Finnish for busy people

Phrases with two difference cases – Pitkäksi aikaa – Samalla tavoin – Incongruence

If you’ve been studying Finnish for a while, you know for sure that, in general, adjectives are inflected in the same case as their noun: [iso talo] becomes [isossa talossa] and [isoihin taloihin]. We call this “congruence” (kongruenssi). Congruence is sometimes also called agreement in English. The opposite is incongruence.

This article deals with incongruence, which is what we call it when congruence is broken. In these phrases the attribute and the noun are both inflected, but in different cases, as in the phrase [vähäksi aikaa] “for a little while”. These are phrases you will have to learn by heart because these are not logical or predictable. There are, however, certain nouns that will have this happen quite regularly (e.g. the words tapa, paikka and aika). In some cases, incongruence is obligatory, but in others, we can have two correct forms.

Don’t get overwhelmed!

I am very much aware that this article is overwhelming. I hope it’s comforting to know that the words listed in the first section of this article are all you will need for a long time. Consider the rest of this article an “interesting read” but don’t create any pressure for yourself to remember all of these. This will come with time. My advice is to actively study the phrases listed in the first section and learn the rest of the phrases one by one when you actually come across them somewhere or need them.

So many people were involved in making sure this article contains as accurate information as possible. I especially want to thank Viltsu, takkutaa and Jukka_K for their extensive help! This has been a challenging topic, not in the least because the usage of these phrases can differ depending on the speaker and the situation. Thank you for taking the trouble to go over certain phrases in your mind and giving such valuable feedback! This article would probably never be published without you.

Table of Contents

1. The most important phrases

The following tables contain really common phrases where incongruence is either the only option, or by far the more common one of the options. These tables don’t contain any explanations or translations, but you can find the same phrases in the rest of the article below.

Finnish English
Translative + partitive
joksikin aikaa for some time
pitkäksi aikaa for a long time
vähäksi aikaa for a short while
Inessive + partitive
ssä kohtaa in this spot ~ place
jossain kohtaa at some point
Inessive + instructive
hyvissä ajoin well in advance
yksissä tuumin unanimously, jointly
vähissä erin in small quantities
missä määrin to what extent
jossain määrin to some extent
sii määrin to that extent
Elative + partitive
pitkästä aikaa “long time no see”
Ablative + instructive
kaikilta osin in all respects
ltä osin in this regard
toiselta puolen from the other side
puolelta päivin at noon
Ablative + partitive
ltä erää for now
Finnish English
Adessive + partitive
llä kertaa this time
samalla kertaa at the same time
sillä aikaa that time, while
tuolla tapaa in that way
llä haavaa for now
Adessive + instructive
millä tavoin what way
llä tavoin in this way
jollain tavoin in some way
näillä main around here
llä välin meanwhile (during this)
sillä välin meanwhile (during that)
hyvillä mielin in good spirits
kummalla puolen on which side
Accusative + partitive
kaiken aikaa all the time
jonkin aikaa some time

2. Incongruence vs. congruence

Some phrases have two possible forms. Below, you can see some examples. On the left side in the table, you can find phrases where the words are in a different case. On the right, there’s the same phrase but with both words in the same case. These are examples where both versions are possible. The numbers provided are the google search results for each phrase. This can give you some idea of how common both forms are. You can use this same trick to figure out how common a phrase is. Search for each phrase by putting them between quotation marks (e.g. “näillä keinoin” and “näillä keinoilla“).

Incongruence Congruence
21 000 näillä keinoin 166 000 näillä keinoilla
585 000 samalla kertaa 99 000 samalla kerralla
326 000 joksikin aikaa 20 000 joksikin ajaksi
26 000 näillä main 38 000 näillä mailla
1 340 000 ltä osin 12 000 ltä osalta
255 000 toiselle puolen 1 330 000 toiselle puolelle
146 000 llä tapaa 2 860 000 llä tavalla

In meaning, these phrases are synonyms. The incongruent version is generally more idiomatic. Some phrases can only be used with two different cases. The expressions above in section 1 are words where it would be very beneficial for you to learn and use the incongruent phrase.

3. Translative + partitive

In the sentences below, the translative case is combined with the partitive case.

# Finnish English
1 Silta suljettiin [joksikin aikaa]. The bridge was closed [for some time].
1 Liikenne pysähtyi [pitkäksi aikaa]. The traffic stopped [for a long time].
1 Valot sammuivat [vähäksi aikaa]. The lights went out [for a short while].
1 Vuokraa auto [siksi aikaa], kun tarvitset!
Rent a car [for the time] that you need it!
2 Lopetimme työt [siksi kertaa] viideltä.
We stopped working [for that time] at five.
2 Tämä riittää [ksi kertaa]. This is enough [for now ~ for this time].

