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The Inflection of Numbers – Numeroiden taivutus

All the numbers can be inflected in all the cases, just like all other nouns. Below, you can find out in what situations the numbers get inflected in the different cases. Each grammatical case also comes with a table with examples of each number up to ten. Hopefully this helps you understand how the inflection of numbers in Finnish works!

Table of Contents
  1. The Numbers in the Genetive Case (-n)

    1. The number one (yksi – yhden)
    2. Numbers as noun modifiers
    3. With postpositions
  2. The Numbers in the Partitive Case (-a)
    1. With partitive verbs
    2. With negative sentences
    3. With prepositions
  3. The Numbers in the Inessive Case (-ssa)
    1. With certain verb rections
    2. Numbers as noun modifiers
    3. Numbers expressing a duration
  4. The Numbers in the Elative Case (-sta)
    1. With certain verb rections
    2. Numbers expressing a time span
    3. With a superlative
  5. The Numbers in the Illative (mihin)
    1. With certain verb rections
    2. Numbers expressing a time span
    3. With certain postpositions
    4. In negative sentences
  6. The Numbers in the Adessive Case (-lla)
    1. With the ”minulla on” sentence construction
    2. With tools or means
    3. Numbers as noun modifiers
  7. The Numbers in the Ablative Case (-lta)
    1. With certain verb rections
    2. Numbers as noun modifiers
    3. When telling the time
  8. The Numbers in the Allative Case (-lle)
    1. With certain verb rections
    2. Numbers as noun modifiers
    3. ”For how many” something is meant

1. The Numbers in the Genetive Case

1.1. The number one (yksi – yhden)

The number one appears in the genetive much more often than the other numbers. That’s because it’s used in object sentences. If you’re forming an sentence with the object being just one thing, you will need the genetive (eg. Avaan yhden ikkunan).

1.2. Numbers as noun modifiers

When a number is used to modify a noun, you will inflect it in the same case as the noun. Eg. in the phrase ”[kahden kerroksen] talo”, the ”kahden” is modifying the ”kerros”. Another example would be ”[viiden tunnin] matka”. See sentences #4, #5, #7, #8, #9 and #10 in the table below.

1.3. With postpositions

Postpositions generally require their complement to be inflected into the genetive case. This means that numbers will also inflect in the genetive when they function as a modifier for a noun. (eg. viiden tunnin jälkeen, kahden oven takana, yhden talon alla). Notice how the noun is inflected in the singular genetive, despite its meaning being plural. See sentences #2, #3 and #6 below.

Nro Genetive Example Translation
1 yhden Ostan [yhden omenan]. I buy one apple.
2 kahden Käyn lomalla [kahden parhaan kaverini kanssa]. I go on vacation with my two best friends.
3 kolmen Voidaan tavata [kolmen jälkeen]. We can meet after three (o’clock).
4 neljän Minä olen [neljän pojan äiti]. I am the mother of four boys.
5 viiden Yövyn [viiden tähden hotellissa]. I spend the night in a five star hotel.
6 kuuden Ravintola on auki [kolmen ja kuuden välillä]. The restaurant is open between three and six.
7 seitsemän [Seitsemän vuoden kokemus] ei riitä tähän. Seven years of experience isn’t enough for this.
8 kahdeksan Söin [kahdeksan ruokalajin lounaan]. I ate a lunch of eight courses.
9 yhdeksän [Yhdeksän miehen lapset] leikkivät yhdessä. The children of nine men are playing together.
10 kymmenen [Kymmenen päivän loma] on heti ohi. A vacation of ten days is over right away.

2. The Numbers in the Partitive Case

2.1. With partitive verbs

When using a partitive verb, your number will inflect the same way as its main word.

For example: ”Minä puhun suomen kiel” has the partitive because of the partitive verb puhua. Now, if we speak more than one language, we’re using the numbers as a modifier for the noun, which is why it becomes ”Minä puhun kahta kiel” and ”minä puhun kolmea kiel.”

This is the case in sentences #1, #6, and #7 in the table below: rakastaa, auttaa ja puhua are partitive verbs.

2.2. With negative sentences

The object of negative sentences will also be inflected in the partitive. When the number is part of the noun phrase that’s the object, it will inflect in the partitive with its main word. This is the case for sentences #2, #5, and #10 in the table below.

