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Finnish Sentence Types Expressing Change: Tuloslause vs. Muutoslause

There are two distinct Finnish sentence types expressing change: one with the translative case (Niinistö tuli presidentiksi) and the other with the mistä-form (Niinistöstä tuli presidentti). Both those example sentences express that Niinistö became the president. However, usually there is a difference in meaning between the two, which is why this article provides you with a comparison: tuloslause vs. muutoslause.

  • Tuloslause: Minusta tuli kuuluisa. Pojasta tuli mies.
  • Muutoslause: Minä tulin iloiseksi. Sää muuttui sateiseksi.

Leila White calls these sentence types change + result clauses.

Table of Contents

Difference in meaning: Hänestä tuli lääkäri vs. Hän tuli lääkäriksi

I already have a whole article focusing on the [mistä tulee mitäkin] sentence construction, so you could read that one first!

1. The Permanence of the Change

The most basic difference is that – generally – the elative (mistä) sentence expresses a permanent development (#1), while the translative (-ksi) expresses a change that might not be permanent (#2).

# Finnish English
1 Hänestä tuli diabeetikko. He became a diabetic.
2 Hän tuli sairaaksi. He became sick.
1 Kankaasta tuli takki. The fabric became a coat.
2 Kangas tuli likaiseksi. The fabric became dirty.

This can be a generalization, because sometimes both forms can be used in the same meaning.

However, if you memorize one rule, it’s wise to remember this one, as it is the most consistent one on this page.

2. Development versus Change

We could also generally conclude that the elative (mistä) expresses a development into something new (#1), while the translative (-ksi) expresses a change in something that already exists (#2). For example:

  1. Pojasta tuli komea mies. – The boy develops into something new: a man.
  2. Poika tuli hulluksi. – The boy stayed a boy but nevertheless underwent a change.
# Finnish English
1 Pojasta tuli komea mies. The boy became a handsome man.
2 Poika tuli hulluksi. The boy went mad.
1 Ravintolasta tuli varastotila. The restaurant became a storage area.
2 Ravintola tuli suosituksi. The restaurant became popular.

Please note that this is another generalization: we can say both “Ravintolasta tuli suosittu” and “Ravintola tuli suosituksi.”

3. Adjectives Versus Nouns

Careful analysis of my example sentences may also reveal that the sentences with the translative (-ksi) often contain an adjective expressing the result (e.g. sairas, likainen, hullu, suosittu). In constrast, I have favored nouns for the result of a sentence with the elative (mistä) (e.g. diabeetikko, takki, mies, varastotila).

This is again just a tendency, not a foolproof rule.

4. Certain Verbs

Last but not least, there are certain verbs that will only appear with the translative (-ksi) case. These verbs are listed on my translative verb rection page.

Finnish English
Sää muuttui kylmemmäksi. The weather became colder.
Poika valmistui insinööriksi. The boy graduated as an engineer.
Kevät vaihtui kesäksi. Spring changed into summer.
Ryhdyin yrittäjäksi. I became an entrepreneur.

5. Examples Where Only One Case Works

5.1. Objects and things becoming something

When we’re talking about things that turn into something or become something, it is common to use the mistä-form (#1).

This tendency isn’t watertight, and perhaps these examples simply belong to point 5.3: they might just be examples of things that change irreversibly. The examples marked with #2 seem to strengthen that interpretation: being popular or well-known are things that generally are temporary, so the translative is also possible for those two sentences.

# Tuloslause Muutoslause English
1 Neuvottelusta tuli pitkä. Neuvottelu tuli pitkäksi. The negotiation became a long one.
1 Avioliitosta tuli onnellinen. Avioliitto tuli onnelliseksi. The marriage was a happy one.
1 Kokouksesta tulee lyhyt. Kokous tulee lyhyeksi. The meeting will be a short one.
1 Tuomiosta tuli päätösvaltainen. Tuomio tuli päätösvaltaiseksi. The verdict became final/quorate.
1 Videosta tuli megahitti. Video tuli megahitiksi. The video became a major hit.
2 Tanssista tuli tuttu kaikille. Tanssi tuli tutuksi kaikille. The dance became known to all.
2 Ravintolasta tuli suosittu. Ravintola tuli suosituksi. The restaurant became popular.

5.2. Development versus Change

The following examples demonstrate how the mistä-form is used to express a development into something new, while the translative expresses a change in something that still maintains its being.

