Finnish for busy people

The Illative Case (Mihin) – Finnish Grammar

The illative case (often just called “the mihin form”) is generally used to express movement towards something. If you’re looking for an overview about missä, mistä and mihin, look here.

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Illative Case
    1. When saying TO or INTO
    2. When talking about time (until)
    3. When using certain verbs
    4. Verbs in the illative case
  2. The Formation of the Illative Case
    1. Words ending in a single vowel
    2. Words ending in -e
    3. Words ending in two different vowels
    4. Words ending in –nen
    5. Words of one syllable ending in two vowels
    6. Words ending in –i
      1. New words ending in –i
      2. Old words ending in –i
      3. Old words ending in –si
    7. Words ending in -as
    8. Words ending in two of the same vowel
    9. Words ending in -ton
  3. Consonant Gradation in the Illative Case

1. The Use of the Illative Case (Mihin)

Terminology issue: the illative is the linguistic term for the form that means “to” or “into”. If you’re studying Finnish in Finland on a course for immigrants, you will most likely not hear the grammatical term. Your teachers will just talk about the “mihin-muoto“; the “mihin” form. This can be slightly complicated, because there are two cases that answer to the question “mihin“: the illative (on this page) and the allative.

1.1. When saying TO or INTO

The illative has several different-looking endings (see below), but the meaning is usually quite clear: it means a movement into something or towards something or somewhere. In English you usually use “to” or “into”.

There can be some confusion with the allative, which also is translated as “to” in some cases. In general, the illative can be translated as “into”, while the allative is translated as “onto”. However, both will often to be translated as either “to”.

Finnish English
Laitan leivän kaappiin. I put the bread [in(to) the cupboard].
Me muutamme Suomeen. We move [to Finland].
Ihmiset tulivat kirjastoon. The people came [to the library].
Haluan mennä kotiin. I want to go [“to” home].
Vien kirjan takaisin keittiöön. I return the book [to the kitchen].

1.2. When talking about time (until)

The illative case is used to express until when something lasts.

Finnish English
joulukuuhun until december
kolmesta kuuteen from three until six
aamusta iltaan from morning till evening
seitsemään asti until seven

1.3. When using certain verbs

Finnish has this concept of “rections”: most words will require other words that they get combined with to appear in a certain case. There are several verbs that require mihin. Some examples are tutustua (to get to know), rakastua (to fall in love) and tottua (to get used to). You can learn more about verb rections and adjective rections.

Finnish English
Olen rakastunut suomalaiseen tyttöön. I’m in love with a Finnish girl.
Keskityn opiskeluun. I focus on studying.
Olen tottunut kylmään talveen. I’m used to the cold winter.
Hän kuoli syöpään. He died of cancer.

1.4. Verbs in the illative case

Verbs can also be put in the illative case. For this, you first need to know about the third infinitive (#1) and the fourth infinitive (#2). This is more advanced than the other uses of the illative case, so return to this later if you’re a beginner! In contrast, if this topic seems fairly simple to you, do check out this article on making someone do something! You can also read about the third infinitive in spoken language.

# Finnish English
1 Menen shoppailemaan. I’m going shopping.
1 Menemme pelaamaan jalkapalloa. We’re going to go play soccer.
2 Keskityin lukemiseen. I focused on reading.
2 Olen kyllästynyt opiskelemiseen. I’m bored of studying.

2. The Formation of the Illative Case

The illative is one of the six location cases. It’s different from the other location cases for at least two reasons. Firstly, it’s added to the strong form of the word (learn more about consonant gradation for wordtype A here and for wordtype B here). Secondly, the illative has several different endings, depending on the type of word you’re dealing with.

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

Basic Illative Basic Illative
kala kalaan tyyny tyynyyn
talo taloon seinä seinään
söpö söpöön melu meluun
hylly hyllyyn pallo palloon

2.2. Words ending in -e: add another -e- and then -seen

Basic Illative Basic Illative
huone huoneeseen osoite osoitteeseen
kirje kirjeeseen perhe perheeseen
kappale kappaleeseen pidike pidikkeeseen
tavoite tavoitteeseen tiede tieteeseen

2.3. Words ending in two different vowels: double the last vowel and add -n

Basic Illative Basic Illative
radio radioon museo museoon
allergia allergiaan televisio televisioon
video videoon kapea kapeaan
Italia Italiaan Aasia Aasiaan
vihreä vihreään vihreä vihreään

2.4. Words ending in -nen: replace the -nen with -se- and add -en

Basic Illative Basic Illative
nainen naiseen hevonen hevoseen
suomalainen suomalaiseen eteinen eteiseen
iloinen iloiseen ihminen ihmiseen
sininen siniseen toinen toiseen
tavallinen tavalliseen pikkuinen pikkuiseen

2.5. Words of one syllable ending in two vowels: add h + vowel + n

Basic Illative Basic Illative
työ työhön pää päähän
kuu kuuhun tie tiehen
maa maahan suu suuhun
sää säähän hön

2.6. Words ending in -i

We have a separate article all about the difference between old and new words ending in -i. You could check that out after you’ve looked at the examples on this page!

