Finnish for busy people

The Fourth Infinitive -minen Neljäs Infinitiivi

Finnish has five infinitives. This article focuses on the fourth infinitive, which is formed by adding -minen to the strong stem of verbs.

Table of Contents
  1. The formation of the fourth infinitive
  2. The inflection of the fourth infinitive
  3. The use of fourth infinitive
    1. Fourth infinitive as a subject
    2. Fourth infinitive rections
    3. Fourth infinitive necessity
    4. Puhui puhumistaan

1. The Formation of the Fourth Infinitive

The fourth infinitive ends in -minen. You add this ending to the strong stem of the verb, which you can find by taking the third person plural form, and removing the -vat.

The following table has examples of all the verbtypes: the number in the first column shows you the verbtype in question.

# Verb Third person plural Fourth infinitive
1 nukkua he nukkuvat nukkuminen
1 lukea he lukevat lukeminen
1 antaa he antavat antaminen
1 katsoa he katsovat katsominen
2 syödä he syövät syöminen
2 juoda he juovat juominen
2 tehdä he tekevät tekeminen
2 nähdä he näkevät keminen
2 imuroida he imuroivat imuroiminen
3 ajatella he ajattelevat ajatteleminen
3 suudella he suutelevat suuteleminen
3 surra he surevat sureminen
3 pestä he pesevät peseminen
3 nousta he nousevat nouseminen
4 tavata he tapaavat tapaaminen
4 pudota he putoavat putoaminen
4 siivota he siivoavat siivoaminen
5 häiritä he häiritsevät häiritseminen
5 valita he valitsevat valitseminen
5 mainita he mainitsevat mainitseminen
6 vanheta he vanhenevat vanheneminen
6 rohjeta he rohkenevat rohkeneminen
6 mmetä he lämpenevät mpeneminen
6 kyetä he kykenevät kykeneminen

Some verbs also have a second noun describing the same action (e.g. juokseminen = juoksu, uiminen = uinti). These forms have the exact same meaning. Not all verbs can have both versions, but every single verb can be made into a –minen noun.

2. The Inflection of the Fourth Infinitive

The -minen ending can make a noun out of a verb. The result can be called a “nounalized(nominalized) verb . Since you change verbs into substantives, the result can be inflected into all the cases! To do that, you treat the -minen form as a noun with ending -nen (like for example punainen or suomalainen).

Compare, for example, the noun nainen and the form saaminen from the verb saada.

Case Nainen Saaminen
Partitive naista saamista
Genitive naisen saamisen
Inessive naisessa saamisessa
Elative naisesta saamisesta

Most of the time, you will come across the singular forms of the minen-form. However, you can find the T-plural and the plural partitive form included in the table below.

Case Lukeminen Tekeminen Kuunteleminen Tapaaminen Tarvitseminen
Partitive lukemista tekemis kuuntelemista tapaamista tarvitsemista
Genitive lukemisen tekemisen kuuntelemisen tapaamisen tarvitsemisen
Inessive lukemisessa tekemisessä kuuntelemisessa tapaamisessa tarvitsemisessa
Elative lukemisesta tekemisestä kuuntelemisesta tapaamisesta tarvitsemisesta
Illative lukemiseen tekemiseen kuuntelemiseen tapaamiseen tarvitsemiseen
Adessive lukemisella tekemisellä kuuntelemisella tapaamisella tarvitsemisella
Ablative lukemiselta tekemiseltä kuuntelemiselta tapaamiselta tarvitsemiselta
Allative lukemiselle tekemiselle kuuntelemiselle tapaamiselle tarvitsemiselle
Translative lukemiseksi tekemiseksi kuuntelemiseksi tapaamiseksi tarvitsemiseksi
Essive lukemisena tekemise kuuntelemisena tapaamisena tarvitsemisena
T-plural lukemiset tekemiset kuuntelemiset tapaamiset tarvitsemiset
Pl. part. lukemisia tekemisiä kuuntelemisiä tapaamisiä tarvitsemisiä

3. The Use of the Fourth Infinitive

When using certain verbs in connection with other verbs, you sometimes have to turn them into a substantive. In English, you do this by adding -ing to the verb (e.g. I enjoy reading). In Finnish, you can recognise this specific form by the ending -minen. The –minen form of the verb is the “nounalizedverb!

