Finnish for busy people

Paljon Monet – Many People – Sentences

This article addresses a very specific mistake that is very common both in spoken and written Finnish. Language learners all the way up to level B2 are likely to make mistakes here. We will be looking at how to start a “many people” type of sentence, and go over the difference between the words paljon and monet.

Important: please note that this article is a generalization. There are exceptions to the rules below. However, by following the general rule, you will avoid a lot of mistakes.

1. The General Rule

Sentences should generally not start with “paljon“. It’s that simple. Saying eg. “Many people don’t understand” in Finnish will not allow for the word “paljon“. Instead, you will generally be using “monet” instead.

Finnish English
Paljon ihmisiä äänestää. Incorrect.
Monet ihmiset äänestävät. Many people vote.
Paljon koiria haukkuvat. Incorrect.
Monet koirat haukkuvat. Many dogs bark.
Paljon ihmisiä eivät ymmärrä. Incorrect.
Monet ihmiset eivät ymmärrä. Many people don’t understand.

2. Existential sentences

Say we want to say that there are many kids sitting the park. It’s not a good idea to start that sentence with paljon. You could start the sentence with “monet lapset“, but with the T-plural, you’re referring to certain specific kids.

If we’re just making an observation about how many kids are sitting in the park, we’re best off going with the regular existential sentence construction, which starts with the location, then the verb and then the subject.

Finnish English
Paljon lapsia istuu puistossa. Incorrect.
Monet lapset istuvat puistossa. Many kids (of a specific group) are sitting in the park.
Puistossa istuu paljon lapsia. There are many kids sitting in the park.

That’s it for the words paljon and monet. There are many other words that can be translated as “many”: eg. moni, monta, usea, useat and useita.

Next, you could read more about the difference between moni, monet and monta.

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Cassandra

Is it basically that you don’t start sentences with a partitive and paljon always takes partitive?

Inge (admin)

You could think of it like that! There ARE situations where you do start sentences with the partitive (both singular and plural) but they’re rare and usually better avoided. The “don’t start a sentence with paljon” is definitely a stricter rule.

Jeff

I’ve learned that “Paljonko kello on?” asks “what time is it?” Is that an exception to the “don’t start a sentence with Paljon” rule or are questions different from sentences?

Inge (admin)

Questions are different yes! The word with -ko/kö added to it will always be the first word in a question. This is apparent, for example, in the following questions related to the statement “Hän rakastaa sinua“:
Rakastaako hän sinua?” = Does he love you?
Hänkö rakastaa sinua?” = Is he the one who loves you?
Sinuako hän rakastaa?” = Is it you that he loves?