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Mass Nouns as Objects – Food and the Partitive

This article on mass nouns as objects will help you get a more nuanced view of how food, the partitive case and the genitive case fit together.

Other articles:

Mass Nouns as Objects: Cases Used

There are four possible cases for mass nouns in regular object sentences. When mass nouns function as objects, you will use the partitive case, the genitive case, the T-plural or the partitive plural.

  1. When we’re just eating some of a substance (like chocolate), we will use the partitive case for the object. This means that we eat an unspecified amount of one thing.
  2. When you specify the amount you eat using a number or the words vähän or paljon, you will use the partitive case.
  3. When you eat one whole portion of a food, you will use the genitive case. In English, you will use the pronoun “the” in these cases. Some things are generally not eaten as a whole (e.g. a whole cake) so these don’t generally appear with the genitive case.
  4. When you eat a plural amount of something without specifying the exact amount, you will use the plural partitive case. In English, you will either use no pronoun at all, or the word “some”: I eat apples, or I eat some apples.
  5. When you eat the plural foods, you will use the T-plural. This indicates either that you’re eating all the items, or that you’re eating the specific food items mentioned before (e.g. I eat all the apples or just I eat the apples).

Example Sentences of Mass Nouns

# Finnish English
1 Syön suklaata.
I eat chocolate.
2 Syön vähän suklaata.
I eat a little chocolate.
2 Syön paljon suklaata.
I eat a lot of chocolate.
3 Syön suklaapatukan. I eat a bar of chocolate.
3 Syön suklaalevyn. I eat a slab of chocolate.
3 Syön suklaapalan. I eat a chocolate piece.
3 Syön palan suklaata. I eat a piece of chocolate.
4 Syön suklaakonvehteja. I eat assorted chocolates.
3 Syön koko rasian suklaakonvehteja. I eat the whole box of assorted chocolates.
1 Syön juustoa. I eat cheese.
2 Syön vähän juustoa. I eat a little cheese.
2 Syön paljon juustoa. I eat a lot of cheese.
1 Syön juustoraastetta. I eat grated cheese.
3 Syön juustoviipaleen. I eat a cheese slice.
3 Syön yhden viipaleen juustoa. I eat one slice of cheese.
3 Syön pienen palan juustoa. I eat a small chunk of cheese.
2 Syön kaksi viipaletta juustoa. I eat two slices of cheese
1 Syön fetajuustoa. I eat feta cheese.
1 Syön fetaa. I eat feta.
2 Syön 100 grammaa juustoa. I eat 100 grams of cheese.
1 Syön leipää. I eat bread.
1 Syön ruisleipää. I eat rye bread.
1 Syön vaaleaa leipää. I eat white bread.
1 Syön pullaa. I eat buns.
3 Syön yhden pullan. I eat one bun.
3 Syön voileivän. I eat a sandwich.
3 Syön leivänpalan. I eat a piece of bread.
3 Syön leipäviipaleen. I eat a slice of bread.
3 Syön koko leivän. I eat the whole (loaf of) bread.
3 Syön sämpylän. I eat a roll.
4 Syön sämpylöitä. I eat rolls.
5 Syön sämpylät. I eat (all) the rolls.
5 Syön pullat. I eat the buns.
5 Syön kaikki pullat. I eat all the buns.
1 Syön kakkua. I eat cake.
2 Syön paljon kakkua. I eat a lot of cake.
2 Syön vähän kakkua. I eat a little cake.
3 Syön koko kakun. I eat the whole cake.
3 Syön kakkupalan. I eat a piece of cake.
4 Syön palan kakkua. I eat a piece of cake.
3 Syön leivoksen. I eat a sweet pastry.
3 Syön donitsin. I eat a donut.
3 Syön yhden muffinssin. I eat one muffin.
4 Syön donitseja. I eat donuts.
5 Syön donitsit. I eat (all) the donuts.
4 Syön pikkuleip. I eat biscuits.
5 Syön pikkuleivät. I eat (all) the biscuits.
3 Syön karjalanpiirakan. I eat a Karelian pasty.
4 Syön karjalanpiirakoita. I eat Karelian pasties.
5 Syön karjalanpiirakat. I eat (all) the Karelian pasties.
4 Syön leivonnaisia. I eat baked goods.
3 Syön omenan. I eat an apple.
2 Syön kaksi omenaa. I eat some apple.
1 Syön omenaa. I eat some apple.
4 Syön omenoita. I eat apples.
5 Syön omenat. I eat (all) the apples.
3 Syön omenaviipaleen. I eat an apple slice.
5 Syön omenaviipaleet. I eat (all) the apple slices.
4 Syön omenaviipaleita. I eat (some) apple slices.
1 Syön salaattia. I eat salad.
3 Syön salaatin. I eat the salad.
1 Syön lihaa. I eat meat.
1 Syön jauhelihaa. I eat minced meat.
1 Syön lihamureketta. I eat meatloaf.
1 Syön lihapataa. I eat meat stew.
3 Syön lihapasteijan. I eat a meat pastry.
1 Syön makkaraa. I eat sausage.
3 Syön makkaran. I eat a sausage.
4 Syön makkaroita. I eat sausages.
5 Syön makkarat. I eat (all) the sausages.
3 Syön pihvin. I eat a steak.
3 Syön lihapullan. I eat a meatball.
4 Syön lihapullia. I eat meatballs.
5 Syön lihapullat. I eat (all) the meatballs.
4 Syön nakkeja. I eat frankfurters.
4 Syön porsaankyljyks. I eat pork chops.
4 Syön kanasuikaileita. I eat chicken strips.
1 Syön paahtopaistia. I eat roast beef.
1 Syön broileria. I eat chicken breast.
1 Syön maksaa. I eat liver.
1 Syön maksalaatikkoa. I eat liver casserole.
1 Syön kalaa. I eat fish.
3 Syön kalafileen. I eat a fish fillet.
1 Syön lohta. I eat salmon.
3 Syön lohifileen. I eat a salmon fillet.
4 Syön silakoita. I eat Baltic herrings.
4 Syön muikkuja. I eat vendaces.

Other Object Rules

All the examples above appear in regular object sentences. The object rules can, however, cause some variation with objects that appear in the genitive case.

The verb in your object sentence can appear in the imperative form, the passive or a necessity sentence. When this is the case, we will use the basic form of the object rather than the genitive case. Take, for example, the sentence Syön omenan “I eat the apple”.

Note that this only causes changes for objects in the genitive case. If your object appears in the partitive, T-plural or plural partitive, nothing will change in these sentence types.


That’s all for these examples of mass nouns as objects in sentences! Hopefully this was helpful to you.

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