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The Active Past Participle – NUT-Partisiippi

Table of Contents
  1. What are Participles?
  2. The Use of the Active Past Participle
    1. Example sentences
    2. The active past participle as an adjective
    3. When using the ”että construction” (referatiivirakenne)
    4. When expressing accidental actions
  3. The Formation of the Active Past Participle
  4. The Inflection of the Active Past Participle

1. What are Participles?

A participle is a specific form of the verb, used to either turn a verb into an adjective or noun, or to replace a subordinate clause. That’s a pretty broad description. All participles can be used in a multitude of different ways.

Often, participles are used as verbal adjectives which can be formed from verbs. Like ordinary adjectives, they are declined in all cases and agree with the noun which the qualify. They can be in active (-VA or -NUT) and passive form (-TAVA or -TU), and there is also an ‘agent’ participle. On this page you find just the active past participle.

2. The Use of the Active Past Participle

There are three parts to this word construction:

  1. It’s active: there is a subject and someone is doing the action
  2. It’s past: it happened before, it’s done
  3. It’s a participle: it’s based on a verb

2.1. Example sentences

The following example sentences display the most common usages of the active past participle. The number in the first column directs you towards the chapters below this table where you can learn more about the construction used.

# Infinitive NUT-participle Example Translation
2.2 maksaa maksanut Anna se [maksaneelle asiakkaalle]! Give it [to the client who paid]!
2.2 nukkua nukkunut [Hyvin nukkunut lapsi] herää. [The child who slept well] awakes.
2.2 nousta noussut [Aikaisin nousseet] haukottelevat. [The ones who got up early] yawn.
2.3 tarvita tarvinnut Luulen hänen tarvinneen apua. I think he needed help.
2.3 imuroida imuroinut Näen sinun imuroineen. I see that you’ve vacuumed.
2.4 kuulla kuullut Tulin kuulleeksi salaisuuden. I accidentally heard a secret.
2.4 sanoa sanonut Tulin sanoneeksi jotain väärin. I accidentally said sth wrong.

2.2. The active past participle as an adjective

The active past participle can be used as a adjective – thus replacing a joka-sentence (e.g. lapsi joka piirsi  → piirtänyt lapsi (the child who has drawn); potilas, joka oli koomassakoomassa ollut potilas (the patient who has been in a coma). This different sentence construction doesn’t really translate well to English unfortunately.

When the NUT-participle is used as an adjective, it has the following characteristics:

  • It’s based on a verb (e.g. lukenutlukea)
  • It answers the question “millainen” (what kind?)
  • It’s inflected in the same case as its main word (e.g. lukeneet lapset)
  • It can also be expressed with a joka-sentence (e.g. lapset, jotka olivat lukeneet)
Finnish English
[Maanantaina alkanut kurssi] on tärkeä. The course that has started on Monday is important.
Osallistun [maanantaina alkaneelle kurssille]. I participate in the course that started on Monday.
[Laulanut mies] menee istumaan alas. The man who sang goes to sit down.
Tarjoan juoman [laulaneelle miehelle]. I offer a drink to the man who sang.
Laulava versus laulanut

The article you’re currently reading deals with the NUT-participle. For comparison’s sake, it is also important to know that the passive present participle can also be used in this way. We can e.g. talk about laulava mies and laulanut mies; itkevä lapsi and itkenyt lapsi.

The difference between the two is that the NUT-participle’s events will be consecutive: one after the other. The VA-participle is used when expressing two concurrent events or a future event.

Finnish English
[Itkenyt lapsi] seisoo kadulla. [The child who cried] stands on the road.
[Itkenyt lapsi] seisoi kadulla. [The child who had cried] stood on the road.
[Itkevä lapsi] seisoo kadulla. [The crying child] stands on the road.
[Itkevä lapsi] seisoi kadulla. [The crying child] stood on the road.

As you can see above, the NUT-participle is used when the subject of the sentence has finished doing something before the action of the rest of the sentence (e.g. the kid stopped crying before getting on the road). If the crying would have been happening while the child was standing on the road, we would have used the active present participle.

These adjectives can also become lexicalized, such as kuollut for “dead” rather than “dying”.

2.3. When using the “että construction” (referatiivirakenne)

The sentence “Luulen, että hän tuli myöhässä.” can be replaced by the reference structure (referatiivirakenne) which means the same thing: “Luulen hänen tulleen myöhässä.” We have an article on the referatiivirakenne here.

Finnish English
Tiedän hänen kuunnelleen huonosti. I know he listened badly.
Epäilen teidän valehdelleen eilen. I suspect you’ve been lying yesterday.
Luulen ymmärtäneeni asian väärin. I think I had understood it wrong.
Janne kertoi olleensa Espanjassa. Janne say that he had been in Spain.

2.4. When expressing accidental actions

With the verb tulla you can express having done something without planning to. The NUT-participle will inflect in the translative case for this type of sentences.

Finnish English
Tulin sanoneeksi jotain väärin. I accidentally said something wrong.
Tulin syöneeksi vähän makkaraa laihdutuskuurilla. I accidentally ate some sausage on a diet.
Hän tuli valinneeksi Hyla-maitoa. He accidentally chose Hyla-milk.