Some remarks:

  1. The word aika in these phrases (#1) can be translated both as “time” and as “while”. All the phrases with aika can also be congruent (ie. [joksikin ajaksi] and [vähäksi ajaksi], but it would be beneficial to learn and use the translative+partitive version, as it is more common.
  2. Both [ksi/siksi kertaa] and [ksi/siksi kerraksi] (#2) are rare phrases. You won’t have much use for them, but if you do, both versions are possible.

4. Inessive + partitive

The following phrases consist of the inessive case and the partitive case.

# Finnish English
1 [ssä kohtaa] tilanteesta tuli hankala.
[This is where] the situation became difficult.
1 Kompastuin [tuossa kohtaa] katua. I stumbled [at that point] of the street.
1 [Jossain kohtaa] eksyimme reitiltä.
[At some point] we strayed from the route.
2 Asunnossa paloi [useassa kohtaa]. The apartment burned [in several places].
2 Pidä kätesi [samassa kohtaa] 10 sekuntia. Keep your hand [in the same spot] for 10 seconds.
2 Se käy ilmi [toisessa kohtaa] kirjaa.
It becomes clear [in a different spot] of the book.
2 Sitä ei mainita [missään kohtaa]. It’s not mentioned [in any place].
2 Laatu on [monessa kohtaa] kyseenalaista.
The quality is questionable [in many places].

Some remarks:

  1. The word kohta can be used both in a spacial and a temporal meaning. This means you can use it to refer to a location (e.g. toisessa kohtaa “in another place/spot/location”) and a time (e.g. toisessa kohtaa “at another time”). This is only true for the incongruent phrase. When you use the same case for both words (e.g. tuossa kohdassa “in that spot”) the meaning is purely locational.
  2. One other tendency that’s noticeable in Google search results is that phrases with kohdassa are used more to refer to a concrete physical spot, while phrases with kohtaa are often used for more abstract “points”. A less concrete point could be, for example, a point in a briefing, education program or in a person’s life.
  3. The phrases marked with #1 – [ssä kohtaa] and [tuossa kohtaa] – are very idiomatic and much more popular than [ssä/tuossa kohdassa]. These are definitely two to learn by heart!
  4. The other phrases with kohtaa (#2) are less idiomatic, perhaps because they’re also less commonly used in general (true for both inessive+inessive and inessive+partitive). When a phrase is used less, the idiomatic expression is less strong. As such, the normal inessive+inessive (e.g. toisessa kohdassa) form is more popular for these.

5. Inessive + instructive

The following phrases consist of the inessive case and the instructive case.

Finnish English
1 Olen [jossain määrin] eri mieltä. I disagree [to some extent].
1 [Missä määrin] voin päättää, mitä opiskelen? [To what extent] can I decide what I study?
1 Juon olutta [samassa määrin] kuin ennenkin. I drink beer [to the same extent] as before.
1 Maaperässä on [vähässä määrin] arseenia. There’s arsenic in the soil [to a small extent].
1 Kirjeitä lähetetään [yhä vähenevässä määrin]. Letters are sent [to an ever-decreasing extent].
1 Se riippuu [suuressa määrin] säästä. It depends [to a great extent] on the weather.
1 Ari kärsi [suuremmassa määrin] kuin Antti. Ari suffered [to a greater extent] than Antti.
1 Tarvitsen [enenevässä määrin] omaa rauhaa. I need my own peace [to an increasing extent].
1 Ruoissa on [vaihtelevassa määrin] rasvaa. There’s fat in foods [to varying degrees].
1 Yritän auttaa [sii määrin] kuin pystyn. I try to help [to the extent] that I can.
2 Kroppa ei kestä juoksemista [tuossa määrin]. A body can’t stand running [to that extent].
2 Maito ei kuulu ruokavaliooni [noissa määrin]. Milk isn’t part of my diet [in those quantities].
2 Yrittäjät ovat [suuressa määrin] miehiä. Entrepreneurs are [to a large extent] men.
2 Olutta myydään [suurissa määrin] turisteille. Beer is sold [in large amounts] to tourists.
3 Haluan [ssä kohdin] kertoa anekdootin. I want to tell an anecdote [at this point].
3 Taidan [yhdessä kohdin] olla eri mieltä. I think I disagree [on one point].
3 Hän ei ole tuota sanonut [missään kohdin]. He hasn’t said that [at any point].
3 Ihmettelin, [missä kohdin] olin erehtynyt. I wondered [at what point] I was mistaken.
4 Taidan [joissain kohdin] olla eri mieltä. I think [at certain points] I disagree.
4 Tarvitsimme apukäsiä [monessa kohdin]. We needed helping hands [in many places].
4 [Monissa kohdin] käännös ei pidä paikkaansa. [In many places] the translation is incorrect.
4 Kirja viittaa [useassa kohdin] asiaan. The book refers to it [in several places].
4 Hyökkäykset torjuttiin [useissa kohdin]. The attacks were repelled [in several places].
5 Suunnittelin tätä [yksissä neuvoin] Arin kanssa. I planned this [together with] Ari.
5 Mies ja nainen toimivat [yksissä tuumin]. The man and the woman worked [together].
5 Saavuin sairaalaan [hyvissä ajoin]. I arrived at the hospital [well in advance].
6 Lisää jauhoja [pienissä erin]. Add flour [in small batches].
6 Lisää keittoon vettä [vähissä erin]. Add water to the soup [in small batches].

