Finnish for busy people

The Second Infinitive

The second infinitive (toinen infinitiivi) can also be called the E-infinitive. This is due to the fact that its marker is an -e-. It can appear in two cases only: the inessive (-essa) and the instructive (-en).

The second infinitive is a fairly advanced form, so if you’re a beginner, please check out the third infinitive and the fourth infinitive first. The numbers of these infinitives are not given in order of difficulty or usefulness.

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Second Infinitive
    1. Temporaalirakenne (tehdessä, tehtäessä)
    2. Modaalirakenne (tehden)
    3. Fossilized second infinitive expressions
    4. Second infinitive sayings
  2. The Formation of the Second Infinitive
    • eg. siivotessa, siivottaessa, siivoten

1. Use of the Second Infinitive

The second infinitive is mainly used in two participle phrases (lauseenvastikkeet). We’ll look at both of those below.

1.1. Temporaalirakenne (eg. tehdessä, tehtäessä)

The second infinitive’s missä-form is used in the temporal sentence construction (aka temporaalirakenne aka temporaalinen lauseenvastike). This means forms like eg. tehdessä, and tehtäessä. It replaces a “kun” sentence, aka expresses what is happening while something else is happening. Read more about the temporal sentence construction!

Finnish English
Luin syödessäni. I read [while I was eating].
Kari laulaa ajaessaan. Kari sings [while he’s driving].
Naiset kutovat keskustellessaan. The women knit [while chatting].

1.2. Modaalirakenne (eg. tehden)

The second infinitive’s instructive form can be used as a modal adverb that expresses how something is done. This is the case in the modal sentence construction (aka modaalirakenne aka modaalinen lauseenvastike).

Finnish English
Katselimme Kallea ihaillen. We watched Kalle [admiringly].
Katsoin Neaa leveästi hymyillen. I looked at Nea [smiling widely].
Vietimme iltaa keskustellen. We spent the evening [chatting].
Hän miettii asiaa puhuen itsekseen. She thinks about it [talking] to herself.

1.3. Fossilized Second Infinitive Expressions

There are some fossilized expressions that use the second infinitive. The inessive form appears in “tähän mennessä” (up to now) and “tarpeen vaatiessa” (if needed). The instructive form is used in a wide range of expressions, which you can read more about in section 2.2. on the page about the instructive case.

1.4. Second Infinitive Sayings

  • “Ei kukko käskien laula.”
    Literally: “The rooster doesn’t sing on command.”
    Meaning: Some things can’t be made to happen.
  • “Ei työ tehden lopu.”
    Literally: “Work doesn’t end by doing.”
    Meaning: There is always more work to do.

2. Formation of the Second Infinitive

The marker of the second infinitive is an -e- that gets added to the verb’s first infinitive without the last -A. For verbs whose stem ends in an -e-, you will replace the -e- with an -i- (eg. luke-a, luk-i-en; itke-ä, itk-i-essä).

The second infinitive can appear in two cases only: the inessive (essa) and the instructive (en). For the inessive case, there is both an active and a passive version. However, the instructive can only be in the active.

2.1. Second Infinitive Inessive

The inessive version of the E-infinitive can have both a passive and an active stem. For example:

  • active: syödessäni, passive: syöessä
  • active: opiskellessamme, passive: opiskeltaessa
  • active: noustessaan, passive: noustaessa

The active form is created by removing the first infinitive’s (the basic form’s) very last letter -a/-ä and adding essa/-essä. To that, you can add a possessive suffix when the subject of both of the sentence you are combining are the same person (eg. Minä imuroin syödessäni). If they’re a different person, you do not add a possessive suffix (eg. Minä imuroin Matin syödessä). Read more about that on our page about the temporal sentence construction (temporaalinen lauseenvastike).

For the passive second infinitive inessive form, I find it easiest to first conjugate the verb in the past passive (makse-tt-iin — makse-ttaessa, syö-t-iin — syö-täessä, kävel-t-iin — kävel-täessä). This helps because you will get the number of –t-‘s correct that way.

2.2. Second Infinitive Instructive

The second infinitive’s instructive form only appears in the active form. The active instructive form looks exactly like the active inessive form, only with an -n instead of -ssa. You can see all three forms side by side in the following table.

Verb Active Inessive Passive Inessive Active Instructive
maksaa maksaessani maksettaessa maksaen
odottaa odottaessasi odotettaessa odottaen
seisoa seisoessaan seisottaessa seisoen
itkeä itkiessämme itkettäessä itkien
syödä syödessänne syöessä syöden
tupakoida tupakoidessaan tupakoitaessa tupakoiden
jutella jutellessani juteltaessa jutellen
pestä pestessäsi pesessä pesten
tavata tavatessaan tavattaessa tavaten
pudota pudotessamme pudottaessa pudoten
häiritä häiritessänne häirittäessä häiriten

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vesna masic
vesna masic

I would like to know more about passive inessive.How to use and examples.

Inge (admin)
Inge (admin)

I doubt you will ever use this, but here are some examples:

  • Pyykkiä pestäessä täytyy ottaa huomioon lämpötilat. “When one does laundry, temperatures have to be taken into consideration”
  • Ulkomailta maksettaessa on ilmoitettava lähettäjä. “When one pays from abroad, the sender has to be mentioned.”
  • Kanadaan matkustettaessa vaaditaan passi. “When one travels to Canada a passport is required.”

Generally, you will see the regular third person “pestessä”, “maksaessa” and “matkustaessa” in these sentences above. They function as the “you passive”: https://uusikielemme.fi/finnish-grammar/syntax/sentence-types/the-sina-passive-and-other-generic-sentences/

vesna masic
vesna masic

Thank you for answering!May be ,I will not use by myself but I had to know how to translate.