2.3. With prepositions

Prepositions also require the partitive. Examples of that are #3, #8, and #9 in the table below. Usually, there will be a noun that the number modifies, but when dealing with what time it is, you can see the number on its own as well.

Nro Partitive Example Translation
1 yhtä Rakastan vain [yh mies]. I love only one man.
2 kahta En ostanut [kahta laukkua] vaan kolme. I didn’t buy two bags, I bought three.
3 kolmea En pääse sinne [ennen kolmea]. I can’t get there before three (o’clock).
4 neljää Luen [neljää kirjaa] samaan aikaan. I’m reading four books at the same time.
5 viittä Elokuva ei saanut [viittä tähteä]. The movie didn’t get five stars.
6 kuutta Autan tänään [kuutta opiskelijaa]. I’m helping six students today.
7 seitsemää Hän puhuu [seitsemää kieltä]. She speaks seven languages.
8 kahdeksaa Hän kuoli ilman [kahdeksaa lastaan]. She died without her eight children.
9 yhdeksää Poliisi sai hälytyksen [ennen yhdeksää]. The police got an alarm before nine.
10 kymmentä En muista [kymmen edellis päivää]. I don’t remember the last ten days.

3. The Numbers in the Inessive Case (-ssa)

3.1. With certain verb rections

There are some verbs that require their complement to appear in the inessive case. The most common one by far is the verb ”käydä” (to visit). If a number appears in a noun phrase, it will be inflected in the same form as its main word. This is the case in #6 and #7 in the table below.

3.2. Numbers as noun modifiers

As always, when a number is used to modify a noun, you will inflect the number in the same case as the noun. That’s the case in the table below for sentence #1, #2, #3, #4 and #10. For example in #2, you saw Santa IN the story. If you see him IN TWO stores, the ”two” will also inflect in the inessive.

3.3. Numbers expressing a duration

The inessive is fairly common in phrases that express in what time frame something is completed (missä ajassa). Numbers will be commonly used in these expressions as well, as they modify the measurement of time. This is the case in sentences #5, #8 and #9 in the table below.

Nro Inessive Example Translation
1 yhdessä Säilytän kaikki paperit [yhdessä paikassa]. I store all papers in one place.
2 kahdessa Näin joulupukkia [kahdessa kaupassa] tänään. I saw Santa in two stores today.
3 kolmessa Kosteusvahinkoja oli [kolmessa kerroksessa]. There were humidity issues on three floors.
4 neljässä Minulla on kirjoja [neljässä huoneessa]. I have books in four rooms.
5 viidessä Hän juoksi kotiin [viidessä minuutissa]. She ran home in five minutes.
6 kuudessa Olen asunut [kuudessa eri paikassa]. I’ve lived in six different places.
7 seitsemässä Olen käynyt [seitsemässä maassa]. I’ve been in seven countries.
8 kahdeksassa Maailman ympäri [kahdeksassa päivässä] Around the world in eight days
9 yhdeksässä [Yhdeksässä vuodessa] hän laihtui 100 kiloa. In nine years he lost 100 kilos.
10 kymmenessä [Kymmenessä kirjassa] oli maininta translatiivista. In ten books they mentioned the translative.

4. The Numbers in the Elative Case (-sta)

4.1. With certain verb rections

There are some verbs that require their complement to appear in the elative case. The most common ones are ”pitää” and ”tykätä” (to like). You can read more about verb rections here.

In the table below, sentences #1, #6, #9, and #10 are examples of verb rections. In addition, in sentence #5 we have an example of a noun rection! The word ”kiitos” always requires its complement to be in the elative case!

4.2. Numbers expressing a time span

When you’re expressing from when until when something happens, you will use the mistä-form of the number as well as the mihin-form (from where to where). This is the case in sentence #2 and #7.

4.3. With the superlative

Interestingly enough, you also use the elative with superlatives. Sentences #4 and #8 are examples of this. The elative is used in these sentences to express the group of people from which one is the superlative.