Some remarks:

  1. For phrases marked with number 1, I would recommend using the incongruent phrase. However, there can be a difference between incongruent [missä + määrin] phrases and congruent [missä + määrässä] phrases. In the phrase with two different cases [missä + määrin], you will normally translate määrin as “extent” (e.g. to what extent something is true). The congruent [missä + määrässä] will usually be translated as “amount” (e.g. what amount of arsenic soil contains). This is just a tendency; sometimes these forms overlap.
  2. For määrin, the typical difference between the singular and plural is also visible in English: the singular [tuossa määrin] means “to that extent”, while the plural [noissa määrin] is translated as “in those quantities/amounts“.
  3. Phrases marked with #3 can be both congruent and incongruent. Translating kohta to English can be difficult to do with just one word: it can mean a spot, a point, a location or an area. In addition, kohta can also refer to a point in time, rather than a physical place. This is more common for the incongruent phrase. When referring to a place, the phrase [ssä kohdin] can be perceived as being slightly more specific “around this place”, while [ssä kohdassa] has a more specific connotation. The question [missä kohtaa] sounds more natural to some Finns that [missä kohdin].
  4. In contrast with [tuossa/noissa määrin], note how I’ve listed both [monissa kohdin] (the plural form) and [monessa kohdin] (the singular form). They differ from määrin because the singular and the plural form are translated in the exact same way in English. So, while I’ve given a different example for each, these phrases have the same meaning. This is also true for useassa and useissa (marked with number 4 in the table above). Note that if we use the partitive form (e.g. monessa kohtaa) (see the previous section of this article) it’s not possible to use the plural form.
  5. Phrases marked with 5 are highly lexicalized and can only be used in the cases listed in the table above.
  6. Phrases marked with 6 are barely used at all. The congruent phrases [pienissä erissä] and [vähissä erissä] are much more common.

6. Elative + partitive

The following phrases consist of the elative case and the partitive case.

Finnish English
1 Hei Matti! [Pitkästä aikaa]! Hey Matti! [Long time no see]!
2 Katto vuotaa [jostain kohtaa]. The roof is leaking [from somewhere].
2 [Mistä kohtaa] katto vuotaa? [From what spot] is the roof leaking?
2 Tee mittaukset [monesta kohtaa]! Take measurements [from multiple spots]!
2 Jalka on poikki [useasta kohtaa]. The leg is broken [in several spots].
2 Ari ylitti joen [stä kohtaa]. Ari crossed the river [from this point].
2 Voit jatkaa [samasta kohtaa] myöhemmin. You can continue [from the same point] later.

Some remarks:

  1. The phrase “pitkästä aikaa” is usually one of the first situations where a learner of Finnish finds out that there are phrases where an adjective and a noun don’t agree. You should learn this phrase by heart.
  2. The congruent phrase [stä kohdasta] and incongruent phrase [stä kohtaa] can be used as synonyms to express to a location, area, spot or point. Note how, when talking about a point in time, you can only use [stä kohtaa]. This is true for all the phrases marked with #2. Both the congruent and the incongruent versions of these phrases are used commonly.
  3. In English, you would probably say your leg is broken in many places and the roof leaks in several spots. In Finnish, you use the elative case so mistä rather than missä or mihin), so from what place/spot something happens. This may take some time getting used to. There is no one rule that explains all of these.

7. Elative + instructive

The following phrases consist of the elative case and the instructive case.

