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The Adessive Case (Millä) – Finnish Grammar

Welcome to the page about the adessive case, which answers the question millä! If you’re looking for an overview about missä, mistä and mihin, look here.

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Adessive Case
    1. When something is ON something
    2. When something is NEAR something
    3. When talking about open places
    4. Possession (having something)
    5. “By” or “with” something
    6. With certain expressions of time
  2. The Formation of the Adessive Case
    1. Words ending in a single vowel
    2. Words ending in an -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 Adessive Case

1. Use of the Adessive Case (Millä)

1.1. When something is ON something

When a thing is on top of something.

Finnish English
Leipä on pöydällä. The bread is on the table.
Taulu on seinällä. The picture is on the wall.
Minä seison vuorella. I stand on a mountain.

1.2. When something is NEAR something

When something is near something, you will often also use -lla. Say you’re meeting a friend, and you tell them you’ll meet inside the library, you would use kirjastossa. If you’re agreeing to meet just outside of the library, maybe near the front door or in the near vicinity of it, you would use kirjastolla. Often, you will use “at” in English.

Finnish English
Minä odotan sinua kirjastolla. I wait for you at the library.
Tavataan kaupungilla. Let’s meet in the city.
Joni seisoo ovella. Joni is standing at the door.
Lapseni ovat koululla. My kids are at school.

1.3. When talking about open places

By “open places” I mean places without a roof, usually outdoor places (think: a yard, bus stop, market square).

This is not a 100% clear rule, because it does come with exceptions. For example, a street is a place without a roof (kadulla), but a forest and a park do have some kind of “roof” formed by the trees inside it (metsässä, puistossa). On the other hand, some kiosks clearly HAVE a roof, but you still say kioskilla. This most probably has to do with the history of kiosks. Originally, the salesperson would be inside the kiosk, but the customers were always outside.

Because the rule is so full of holes, you might want to just learn these words by heart. There really aren’t that many of them.

Finnish English
Minä seison bussipysäkillä. I stand at the bus stop.
Sinä seisot (juna/bussi)asemalla. You’re standing in the (train/bus) station
Hän seisoo torilla. He is standing on the market square.
Me seisomme kioskilla. We are standing at the kiosk.
Te seisotte pihalla. You are standing in the yard.
He seisovat kadulla. They are standing on the street.

1.4. Possession (having something)

Finnish doesn’t have a separate verb for “to have”. Instead it uses a different sentence construction, centered around the verb “olla”, “to be”, and the adessive case (-lla). You can read more about that in our separate article.

Finnish English
Minulla on hyvät juoksukengät. I have good running shoes.
Mikolla on harmaa tukka. Mikko has grey hair.

1.5. “By” or “with” something

The adessive case is also used with means of transportation. However, it’s not just limited to those. Any tool you use can get -lla added to it to express that you use it to perform an action. You can find more example in this blog post.

Finnish English
Matkustan autolla. I travel by car.
Me kirjoitamme kynällä. We write with a pen.
Syötkö sä lusikalla? Do you eat with a spoon?
Avaan oven avaimella. I open the door with a key.
Pesen itseni saippualla. I wash myself with soap.

1.6. With certain expressions of time

You can learn more about expressions of time elsewhere on my website.

Finnish English
kesällä in summer
keväällä in spring
llä viikolla this week
viime viikolla last week
llä at night
Finnish English
syksyllä in autumn
talvella in winter
ensi viikolla next week
päivällä during day time
illalla in the evening

2. The Formation of the Adessive Case

To signify that something is ON or AT something, you don’t use a preposition like in English. Instead, you add -lla/-llä (depending on the vowel harmony rules) to the word. The adessive is one of the six location cases.

You will notice that the -lla case is added to the exact same form of the word as -ssa!

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

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

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
kala kalalla tyyny tyynyllä
talo talolla seinä seinällä
työ työllä melu melulla

2.2. Words ending in -e: add an extra -e- before the -lla/-llä

Words ending in -e get a second -e- in any case except the partitive. Words ending in -e belong to wordtype B, which means their basic form will be weak (eg. parveke, koe) and their genetive strong (eg. parvekkeella, kokeella).

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
huone huoneella perhe perheellä
kappale kappaleella kirje kirjeellä
lentokone lentokoneella taide taiteella
parveke parvekkeella koe kokeella

2.3. Words ending in -nen: replace the -nen with -se before the -lla/-llä

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

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
nainen naisella hevonen hevosella
suomalainen suomalaisella eteinen eteisellä
iloinen iloisella ihminen ihmisellä
sininen sinisellä toinen toisella

2.4. Words ending in -i

2.4.1. New words ending in -i: add -lla/-llä

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.