  • In #1, the child is effectively not a child anymore when she becomes a teenage mother. There’s a development happening. It’s a permanent change so only the mistä-form works.
  • In #2, there’s a slight ambiguity. We could say that the child is still the same child when he becomes happy, but we could also see it as a more fundamental change (also see section 3.3).
  • In #3, we could see this as the child no longer being a child when becoming an adult, so both versions work.
  • In #4, the child – after being conceived – became a boy. There is no development into something new here, the child doesn’t change from one thing into another, he just is a boy when he has been conceived.
# Tuloslause Muutoslause English
1 Lapsesta tuli teiniäiti. Lapsi tuli teiniäidiksi. The child became a teenage mother.
2 Lapsesta tuli iloinen. Lapsi tuli iloiseksi. The child became happy.
3 Lapsesta tuli aikuinen. Lapsi tuli aikuiseksi. The child became an adult.
4 Lapsesta tuli poika. Lapsi tuli pojaksi. The child was a boy.

5.3. Permanence of the change

Another thing that limits the case we can use is the permanence of the change.

  • In #1, becoming an outsider is a state that lasts, so we need to use the mistä-form.
  • In #2, there is no going back from being a first-grader, you can’t go back to being a kindergartener! The same is true for Lapsesta tuli pitkä. Children don’t shrink back up.
  • In #3, we can also see the change as a more permanent thing (with the mistä-form: I became an angry person), or as a more temporary feeling (with the translative case: I got angry).
  • Similarly, in #4, we can use both cases, depending on how we view the change: is there a lasting change, or is the happiness just tied to a single event after which the child will revert to their “normal” state? Could the difference, when translating, be “The child became happy” vs. “The child became a happy one”?
# Tuloslause Muutoslause English
1 Minusta tuli ulkopuolinen. Minä tulin ulkopuoliseksi. I became an outsider.
2 Lapsesta tuli ekaluokkalainen. Lapsi tuli ekaluokkalaiseksi. The child became a first-grader.
2 Lapsesta tuli pitkä. Lapsi tuli pitkäksi. The child became tall.
3 Minusta tuli vihainen ja ärtynyt. Minä tulin vihaiseksi ja ärtyneeksi. I became angry and resentful.
4 Lapsesta tuli iloinen. Lapsi tuli iloiseksi. The child became happy.

Read more elsewhere

Hopefully the difference between the Finnish sentence types expressing change is now a little clearer!

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I’m a bit confused…

Point 2 says that elative expresses a development into something new, while the translative expresses a change in something that already exists.

And point 5.2 says that the mistä-form is used to express a change in something that still maintains its being, while the translative is used for a development into something new.

That is, a mistä-form expresses a development into something new AND/OR ? is used to express a change in something that still maintains its being.

Could you clarify it with any new example or explanation ? Kiitos

Inge (admin)

I was contradicting myself a little there, wasn’t I? It’s due to the word types I’m mixing in my examples (adjectives and nouns). The rules are a little skewed depending on the word type.

To clarify: like it said in point 2, ELATIVE is used to express a development into something new, and TRANSLATIVE is used for a change in something that maintains its being.

However, with adjectives, the rule about the permanence of the change takes precedence: even if there is no transformation happening, if the adjective expresses something irreversible, only the elative works. That’s what was happening with “Lapsesta tuli pitkä“. While the child is still a child, it won’t be shrinking back down, so the translative doesn’t work. “Lapsi tuli iloiseksi” can be reversed.

Some variation is still caused by point 5.1. I need to rethink that point. I don’t feel like the “process” aspect completely explains the variation anymore, but I can’t put my finger on what it IS then that makes them so different.

I’m assuming wordpress notifies you when you get a reply to a comment? It might take me a couple of days to find time for this. I’ll reply here then.

Inge (admin)

Hey again! I think I figured out 5.2.

The thing that unified my examples in 5.2 wasn’t so much the “process” vs. “instant change” tendency that I thought I’d spotted there. Instead, more brainstorming seems to show that those examples were just more of the “temporary” vs. “permanent” guideline. They might also have to do with the fact that the thing changing is an non-living thing, but I’m refraining from drawing more conclusion.

I’ve kept these sentences where they were and added a couple of additional things I noticed, but the more I think about it, the less absolute all the rules seem to become! You CAN rely on my examples though, even if my explanations aren’t clear. Things that I’ve crossed out are definitely not possible.

Thank you so much for commenting, this article did need some more brainstorming for sure.