Finnish for busy people

Comparative Forms – Vertailuasteet

Comparing things to each other can be done in many ways. This article is a more generalized view of all the ways in which we can compare. We’ll go through the different comparative forms (eg. the comparative and the superlative). We will also take a look at which elements of language can be inflected in these comparative forms (eg. adjectives and adverbs).

Table of Contents
  1. The Three Comparative Forms
  2. Which Language Elements Can Have Comparative Forms?
  3. The Formation of Comparative Forms
    1. The Comparative of Adjectives
    2. The Comparative of Adverbs
    3. The Comparative of Postpositions
  4. The Formation of Superlative Forms
    1. The Superlativeof Adjectives
    2. The Superlative of Adverbs
    3. The Superlative of Postpositions
  5. Full Paradigm Example

1. The Three Comparative Forms

There are three ways in which you can compare “things” to one another: you can compare how they are the same, you can compare how one is better than the other, and you can compare how one is the best of all. These three forms are called the positive, the comparitive and the superlative.

  • The positive: Eg. Kissa on yhtä ihana kuin koira. Kaikki eiläimet ovat yhtä ihania.
  • The comparitive: Eg. Kissa on ihanampi kuin koira. Kissa on koiraa ihanampi.
  • The superlative: Eg. Kissa on kaikkein ihanin. Minun kissa on ihanin.

2. Which Language Elements Can Have Comparative Forms?

Adjectives are of course the first language element you come up with when you think of the comparative and superlative (eg. suuri : suurempi : suurin; vaikea : vaikeampi : vaikein).

Adverbs can also be inflected in the comparative and superlative (eg. paljon : enemmän : eniten; usein : useammin : useimmin). The same is true for postpositions (eg. lähellä : lähempänä: lähimpänä; takana : taempana : taimpana).

Even nouns (though very rarely) can be compared (eg. keväällä : keväämpänä; syksyllä : syksymmällä).

However, some words just can’t have a comparative and/or a superlative. You can use your own language as a reasoning ground: something can be free, but can something else be more free than that? Someone can be unique; but can someone be more unique than someone else? Someone can be unemployed, but is there a way for someone else to be more unemployed?


3. The Formation of Comparative Forms

3.1. The Comparative of Adjectives

The comparative expresses something have more of a certain quality than something else. The marker for the comparative is –mpi. When inflecting a comparative, this marker will become -mpa/mpä-, -mma/mmä- and -mmi-. Adjectives can be inflected in all the cases. Below, you can find the partitive, inessive and plural inessive cases.

English Finnish Nominative Partitive Inessive Plural inessive
fast nopea nopeampi nopeampaa nopeammassa nopeammissa
pleasant mukava mukavampi mukavampaa mukavammassa mukavammissa
important tärkeä tärkeämpi tärkeämpää tärkeämmässä tärkeämmissä
coloful värikäs värikkäämpi värikkäämpää värikkäämmässä värikkäämmissä

Learn more about the comparative of adjectives here.

3.2. The Comparative of Adverbs

The comparative of adverbs has the marker -mmin. Adverbs in general can’t be inflected in any of the cases, so they won’t inflect when they’re in their comparative forms either.

English Adverb Comparative
quickly nopeasti nopeammin
slowly hitaasti hitaammin
well hyvin paremmin
often usein useammin

Learn more about the comparative (and superlative) of adverbs here.

3.3. The Comparative of Postpositions

While I’m making this a separate category, you will only find those postpositions here that can appear on their own without a genetive. As such, we’re not really dealing with postpositions, but rather with adverbs.

These postpositions have warranted a category on their own – separate from other adverbs – because they can inflect in more cases than adverbs: the location cases (kaukana : kauas : kaukaa)

English Postposition Missä Mihin Mistä
close by lähellä lähempä lähemmäs lähempää
in front of edessä edempä edemmäs edempää
far away kaukana kauempana kauemmas kauempaa

4. The Formation of Superlative Forms

The superlative is used to express that something is the most of something (eg. most beautiful, hardest).

4.1. The Superlative of Adjectives

The marker of adjectives in the superlative is –in. The adjective’s superlative can inflect in all the cases. When doing so, its markers are –impa/-impä-, imma/-immä- and -immi-. Below, you can find the partitive, inessive and plural inessive case. However, these superlatives can inflect in all the cases.

English Finnish Nominative Partitive Inessive Plural inessive
fast nopea nopein nopeimpaa nopeimmassa nopeimmissa
pleasant mukava mukavin mukavimpaa mukavimmassa mukavimmissa
important tärkeä tärkein tärkeimpää tärkeimmässä tärkeimmissä
coloful värikäs värikkäin värikkäimpää värikkäimmässä värikkäimmissä

Learn more about the superlative of adjectives here.

4.2. The Superlative of Adverbs

The superlative of adverbs has the marker -immin. Adverbs in general can’t be inflected in any of the cases, so they won’t inflect when they’re in their comparative forms either.

English Adverb Comparative
quickly nopeasti nopeimmin
slowly hitaasti hitaimmin
well hyvin paras
often usein useimmin

Learn more about the superlative (and the comparative) of adverbs here.

4.3. The Superlative of Postpositions

While I’m making this a separate category, you will only find those postpositions here that can appear on their own without a genetive. As such, we’re not really dealing with postpositions, but rather with adverbs.

These postpositions have warranted a category on their own – separate from other adverbs – because they can inflect in more cases than adverbs: in the location cases (kaukana : kauas : kaukaa).

English Postposition Missä Mihin Mistä
close by lähellä lähimpä lähimmäs lähimpää
in front of edessä no superlative no superlative no superlative
far away kaukana kauimpana kauimmas kauimpaa

5. Full Paradigm Example

Below, you can find the full paradigm of the adjective nuori. Marked in blue is the plural marker -i-. Marked in green is the superlative marker -i-. In addition to the compact overview below, I also have a different page with examples here.

Comparative Superlative
Case Positive Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative nuori nuorempi nuoremmat nuorin nuorimmat
Partitive nuorta nuorempaa nuorempia nuorimpaa nuorimpia
Genetive nuoren nuoremman nuorempien nuorimman nuorimpien
Missä nuoressa nuoremmassa nuoremmissa nuorimmassa nuorimmissa
Mistä nuoresta nuoremmasta nuoremmista nuorimmasta nuorimmista
Mihin nuoreen nuorempaan nuorempiin nuorimpaan nuorimpiin
Millä nuorella nuoremmalla nuoremmilla nuorimmalla nuorimmilla
Miltä nuorelta nuoremmalta nuoremmilta nuorimmalta nuorimmilta
Mille nuorelle nuoremmalle nuoremmille nuorimmalle nuorimmille
Translative nuoreksi nuoremmaksi nuoremmiksi nuorimmaksi nuorimmiksi
Essive nuorena nuorempana nuorempina nuorimpana nuorimpina

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