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
banaani banaanilla paperi paperilla
kahvi kahvilla pankki pankilla
posti postilla maali maalilla
tili tilillä adverbi adverbilla

2.4.2. Old words ending in -i: replace -i- with -e- and add -lla/-llä

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, eventhough mothers have been around since the beginning of time!

Nominative Adessive Nominative Inessive
suomi suomella ovi ovella
järvi järvellä kivi kivellä
suuri suurella nimi nimellä
pieni pienellä lehti lehdellä

2.4.3. Old words ending in -si: replace -si- with -de- and add -lla/-llä

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

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
uusi uudella vuosi vuodella
si dellä kuukausi kuukaudella
vesi vedellä reisi reidellä

2.5. Words ending in a consonant

2.5.1. Words ending in -as: replace -as with -aa- + -lla

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 the adessive (eg. rakkaalla, oppaalla).

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
rakas rakkaalla rikas rikkaalla
taivas taivaalla lipas lippaalla
opas oppaalla itsekäs itsekkäällä

2.5.2. 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.

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
kallis kalliilla roskis roskiksella
kaunis kauniilla kirppis kirppiksellä
kauris kauriilla fiilis fiiliksellä
ruis rukiilla futis futiksella

2.5.3. 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 -ssa. You will want to check out this article to get the specifics.

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
mahdollisuus mahdollisuudella vastaus vastauksella
rakkaus rakkaudella kysymys kysymyksellä
ystävyys ystävyydellä keskus keskuksella
pimeys pimeydellä tarjous tarjouksella

2.5.4. Words ending in -ton: replace -ton with -ttoma- + -lla

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
työtön työttömällä koditon kodittomalla
rahaton rahattomalla rasvaton rasvattomalla
maidoton maidottomalla alkoholiton alkoholittomalla

2.5.5. Words ending in -in: replace -in with -ime- + -lla

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
puhelin puhelimella keitin keittimellä
avain avaimella kiharrin kihartimella
puhallin puhaltimella suoritin suorittimella

3. Consonant Gradation in the Adessive Case

Wordtype A
Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
tyttö tytöllä pankki pankilla
puku puvulla pöytä pöydällä
hattu hatulla kauppa kaupalla
silta sillalla kampa kammalla
hiekka hiekalla apu avulla

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
savuke savukkeella opas oppaalla
keitin keittimellä tavoite tavoitteella
rakas rakkaalla hammas hampaalla
soitin soittimella puhallin puhaltimella
allas altaalla työton työttömällä

I have a separate article on wordtype B.


That concludes the article on the adessive case!

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Ethan
Ethan

why minulla is adessive form of minä? No specific rules for this word?

Inge (admin)
Inge (admin)

No, not really any rules. The personal pronouns are just unusual (minä-minulla, sinä-sinulla, hän-hänellä, me-meillä, te-teillä, he-heillä, kuka-kenellä)

Michael Hämäläinen
Michael Hämäläinen

This is a departure from the “location case” usage, but the adessive form is also seen in many adverbs, but somewhat disguised by the addition of personal possessive suffixes.

For example, the word mielellään (willingly, with pleasure; preferably) is, by its form, the adessive of mieli (mind) with a possessive suffix, so literally it means “with his/her mind”, but it has a specialized meaning. In standard language, the possessive suffix varies, e.g. Tein sen mielelläni (I did it with pleasure), Me teimme sen mielellämme (We did it with pleasure).

Filtering for “-llaan” and “-llään” endings in the Kotus word list (as described here) turned up many adverbs with Wiktionary entries:

[wearing ~(with nothing on top)]

[a condition or state]

[maximum]

(*note the –mmi plural superlative ending, as described here)

[mood]

(*note that several of these are included in the Other Adverbs of Manner section of Adverbs of Manner: Hitaasti, Helposti, Huonosti)

[position]

[static]

[time or phase]

  • ajallaan in its time; according to timetable
  • alullaan in an early phase, in its beginnings
  • kerrallaan at a time (in a single, continuous period of time, or simultaneously at each occurrence)
  • lopuillaan finishing, coming to an end
  • nykyisellään as things currently stand (under the current circumstances)
  • parhaillaan currently, at the moment, at present
  • viimeisillään nine months pregnant, about to give birth
Inge (admin)
Inge (admin)

Nice overview! I have some article drafts that include (some of) these. I’ll be sure to check back at your list once I get to publishing those.