2.6.1. New words ending in -i: double the last vowel and add -n

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.

Basic Illative Basic Illative
banaani banaaniin paperi paperiin
kahvi kahviin pankki pankkiin
posti postiin maali maaliin
tili tiliin adverbi adverbiin

2.6.2. Old words ending in -i: replace -i with -e-, double that vowel and add -n

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!

Basic Illative Basic Illative
suomi suomeen ovi oveen
järvi järveen kivi kiveen
suuri suureen nimi nimeen
pieni pieneen lehti lehteen

2.6.3. Old words ending in -si: replace -si with -te-, double the last vowel and add -n

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

Basic Illative Basic Illative
uusi uuteen vuosi vuoteen
si teen kuukausi kuukauteen
vesi veteen reisi reiteen

2.7. Words ending in -as: replace -as with -aa- and add -seen

Basic Illative Basic Illative
rakas rakkaaseen rikas rikkaaseen
taivas taivaaseen lipas lippaaseen
opas oppaaseen vieras vieraaseen

2.8. Words ending in two of the same vowel: add -seen

Basic Illative Basic Illative
takuu takuuseen hakkuu hakkuuseen
sampoo sampooseen vastuu vastuuseen
Espoo Espooseen harmaa harmaaseen
Lontoo Lontooseen palttoo palttooseen

2.8. Words ending in -ton: replace with -ttoma- and add -an

Basic Illative Basic Illative
työtön työttömään koditon kodittomaan
rahaton rahattomaan rasvaton rasvattomaan
maidoton maidottomaan alkoholiton alkoholittomaan

3. Consonant Gradation in the Illative Case

The mihin-form is strong in both wordtype A and wordtype B!

Wordtype A
Basic Illative Basic Illative
tyttö tyttöön pankki pankkiin
puku pukuun pöytä pöytään
hattu hattuun kauppa kauppaan
silta siltaan kampa kampaan
hiekka hiekkaan apu apuun

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Basic Illative Basic Illative
savuke savukkeeseen opas oppaaseen
keitin keittimeen tavoite tavoitteeseen
rakas rakkaaseen hammas hampaaseen
soitin soittimeen puhallin puhaltimeen
allas altaaseen työtön työttömään

I have a separate article on wordtype B.

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In the table it says “pankiin”, shouldn’t it be pankkiin, since the strong form is always used?

Inge (admin)
Inge (admin)

Thanks Amulio! That’s correct indeed.

Emily Nguyen
Emily Nguyen

In the last section, “tyttö” should become “tyttöön”? I think it was a typo.

Inge (admin)
Inge (admin)

Good catch! This table was originally copied from a case where everything was weak, and apparently I didn’t fix them all. Thank you!

Michael Hämäläinen
Michael Hämäläinen

Looking through my notes (mostly Korpela), I see that often certain nuances and usage examples are well illustrated by comparing with other case forms; often the illative will form a set with the inessive (-ssA) and elative (-stA) to express some sort of state or activity, as in the first two items below:

[activity – used with nouns]

  • Menen lääkäriin (I will see a doctor [e.g., for a medical check-up])
  • Olen lääkärissä (I’m seeing a doctor)
  • Tulen lääkäristä (I’m coming from seeing a doctor)

Compare with Menemme kylään Virtasille (We’ll visit the Virtanens [i.e., the Virtanen family) in which Virtanen is in allative plural form.

  • Menen marjaan (I’ll go berry picking, literally: I go to berry)
  • Hän on sienessä (He is picking mushrooms)
  • Hän tuli kalasta (He came from fishing)

[activity – used with verbs]


Other uses also include:

[locative use: emphasis on “taking in”]

In contrast to using a static case like the inessive (Espoossa), which simply says that the building (activity) will take place in Espoo, use of the illative expresses that new homes will appear (or “come to being”) in Espoo.

[formation of adverbs]

Much like the other locative case forms (adessive examples here), the illative forms adverbs such as myöhään (late) from myöhä (late time) or varmaan (probably, for sure) from varma (sure, certain).