Finnish English
1 Olen muuttunut paljon [niistä päivin]. I’ve changed a lot [since those days].
1 Turvallisuutta on lisätty [niistä ajoin]. Safety has been added [since those days].
1 Ari ei ole muuttunut [noista ajoin]. Ari hasn’t changed [since those times].
2 Kate vuoti [useista kohdin]. The cover leaked [from several places].
2 Uimapuku oli [useasta kohdin] tahriintunut. The swimsuit was stained [in several places].
2 Kasvot olivat [monesta kohdin] siniset. The face was blue [in many places].
2 Joukot ylittävät joen [monista kohdin]. The troops cross the river [from many points].

Some remarks:

  1. For all of these phrases (#1 and #2), it’s more common to use elative+elative. The forms [niistä päivistä], [niistä/noista ajoista], [useasta/monesta kohdasta] and [useista/monista kohdista] are more common than the phrases I added in the table.
  2. If you do use kohdin (#2), the word in front of it can be both singular (useasta kohdin) and plural (useista kohdin), though plural is more common. This is in contrast with phrases which have kohtaa (see section 6), where only the singular is used for the attribute (e.g. useasta kohtaa).

8. Adessive + partitive

The following phrases consist of the adessive case and the partitive case.

Finnish English
1 [Millä tapaa] pääsisimme sisään? [In what way] could we get in?
1 Petri liittyy tähän [jollain tapaa]. Petri is involved in this [in some way].
1 Tämä on [monella tapaa] pelottavaa. This is [in many ways] scary.
1 Se tapahtuu [samalla tapaa] kuin ennenkin. It happened [in the same way] as before.
1 [Sillä tapaa] pahikset saadaan kiinni. [That’s how] the bad guys are caught.
1 Ari kertoi asiasta [toisella tapaa] kuin sinä. Ari told it [in a different way] than you.
1 Älä puhu [tuolla tapaa]! Don’t talk [that way]!
1 Minun ei kuulu kuolla [llä tapaa]. I’m not supposed to die [this way].
3 Eilen sattui kolari [samalla kohtaa] tietä. Yesterday a crash happened [in this same part] of the road.
3 Kaista oli liukas [sillä kohtaa] tietä. The lane was slippery [in that section] of the road.
3 Kauppa on [toisella kohtaa] kaupunkia. The store is [in a different spot] in the city.
3 Lampi on [llä kohtaa] 20 cm syvä. The pond is 20 cm deep [in this spot].
4 Hän harrasti musiikkia jo [nuorella ikää]. He played music [at a young age] already.
4 [llä viikkoa] saadaan vieraita pohjoisesta. [This week] we get visitors from the North.
5 Mene sinä [sillä aikaa] tapaamaan häntä! You go meet him [in the meantime]!
5 Valmista [llä aikaa] kermavaahto. Prepare the whipped cream [at this time].
5 Vene ei löytynyt [sillä haavaa]. The boat wasn’t found [that time].
5 En muista [llä haavaa] hänen nimeään. I can’t remember his name [right now].
5 Tämä riittää [llä erää]. Jatkan myöhemmin. This is enough [for now]. I’ll continue later.
5 En ole [millään muotoa] uskonnollinen mies. I’m not a religious man [by any means].
5 Termi oli [monella muotoa] harhaanjohtava. The term was [in many ways] misleading.
6 Hän ei ollut tehnyt sitä [sillä kertaa]. He hadn’t done it [that time].
6 [Tuolla kertaa] emme voittaneet. [That time] we didn’t win.
6 En mene lankaan [llä kertaa]. I won’t be fooled [this time].
6 Ratkaisin kaikki ongelmat [samalla kertaa]! I solved all the problems [at the same time].
6 Kuljetan [yhdellä kertaa] 5 laatikkoa. I transport 5 boxes [at once].
6 Käsittelemme sen [toisella kertaa]. We’ll deal with it [another time].

Some remarks:

