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Possessive Suffixes – Possessiivisuffiksit

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Genetive Case
    1. Written, standard and spoken language
  2. The Formation of the Possessive Suffixes
    1. Words ending in a single vowel
    2. Words ending in an -e
    3. Words ending in -nen
    4. 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 for Possessive Suffixes
    1. Wordtype A consonant gradation
    2. Wordtype B consonant gradation
  4. Third Person Possessive Suffix

1. Use of Possessive Suffixes

1.1. Written, standard and spoken language

In Finnish, to identify something as yours, you can use the genetive and/or a possessive suffix. Using both of them combined (”minun kirjani”) is mostly used in literature. Using just the possessive suffix (”kirjani”) is typical for standard language and newspapers. Lastly, using only the possessive pronoun without a possessive suffix, is typical for spoken language (”mun kirja”).

You might have people ask you ”Mikä sun nimi on?” as well as ”Mikä sinun nimesi on?”. Both are correct.

Sentence Usage
minä Minun autoni on rikki. Formal Finnish, eg. in literature
Autoni on rikki. Standard Finnish
Mun auto on rikki. Spoken Finnish

An important addition to the previous explanation is that you can’t omit the personal pronoun for all persons. You can omit the personal pronoun only for minun, sinun, meidän and teidän. The third person forms hänen and heidän require you to say the personal pronoun. Eg. you can say/write ”hänen autonsa” or ”hänen auto”, but not ”autonsa” without the ”hänen”. This is due to the fact that both the singular and the plural third person possessive suffix is -nsa, which makes them indistinguishable from one another.


2. The Formation of the Possessive Suffixes

As you can see from the following table, the possessive suffix for both ”hän” and ”he” – the third person forms – is -nsa/-nsä.

Pronoun Genetive Possessive Suffix
minä minun kirjani – pöytäni
sinä sinun kirjasi – pöytäsi
hän hänen kirjansa – pöytänsä
me meidän kirjamme – pöytämme
te teidän kirjanne – pöytänne
he heidän kirjansa – pöytänsä

2.1. Most words: just add the possessive suffix to the end of the word

Nominative Poss.Suff. Nominative Poss.Suff. Nominative Poss.Suff.
kala kalani tyyny tyynysi talo talonsa
seinä seinämme työ työnne melu melunsa

2.2. Words ending in -e: add an extra -e- to the stem before the possessive suffix

Nominative Poss.Suff. Nominative Poss.Suff. Nominative Poss.Suff.
huone huoneeni perhe perheemme kappale kappaleeni
kirje kirjeesi lentokone lentokoneenne taide taiteemme
parveke parvekkeensa koe kokeensa aste asteensa

2.3. Words ending in -nen: replace the -nen with -se/-se before the possessive suffix

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

Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
nainen naiseni perhonen perhosemme eteinen eteisesi
peipponen peipposen hevonen hevosensa lapsonen lapsosensa

2.4. Words ending in -i

2.4.1. New words ending in -i: add possessive suffix

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 Genetive Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
banaani banaanini paperi paperimme kahvi kahvini
pankki pankkisi hotelli hotellinne maali maalimme
tili tilinsä kirahvi kirahvinsa kurssi kurssisi

2.4.2. Old words ending in -i: replace -i- with -e- and add possessive suffix

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 Genetive Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
suomi suomeni ovi ovemme järvi järveni
kivi kivesi polvi polvenne nimi nimesi
tähti tähtensä lehti lehtensä pilvi pilvemme

2.4.3. Old words ending in -si: replace -si- with -te- and add possessive suffix

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

Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive Nominative Genetive
kynsi kyntensä vuosi vuotenne si teni
kuukausi kuukautesi vesi vetemme reisi reitesi

3. Consonant Gradation for Possessive Suffixes

All the possessive suffixes in this article have been added to the nominative (basic) form of the nouns. However, there is nothing preventing you from adding these suffixes to words that are already in some case.

Words from Wordtype A and words from Wordtype B behave differently when you add a possessive suffix to them. I will explain that difference in the following tables. Not that I’m using the first person suffix in this example, but the rule is the same in all persons.

