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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. Rections with the mihin form
      1. Verbs + Noun in the mihin form
      2. Verbs + Verb in the –maan form
      3. Verbs + Verb in the –miseen form
  2. The Formation of the Illative Case
    1. Words ending in a single vowel
    2. Words ending in two different vowels
    3. Words of one syllable ending in two vowels
    4. Words ending in two of the same vowel
    5. Words ending in -e
    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 a consonant
      1. Words ending in –nen
      2. Words ending in -as
      3. Words ending in -ton
      4. Words endgin in -in
      5. Words ending in –ut
  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].
Tervetuloa uuteen kotiin. Welcome [to a/the new home]. (pic)

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. Rections with the mihin form

In Finnish, certain words will always be accompanied by a specific form of the word connected to it. We call this phenomenon a “rection“. Some word’s rection requires the mihin form fo verbs or nouns.

1.3.1. Verbs + Noun in the mihin form

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 here. You can also read more about verbs that answer the question keneen.

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.

1.3.2. Verbs + Verb in the –maan form

Verbs can also be inflected in the mihin-form. This is possible with both the third infinitive (-maan) and the fourth infinitive (-miseen). The examples below all utilize the –maan form of the verb. You can learn more about rections which utilize –maan, –massa and –masta here.

Finnish English
Menen shoppailemaan. I’m going shopping.
Menemme pelaamaan jalkapalloa. We’re going to go play soccer.
He lähtivät katsomaan elokuvan. They left to go watch a movie.

1.3.3. Verbs + Verb in the –miseen form

Verbs can also be inflected in the mihin-form by making them into nouns first. For example uiminen “swimming” is a noun derived from the verb uida “to swim”. However, note that in English, both uimaan (section 1.3.2) and uimiseen (this section) can be translated as “swimming”.

As such, translating directly isn’t helpful at all. It’s all tied to which verb you’re using. You need to look at the verb used in the sentence to know which version should be used. For example, keskittyä and kyllästyä require the –miseen form of verbs. Find out more about fourth infinitive verb rection verbs here!

Finnish English
Keskityin lukemiseen. I focused on reading.
Olen kyllästynyt opiskelemiseen. I’m bored of studying.
Musiikki vaikuttaa keskittymiseen. Music affects concentration.

1.3.4. Adjectives + Noun in the mihin form

Adjectives can also have rections: they can require the word attached to them to appear in the mihin form. In addition to the examples below, you can also read more in the article about adjective rections.

Finnish English
Olen tyytyväinen asiakaspalveluun. I’m pleased with the customer service.
Hän on syyllinen rikokseen. He’s guilty of the crime.
Olen tyytymätön palkkaani. I’m unsatisfied with my wages.

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 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

2.3. 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

2.4. 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

2.5. 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

2.6. 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 a consonant

2.7.1. 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

2.7.2. 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

2.7.3. 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

2.7.4. Words ending in –in: replace with -ime- and add –en

Basic Illative Basic Illative
puhelin puhelimeen kiharrin kihartimeen
avain avaimeen leivänpaahdin leivänpaahtimeen
keitin keittimeen tuuletin tuulettimeen

2.7.5. 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- and then add -en.

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 illative’s case ending -seen.

Nominative Adessive Nominative Adessive
kevyt kevyeen väsynyt väsyneeseen
olut olueen ollut olleeseen
ohut ohueen mennyt menneeseen

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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Emily Nguyen

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

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

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).


you havent mentioned it, but i assume words ending in in get me + double the last letter + n
keitin – keittime + en

Inge (admin)

Yes! I’ll add that wordgroup to the article, thanks.