Finnish for busy people

Minulla on – Possession (Having Something)

Finnish doesn’t have a separate verb for “to have”. Instead it uses a different sentence construction, centered around the verb “olla”, “to be”, combined with the adessive case. This construction creates eg. minulla on, sinulla on and hänellä on.

1. Having Something

Person + lla Verb Object Translation
Minulla on yksi lapsi. I have one child.
Sinulla on oma huone. You have your own room.
Hänellä on vanha talo. He has an old building.
Meillä on vanha talo. We have an old building.
Teillä on kaksi lasta. You (plural) have two children.
Heillä on kissa. They have a cat.
Miialla on punainen kynä. Miia has a red pen.
Mikolla on silmälasit. Mikko has glasses.

It’s interesting to note that the “minulla on” literally means “on me there is”. Furthermore, you can see from the sentences above that the olla-verb doesn’t get conjugated! It is always written in the third person singular “on”.

2. Not Having Something

Person + lla Verb Object Translation
Minulla ei ole poikaystävää. I don’t have a boyfriend.
Sinulla ei ole omaa huonetta. You don’t have your own room.
Hänellä ei ole parveketta. He doesn’t have a balcony.
Meillä ei ole perhettä. We don’t have a family.
Teillä ei ole autoa. You (plural) don’t have a car.
Heillä ei ole kissaa. They don’t have a cat.
Miialla ei ole punaista kynää. Miia doesn’t have a red pen.
Mikolla ei ole maitoa. Mikko doesn’t have milk.

Just like in affirmative sentences, the olla-verb will stay the same in every person; you don’t conjugate the verb. The object of a “minulla ei ole” sentence will be written in the partitive case.

3. Exceptions

There are five exceptions to the rule that negative sentences will have the object in the partitive. These five phrases have their basic form in both the affirmative and the negative sentence.

Notice also that these are phrases that are very different from English: in English you say “I am hungry, not “I have a hunger” in everyday language for example.

Just like in affirmative sentences, the olla-verb will stay the same in every person; you don’t conjugate the verb. The object of these five “minulla ei ole” sentence will not be written in the partitive.

Affirmative Translation Negative Translation
Minulla on kiire. I’m in a hurry. Minulla ei ole kiire. I’m not in a hurry.
Sinulla on nälkä. You’re hungry. Sinulla ei ole nälkä. You’re not hungry.
Hänellä on jano. She’s thirsty. Hänellä ei ole jano. She’s not thirsty.
Meillä on kuuma. We’re hot. Meillä ei ole kuuma. We’re not hot.
Heillä on kylmä. They’re cold. Heillä ei ole kylmä. They’re not cold.

Another exception is the following type: “Onneksi minulla on sinut.” means “Luckily I have you.”

Affirmative Translation Negative Translation
Onneksi minulla on sinut. Luckily I have you. Jos minulla ei olisi sinua If I didn’t have you…
Hänellä on minut. He has me. Voi meitä, kun meillä ei ole teitä. Poor us, we don’t have you (plural).

4. Things that Have Something

Important to notice is that objects that have something don’t always follow the above pattern. If a room has 2 windows, in Finnish you will say “In the room there are two windows.” For these we use the inessive.

Affirmative Translation 1 Translation 2
Asunnossa on ikkuna. In the apartment there is a window. The apartment has a window.
Kirjassa on yli 300 sivua. In the book there are over 300 pages. The book has over 300 pages.
Autossa on neljä rengasta. In the car there are four wheels. The car has four wheels
Pöydässä on neljä jalkaa. In the table there are four legs. The table has four legs.

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