  1. The word tapaa is always used with an attribute in the singular (e.g. [sillä tapaa] but not [niillä tapaa]. This is in contrast with tavoin (see section 9), for which both the singular and the plural can be used depending on the context (e.g. [sillä tavoin] “that way” or [niillä tavoin] “in those ways”).
  2. The phrases with tapa (#1) are also often congruent. For example, jollakin/toisella/tällä/millä tavalla can be used instead of jollakin/toisella/tällä/millä tapaa. Both are common.
  3. Phrases with kohta (#3) can be used both with the adessive (e.g. llä kohtaa) and with the inessive case (e.g. ssä kohtaa) without much of a difference in meaning. These phrases feel incomplete without the larger area specified, for which we use in the partitive case (e.g. toisella kohtaa tietä).
  4. Phrases marked with #4 aren’t very commonly used. The congruent alternative is much more common (e.g. llä viikolla).
  5. The opposite is true for phrases marked with #5: they are always incongruent.
  6. Phrases which include kerta (#6) can somewhat differ in meaning. The congruent phrases [llä/tuolla kerralla] are used to single out a specific time of a recurring event: something happened specifically this time rather than the previous time. The incongruent phrases [llä/tuolla kertaa] also refer to a recurring event but there is less of a focus on the repetitive nature of the event.
  7. The phrases [samalla kertaa] and [yhdellä kertaa] are used to mean “at once, simultaneously”. The congruent phrases [samalla kerralla] and [yhdellä kerralla] refer to actions that are repeated multiple times and single out one of those times.
  8. The phrase [toisella kertaa] means “another time, not right now”, for which we often also use the adverb toiste. In contrast, [toisella kerralla] means “the second time” (of a recurring event).

9. Adessive + instructive

The following phrases consist of the adessive case and the instructive case.

Finnish English
1 [Millä puolen] sänkyä nukut? [On what side] of the bed do you sleep?
1 On outoa olla tiskin [llä puolen]. It’s strange to be [on this side] of the counter.
1 Järvi on [tuolla puolen] taloa. The lake is [on that side] of the house.
1 Vieraat istuvat aina [sillä puolen] pöytää. The guests always sit [on that side] of the table.
1 [Toisella puolen] saarta on vene. [On the other side] of the island is a boat.
1 Haluamme istua [samalla puolen] pöytää. We want to sit [on the same side] of the table.
1 [Kummalla puolen] sänkyä nukut? [On which side] of the bed do you sleep?
2 [Millä välin] kävit kaupassa? [At what point] did you go to the store?
2 Mitä Ari tekee [llä välin]? What will Ari do [in the meantime]?
2 [Sillä välin] Ari voi miettiä muita tapoja.
[In the meantime] Ari can think of other ways.
2 Auto oli [tuolla välin] syttynyt palamaan. [In the meantime] the car had caught fire.
3 Lähden toimistolta aina [hyvillä mielin]. I always leave the office [in good spirits].
3 Nainen soitti Oulusta [pahoilla mielin]. The woman called from Oulu [in a bad mood].
4 Ari on kuulemma asunut [niillä seuduin]. I hear Ari has lived [in those regions].
4 He ovat aina asuneet [näillä seuduin]. They have always lived [in these regions].
4 Olemme aina asuneet [samoilla seuduin]. We’ve always lived [in the same region].
4 Onko kukaan käynyt [niillä tienoin]? Has anyone been [thereabout]?
4 Tämä on hienoin talo [näillä tienoin]. This is the finest house [hereabout].
4 Olen muukalainen [näillä main]. I’m a stranger [hereabout].
4 Kirkko sijaitsi todennäköisesti [niillä main]. The church was probably located [thereabout].
4 [Näillä kohdin] tietä levennetään. [In these places] the road will be made wider.
4 Liikenne oli kaoottista [noilla kohdin]. The traffic was chaotic [at those points].
4 Joki on [niillä kohdin] 10 metriä leveä. The river is 10 meters wide [in those spots].
4 Asennusreiät ovat [samoilla kohdin]. The mounting holes are [in the same places].
5a [Millä tavoin] pääomaverotus lasketaan? [In what way] is capital duty calculated?
5a Se ei vaikuta [millään tavoin] vaalitulokseen. It doesn’t affect the election result [in any way].
5a Pelastuuko maailma [llä tavoin]? Will the world be saved [this way]?
5a Älä puhu minulle [tuolla tavoin]. Don’t talk to me [that way].
5a Vain [sillä tavoin] voit onnistua. Only [in that way] can you succeed.
5a Saan vastaukseni [toisella tavoin]. I will get my answer [another way].
5a Kaikki jäsenet eivät äänestä [samalla tavoin]. Not all members vote [in the same way].
5a Käärme sai [jollain tavoin] puhekyvyn. The snake [somehow] got the ability to speak.
5b [Näillä tavoin] turvallisuudesta huolehditaan. [In these ways] safety is taken care of.
5b [Noilla tavoin] tulee paras maku. [In those ways] you get the best taste.
6a [Millä keinoin] voidaan tuottavuutta nostaa? [By what means] can productivity be increased?
6a [Sillä keinoin] saamme lisää asiakkaita. [By these means] we will get more customers.
6a Vain [llä keinoin] asiat voivat onnistua. Only [by these means] things can succeed.
6a [Tuolla keinoin] voi vähentää kustannuksia. Costs can be reduced [by those means].
6a Kai löydämme sen [jollain keinoin]. I guess we’ll find it [someway/somehow].
6b Ilmoittaminen ei [näillä keinoin] onnistu. Notification doesn’t succeed [by these means].
6b Muutokset saadaan aikaan [noilla keinoin]. Changes will be achieved [by those means].

