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The Passive Present Participle – TAVA-Participle

The passive present participle (tehtävä, luettava, sanottava) can be called the -TAVA-partisiippi or the passiivin ensimmäinen partisiippi in Finnish. This is an advanced grammar topic. If you’re a beginner, you should search for something easier on this website! There is plenty to find!

Table of Contents
  1. What are Participles?
  2. The Use of the Passive Present Participle
    1. The TAVA-participle used as an adjective
    2. In sentences expressing necessity
    3. In fixed phrases
    4. As a noun expressing what is happening to someone
    5. In more advanced sentence constructions
  3. The Formation of the Passive Present Participle
  4. The Inflection of the Passive Present Participle

1. What are Participles?

A participle is a specific form of the verb, used to either turn a verb into an adjective, noun or to replace a subordinate clause. That’s a pretty broad description. All these participles can be used in a multitude of different ways.

Often participles are used as verbal adjectives which can be formed from all verbs. Like ordinary adjectives, they are declined in all cases and agree with the noun which the qualify. They can be in active (-VA or -NUT) and passive form (-TAVA or -TU), and there is also an ‘agent’ participle. On this page you find just the passive present participle.

2. The Use of the Passive Present Participle

There are three parts to this word construction:

  1. It’s passive: it is either unclear or unimportant who is doing the action
  2. It’s present: it’s happening right now, or in the future (or at the same time)
  3. It’s a participle: it’s produced from a verb

2.1. The passive present participle as an adjective

The passive present participle can be used as a adjective. Compared to all the other participles, translating this one is the most tricky. There are in fact three possible ways in which you can interpret this participle:

  1. Something is currently being done to the object
  2. Something can be done to the object
  3. Something should be done to the object
# Finnish English
1 [Käännettävä kirja] on pitkä. [The book that is being translated] is long.
1 [Koulussa käytettävä kirja] on vanha. [The book that’s being used] in school is old.
1 Olen asunut [remontoitavassa talossa] vuoden. I’ve lived one year in [the house that’s being renovated].
2 [Kannettava tietokone] on painava. [The portable computer] is heavy.
2 Se on [ymmärrettävä selitys]. That’s [an understandable explanation].
2 Se ei ole [uskottava valhe]. That’s not [a believable lie].
2 Osaatko tunnistaa [syötävät sienet]? Can you recognise [the eatable mushrooms]?
3 Tämä on [aamulla otettava lääke]. This is [a med that has to be taken in the morning].
3 [Arkistoitavat dokumentit] ovat pinossa. [The documents that have to be archived] are in a pile.
3 Muista [nämä lukittavat ovet]! Remember [these doors that have to be locked]!

2.2. In sentences expressing necessity

There are several options in Finnish to express necessity (e.g. täytyy, pitää, on pakko). A more advanced way to express necessity involves the present passive participle: on mentävä kotiin, on oltava hiljaa. This construction always uses the verb olla. If the sentence has a subject, it will appear in the genitive case. It’s also possible to not use a subject. This is the case for the two last examples below. For these, you’re not saying who has to perform the action.

Verb Finnish English
maksaa [Minun on maksettava] laskut. I have to pay the bills.
opiskella [Annan on opiskeltava] kotona. Anna has to study at home.
hoitaa Asiat [on hoidettava]. The things have to be taken care of.
olla Bussissa [on oltava] hiljaa. In the bus one has to be quiet.
pitää Palo-ovi [pidettävä] suljettuna (pic). The fire-door has to be kept shut.

You can find many more example on this topic in the article about expressing necessity with a participle!

2.3. In fixed phrases

There are some fixed words and phrases that contain the present passive participle. First, there is a group of phrases that use the participle as a noun. In these phrases, the participle appears in the partitive case.

In addition, there are some fossilized participles that fulfill the function of an adjective.

Finnish English
Nouns + partitive
Onko teillä kysyttävää? Do you have anything to ask?
Haluan jotain syötävää. I want something to eat.
Tuo jotain juotavaa! Bring something to drink!
Minulla on paljon kerrottavaa. I have a lot to tell (you).
Annalla on aina paljon sanottavaa. Anna always has a lot to say.
Onko täällä mitään luettavaa? Is there anything to read here?
Adjectives
Kaija on erittäin luotettava ystävä. Kaija’s a very trustworthy friend.
Hän ei palkkaa epäluotettavia työntekijöitä. He doesn’t employ untrustworthy employees.
Tuo on naurettava ajatus. That’s a ridiculous idea.
Se on valitettava tosiasia. It’s an unfortunate fact.

2.4. As a noun expressing what is happening to someone

The passive present participle can also be used as a noun rather than as an adjective modifying its main word. Usually these come as a pair, where both the person doing the action and the person the action is affecting side by side.

Finnish English
Auttajat ja autettavat tekevät yhteistyötä. The helpers and [the people being helped] work together.
Se on hyvä sekä hoitajalle että hoidettavalle. It’s good for both the caretaker and [the person being taken care of].
Tutkija ja tutkittava tutustuvat toisiinsa. The examiner and the examinee get to know each other.
Haastattelija ja haastateltava keskustelevat. The interviewer and the interviewee are chatting.
Palvelija ja palveltava tulevat toimeen keskenään. The servant and [the person being served] get along with each other.

2.5. In more advanced sentence contructions

The passive present participle can also be used in a variety of participle sentence constructions. We have a separate article on those:

  • Auto on korjattavissa.
  • Auto on korjattavana.
  • Auto viedään korjattavaksi.

3. The Formation of the Passive Present Participle

The passive present participle’s marker is -(t)tava/-(t)tävä. You add it to the weak stem for each verbtype. You can use the same rules as for the passive imperfect here. This is especially handy because the past passive will reveal whether you need one or two t’s.

