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
  2. The Formation of the Illative Case
    1. Words ending in a single vowel
    2. Words with a stem that ends in two of the same vowels
    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
  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)

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 here.


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

Nominative Illative Nominative Illative Nominative Illative
kala kalaan tyyny tyynyyn talo taloon
seinä seinään söpö söpöön melu meluun

2.2. Words with a stem that ends in two of the same vowels: add -seen/-seen

Nominative Stem Illative Nominative Stem Illative
huone huonee huoneeseen taivas taivaa taivaaseen
kappale kappalee kappaleeseen rikas rikkaa rikkaaseen
perhe perhee perheeseen Espoo Espoo Espooseen
Lontoo Lontoo Lontooseen osoite osoittee osoitteeseen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.4. Words ending in -i

2.4.1. 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.

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

2.4.2. 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!

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

2.4.3. 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

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

3. Consonant Gradation in the Illative Case

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

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

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

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

I have a separate article on wordtype B.


That concludes the article on the illative case!

 

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amulio
amulio

Hi!

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)

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