Finnish for busy people

Making someone do something – Pyytää Kehottaa Käskeä

We can use many verbs to express that someone is making someone do something. We’re asking them, encouraging them, urging them and ordering them to do something. This article goes over different verbs in Finnish that are used for this purpose.

Table of Contents
  1. Terminology
  2. No pressure → Very little pressure
    1. Pyytää – To ask someone to do something
    2. Neuvoa – To advise someone to do something
    3. Kannustaa – To encourage someone to do something
    4. Ohjata – To direct someone to do something
    5. Kehottaa – To urge someone to do something
  3. More pressure → More authority to pressure
    1. Käskeä – To order someone to do something
    2. Vaatia – To demand someone to do something
    3. Painostaa – To press someone to do something
    4. Pakottaa – To force someone to do something
    5. Määrätä – To impose someone to do something
    6. Velvoittaa – To oblige someone to do something

1. Terminology

In English grammar, we would call these verbs causative verbs. Examples of causative verbs in English include help, allow, let, cause, have, force, and require. Those are right in line with the subject of this article, which is verbs that express “making someone do something”. However, Finnish already uses the term “causative verbs” to refer to the process of making a verb transitive.

As such, we need a different term in Finnish. VISK uses the term “permissive construction” (permissiivirakenne), which partly covers this issue (read here). However, this term is only used to refer to verbs whose object gets inflected in the genetive case (eg. Käskin lapsen siivota tavaransa. Annoin lapsen lähteä). In our article, we will also include verbs that get a partitive object.

As such, I’m not really sure what to call these verbs grammatically. There are two things that unify the meaning of these verbs: their meaning of “making someone do something” and their rection: they all come with the -maan form of the verb, aka the third infinitive‘s illative form. The cases used for the object of the sentence can differ per verb.

2. No pressure → Very little pressure

2.1. Pyytää – To request

The verb pyytää means “to ask, to request something”. It’s used to ask someone to do something, or request to receive something. It differs from kysyä, which is limited to asking for information. When you request something, you’re not putting any pressure on the other person to do what you’re asking for. It’s just a question, to which the answer could be both positive and negative.

The verb pyytää can be used in many different phrases and situations. You can use it, for example, with että-sentences (pyydän, että… “I request that…”). It’s also used with nouns: to ask for help (pyytää apua), money (pyytää rahaa) or forgiveness (pyytää anteeksi), to request silence (pyytää hiljaisuutta) or a turn to speak (pyytää puheenvuoroa).

  • pyytää + partitive + maan: [to ask] + [someone] + [to do] something
Finnish English
Pyydän sinua tulemaan tänne. I’m asking you to come over.
Pyysin hän käymään kaupassa. I asked him to go to the store.
Pyysin jotakuta auttamaan. I asked someone to help.
Hei pyydettiin odottamaan. They were asked to wait.
Hän pyysi minua avaamaan oven. She asked me to open the door.

2.2. Neuvoa – To advise

The verb neuvoa means “to advise, to counsel”. It’s the verb used to express that you’re offering well-meant advice. This verb also puts little to no pressure on the other person.

  • neuvoa + partitive + maan: [to advise] + [someone] + [to do] something
Finnish English
Myyjä neuvoi minua harkitsemaan asiaa. The salesperson advised me to think about it.
Hän neuvoi minua olemaan kärsivällinen. She advised me to be patient.
Hän neuvoi mies olemaan oma itsensä. He advised the man to be himself.
Neuvoin ystävää perustamaan firman. I advised a friend to start a firm.
Mei neuvottiin kehumaan lasta jatkuvasti. We were advised to constantly praise the child.
Neuvolassa neuvottiin mei odottamaan. The clinic advised us to wait.

2.3. Kannustaa – To encourage

You use the verb kannustaa to express encouraging someone to do something.

In addition to its third infinitive rection, kannustaa can also be used in combination with a noun in the mihin form (eg. kannustaa voittoon, lääkärin puheille, laulu-uralle), none of which translate very well to English.

