Finnish for busy people

Lausetyypit – Finnish Sentence Types

In this article, you can find links to all the articles that deal with the different sentence types (lausetyypit) you can have in Finnish.

1. Peruslause — Tavallinen lause — Simple sentence

Simple sentences have at least a subject and a verb. The subject can either be mentioned in the sentence (e.g. minä) or be visible in the personal ending of the verb (e.g. opiskelen). The rest of the elements are optional: you could add e.g. an object, a location or a time.

Finnish English
(Minä) opiskelen. I study.
(Me) opiskelemme illalla suomea yliopistossa. I study Finnish in university in the evening.
Pojat auttavat opettajaa. The boys help the teacher.
(Minä) myöhästyin bussista. I was late for the bus.

2. Kysymyslause — Interrogative sentence

A kysymyslause (question sentence) usually starts with either an interrogative pronoun (e.g. missä, milloin, miksi) or with a verb with the -ko/kö suffix. We can make questions out of all the sentence types below of course. In general, linguists will not separate out question sentences as their own sentence type. However, as a learner of Finnish, doing so shows you the two types you will come across.

Finnish English
Mihin aikaan heräät aamulla? At what time do you wake up in the morning?
Missä sinä asut? Where do you live?
Miksi et tullut eilen kouluun? Why didn’t you come to school yesterday?
Haluatko tulla kylään? Do you want to come and visit?
Tulivatko pojat ajoissa? Did the boys come on time?
Tanssitteko usein? Do you dance often?

Interrogative Sentences

3. Objektilause — Object sentence

Sentences with an object technically belong to the previous group, but as a Finnish learner the object is important enough to also look at separately. Object sentences have a subject, a transitive verb and an object. The object can appear in the basic form, the singular or plural partitive, the singular genitive and the T-plural.

Finnish English
Syön omenan. I eat an apple.
Syön puuroa. I eat porridge.
Avaan ikkunan. I open a window.
Ikkunat avattiin. The windows were opened.
En avannut ikkunaa. I didn’t open the window.
Ostaisitko perunoita? Could you buy potatoes?

Object Sentences

4. Omistuslause “Minulla on” lause — Possession sentence

Possessive sentences express that someone has something. They are formed using the -lla form of the person (the adessive case) and the verb olla (to be) in the third person singular. The thing someone has will typically by inflected in the singular or plural nominative (ie. the basic form and the T-plural), or in the singular or plural partitive case.

Finnish English
Minulla on koira. I have a dog.
Sinulla on hyvä puhelin. You have a good phone.
Meillä ei ole lapsia. We don’t have children.
Liisalla on työpaikka. Liisa has a job.
Opiskelijalla on kysymys. The student has a question.
Opiskelijoilla on kysymyksiä. The students have questions.

Minulla on – Possession Sentences

5. EksistentiaalilausePaikkalause — Existential sentence

Existential sentences express that something is somewhere. These sentences always START with the location in Finnish, while English sentences of this type will start with “there is” or “there are”. In Finnish, the verb will usually be inflected in the third person singular. The most typical verb is olla, but we can use verbs like ajaa and kävellä as well. The existential “subject” of the sentence most typically appears in the basic form (the singular nominative), the singular partitive or the plural partitive.

Finnish English
Kadulla on kirja. There’s a book on the street.
Kadulla ajaa auto. There is a car driving on the street.
Kaduilla kävelee ihmisiä. There are people walking on the streets.
Huoneessa on lapsi. There is a child in the room.
Huoneessa ei ole lamppua. There is no lamp in the room.
Kurssilla on opiskelija. There is a student in the course.
Kursseilla on opiskelijoita. There are students in the courses.
Autossa on mies ja nainen. There is a man and a woman in the car.

Existential Sentences

6. Verbi + verbi lause – Sentence with a verb chain

We have many sentences with verb chains. While these aren’t in the linguistic sense a “sentence type”, if you’re studying sentence type on a course or using a book, sentences like this will often be listed separately. There are several types of verb chains. Below are the three most common. I strongly recommend clicking the links to learn more!

6.1. Infinitive verb rections

Finnish English
Haluan matkustaa Suomeen. I want to travel to Finland.
Me osaamme uida. We know how to swim.
Voisitko auttaa minua? Could you help me?
Anna päätti lähteä. Anna decided to leave.

6.2. Third infinitive verb rections

Finnish English
Me menemme uimaan. We’re going swimming.
Me tulemme uimasta. We come from swimming
Me olemme uimassa. We are currently swimming.

6.3. Fourth infinitive verb rections

Finnish English
Rakastan lukemista. I love reading.
Pidän lukemisesta. I like reading.
Keskityn lukemiseen. I focus on reading.
Aloitan lukemisen. I start reading.

7. Predikatiivilause — Complement sentence

A complement sentence (predikatiivilause or kopulalause) tells what (or what kind) the subject of the sentence is (or isn’t). The subject of the sentence will appear in the basic form or the T-plural only, regardless of whether the subject is abstract or not. The verb of the sentence is always “olla.” The complement (predikatiivi in Finnish) at the end of the sentence can be either a noun or an adjective.

