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Finnish Comparative of Adjectives

The comparative expresses that something has more of a certain quality than something else. In this article, we will focus on the Finnish comparative of adjectives.

In addition to this, we also have an article about:

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Comparative
    1. Not all adjectives have a comparative form
    2. Hän on kauniimpi kuin minä
    3. Hän on minua kauniimpi
    4. Kumpi on kauniimpi?
  2. The Formation of the Comparative
    1. Adjectives ending in -o/-ö/-u/-y
    2. Short adjectives ending in -a/-ä
    3. Long adjectives ending in -a/-ä
    4. Adjectives ending in -i
      1. New adjectives ending in -i
      2. Old adjectives ending in -i
    5. Adjectives ending in a consonant
    6. Adjectives ending in -e
    7. Adjectives ending in -nen
    8. Exceptions
  3. Consonant Gradation in the Comparative
  4. Putting Comparative Forms in the Cases

1. The Use of the Finnish Comparative of Adjectives

1.1. Not all adjectives have a comparative form

Some adjectives just can’t have a comparative and/or a superlative. You can use your own language as a reasoning ground: something can be free of charge, but can something else be more free? Someone can be unemployed, but is there a way for someone else to be more unemployed?

Adjectives that don’t have a comparative form usually express a quality that someone either has or doesn’t have. There is no grey area between the two. Take the adjective kuollut (dead) for example. A person can’t be a little dead, so they can’t be more dead or the most dead either (nobody bring up zombies or vampires here!).

1.2. Hän on kauniimpi kuin minä

The most common way to compare the property of two things is by using the word kuin. In spoken language, you will more often hear kun than kuin.

Finnish English
Matti on pitempi kuin Ari. Matti is taller than Ari.
Tämä tyttö on nuorempi kuin tuo tyttö. This girl is younger than that girl.
Suomessa on nyt kuumempaa kuin Espanjassa. It’s hotter in Finland now than in Spain.
Lea ei ole yhtään tyytyväisempi kuin Pasi. Lea isn’t any more content than Pasi.

1.3. Hän on minua kauniimpi

You can also replace the “kuin” comparison with the partitive case. The phrase “Hän on nuorempi kuin minä” means the exact same as “Hän on minua nuorempi“. The partitive will be placed in front of the comparative adjective. This doesn’t change the meaning in any way. Read more about this type of phrase in this article.

Finnish English
Matti on Aria pitempi. Matti is taller than Ari.
Tämä tyttö on tuota tyttöä nuorempi. This girl is younger than that girl.
Espanja on Suomea kuumempi maa. Spain is hotter than Finland.
Lea ei ole yhtään Pasia tyytyväisempi. Lea isn’t any more content than Pasi.
Minä olin muita nopeampi. I was faster than the others.

1.4. Kumpi on kauniimpi?

The word kumpi is used when you’re asking which one of two things is comparatively stronger.

The word kumpi is not only used with the comparative of adjectives. It’s used with any type of comparative question or statement. For example, when you’re asking which one of the two someone likes better, the verb tykätä requires the mistä-case, so you’ll ask ”kummasta tykkäät enemmän?”. As such, kumpi can be inflected into all the cases.

Finnish English
Kumpi on fiksumpi, Leevi vai Lasse? Which one is smarter, Leevi or Lasse?
Kumpi on makeampaa, kakku vai keksi? Which one is sweeter, the cake or the cookie?
Kumpi piirtää paremmin, tyttö vai poika? Which one draws better, the girl or the boy?
Kummasta tykkäät enemmän, suklaasta vai kakusta? Which do you like more, chocolate or cake?
Kumpaa juodaan, kahvia vai teetä? Which one shall we drink, coffee or tea?
Kumpaan kaupunkiin mennään, Ouluun vai Turkuun? To which city shall we go, Oulu or Turku?

2. The Formation of the Finnish Comparative of Adjectives

The marker of the comparative can be -mpi, -mpa- and -mma-.

2.1. Adjectives ending in -o/-ö/-u/-y

Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
paksu paksumpi kesy kesympi
hieno hienompi iso isompi
hölmö hölmömpi huono huonompi
hassu hassumpi tyly tylympi
heikko heikompi hento hennompi
helppo helpompi kelpo kelvompi

2.2. Short adjectives ending in -a/-ä

Words of two syllables that end in -a/-ä will have their final -a/-ä replaced by an -e- when you add the comparative’s marker. The adjective kiva is the only one where some variation is possible: in addition to the regular rule-following kivempi-form, the alternative kivampi is also accepted. This is most likely due to the fact that the form kivempi seems too close to the noun kivi (stone).

Remember consonant gradation! These words are weak.

Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
köyhä köyhempi hauska hauskempi
laiska laiskempi kiva kivampi / kivempi
halpa halvempi vankka vankempi
herkkä herkempi arka arempi

2.3. Long adjectives ending in -a/-ä

Long words don’t undergo the same change as short words: they retain their final vowel before the comparative’s marker.

Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
mukava mukavampi ihana ihanampi
terävä terävämpi matala matalampi
vakava vakavampi väkevä väkevämpi

2.4. Adjectives ending in -i

2.4.1. New adjectives ending in -i

New words are often loanwords. Usually they’re recognisable because they resemble words in other languages. For these words, the comparative will consist of the adjective’s basic form with the comparative’s marker –mpi added to it.

Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
siisti siistimpi villi villimpi
intiimi intiimimpi populaari populaarimpi
radikaali radikaalimpi kiltti kiltimpi
elegantti elegantimpi akuutti akuutimpi

2.4.2. Old adjectives ending in -i

For old adjectives ending in –i (which is a really small group), you will replace the final –i with –e-mpi.

Adjective Comparative
suuri suurempi
nuori nuorempi
pieni pienempi

2.5. Adjectives ending in a consonant

There are many groups of adjectives that end in a consonant.

  • Adjectives ending in –as: replace –as with –aa– and add –mpi → strong stem!
  • Adjectives ending in –is: replace –is with –ii– and add –mpi → strong stem!
  • Adjectives ending in –ut/yt: replace –t with –e– and add –mpi
  • Adjectives ending in –nut/nyt: replace –ut/yt with –ee– and add –mpi
Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
puhdas puhtaampi kaunis kauniimpi
rikas rikkaampi kallis kalliimpi
kevyt kevyempi kyllästynyt kyllästyneempi
ohut ohuempi masentunut masentuneempi
lyhyt lyhyempi väsynyt väsyneempi

2.6. Adjectives ending in -e

Another small group: add –e- and then –mpi.

Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
ahne ahneempi tuore tuoreempi
terve terveempi kade kateempi

2.7. Adjectives ending in -nen

For these words, you should remove the –nen and add –sempi. From a morphological point of view, the -se- is actually part of the stem of the word (e.g. vihaise-, suomalaise-), and you’re adding –mpi to that stem.

Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
suomalainen suomalaisempi tavallinen tavallisempi
sininen sinisempi iloinen iloisempi
vihainen vihaisempi hiljainen hiljaisempi

2.8. Exceptions

The following words are important because they inflect differently than you might expect.

  • hyvä – parempi – paras/parhain
  • pitkä – pidempi/pitempi – pisin
  • uusi – uudempi – uusin
  • lämmin– lämpimämpi – lämpimin
  • hapan – happamampi – happamin

3. Consonant Gradation in the Comparative

The Finnish comparative of adjectives of wordtype A words is always weak. The comparative of wordtype B is always strong.

Wordtype A
Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
helppo helpompi tuttu tutumpi
kiltti kiltimpi halpa halvempi
heikko heikompi tanakka tanakampi
märkä märempi vankka vankampi
arka arempi aito aidompi

I have a separate article on wordtype A.

Wordtype B
Adjective Comparative Adjective Comparative
rikas rikkaampi hidas hitaampi
älykäs älykkäämpi puhdas puhtaampi
valpas valppaampi altis alttiimpi

I have a separate article on wordtype B.

4. Putting Comparative Forms in the Cases

In addition to having a nominative form, the comparative forms of adjectives can also be inflected in all the different cases – both in the singular and the plural. I made a page with examples for you to check out.

That’s all for now about the Finnish comparative of adjectives!

Let me know if there is more you’d like to learn about it!

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the comparatives of pitkä and uusi seem regular to be honest. for pitkä the -k- is dropped and the -ä becomes an -e (this also makes pitempi more morphologically sound than pidempi). same principle with uusi/

Last edited 1 year ago by bruh

Can we make life easier by saying that to form comparatives of adjectives, you simply add -mpi to the stem of the adjective?

Inge (admin)

Sure! Make sure to add it to the right stem though! Nouns have 2-4 stems depending on the type of noun they are (weak stem, strong stem and consonant stem, sometimes a specific plural stem still, e.g. vede-, vete-, vet-, vesi-).

The stem used for the comparative is the same stem you use in the genitive case.


terve to terveempi, why not terpeempi?


And also why not “Kallis” to “Kaltiimpi”?

Inge (admin)

The “why” for this one is probably also lost in time. I haven’t been able to find an explanation anyway.

Kallis becomes kalliimpi, kalliin, kalliista, kalliiseen etc. so there’s never any consonant gradation. The same is true for tiivis.

In contrast, raitis and altis do get consonant gradation.

Inge (admin)

For words ending in -e, it’s just dependent on the word. Some get consonant gradation, some don’t. Terve doesn’t, so you have terveempi, terveen, terveellä, terveeksi etc. The nouns toive and valve also don’t have consonant gradation, while tarve and turve do have consonant gradation. The age of the word could contribute to it, or the existence of a verb with a similar stem. It’s a bit of a hit and miss.