Verbtype 1
Verb Present Passive Past Passive Passive Present Participle
nukkua nukutaan nukuttiin nukuttava
leipoa leivotaan leivottiin leivottava
Verbtype 2
Verb Present Passive Past Passive Passive Present Participle
imuroida imuroidaan imuroitiin imuroitava
tupakoida tupakoidaan tupakoitiin tupakoitava
Verbtype 3
Verb Present Passive Past Passive Passive Present Participle
kävellä kävellään käveltiin käveltävä
tulla tullaan tultiin tultava
Verbtype 4
Verb Present Passive Past Passive Passive Present Participle
maata maataan maattiin maattava
kadota kadotaan kadottiin kadottava
Verbtype 5
Verb Present Passive Past Passive Passive Present Participle
häiritä häiritään häirittiin häirittävä
tarvita tarvitaan tarvittiin tarvittava
Verbtype 6
Verb Present Passive Past Passive Passive Present Participle
vanheta vanhetaan vanhettiin vanhettava
lämmetä lämmetään lämmettiin lämmettävä

4. The Inflection of the Passive Present Participle

The participles can be inflected in all the Finnish cases.

Case Singular Plural Example
Nominative juotava juotavat Tilasin meille juotavat.
Genitive (-n) juotavan juotavien Otan juotavan lääkkeen.
Partitive (-a) juotavaa juotavia Haluatko jotain juotavaa?
Illative (mihin) juotavaan juotaviin Juotaviin lääkkeisiin lisätään makuaineita.
Inessive (missä) juotavassa juotavissa Tämä litku ei ole juotavissa.
Elative (mistä) juotavasta juotavista Nautin tästä juotavasta jogurtista.
Allative (mille) juotavalle juotaville Jääkaapissa ei ole tilaa juotaville.
Adessive (millä) juotavalla juotavilla Hoida flunssaa kuumalla juotavalla.
Ablative (miltä) juotavalta juotavilta Vaikuttaako se neste juotavalta?
Translative (-ksi) juotavaksi juotaviksi Se on tarkoitettu juotavaksi.
Essive (-na) juotavana juotavina En pidä tätä jogurttia helposti juotavana.

Check out the other Finnish participles here!

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Oscar

Hei
3. The Formation of the Passive Present Participle.

could this rule work ?

change -iin => ava / ävä

kiitos

Inge (admin)

You can think about it like that if you like 🙂 For future reference though (when you’re not looking at the rules) merely looking at either -ava or -iin might confuse you when trying to figure out what a form means (like, where do the t’s come from).

Your rule works and is useful for FORMING this participle yourself.

iliya

I came across this sentence: “…luulisin opiskelijan haluavan oppia opittavan kielen omia sanoja.” I immediately thought of the construction “oppia oppimistaan”.

Are these connected? Do they mean similar things or is there a slight (or gorgeous) difference between? (…or I’m seeing constructions where there isn’t any 😛 )

(I hope it isn’t about any mistake in the given phrase, nor some unusual or dialectal way…)

Last edited 6 months ago by iliya
Inge (admin)

This is a totally different matter than “oppia oppimistaan“!

Let’s first replace “opittavan” with a different word to show you what we’re dealing with: “Luulen opiskelijan haluavan oppia [uuden kielen] omia sanoja.

[Opittavan kielen] is an example of the -ttava participle used as an adjective. It appears in the genitive case because it describes the language. We could replace it with [suomen kielen], [vaikean kielen] or [uuden kielen].

The repetition of the verb oppia basically just creates a really ugly sentence, which most editors would probably change :p

Oscar

Hei taas 🙂

I’ve read words like luettavammaksi and ymmärrettävämmäksi. That is, passive present participle ( comparative translative ).

Have you written any article about it ?
Is it often used ?

kiitos taas ja hyvää perjantaita.

Inge (admin)

Hei Oscar!

You’ve analyzed the words correct, yep! You will usually find words ending in -tavammaksi combined with the verbs “tehdä” (to MAKE something more legible/understandable) and “muuttua” (to BECOME more legible/understandable). The two example verbs you shared are by far the most common.

These participle forms have basically just turned into adjectives, much like you could say “Sää muuttuu kylmemmäksi” and “Tilanne muuttui vaikeammaksi“.

Hooman

Hei.
Shouldn’t be the rektio of pitää, STA in the last example?

Last edited 6 months ago by Hooman
Inge (admin)

The verb pitää has other rections than -sta as well. You use the mistä-form when you want to say you LIKE something. In the example sentence, pitää means “to consider something to be a certain way: pitää + partitive + essive

En pidä tätä jogurttia (partitive) helposti juotavana (essive).
= I don’t consider this yoghurt to be easy to drink.

Oscar

hei

The examples in 4. The Inflection of the Passive Present Participle are very interesting but I miss some explanation about why each case is used…..due to a rection, a given structure, etc

That explanation could help us to understand a litttle more about the use of cases with this kind of participle in order to use them with others sentences….(in my opinion, of course)

for example….Se on tarkoitettu juotavaksi.
why translative ?

kiitoksia

Inge (admin)

The translative case is super interesting, isn’t it! The verb tarkoittaa can be used in order to express what something is meant for by using the translative case. It’s specifically the “on tarkoitettu” form that will be used with the translative.

  • Unelmat on tarkoitettu toteutettaviksi. = Dreams are meant to befulfilled.
  • Rahat on tarkoitettu pakolaisten vastaanoton tueksi. = The money is intended to support the reception of refugees.

The verb tarkoittaa will be used with -lle when you tell who something is meant for (Rahat on tarkoitettu pakolaisille), so don’t confuse the two!

Maybe I’ll find some time to perhaps make a separate article with examples like these explained… However, most of the examples in that table are just rections.