Finnish English
Pöytä on korkea. The table is high.
Pöytä on puuta. The table is made out of wood.
Kahvi oli kuumaa. The coffee is hot.
Takki ei ole lyhyt. The coat is not short.
Nuken silmät ovat siniset. The doll’s eyes are blue.
Nuken vaatteet ovat sinisiä. The doll’s clothes are blue.

Complement Sentences

8. Nessessiivilause — “Minun täytyy”-lause — Necessity sentence

Necessity sentences express that something MUST be done by someone. The subject of the sentence will usually appear at the beginning of the sentence, and it will be inflected in the genitive case.

Finnish English
Minun täytyy opiskella. I must study.
Minun ei tarvitse auttaa. I don’t have to help.
Antin pitää kuunnella. Antti must listen.
Meidän on pakko lähteä. We must leave.
Meidän kannattaa odottaa. We should wait.
Meidän ei ole pakko odottaa. We don’t have to wait.

Necessity sentences

9. On mentävä -lause — Necessity sentence with TAVA-participle

In addition to using täytyy, pitää, kannattaa and olla pakko (see the previous section), we can create necessity sentences using the TAVA-participle. Just like in regular necessity sentences, these express that something MUST be done by someone. The subject of the sentence will usually appear at the beginning of the sentence, and it will often be inflected in the genitive case.

Finnish English
Minun on mentävä kouluun. I must go to school.
Sinun on opiskeltava kotona. You must study at home.
Poikien on mentävä nukkumaan. The boys must go to sleep.
Kokin on tunnettava keittiön laitteita. The cook must know the kitchen devices.

On Mentävä Sentences

10. Muutos- ja tuloslause — Change and result sentence

The are two types of “change and result sentences”. One uses the elative case (-sta/stä) to mark the beginning stage of the change. In Finnish we call this a tuloslause. The other uses the translative case (-ksi) to mark the end result of the change. This is called a muutoslause in Finnish. This is a rarer sentence type, especially useful for more advanced learners of Finnish.

Finnish English
Lapsesta tuli aikuinen. The child became an adult.
Minusta tuli lääkäri. I became a doctor.
Minä tulin iloiseksi. I become happy.
Kangas tuli likaiseksi. The fabric became dirty.
Minä valmistuin lääkäriksi. I graduated as a doctor.

Change and Result Sentences

11. Nollapersoonalause — Generic sentence

This sentence type lacks a subject. This is something all the sentence types below have in common, though for different reasons. As the name implies, a nollapersoonalause (nolla “zero” + persoona “person” + lause “sentence, clause) doesn’t have a subject. It expresses that anyone could be doing the act; it applies to anyone. These sentences have the verb conjugated in the third person singular.

While nollapersoonalause is the preferred Finnish term for this sentence type, you can also call it geneerinen lause, just like the English “generic sentence”. In English, it’s common to use “you”, even though the subject is not one specific person that is being addressed.

Finnish English
Liput voi ostaa netistä. You (anyone) can buy the tickets online.
Aina voi yrittää. You (anyone) can always try.
Sitä saa, mitä tilaa. “You” (anyone) get what “you” order.
Täällä ei saa tupakoida. “You” (anyone) can’t smoke here.

Generic Sentences

12. On hauskaa -lause — “It’s fun to” sentences

Just like the previous one, this sentence type lacks a subject. Thus, we could classify this as another nollapersoonalause. This sentence type consists of the verb olla in the third person singular (on), an adjective (usually in its partitive form, e.g. hauskaa) and often a verb in its infinitive (uida). For example, the sentence On hauskaa uida means “it’s fun to swim”. There is, however, no “it” in the Finnish sentence – thus making it a sentence without a subject.

Finnish English
On hauskaa olla lomalla. It is fun to be on vacation.
On helppoa unohtaa säännöt. It is easy to forget the rules.
Oli pelottavaa yöpyä teltassa. It was frightening to sleep in a tent.
Ei ole kivaa, kun sataa koko ajan. It isn’t nice when it rains all the time.

I don’t currently have an article about this sentence type yet, but I’m working on it!

13. Säälause — Weather sentence

Another type of sentence which lacks a subject. Weather sentences aren’t usually counted as a separate sentence type at all: they are just nollapersoonalauseita “zero person sentences”. However, it is beneficial for you to realize that these sentences also don’t have a subject in Finnish! You won’t use “it” in these sentences like you do in English. The verb is inflected in the third person singular.

Finnish English
On kaunis päivä. It is a beautiful day.
Oli pilvistä. It was cloudy.
Sataa vettä. It is raining.
Ei sada. Ei satanut. It doesn’t rain. It didn’t rain.
On kaksi astetta pakkasta. It is two degrees below zero.
Tuulee. Wind is blowing.
Ulkona kylmenee. It is getting colder outside.

Talking about the weather

That’s all for this overview of the Finnish sentence types – lausetyypit!

You can find a similar list here (with exercises!) if you want to get another overview.

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”Kesällä yöllä on vaikea nukkua”
”Se on vaikea kirjoittaa”
“Tekstissä on hyvä olla 4 sivua”

Mitä lausetyyppejä nämä ovat?
Ei näytä tilalauseelta, ei partitiivi.