Some remarks:

  1. For the examples above, it’s important to use your knowledge of when to use -ssa versus -lla. The general rule is that we use -ssa for small, clearly defined areas and -lla for larger, less specific areas. However, it’s up to the speaker to choose which one they find more appropriate.
  2. The forms puolen (#1) and välin (#2) in the examples above look very much like the genitive form of puoli and väli. Grammatically, they are actually inflected in the singular instructive case, which is only very rarely used in Finnish. Only the singular is used in these incongruent phrases, so you won’t find “toisilla puolin“. You can find the plural in the congruent phrases [molemmin puolin] and [kaikin puolin] (more examples here).
  3. The phrases [hyvillä/pahoilla mielin] (#3) can be replaced by singular congruent phrases [hyvällä/pahalla mielellä]. The former sound more poetic than the latter but both are used. In addition, [pahalla mielellä] feels to some native speakers like it refers to a specific day, or like it has just started, while [pahoilla mielin] could mean maybe in general, always, or for a longer period.
  4. Note the singular or plural form used with these phrases:
    #1 With puolen we use the singular form (e.g. tuolla puolen rather than noilla puolen).
    #2 With välin we also use the singular form (e.g. llä välin rather than näillä välin).
    #4 We always use the plural form for seutu, tienoo, maa and kohta.
    #5 The words tapa and keino can be used with both the singular (#5a and #6a) and the plural (#5b and #6b) depending on the context (e.g. sillä tavoin “that way” or niillä tavoin “in those ways”).
  5. The words seuduin, tienoin, main and kohdin (#4) are all inflected in the plural instructive case, so it makes sense for the attribute (e.g. näillä) to also be plural.
  6. The phrases [jollain tapaa/tavoin/tavalla] (#5) are used interchangeably and no difference in meaning is easily detectable. They can be used as synonyms.
  7. The congruent phrase [jollain keinolla] (#6) is clearly more common than [jollain keinoin]. There is no clear difference in meaning.

10. Ablative + partitive

The following phrases consist of the ablative case and the partitive case.

Finnish English
1 [Miltä kohtaa] leveys mitataan? [From what point] is the width measured?
1 Otin kuvan [samalta kohtaa] tänään. I took a picture [from the same point] today.
1 Poimin näytteen [joltakin kohtaa] videota. I take a sample [from somewhere] in the video.
1 [Monelta kohtaa] maapalloa löytyy raunioita. [From many places] on earth ruins can be found.
1 Klikkaa [siltä kohtaa] “kirjaudu sisään”! Click [from that spot] “log in”!
1 Haluan poistaa aidan [tuolta kohtaa]. I want to remove the fence [from that spot].
1 Kaiva maata juuri [ltä kohtaa]! Dig the ground exactly [from this spot]!
2 Tämä on [ltä erää] ehkä ohi. This is maybe over [for now].

Some remarks:

  • For many of the examples above, we’re using the miltä form (the ablative case – rather than mille or millä) because the verb requires it. This doesn’t always match up with the form you’d use in English. For example, in Finnish you find something from a place rather than in a place. This is because the verbs löytää and löytyä require -sta or -lta. You can read more about verb rections like this here.
  • Translating kohta to English can be difficult to do with just one word: it can mean a spot, a point, a location or an area. It really depends on the example which one fits better. Keep that in mind when looking at the translations. I feel I did a pretty bad job with the translations here!
  • The difference in meaning between [samasta kohtaa] and [samalta kohtaa] fits with the general difference between these two cases. The general rule is that we use -sta for small, clearly defined areas and -lta for larger, less specific areas. However, it’s up to the speaker to choose which one they find more appropriate in the context at hand.
  • It would be beneficial to learn the incongruent phrase for [ltä erää]! While [ltä erältä] does exist and has the same meaning, the idiomatic phrase [ltä erää] (meaning “for now”) is much more common.

11. Ablative + instructive

The following phrases consist of the ablative case and the instructive case.

