Finnish for busy people

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
  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 used 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 the bikes.
Avaan ikkunat. I open 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.

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.

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 clogged.
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 and -e, but they generally have a different rule. See below!

Singular Plural Singular 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

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

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 Plural Singular 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

Find out more about old and new words 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 Plural Singular 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 Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
meri meret ovi ovet järvi järvet
kivi kivet suuri suuret nimi nimet
pieni pienet lehti lehdet pilvi pilvet

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 Plural Singular 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!

3. Consonant Gradation in the T-Plural

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

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
savuke savukkeet opas oppaat keitin keittimet
tavoite tavoitteet rakas rakkaat hammas hampaat
soitin soittimet osoite osoitteet allas altaat

I have a separate article on wordtype B.

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