Note for advanced learners

Advanced Finnish linguistic sources will make a distinction between -minen as a noun (teonnimi) and -minen as an infinitive. According to those sources, the fourth infinitive is limited to the neccessive use of the form (see part 3.3. below). These sources consider the “nounalized” verb as a separate entity despite it having the exact same basic form. I don’t see a need to consider these two separate entities. If you’re an advanced learner, you can read more about this here, here and here.

3.1. Fourth Infinitive as a Subject

You can use the -minen form of a verb as the subject of a sentence. In this situation, you will generally translate the Finnish -minen form using the English -ing form of the verb (e.g. itkeminen becomes “crying”).

Verb Finnish English
itkeä Itkeminen voi auttaa. Crying can help.
imuroida Imuroiminen vie aikaa. Vacuum cleaning takes time.
tanssia Tanssiminen ei kiinnosta minua. Dancing doesn’t interest me.
myydä Aseiden myyminen pitää kieltää. The selling of guns must be banned.

If you’d like to say “swimming is fun” or “cleaning is boring”, you will need the -minen form of the verb. These are all sentences with the verb olla, whose adjectives are always inflected in the partitive case. This is due to the complement rule (see 2.2.2) that says that subjects expressing an activity will have a partitive case complement.

Verb Finnish English
nukkua Nukkuminen on tärkeää. Sleeping is important.
tupakoida Tupakoiminen on epäterveellis. Smoking is unhealthy.
kävellä Metsässä käveleminen on mukavaa. Walking in the forest is pleasant.
siivota Siivoaminen on tylsää. Cleaning is boring.
potkia Seinään potkiminen kielletty (pic). Kicking the wall (is) forbidden.
uida Uiminen on tärkeä taito. Swimming is an important skill.

3.2. Fourth Infinitive as an Object

You will also find the -minen form of a verb as the object of the sentence. In these situations, you’ll use the same form you’d use for a regular noun. In the table below, I’ve created the same sentence using the object kurssi and treenaaminen to allow you to compare. Learn more about the object here.

KURSSI TREENAAMINEN English
Aloitan kurssin huomenna. Aloitan treenaamisen huomenna. I will start tomorrow.
En aloita kurssia tänään. En aloita treenaamista tänään. I won’t start today.
Aloitin kurssin eilen. Aloitin treenaamisen eilen. I started yesterday.
Aloita kurssi pian! Aloita treenaaminen pian! Start soon!
Älä aloita kurssia! Älä aloita treenaamista! Don’t start!
Aloitetaan kurssi! Aloitetaan treenaaminen! Let’s start!

3.2. Fourth Infinitive Rections

There are certain verbs that require the -minen form for any verbs attached to them. The most common ones are probably harrastaa and pitää. Of those two, harrastaa requires the partitive form of the verb (harrastan lukemista) and pitää requires the -mistä form (pidän lukemisesta). You can read more about the verb harrastaa in our separate article.

In addition to harrastaa and pitää, there are quite a lot of verbs that require the inflected -minen form in sentences. Below are some examples, but you can find more of them in a separate article.

Genitive
Verb Example Translation
laihduttaa Aloitan laihduttamisen huomenna. I start dieting tomorrow
tupakoida Lopetin vihdoin tupakoimisen. I finally quit smoking.
Partitive
Verb Example Translation
rakastaa Katri rakastaa laulamista. Katri loves singing.
harrastaa Venla harrastaa juoksemista. Venla enjoys running.
inhota Inhoan juoruilemista. I hate gossiping.
vihata Vihaatko lentämistä? Do you hate flying?
pelätä He pelkäävät ratsastamista. They fear horse riding.
Mistä
Verb Example Translation
pitää Pidättekö kokkaamisesta? Do you like cooking?
tykätä En tykkää tiskaamisesta. I don’t like doing the dishes.
nauttia Nautin saunomisesta. I enjoy taking a sauna.

3.3. Fourth Infinitive Necessity

This section of the page deals with what is linguistically seen as the true fourth infinitive. It’s extremely rare. It expresses that an action is preferable (or in a negative sentence that the action is not preferable).

