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Temporal Substitute Construction – Temporaalinen lauseenvastike

The temporal substitute construction (= temporaalinen lauseenvastike = temporaalirakenne) is an advanced grammar topic. If you’re a beginner, you should search for something easier on this website! There is plenty to find!

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Temporal Substitute Construction
    1. Don’t overuse it!
  2. The Formation of the Temporal Substitute Construction
    1. Morphology of the constructions
    2. Same time vs successive time
      1. Tehdessä/tehtäessä substitute construction
      2. Tehtyä substitute construction
    3. Subject of a temporal substitute constriction
      1. Different subject
      2. Same subject
    4. Present tense vs past tense

1. The Use of the Temporal Substitute Construction

As you can guess from the name, a substitute construction replaces one way of saying things with another. The temporal substitute construction is used to replace linked sentences where both actions either happen at the same time or in succession.

1.1. Don’t overuse it!

Let’s start with a warning. The point of substitute constructions is to condense two sentences into one. It’s used especially in newspapers and other official sources. In spoken language, it appears mainly in some fossilized phrases.

It’s important to know that you can overdo your use of this sentence construction. If a text has too many of these constructions, it will start to be hard to read, even for Finns. Finns call texts with a lot of difficult sentence constructions “kapulakieli”. This is something that has been said especially often about texts of the Social Security Office (Kela). Often it is better to use two sentences instead of a “lauseenvastike”.

2. The Formation of the Temporal Substitute Construction

In this article, we will be focusing on how the sentences are formed. If you want to find out more about how to form the second infinitive (tehdessä and tehtäessä) or the past participle (tehtyä), you can do so on our separate pages on both. However, below you can find a small overview.

2.1. Morphology of the Constructions

Verb Tehdessä Tehtäessä Tehtyä
maksaa maksaessa maksettaessa maksettua
odottaa odottaessa odotettaessa odotettua
seisoa seisoessa seisottaessa seisottua
itkeä itkiessä itkettäessä itkettyä
syödä syödessä syötäessä syötyä
tupakoida tupakoidessa tupakoitaessa tupakoitua
jutella jutellessa juteltaessa juteltua
pestä pestessä pestäessä pestyä
tavata tavatessa tavattaessa tavattua
pudota pudotessa pudottaessa pudottua
häiritä häiritessä häirittäessä häirittyä

2.2. Same Time vs Successive Time

There are two types of temporal constructions: one where both actions happen at the same time, and one where one action happens after another.

2.2.1. Tehdessä/Tehtäessä Substitute Construction

When both actions are happening at the same time, you will use the second infinitive in its inessive form (-ssa).

When the “kun” sentence is active, you will use the active form of the second infinitive. “Se tapahtui hänen tullessaan kotiin.” (= “It happened while she was coming home”; in other words she was in the process of coming home when it happened).

When we’re dealing with a passive “kun” sentence, we will use the passive form of the second infinitive in the inessive case. “Helsingin suunnasta tultaessa on usein ruuhkaa moottoritiellä.” (= “When coming from Helsinki, there is often a rush of on the highway”). We’re not specifying who is coming; it’s not important.

Finnish English
Active Minä laulan [siivotessani]. I sing [while cleaning]
Passive Usein lauletaan [siivottaessa]. People often sing [while cleaning].
Active [Pekan juodessa kahvia] minä rentoudun. [While Pekka is drinking coffee], I relax.
Passive [Kahvia juotaessa] on mahdollista rentoutua. It’s possible to relax [while drinking coffee].
Active Se sattui [hänen mennessään kirkkoon]. It occurred [while she was going to church].
Passive [Kirkkoon mentäessä] pukeudutaan asiallisesti. [When going to church] one dresses correctly.

2.2.2. Tehtyä Substitute Construction

When the two actions happen successively, you will use the passive past participle in its partitive form. “Se tapahtui hänen tultuaan kotiin.” (= “It happened when she had come home”; in other words she came home before it happened).

Finnish English
Same time
Minä laulan [siivotessani]. I sing [while cleaning].
Successive Minä laulan [siivottuani]. I sing [when I’m done cleaning].
Same time [Pekan juodessa kahvia] minä rentoudun. [While Pekka is drinking coffee], I relax.
Successive [Pekan juotua kahvia] minä rentoudun. I relax [after Pekka has drunk his coffee].
Same time Se sattui [hänen mennessään kirkkoon]. It occurred [while she was going to church].
Successive Se sattui [hänen mentyään kirkkoon] It happened when she had gone to church.

2.3. Subject of a Temporal Substitute Construction

2.3.1. Different subject

When both of the sentences we’re connecting have a different subject (eg. Minä imuroin Antin syödessä = I vacuum cleaned while Antti ate), the subject of the temporal sentence will appear in the genetive case.

Finnish English
Minä laulan [Antin siivotessa]. I sing [while Antti cleans].
Antti laulaa [minun siivotessani]. Antti sings [while I’m cleaning].
Minä laulan [Antin siivottua]. I sing [when Antti’s done cleaning.].
Antti laulaa [minun siivottuani]. Antti sings [when I’m done cleaning].

2.3.2. Same subject

When both parts of the sentence have the same subject, you will only be using a possessive suffix.

Finnish English
Lapsi nauroi [saadessaan lahjan]. The child laughed [while he got the present].
Lapsi nauroi [saatuaan lahjan]. The child laughed [after he’d gotten the present].
Minä laulan [käydessäni suihkussa]. I sing [while taking a shower].
Minä laulan [käytyäni suihkussa]. I sing [after I’ve taken a shower].

2.4. Present tense vs past tense

For the temporal substitute construction (temporaalirakenne) it doesn’t matter at all whether the sentence is present tense or past tense. What matters is how they relate to one another.

Finnish English
Past Lapsi nauroi [saadessaan lahjan]. The child laughed [while he got the present].
Present Lapsi nauraa [saadessaan lahjan]. The child laughs [while he gets the present].
Past Minä lauloin [käytyäni suihkussa]. I sang [after I had taken a shower].
Present Minä laulan [käytyäni suihkussa]. I sing [after I take a shower].


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Please check if this is correct:
Minä lauloin [käytyäni suihkussa]. I sang [while taking a shower].
I think it should be:
I sang [after I took a shower].

Inge (admin)

The copy-paste curse strikes again! I fixed it, thank you for your comment 🙂