and askele are both words
  • kyynel and kyynele are both words
  • sävel doesn’t have two words

Both of the twin verbs listed above have their own partitive, genetive, plural forms. For kyynel this means:

  1. kyynel : kyynelet : kyyneltä : kyynelissä
  2. kyynele : kyyneleet : kyynelettä : kyyneleissä

In practice, however, people will mix and match these two paradigms. The forms most often used are kyynel : kyyneleet : kyyneltä : kyyneleissä

The words askeleet and kyyneleet are the most common, but sävelet has only one option.

You can find a much more in-depth explanation of all this here: https://uusikielemme.fi/finnish-vocabulary/words-ending-in/finnish-words-ending-in-l-n-r/

Quyen Doan

Hello, I have a question. Here is the sentence: Perhe odottaa potilasta odotushuoneessa. I have to change ‘potilasta’ into T-plural and I have no idea. I tried Google translate and it said ‘potilaita’. Why is its ending become ‘aita’?

Quyen Doan

Oh, Google translate also give one more option which is ‘potilaista’. I want to know why too. Thank you!

Inge (admin)

That sentence can’t have the T-plural form of potilas. When you use the verb “odottaa“, you always have to use the partitive form, because it’s a partitive verb.

If there’s one patient, it’s potilasta (the singular partitive) and if there are multiple patients, it’s potilaita (the plural partitive).

Potilaista doesn’t fit at all in that context. Can’t trust google translate, though their first guess was a good one!

Kalevo

I’m so glad that you are back. All the Finnish students were worried about you and your page. I would like to ask how is “eläintarha” in the monikko of “mistä”. I know is “eläintarhahoisa” but I don’t understand why because “oi” is just if the word has two syllabus and a,e in the first one and finish in “ä”. What’s the answer? Kiitos paljon.

Inge (admin)

It’s good to be back! 🙂 Eläintarha is a compound word: eläin+tarha. The rule you remember applies to the word tarha: it’s a word of 2 syllables, with “a” in the first syllable and “a” at the end.