  • kannustaa + partitive + maan: [to encourage] + [someone] + [to do] something
Finnish English
Heikki kannusti Annaa kirjoittamaan runoja. Heikki encouraged Anna to write poems.
Kannustin hän opiskelemaan lääketiedettä. I encouraged him to study medicine.
Hän kannusti minua perustamaan yrityksen. She encouraged me to start a company
Äitini kannusti minua tekemään mitä haluan. My mom encouraged me to do what I want.
Hän kannusti minua seuraamaan sydäntäni. She encouraged me to follow my heart.

2.4. Ohjata – To direct

Ohjata is mainly used with locations – literal places, eg. to direct someone to the right train (ohjata oikeaan junaan) or to direct someone inside or outside (ohjata ulos tai sisään). It does have its uses with verbs as well, as shown in the table below.

In contrast with the previous verbs which required the partitive, the verb ohjata will get a normal object, which follows the object rules. This means that we will use the basic form in passive sentences, and we can use both the partitive and genetive for objects.

  • ohjata + object + maan: [to direct] + [someone] + [to do] something
Finnish English
Kaksikko ohjattiin poistumaan ravintolasta. The two were directed to leave the restaurant.
Hän ohjasi minut soittamaan talouspäällikölle. He directed me to call to the CFO.
Sotilaspoliisi ohjasi miestä siirtymään sivummalle. The military police directed the man to move aside.
Hän ohjasi minua keskittymään olennaiseen. She directed me to focus on the essentials.
Miksi häntä ei ohjattu puhumaan psykologille? Why wasn’t he directed to talk to a psychologist?

2.5. Kehottaa – To urge

The verb kehottaa carries the most urgency of the verbs up to now. It doesn’t pressure people into doing something exactly, but it is strongly suggesting that they do it. Kehottaa is a partitive verb.

  • kehottaa + partitive + maan: [to urge] + [someone] + [to do] something
Finnish English
Lääkäri kehotti mies lopettamaan tupakanpolton. The doctor urged the man to stop smoking.
Kehotin lapsia ja opettajia poistumaan bussista. I urged the children and teachers to leave the bus.
Kehotin huoltajaa tekemään rikosilmoituksen. I urged the guardian to report the crime.
Kehotin hän hakeutumaan lääkäriin. I urged him to search medical attention.
Ihmis kehotettiin pitämään ikkunat suljettuina. People were urged to keep the windows shut.
Mei kehotettiin ottamaan yhteyttä puheterapiaan. We were urged to contact speech therapy.

3. More pressure → More authority to pressure

The following verbs carry a stronger meaning of making someone do something. Some of these verbs refer to situations where you actually have the authority to be making someone do something, others don’t.

3.1. Käskeä – To Order

The verb käskeä means “to order, to tell someone what to do”. While it does express that someone is being pressured to do something, käskeä doesn’t necessarily mean that the speaker has the authority to order someone to do something. Verbs that express more authority will be further down below.

Käskeä has two verb rection options, and I’m not sure if there is a difference in meaning between the two.

  • käskeä + partitive + maan: [to order] + [someone] + [to do] something
  • käskeä + genetive + infinitive: [to order] + [someone] + [to do] something
Finnish English
Timo käski naapuria tulemaan sisään. Timo told the neighbor to come in.
Timo käski naapureita tulemaan sisään. Timo told the neighbors to come in.
Timo käski naapureiden tulla sisään. Timo told the neighbors to come in.
Timo käski naapurin tulla sisään. Timo told the neighbor to come in.
Äiti käski poikaa antamaan tytön nukkua Mom told the boy to let the girl sleep.
Äiti käski lapsen mennä ulos. Mom told the kid to go outside.

3.2. Vaatia – To demand

Vaatia can be translated as “to demand” or as “to be required”, depending on the perspective from the sentence in question.

  • vaatia + partitive + maan: [to demand] + [someone] + [to do] something
Finnish English
Hän vaati kaikkia kuuntelemaan. He demanded that everyone listen.
Minua vaadittiin pitämään asia salassa. I was required to keep it a secret.
Hän vaati hei lopettamaan hyökkäyksen. She demanded that they stop the attack.
Vaadin hän hakemaan apua. I demanded her to get help.
Vaadin hän selittämään, mitä oli tekeillä. I demanded he explain what was happening.