Finnish English
1 [Miltä puolen] voidaan ohittaa autoja? [From which side] can cars be bypassed?
1 Tätä ei myydä [ltä puolen] maapalloa. This isn’t sold [on this side] of the earth.
1 Vuorten [tuolta puolen] löytyi elämää. Life was found [on that side] of the mountains.
1 Puita oli hakattu [sieltä puolen] mäkeä. Trees were cut down [from that side] of the hill.
1 Hän ohitti [samalta puolen] katua. He crossed [from the same side] of the street.
1 Maista ruokaa maailman [toiselta puolen]! Taste food [from the other side] of the world!
1 [Kummalta puolen] siltaa kyltti puuttuu? [On which side] of the bridge is the sign missing?
2 Liikenne keskeytyi [puolelta päivin]. Traffic was interrupted [at noon].
2 Liikenne keskeytyi [puolilta päivin]. Traffic was interrupted [at noon].
3 Ihon painaminen [näiltä kohdin] lisää kipua. Pressing on the skin [at these areas] increases pain.
3 Lumet pitää poistaa [niiltä kohdin]. The snow must be removed [from those areas].
3 Iho punoittaa pahasti [noilta kohdin]. The skin is reddening badly [in those areas].
3 Löysin eilen [samoilta kohdin] lompakon. I found a wallet [in the same area] yesterday.
4 Ystävyytemme on peräisin [näiltä ajoin] Our friendship started [at these times].
4 En muista paljoa [noilta ajoin]. I don’t remember much [from those times].
5 Unohdin, ettet ole kotoisin [näiltä main]. I forgot that you’re not [from hereabout].
5 Sukuni on kotoisin [niiltä main]. My family originated [from thereabout].
5 Näyttelijä on kotoisin [näiltä seuduin]. The actor is [from this region].
5 Isän työkaveri oli [noilta seuduin] kotoisin. Dad’s coworker was [from that region].
5 Hän tulee [niiltä seuduin] Afganistania. He comes [from that region] of Afghanistan.
5 Minäkin tulen näiltä [samoilta seuduin]. I also come [from the same region].
5 Esine on löydetty [näiltä tienoin]. The object has been found [around here].
5 En halua vuokrata asuntoa [niiltä tienoin]. I don’t want to rent an apartment [around there].

Some remarks:

  1. For many of the examples above, we’re using the miltä form (the ablative case) because the verb requires it (e.g. löytää + mistä, poistaa + mistä). This doesn’t always match up with the form you’d use in English. For example, in Finnish you find something from a place rather than in a place. This is because the verbs löytää and löytyä require -sta or -lta. You can read more about verb rections like this here. I’ve opted for translating these sentences in a way that makes sense in English, which means the word “from” is missing in many of the translations.
  2. The form puolen in the examples above (#1) looks very much like the genitive form of puoli. Grammatically, it’s the singular instructive case, which is only very rarely used in Finnish. Only the singular puolen is used in incongruent phrases, so you won’t find “toisilta puolin“. You can find the plural in the congruent phrases [molemmin puolin] and [kaikin puolin] (more examples here). Also note for phrases marked with #1 that the pronoun used with puolen is in its singular form (e.g. tuolta puolen rather than noilta puolen). The congruent phrase (e.g. ltä puolelta) is more of an everyday phrase, while the incongruent phrase (e.g. ltä puolen) has a slightly more fancy, literary nuance.
  3. In the phrase [puolelta päivin] (#2) we have two different cases as well as a difference in singular and plural incongruence. The phrase [puolilta päivin] matches up better, since both words are plural. As such, the plural form might “sound” better to some Finns. However, both forms are used very commonly.
  4. Translating kohta to English can be difficult to do with just one word: kohta can mean a spot, a point, a location or an area. For the [miltä + instructive] forms (#3), the most natural translation is “area”, as you can see in the examples above.
  5. For seuduin, tienoin and main (#5) there is an added complication. While these forms are grammatically plural, they don’t necessarily get understood as a plural. For example, “Näyttelijä on kotoisin [näiltä seuduin]” could be both translated as “from these regions” and “from this region”. This is a peculiarity in English but doesn’t bother most Finns because the instructive is almost always used in its plural form. This is also the reason why the pronoun used with it is inflected in the plural (e.g. [niiltä seuduin] rather than [siltä seuduin]).

12. Allative + instructive

The following phrases consist of the allative case and the instructive case.

Finnish English
1 En tiedä, [mille puolen] sauma tulee. I don’t know [on which side] the seam will come.
1 Muutin Atlantin [lle puolen]. I moved [to this side] of the Atlantic.
1 Ui takaisin [sille puolen] rantaa! Swim back [to that side] of the beach!
1 Veneet rantautuivat [samalle puolen] jokea. The boats landed [on the same side] of the river.
1 [Kummalle puolen] tietä kaapeli tulee? [To which side] of the road will the cable be?
2 Ari siirtyi rajan [tuolle puolen]. Ari went [beyond] the border.
3 Ari juoksi [toiselle puolen] tietä. Ari ran [to the other side] of the road.