Nro Elative Example Translation
1 yhdestä Tykkään vain [yhdestä musiikkilajista]. I only like one genre of music.
2 kahdesta Kauppa on auki [kahdesta viiteen]. The store is open from two until five.
3 kolmesta [Kaksi kolmesta] pitää välivuoden lukion jälkeen. Two out of three take a gap year after high school.
4 neljästä Hän on komein [näistä neljästä miehestä]. He is the most handsome of these four men.
5 viidestä Kiitos [näistä viidestä vuodesta]! Thanks for these five years!
6 kuudesta Etsin sopivaa mekkoa [kuudesta kaupasta]. I searched for a suitable dress from six stores.
7 seitsemästä Hän saa [seitsemästä kymmeneen] vuotta ehdonalaista. He gets from 7 to 10 years of parole.
8 kahdeksasta Hän on nuorin [kahdeksasta pojasta]. He’s the youngest of eight boys.
9 yhdeksästä He tulevat [yhdeksästä eri maasta]. They come from nine different countries.
10 kymmenestä Tarina kertoo [kymmenestä kääpiöstä]. The store tells about ten dwarves.

5. The Numbers in the Illative Case (mihin)

5.1. With certain verb rections

There are some verbs that require their complement to appear in the illative case. You can read more about verb rections here.

In the table below, sentences #1, #2, #5 and #8 are examples of this: the verbs rakastua, jakaa and osallistua require the mihin form.

5.2. Numbers expressing a time span

When you’re expressing from when until when something happens, you will use the mistä-form of the number as well as the mihin-form (from where to where). This is the case in sentence #9 and #10.

5.3. With certain postpositions

Postpositions usually come with a genetive, but the ones that express time can come both with the mistä and the mihin form. This is the case in sentences #3 and #6 below. ”Mennessä” and ”asti” can both be used to either say ”until three” (with the mihin form) or ”starting from three” (with the elative form).

5.4. In negative sentences

When you want to express for how long you haven’t done something, the mihin form makes another appearance. You will have to put the time span into the illative case. The verb will nearly always appear in the perfect tense. This is the case in sentences #4 and #7 in the table below.

Nro Illative Example Translation
1 yhteen Olen rakastunut [yhteen poikaan]. I’m falling in love with one boy.
2 kahteen Se pitää jakaa [kahteen osaan]. It needs to be divided into two parts.
3 kolmeen Olen töissä [kolmeen asti]. I’m at work until three (o’clock).
4 neljään En ole soittanut hänelle [neljään vuoteen]. I haven’t called him in four years.
5 viiteen Olen piilottanut lahjat [viiteen eri paikkaan]. I have hid the presents in five different places.
6 kuuteen Minun pitäisi olla takaisin [viiteen mennessä]. I should be back by five (o’clock).
7 seitsemään En ole syönyt lihaa [seitsemään vuoteen]. I haven’t eaten meat in seven years.
8 kahdeksaan Me osallistuimme [kahdeksaan koulutukseen]. We participated in eight courses.
9 yhdeksään Kauppa on auki [kymmenestä yhdeksään]. The store is open from ten until nine.
10 kymmeneen Laske [yhdestä kymmeneen]! Count from one to ten!

6. The Numbers in the Adessive Case (millä)

6.1. With the ”minulla on” sentence construction

When expressing having something, you use the ”minulla on” sentence construction. Hence, when expressing that multiple people have something, the number will also be put in the adessive case. This is the case in sentences #1, #5, and #7 in the table below.

6.2. With tools or means

When you’re using a tool to perform an action, you will put the tool in the adessive case. This is the case in sentences #2 and #4. Sentences #9 and #10 are also loosely part of this rule. For #9, the languages are a tool to express something in a tweet, while in #10 the money used is some kind of a ”tool”.

6.3. Numbers as noun modifiers

When a number is used to modify a noun, you will inflect the number in the same case as the noun. You can see examples of this in the table below: #3, #6 and #8.

Nro Adessive Example Translation
1 yhdellä Vain [yhdellä opiskelijalla] oli kynä mukana. Only one student had a pen with them.
2 kahdella Syön riisiä [kahdella puikolla]. I eat rice with two chopsticks.
3 kolmella  [Kolmella lähialueella] on saatavilla töitä. Jobs are available in three nearby areas.
4 neljällä Kiinnitin taulun seinään [neljällä naulalla]. I attached the board to the wall with four nails.
5 viidellä [Viidellä kotiäidillä] kymmenestä on rahahuolia. Five housewives out of ten have money problems.
6 kuudella Uutisesta puhutaan [kuudella kanavalla]. They’re talking about the news on six channels.
7 seitsemällä [Seitsemällä kääpiöllä] oli pieni mökki metsässä. The seven dwarves had a small cottage in the forest.
8 kahdeksalla Tänään on [kahdeksalla torilla] festarit. Today on eight market squares there is a festival.
9 yhdeksällä Paavi tviittaa [yhdeksällä kielellä]. The pope tweets in nine languages.
10 kymmenellä Ostin tämän aterian [kymmenellä eurolla]. I bought this meal with ten euros.

