Finnish for busy people

The Verb Harrastaa – Talking about Your Hobbies

1. The Verb Harrastaa

In English, there doesn’t seem to be a direct verb that we can translate the verb “harrastaa” to. It gets loosely translated as “to have as a hobby” or “to enjoy as a hobby”. In regular English, you would use “My hobby is…” rather than “Harrastan…”. The English sentence construction is possible in Finnish as well (“Minun harrastukseni on…), but isn’t as commonly used.

With the verb harrastaa, you will need to use the partitive case for the object.

Mitä sinä harrastat? What do you enjoy as a hobby?
Finnish English Finnish English
Harrastan hiihtoa. I enjoy skiing. Harrastan balettia. I enjoy ballet.
Harrastan luistelua. I enjoy skating. Harrastan tennis. I enjoy tennis.

2. Harrastaa + The Fourth Infinitive

Harrastaa can be used both with nouns and with “nounalized verbs” (the so-called fourth infinitive). As mentioned above, the verb harrastaa is a partitive verb. Because of that, the nounalized verb’s basic form (-minen) will be inflected in the partitive case (-mista/-mistä).

Often, there exists both a noun and a nounalized verb for the same hobby.

Noun Nounalized Verb English
Harrastan hiihtoa. Harrastan hiihtämistä. I enjoy skiing as a hobby.
Harrastan tanssia. Harrastan tanssimista. I enjoy dancing as a hobby.
Harrastan kalastusta. Harrastan kalastamista. I enjoy fishing as a hobby.
Harrastan uintia. Harrastan uimista. I enjoy swimming as a hobby.

3. Harrastaa + Nounalized Phrase

As said above, there are nounalized verbs. You can also nounalize a phrase, e.g. “katsoa televisiota” (=to watch television) can become “television katsominen” (=watching television).

To form a sentence which translates as “I enjoy watching television as a hobby”:

  • The verb “katsoa” needs to be inflected in the fourth infinitive first: katsominen.
  • You will still have to inflect “katsominen” in the partitive: katsomista. This is due to the partitive verb “harrastaa”.
  • The object of the original sentence (televisio) needs to be inflected in the genitive: television.
Noun Nounalized Phrase English
Katson televisiota. Harrastan television katsomista. I enjoy watching television as a hobby.
Pelaan tennistä. Harrastan tenniksen pelaamista. I enjoy playing tennis as a hobby.
Laitan ruokaa. Harrastan ruoan laittamista. I enjoy making food as a hobby.
Otan aurinkoa. Harrastan auringon ottamista. I enjoy sunbathing as a hobby.

There are some phrases where the extra word is NOT an object, but rather e.g. a location (kävelen metsässä). For these, you will also reverse the order (metsässä kävelemistä), but you don’t put the location in the genitive for these!

Noun Nounalized Phrase English
Kävelen metsässä. Harrastan metsässä kävelemistä. I enjoy walking in the forest.
Löhöän sohvalla. Harrastan sohvalla löhöämistä. I enjoy being lazy on the couch.
Uin uima-altaassa. Harrastan uima-altaassa uimista. I enjoy swimming in the swimming pool.
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Krishna Sharma

if the nounlize phrase has both location and object, which one comes next after harrastan. for example Harrastan television katsomista sohvalla or harrastan sohvalla television katsomista ( i enjoy watching television on the couch as a hobby

There doesn’t seem to be a very strict word order pattern to this, both work for the examples I thought of, but they both sound a little clunky.

I asked around in my discord server, and Joona made a very good point there: “Mun harrastuksiin kuuluu koiran ulkoiluttaminen. Me käydään usein metsässä.” is better than “Mun harrastuksiin kuuluu metsässä ulkoiluttaminen“.

Don’t try to cram too much into one sentence!