3.3. Painostaa – To press

The verb painostaa gets an object. I mainly found examples of partitive objects through google. The genetive would generally be used to say that the pressure made someone cave in, and partitive if it’s unsuccessful.

I found plenty of examples of the verb painostaa without a second verb. Often just an object is enough: for example, “Trump pressured China” and “the unions pressure the employers”.

We can also have noun rections in Finnish: painostaa aborttiin (pressure to have an abortion), painostaa sopimukseen (pressure to make an agreement, and painostaa rokotukseen (pressure to get a vaccination).

  • painostaa + object + maan: [to press] + [someone] + [to do] something
Finnish English
Poikaa painostettiin liittymään jengiin. The boy was pressured to join the gang.
Hotelli painosti turistia antamaan hyvän palveluarvion. The hotel pressured the tourist to give a good service rating.
Henkilökunta painosti lentäj laskeutumaan. The staff pressured the pilots to land.
Suku painosti hän kääntymään ortodoksiksi. The family pressured him to convert to Orthodoxy.
Lapsia ei saisi liian kovasti painostaa opiskelemaan. Kids shouldn’t be pressured too hard to study.
Kallea painostettiin irtisanomaan itsensä. Kalle was pressured to resign.

3.4. Pakottaa – To force

The verb pakottaa refers to forcing someone to do something.

  • pakottaa + object + maan: [to force] + [someone] + [to do] something
Finnish English
Hän pakotti itsensä lähtemään lenkille. He forced himself to go for a jog.
Vamma pakotti pojan luopumaan jääkiekosta. The injury forced the boy to give up hockey.
Nälkä pakotti hänet varastamaan ruokaa. Hunger forced her to steal food.
Narsisti pakotti minut tottelemaan. The narcissist forced me to obey.
Hänet pakotettiin tunnustamaan teko. She was forced to confess the act.

3.5. Määrätä – To impose

When an authority orders you to do something, you can use the verb määrätä. This verb means that the person being ordered will have no choice but to do it.

This verb will often not have a second verb attached to it: you can for example impose an overtime ban (ylityökielto), a penalty (rangaistus) or a restriction (rajoitus).

  • määrätä + object + maan: [to impose] + [someone] + [to do] something
Finnish English
Tuomioistuin määräsi Puolan jäädyttämään lain. The court ordered Poland to freeze the law.
Presidentti määräsi asevoimat valmistautumaan. The president ordered to army to prepare.
Nainen määrättiin maksamaan korvaukset. The woman was ordered to pay compensation.
Yhtiö määrättiin maksamaan uhkasakko. The firm was ordered to pay a penalty payment.
Sotilaat määrättiin auttamaan sadonkorjuussa. The soldiers were ordered to help with the harvest.

3.6. Velvoittaa – To oblige

The verb velvoittaa obliges someone to do something. Usually it’s either the court or the law that obliges us, but it can be any official instance. Its meaning is really close to määrätä.

  • velvoittaa + object + maan: [to oblige] + [someone] + [to do] something
Finnish English
Lautakunta velvoitti minut neuvottelemaan sopimuksista. The commission obliged me to negotiate contracts.
Työvoimatoimisto velvoittaa minut hakemaan tietyn määrän työpaikkoja viikossa. The employment agency obliges me to apply for a certain number of jobs per week.
Mikään ei velvoita minua vastaamaan teille. Nothing obliges me to answer you.
Laki velvoittaa meidät tarkistamaan iän kaikilta. The law requires us to check the age of everyone.
Laki velvoittaa työnantajan säilyttämään palkkakortit. The law obliges the employer to keep pay slips.
Laki velvoittaa jokaista auttamaan hätätilanteessa. The law obliges everyone to help in an emergency.

That’s it for verbs related to making someone do something. I will explore this topic further with a separate article on permissive verbs like kieltää “to forbid” and sallia “to allow” later.

Interesting read: Yrjö Lauranto – The projected directive construction and objectcase marking in Finnish

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