Finnish for busy people

Long form of the First Infinitive – Finaalirakenne

If you’ve studied Finnish a little bit, you probably know about the Finnish verbtypes. The A-infinitive is the form which that division is based on. Finnish has many infinitives, but the first infinitive is what we call the basic form of a verb.

In this article we will look at the long form of the first infinitive, which is a much more advanced and rarely used form that is based on the first infinitive. Linguistics often call the first infinitive the A-infinitiivi, because it ends in an -a/-ä for all verbs.

1. The Use of the Long Form of the First Infinitive

This form of the verb will be used to express purpose: the reason why you’re doing something. Most of the time it appears in a sentence construction that is called the “finaalirakenne” in Finnish. You will need the translative case for this.

For example “Ajoin Helsinkiin nähdäkseni Maijan.” means “I drove to Helsinki in order to see Maija.” It expresses the reason of my trip. The subject of the sentence and the subject of the finaalirakenne are always the same person!

2. The Formation of the Long Form of the First Infinitive

This form consists of the infinitive (the so-called basic form) of the verb, followed by the translative marker -kse- and a possessive suffix.

Infinitive Example English
oppia Minä tulin Suomeen oppiakseni suomea. I came to Finland in order to learn Finnish.
nähdä Turistit tulivat nähdäkseen Näsijärven. The tourists came to see the lake Näsijärvi.
levätä Lähdin maalle levätäkseni. I went to the country side in order to rest.
varata Nainen soitti varatakseen ajan. The woman called in order to reserve a time.
ostaa Me kävimme kaupassa ostaaksemme jotain syötävää. We went to the store in order to buy something to eat.

3. Special Uses

Certain verbs have a different meaning when you add the translative and a possessive suffix to them. Their translation won’t be “in order to”, but instead they’ll mean “as far as”. These appear mostly in the minä-form.

Infinitive Example English
muistaa Muistaakseni jätin avaimeni pöydälle. As far as I remember I left my keys on the table.
tietää Tampereella ei ole tietääkseni orpokotia. As far as I know there isn’t an orphanage in Tampere.
luulla Luullakseni hän on ihan normaalipainoinen. As far as I can tell (think) she’s just normal weight.
nähdä Teimme nähdäkseni kaiken mahdollisen. As far as I can see we did everything that was possible.
käsittää Salo sai käsittääkseni 17 miljoonaa. As far as I understand (know) Salo got 17 million.

In addition, you can also have jos-sentences with the long form of the first infinitive. These sentences express a certain type of resignation: “oh well, if that’s what happens, we’ll have to live with it”. I can’t think of a good translation for these type of sentences, so my translations are a little unusual in the table below.

Example English
Hän tulee, jos on tullakseen. He will come, if that’s what happens.
Sieniä tulee, jos on tullakseen. There will be mushrooms, if that’s what fate decides.
Anna heidän nauraa, jos on nauraakseen. Let them laugh, if that’s what they end up doing.
Suuttukoon, jos on suuttuakseen. Let her get mad, if that’s what what she does.
Kaiku vastaa, jos on vastatakseen. The echo will reply, if it replies.
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“Salo saikäsittääkseni 17 miljoonaa.” I don’t get what is this “sai”. Is it a typo? Kiitos.

Inge (admin)

It should have been “Salo sai käsittääkseni 17 miljoonaa.” Sai is the past form of the verb “saada”, to receive. I fixed it now!


Kiitos, this article helped a lot!