Fourth infinitive More common way English
Jos Anttia on uskominen. Jos Anttia voi uskoa. If Antti can be believed.
Sinne ei ole menemistä. Sinne ei kannata mennä. You shouldn’t go there.
Sitä ei käy kieltäminen. Sitä ei voi kieltää. It can’t/shouldn’t be denied.

3.4. Puhui Puhumistaan

There is also a sentence construction that utilizes the fourth infinitive’s “nounalized” verb. With it, you can express a continual action. This construction consists of:

  1. a verb describing the action, followed by
  2. the “nounalized” version of the same verb. (the second part will be inflected into the partitive and be followed by a possessive suffix)
Finnish English
Hän puhui puhumistaan. He talked and talked.
Hän juoksi juoksemistaan. She ran and ran.
Myrsky yltyi yltymistään. The storm kept getting stronger and stronger.
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Rasikko

It sounds weird(and looks weird) but in English this is called a gerund. Im referring to the ‘verbal noun’ part, not the ‘still a verb’ part .

Inge (admin)

“Gerund: a verb form which functions as a noun, in Latin ending in -ndum (declinable), in English ending in -ing (e.g. asking in do you mind my asking you?).” That does indeed sound like it, yes! Never heard that term before 🙂

Rasikko

I got the meanings of verbal noun and gerund mixed up and it is said to be a common error most people make. I have done further research and I stand corrected:

English: Verbal noun – a verb turned into a noun and retains none of its verbal properties.

English: Gerund – a verb turned into a noun and retains its verbal properties(takes objects, etc). Not every verb is capable of being turned into a gerund.

For this article it was a good idea to combine the two because that’s essentially what -minen is – both a verbal noun and a gerund depending on the role the verb needs to play in the sentence.

Inge (admin)

Thanks for clearing up the difference! This is very interesting.

Liisa

It is quite confusing for me that what “infinitive” means in Finnish, so it is noun that originated from verb?

Sorry for the quite frequent comments recently, hopefully you guys do not get annoyed by me… these couple of days your replies do help me WAY MUCH!

Here is my my example for “minen”

A- Työtekijät vaativat palkan nostamista. Is palkojen nostamista also ok?

or Työtekijöitä vaatii palkojen nostamista?

B- Liisa tykkään 1.pallojen palaamisista? or 2.pallon palaamisesta? or even 3. pallojen palaamisesta?

1.All kind of ball games, 2.ball game in general and 3.just playing with ball but with different kind of balls…

Sorry they look a bit silly, I mean this language force me to think so differently than I used to with the others, just hoping by discussing I could know more both in grammar angle and content perspectives….

I guess my questions is the genitive in front of minen, when it is the objective of the original verb, do they always in the same singlar or plural or the content decides?

Best!
Liisa

Inge (admin)

The FOURTH infinitive is usually what we call a noun made from a verb by adding -minen to the stem. Finnish has 5 infinitives.

Yes, you can use the plural genitive as well; it’s based on what you’re trying to say.

A- “Työntekijät vaativat palkkojen nostamista” works very well, yes!

B-
1. “Liisa tykkää pallopelien pelaamisesta” = Liisa likes to play ball games.
2. “Liisa tykkää pallolla leikkimisestä” = Liisa likes to play WITH a/the ball.
3. “Liisa tykkää paloilla leikkimisestä” = Liisa likes to play WITH (the) balls.

For #1, we need to use the word pallopeli “ball game” here rather than just pallo “ball”. We’re trying to express that she likes [to play BALL GAMES], not just that she likes [to play balls]. For #2 and #3 we use -lla to express playing WITH balls. The verb pelata is used for “organized” games (the kind with rules), while what children do is leikkiä. Both are translated as “to play” in English.

Trying to put the fourth infinitive in the plural doesn’t work (no “pelaamisista” in this content).

Join us on Discord, Liisa! https://discord.gg/GSf9ydkF There are multiple people there to answer questions, I’d be glad to have you there.

s.k.

Tiny note, there seems to be a subheading missing in the table in section 3.2. There is a subheading in the table for “Genitive” and “Mistä”, but “Partitive” is missing.

Inge (admin)

Yeah, thanks for pointing that out!