3.1. Wordtype A Consonant Gradation

Wordtype A
no poss.suff. kauppa hevonen vuosi rule
nominative kauppa-ni hevose-ni vuote-ni strong stem + possessive suffix
genetive kauppa-ni hevose-ni vuote-ni strong stem + possessive suffix (-n disappears)
plural kauppa-ni hevose-ni vuote-ni strong stem + possessive suffix (-t disappears)
illative (mihin) kauppaa-ni hevosee-ni vuotee-ni (strong) mihin stem + possessive suffix (-n disappears)
essive (-na) kauppana-ni hevosena-ni vuotena-ni strong stem + possessive suffix
partitive kauppaa-ni hevosta-ni vuotta-ni partitive + possessive suffix
inessive (-ssa) kaupassa-ni hevosessa-ni vuodessa-ni -ssa/ssä- + possessive suffix
elative (-sta) kaupasta-ni hevosesta-ni vuodesta-ni -sta/stä- + possessive suffix
allative (-lle) kaupalle-ni hevoselle-ni vuodelle-ni -lle- + possessive suffix
ablative (-lta) kaupalta-ni hevoselta-ni vuodelta-ni -lta/ltä- + possessive suffix
adessive (-lla) kaupalla-ni hevosella-ni vuodella-ni -lla/llä- + possessive suffix
translative (-ksi) kaupakse-ni hevosekse-ni vuodekse-ni -kse- + possessive suffix

Notice how the nominative, genetive and plural look identical when you add a possessive suffix. This is always the case: kirja-ni could be ”kirja” (nominative), ”kirja-t” (plural), or ”kirja-n” (genetive). The same is true for wordtype B words, as shown below.

3.2. Wordtype B Consonant Gradation

However, there is a clear difference with consonant gradation between wordtyp A and wordtype B!

Wordtype B
no poss.suff. osoite opas soitin rule
nominative osoittee-ni oppaa-ni soittime-ni strong stem + possessive suffix
genetive osoittee-ni oppaa-ni soittime-ni strong stem + possessive suffix (-n disappears)
plural osoittee-ni oppaa-ni soittime-ni strong stem + possessive suffix (-t disappears)
illative (mihin) osoitteesee-ni oppaasee-ni soittimee-ni illative stem + possessive suffix (-n disappears)
essive (-na) osoitteena-ni oppaana-ni soittimena-ni strong stem + possessive suffix
partitive osoitetta-ni opasta-ni soitinta-ni partitive + possessive suffix
inessive (-ssa) osoitteessa-ni oppaassa-ni soittimessa-ni -ssa/ssä- + possessive suffix
elative (-sta) osoitteesta-ni oppaasta-ni soittimesta-ni -sta/stä- + possessive suffix
allative (-lle) osoitteelle-ni oppaalle-ni soittimelle-ni -lle- + possessive suffix
ablative (-lte) osoitteelta-ni oppaalta-ni soittimelta-ni -lta/ltä- + possessive suffix
adessive (-lla) osoitteella-ni oppaalla-ni soittimella-ni -lla/llä- + possessive suffix
translative (–ksi) osoitteekse-ni oppaakse-ni soittimekse-ni -kse- + possessive suffix

4. Third Person Possessive Suffix

The third person possessive suffix is either -nsa or -nsä, both for the singular and the plural form. There is a second possibility: repeating the last vowel of the word plus -n. Nowadays this last form gets used a lot. You can only use it when the word ends in a short vowel.

In the table, you will find the word ”lehti” in the most common cases, with the third person possessive suffixes. If both are possible, and you can wrap your mind around how the –vn works, I suggest you use that form over the -nsa. It sounds more natural than the -nsa form in cases where both are possible.

Wordtype B
Cases Conjugation -nsa/-nsä vn
nominative lehti lehtensä
genetive lehden lehtensä
plural lehdet lehtensä
illative (mihin) lehteen lehteensä
essive (-na) lehtenä lehtenänsä lehtenään
partitive lehteä lehteänsä lehteään
inessive (-ssa) lehdessä lehdessänsä lehdessään
elative (-sta) lehdestä lehdestänsä lehdestään
allative (lle) lehdelle lehdellensä lehdelleen
ablative (-lta) lehdeltä lehdeltänsä lehdeltään
adessive (lla) lehdellä lehdellänsä lehdellään
translative (-ksi) lehdeksi lehdeksensä lehdekseen

 

That concludes the article on the genetive case!

One Comment

  • Hi,

    Might be an error under 1. Use of Possessive Suffixes, 1.1. Written, standard and spoken language

    An important addition to the previous explanation is that you can’t omit the personal pronoun for all persons. You can omit the personal pronoun only for minun, sinun, meidän and heidän (teidän?).

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