The Active Present Participle – VA-Partisiippi

Table of Contents
  1. What are Participles?
  2. The Use of the Active Present Participle
    1. When expressing two concurrent events
    2. When expressing a future event
    3. In quasi constructions
    4. When you’re unsure about an observation
    5. When using the että construction (referatiivirakenne)
  3. The Formation of the Active Present Participle
  4. The Inflection of the Active Present Participle
  5. Participles with an Modifier

1. What are Participles?

Participles are verbal adjectives which can be formed from all verbs. Like ordinary adjectives, they are declined in all cases and agree with the noun which the qualify. They can be in active and passive form, and have an ’agent’ participle. On this page you find just the active present participle.

2. The Use of the Active Present Participle

There are three parts to this word construction:

  1. It’s active: there is a subject and someone is doing the action
  2. It’s present: it’s happening right now, or in the future (or at the same time)
  3. It’s a participle: it’s an adjective that expresses someone doing something

It has the following characteristics:

  • It’s based on a verb
  • It answers the question ”millainen” (what kind?)
  • It’s inflected in the same case as its main word
  • It can also be expressed with a joka-sentence

2.1. When expressing two concurrent events

The active present participle is used when two things are happening at the same time. The actions can in fact also be in the past, but it’s important that they are both happening in the same moment. One action is ongoing while the other one takes place.

  • ”Kadulla seisoo itkevä lapsi.”
    Translation: The [crying child] is standing on the road.
    Rephrased: Lapsi, joka itkee, seisoo kadulla.
    Translation: The child that’s crying is standing on the road.
  • ”Kadulla seisoi itkevä lapsi.”
    Translation: The [crying child] was standing on the road.
    Rephrased: Lapsi, joka itki, seisoi kadulla.
    Translation: The child that was crying is standing on the road.

As contrast, look at the following sentence: Kadulla seisoo itkenyt lapsi. ”The child [who had cried] is standing on the road.” In this sentence, the two actions do not happen at the same time. The crying is over by the time the child is standing on the road. That’s where we use the active past participle.

2.2. When expressing a future event

  • ”Menen ensi viikolla alkavalle kurssille.”
    Literally: I’m going to a next-week-starting course.
    Rephrased: Menen kurssille, joka alkaa ensi viikolla.
    Translation: I’m going to a course which will start next week.
  • ”Suomeen tuleva ystäväni on innoissaan.”
    Literally: My to-Finland-coming-friend is excited.
    Rephrased: Ystäväni, joka tulee Suomeen, on innoissaan.
    Translation: My friend, whose coming to Finland, is excited.

Again, this is in contrast to situations where both things don’t happen at the same time, such as ”Menen huomenna viime viikolla alkaneelle kurssille.” In this sentence, you’re expressing that the course has already started, but you’re only going there tomorrow: ”Tomorrow I’m going to a course that started last week.”

2.3. In quasi constructions (kvasirakenne)

There is a construction that uses the active present participle in order to express that you’re pretending to do something. This construction consists of the (plural) active present participle + the essive + a possessive suffix. The main verb of the sentence is always ”olla”! This construction can also be used with things in the past, with the active past participle.

Finnish English
Olin nukkuvinani. I was prentending to sleep.
He eivät olleet kuulevinaan huomautusta. They pretended they weren’t hearing the comment.

2.4. When you’re unsure about an observation

There’s another minimal use for the active present participle, which expresses that you think you experienced/observed something, but you’re not sure about it. This construction also consists of the (plural) active present participle + the essive + a possessive suffix.

Finnish English
Olin äsken kuulevinani musiikkia. I thought I heard music a minute ago.
Unessani olin näkevini ystäväni. In my dream I thought I saw my friend.

2.5. When using the ”että construction” (referatiivirakenne)

The sentence ”Luulen, että hän tulee myöhässä.” can be replaced by a reference structure (referatiivirakenne) which means the same thing: ”Luulen hänen tulevan myöhässä.” We have an article on the referatiivirakenne here.


2. The Formation of the Active Present Participle

The active present participle’s marker is -va/-vä. You add it to the strong stem for each verbtype. This is quite simple because it’s the same form you would use for the third person plural (-vat/-vät) except you don’t add the -t.

Verbtype 1
Verb Third Person Plural Active Present Participle Translation
nukkua he nukkuvat nukkuva lapsi a/the sleeping child
leipoa he leipovat leipova äiti a/the baking mother
Verbtype 2
Verb Third Person Plural Active Present Participle Translation
imuroida he imuroivat imuroiva isä a/the vaccuum-cleaning father
tupakoida he tupakoivat tupakoiva kuljettaja a/the smoking driver
Verbtype 3
Verb Third Person Plural Active Present Participle Translation
kävellä he kävelevät kävele taapero a/the walking toddler
tulla he tulevat tuleva vuosi the coming year
Verbtype 4
Verb Third Person Plural Active Present Participle Translation
maata he makaavat makaava potilas the patient that’s laying down.
kadota he katoavat katoava hetki the fleeting moment
Verbtype 5
Verb Third Person Plural Active Present Participle Translation
häiritä he häiritsevät häiritse naapuri a/the disruptive neighbor
tarvita he tarvitsevat apua tarvitseva lapsi a/the child that needs help

3. The Inflection of the Active Present Participle

The participles can be inflected in all the Finnish cases.

Case Singular Plural Example
Nominative nukkuva nukkuvat Nukkuvat miehet kuorsaavat.
Genetive (-n) nukkuvan nukkuvien Nukkuvien lasten sängyt ovat matalia.
Partitive (-a) nukkuvaa nukkuvia Älä häiritse nukkuvaa karhua!
Illative (mihin) nukkuvaan nukkuviin Nukkuviin ihmisiin on vaikeaa tutustua.
Inessive (missä nukkuvassa nukkuvissa Nukkuvassa tulivuoressa on laavaa.
Elative (mistä) nukkuvasta nukkuvista En tykkää nukkuvista karhuista.
Allative (mille) nukkuvalle nukkuville Minulla on lahja nukkuvalle serkulleni.
Adessive (millä) nukkuvalla nukkuvilla Nukkuvilla ihmisillä on yleensä silmät kiinni.
Ablative (miltä) nukkuvalta nukkuvilta Nukkuvilta ihmisiltä ei kannata pyytää mitään.
Translative (-ksi) nukkuvaksi nukkuviksi Häntä kutsuttiin nukkuvaksi sankariksi.
Essive (-na) nukkuvana nukkuvina Nukkuvana aika rientää.

4. Participles With a Modifier

In addition to inflecting in all the cases, participles can also have a modifier. This modifier can be eg. an object, a place, a time. You will need to reverse the order in which they appear in the sentence.

Finnish Modifier Literally Translation
lapsi, joka nukkuu sängyssä sängyssä nukkuva lapsi a/the in-bed-sleeping child a/the child who sleeps in the bed
mies, joka laulaa hyvin hyvin laulava mies a/the well-singing man a/the man who sings well
poika, joka tarvitsee apua apua tarvitseva poika a/the help-needing boy a/the boy who needs help
tyttö, joka menee ensimmäistä kertaa kouluun ensimmäistä kertaa kouluun menevä tyttö a/the first-time-to-school-going girl a/the girl who goes to school for the first time
potilas, joka kuolee kohta kohta kuoleva potilas a/the soon-dying patient a/the patient who will die soon

 

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