3. The Formation of the Active Past Participle

The active past participle’s marker is -nut/-nyt (depending on vowel harmony). This is the same form you use in the negative past tense and in the perfect tense. You add this marker to the infinitive’s stem. You find this stem by removing the last (verbtype 1) or two last letters (verbtype 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) of the dictionary-form of the verb.


Verbtype 1
Verb Example Translation
nukku-a huonosti nukkunut lapsi the child who slept badly
leipo-a äsken leiponut äiti the mother who just finished baking
Verbtype 2
Verb Example Translation
syö-dä puuroa syönyt koira the dog who ate porridge
tupakoi-da tupakoinut kuljettaja the driver who just smoked
Verbtype 3
Verb Example Translation
kävel-lä metsässä kävellyt mies the man who had walked in the forest
nous-ta esille noussut ongelma the problem that has arisen
Verbtype 4
Verb Example Translation
kiive-tä puuhun kiivennyt kissa the cat that climbed into the tree
kado-ta kadonnut lompakko the lost wallet
Verbtype 5
Verb Example Translation
häiri-tä rauhaa häirinnyt koira the dog that disturbed the peace
tarvi-ta ruokaa tarvinnut lapsi the child who needed food
Verbtype 6
Verb Example Translation
vanhe-ta vanhennut nainen the woman that has aged
lämme-tä lämmennyt ilmasto the climate which has warmed up

4. The Inflection of the Active Past Participle

The participles can be inflected in all the Finnish cases.

Case Singular Plural Example
Nominative nukkunut nukkuneet Hyvin nukkuneet miehet heräävät iloisina.
Genitive nukkuneen nukkuneiden Nukkuneiden lasten sängyt ovat sotkuisia.
Partitive nukkunutta nukkuneita Älä häiritse huonosti nukkuneita teinejä.
Mihin nukkuneeseen nukkuneisiin Törmäsin hyvin nukkuneeseen Villeen.
Missä nukkuneessa nukkuneissa Yön yli nukkuneessa lapsessa on paljon tarmoa.
Mistä nukkuneesta nukkuneista En tykkää huonosti nukkuneista tovereistani.
Mille nukkuneelle nukkuneille Hyvin nukkuneille ihmisille on helppoa puhua.
Millä nukkuneella nukkuneilla Hyvin nukkuneilla on parempi keskittymiskyky.
Miltä nukkuneelta nukkuneilta Nukkuneilta oli varastettu lompakkoita.
Translative nukkuneeksi nukkuneiksi Hups, tuli nukkuneeksi pommiin.
Essive nukkuneena nukkuneina Hyvin nukkuneena on helpompi tehdä päätöksiä.


Check out the other Finnish participles here!

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In the sentence “Janne kertoi olleensa Espanjassa.Janne told that he had been in Spain.” I am having trouble finding the construction / structure of the word olleensa. I would like to think it is a 2nd infinitive, but it doesn´t seem to fit the pattern. Also, I wonder what In olleensa gives rise to the past tense. If I come across it while reading I am inclined to think “Janne told about having been in Spain.”. What is its structure and what is the precise translation of olleensa?

Inge (admin)

It’s not the second infinitive, no! If the verb olla in the referatiivirakenne (että-participle). So ollut > olleen > olleensa (genetive + possessive suffix).

It’s the että-participle construction (referatiivirakenne):
Janne kertoi olleensa Espanjassa. = “Janne told that he had been in Spain”
= Janne kertoi, että hän oli ollut Espanjassa. = “Janne told that he had been in Spain”

Janne was telling us about the past: he was in Spain at some point before talking to us.

Maybe you missed it, but there’s a link in that section that should help you further: Section 4.2 mentions past tense sentences.


When should the -nut/-nyt ending have double n’s, e.g. -nnut/-nnyt? Does that just always happen for verb types 4-6 and never happen for 1-2?

Dat Dang

Hi. I have a question related to essive, enessive and adverb. I don’t understand the difference between them in some cases.

1, Hyvin nukkuneet miehet heräävät iloisina.
2, Hyvin nukkuneet miehet heräävät iloisesti.

In the examples above, I know one is essive and one is adverb but I do not get the difference in meaning and which purpose should I use essive or adverb in the different cases.

With the same confusion, I also have two examples:

3, Hän elää surullisena.
4, Hän elää surussa.

Could you please point out the differences between them and let me know which special cases should I use essive, inessive and adverb in the examples above?

Thank you in advance.


There is a typo in the section 2.3, valehtelleen should be valehdelleen.

Inge (admin)

Well spotted! Thank you!


FYI, there’s a small mistake in the English translation of “Janne kertoi olleensa Espanjassa,” which is given here as “Janne told that he had been in Spain.” In English, “tell” cannot usually be used without a person as a direct object (e.g. “tell me”, “told her”, etc.). There are some exceptions like “tell a secret”, but “tell/told that…” is always wrong and should usually be “said that”, as in this sentence. This mistake is also present in the “active present participle” article, where the sentence “En kertonut tapaavani häntä.” is translated to English as “I didn’t tell I was meeting her,” which should instead be: “I didn’t say that I was meeting her.”

Inge (admin)

Oh! I didn’t realize that about English. This mistake is probably present on MANY pages, I’m going to have to do a wide search for those. Thanks for pointing this out!