7. The Numbers in the Ablative Case (miltä)

7.1. With certain verb rections

The perceptional verbs require their complement to be either inflectives into the ablative case (-lta) or the allative case (-lle). However, it’s fairly hard to think of things that taste, smell or look like an amount of things. More practically, there are some other verb rections that make use of the miltä form.

You can find examples of verb rection sentences in the table below: sentence #2 has the verb myöhästyä, #3 has pyytää anteeksi, #5 kysyä, #7 lainata and #9 has plain pyytää.

7.2. Numbers as noun modifiers

When a number is used to modify a noun, you will inflect the number in the same case as the noun. That’s the case in the table below for sentence #1 and #4.

7.3. When telling the time

When telling the time, you can make use of the ablative case. This only works for whole and half hours. For example, ”kello kaksi” could also be ”kahdelta”, and ”kello viisi” is the same as ”viideltä”. You can see examples of those in the table below: sentences #6, #8 and #10.

Nro Ablative Example Translation
1 yhdeltä Haluan kaikki palvelut [yhdeltä toimijalta]. I want all the services from one provider.
2 kahdelta Me myöhästyimme [kahdelta junalta]. We were late for two trains.
3 kolmelta Pyysin anteeksi [kolmelta ystävältä]. I apologized to three friends.
4 neljältä Kyytiin voi nousta [neljältä pysäkiltä]. You can get on the bus from four bus stops.
5 viideltä Kysyimme [viideltä eri ammattilaiselta] palkastaan.
We asked five professionals about their wages.
6 kuudelta Tulen kotiin töistä viideltä. I come home from work at six (o’clock).
7 seitsemältä Lainasin rahaa [seitsemältä ystävältä]. I borrowed money from seven friends.
8 kahdeksalta Päätin mennä nukkumaan kahdeksalta. I decided to go to sleep at eight (o’clock).
9 yhdeksältä Pyysin [yhdeksältä lakitoimistolta] hintatarjoukset. I requested bids from nine law agencies.
10 kymmeneltä Heräsin vasta puoli kymmeneltä. I only woke at half past nine.

8. The Numbers in the Allative Case (mille)

8.1. With certain verb rections

The perceptional verbs require their complement to be either inflectives into the ablative case (-lta) or the allative case (-lle). However, it’s fairly hard to think of things that taste, smell or look like an amount of things. More practically, there are some other verb rections that make use of the mille form.

In the table below sentence #4 has the verb lainata, which requires the -lle form when you lend money to someone; and the -lta form when you borrow money from someone.

8.2. Numbers as noun modifiers

When a number is used to modify a noun, you will inflect the number in the same case as the noun. That’s the case in the table below for sentence #1 and #7.

8.3. ”For how many” something is meant

When expressing for how many something is meant, you will also use the allative. In sentence #2 the tickets are meant for two people, and in #3 the garage is meant for 3 cars. The same is the case for sentences #5, #6, and #10.

Nro Allative Example Translation
1 yhdelle Kaikki tiedot on kerätty [yhdelle sivulle]. All the information has been collected on one page.
2 kahdelle Matkaliput Helsinkiin [kahdelle], kiitos! Tickets to Helsinki for two, please!
3 kolmelle Meillä on autotalli [kolmelle autolle]. We have a garage for three cars.
4 neljälle Olen lainannut DVD:n [neljälle ystävälle]. I’ve lend a DVD to four friends.
5 viidelle Tämä hotellihuone on tarkoitettu [viidelle hengelle]. This hotel room is meant for five people.
6 kuudelle Tässä sängyssä on tilaa jopa [kuudelle henkilölle]! There’s space for even six people in this bed!
7 seitsemälle Mikä on maksimibudjetti [seitsemälle päivälle]? What is the maximum budget for seven days?
8 kahdeksalle [Kahdeksalle] kymmenestä stressi aiheuttaa ongelmia. To eight out of ten stress creates problems.
9 yhdeksälle [Yhdeksälle bussipysäkille] tulee uusi katos. A new roof will come to nine bus stops.
10 kymmenelle Varasin pöydän [kymmenelle]. I reserved a table for ten.

 

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