Some remarks:

  1. The form puolen in the examples above looks very much like the genitive form of puoli. Grammatically, it’s the singular instructive case, which is only very rarely used in Finnish.
  2. For phrases marked with #1, incongruence is fairly uncommon. For example, [mille puolelle] is more common than [mille puolen]. For #3, both [toiselle puolen] and [toiselle puolelle] are commonly used.
  3. The phrase “siirtyä rajan tuolle puolen” usually is an idiom used to say that someone died. This matches up with the phrase “tuonpuoleinen elämä“, which refers to the afterlife. Using the congruent phrase [tuolle puolelle] is less tied to this special meaning: it can just be a physical, spacial thing.

12. Accusative + partitive

The following phrases combine the accusative case (which looks like the genitive here with the marker -n) and the partitive case.

Finnish English
1 Minä odotin sinua [kaiken päivää]. I waited for you [all day].
1 Tilanne muuttuu [kaiken aikaa]. The situation is changing [all the time].
1 [Ison aikaa] uhri oli tajuttomana. The victim was unconscious [for a long time].
1 Tätä on odotettu [pitkän aikaa]. This has been awaited [for a long time].
1 Tämä voi viedä [jonkin aikaa]. This may take [some time].
2 Olen kulkenut [pitkän matkaa]. I have come [a long way].

Some remarks:

  1. Phrases marked with #1 are rare and there are alternative phrases that are used regularly. For example, [kaiken päivää] could be rephrased as “koko päivän“, which is 100 times more common.
  2. [Pitkän matkan] and [pitkän matkaa] are both used, but there’s a clear difference. The phrase with both words in the accusative case refers to a journey that is currently over, while the combination of the genitive and the partitive case refers to an ongoing journey. Note that these can refer to a physical journey to a place as well as a more mental journey.

13. Full paradigm examples

Theoretically, for every phrase that can be used with the inessive’s marker -ssa, there could also be a similar phrase with the elative‘s marker -sta or the illative‘s mihin form. However, the extent to which these forms are used can vary dramatically.

In the following table, you can find the inessive (missä), elative (mistä) and illative (mihin) forms used in combination with kohtaa. Forms that are green and bolded are very common. Words between brackets are very rare. I’ve taken the easy way out and used Google to determine how common these forms are.

Missä Mistä Mihin
missä kohtaa mistä kohtaa mihin kohtaa
jossain kohtaa jostain kohtaa johonkin kohtaa
siinä kohtaa siitä kohtaa siihen kohtaa
tässä kohtaa tästä kohtaa tähän kohtaa
tuossa kohtaa tuosta kohtaa (tuohon kohtaa)
monessa kohtaa monesta kohtaa (moneen kohtaa)
samassa kohtaa samasta kohtaa samaan kohtaa
toisessa kohtaa toisesta kohtaa (toiseen kohtaa)

The table below has the the adessive (millä), ablative (miltä) and allative (mille) forms used in combination with puolen. Unlike kohtaa, you will never use -ssa or -sta with puolen. Forms that are green and bolded are very common. Words between brackets are very rare. Note that many of these forms are used but not many of them are common.

Millä Miltä Mille
tuolla puolen tuolta puolen tuolle puolen
toisella puolen toiselta puolen toiselle puolen
tällä puolen tältä puolen tälle puolen
sillä puolen siltä puolen sille puolen
samalla puolen samalta puolen samalle puolen
kummalla puolen kummalta puolen kummalle puolen
millä puolen miltä puolen (mille puolen)

One more table to demonstrate the paradigm of words that can get -lla.

Millä? Miltä? Mille?
tällä kertaa tältä kertaa tälle kertaa
tällä puolen tältä puolen tälle puolen
tällä haavaa (tältä haavaa) (tälle haavaa)
tällä tavoin (tältä tavoin) (tälle tavoin)
tällä kohtaa tältä kohtaa (tälle kohtaa)
tällä erää tältä erää (tälle erää)
tällä välin (tältä välin) (tälle välin)

Read more elsewhere on the internet:

5 2 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Hi! Thank you for the great article. Just a notice: The links from Table of Content don’t seem to work. When I click e. g. on point 14, I don’t get scrolled to the section.

Furthermore, the article itself contains two section with no. 12:

12. Allative + instructive
as well as:

12. Accusative + partitive (I guess it should be 13 and the section “13. Full paradigm examples” should have got number 14).
But that are just details – as I already said, the article is great and very helpful.