Finnish for busy people

Passive Perfect Tense – On tehty “has been done”

The passive perfect tense consists of two verbs: the verb olla in the third person singular, combined with the TU-participle form of the main verb. It’s used to say something has been done.

1. The Use of the Passive Perfect Tense

The passive perfect tense combines the perfect tense and the passive into one form. This means you need to know when to use, firstly, the perfect tense and, secondly, the passive.

1.1. The perfect tense aspect of the passive perfect tense

The perfect tense has several functions in Finnish. Firstly, it can express that something which started earlier is still continuing. For example, “Suomessa on juotu kahvia jo vuosikymmeniä” means “Coffee has been drunk in Finland for decades already”. This implies that this is likely to continue further into the future.

Finnish English
Kiinaa on opiskeltu jo vuosikymmeniä. Chinese has been studied for decades already.
Sähköpyöriä on myyty jo tuhansia. Thousands of electric bikes have already been sold.
Tätä on Suomessa juhlittu vuodesta 1917. This has been celebrated in Finland since 1917.
Kuinka paljon koronarokotteita on annettu? How many COVID vaccines have been given?
Kysymykseeni ei ole vastattu vieläkään. My question still hasn’t been answered.

Secondly, we can use the passive perfect tense to express that something which happened earlier is relevant to the current moment. For example, “Astiat on jo tiskattu” means “The dishes have been washed already”.

Finnish English
Istumapaikkaliput on myyty loppuun. The seat tickets are sold out.
Lippu on ostettu ja laukut on pakattu. The ticket has been bought and the bags are packed.
Puu on istutettu liian lähelle taloa. The tree has been planted too close to the house.
Tätä päivää on pelätty pitkään. This day has been feared for a long time.

Thirdly, we can use the perfect tense to express that something happened while you didn’t see it. For example, “Kello on varastettu” means “The clock has been stolen” and can be used to express that this happened while you were away.

Finnish English
Katso, aita on maalattu siniseksi! Look, the fence has been painted blue!
Huoneessa on selvästi imuroitu. The room has clearly been vacuum-cleaned.
Huomaan, että ikkuna on avattu. I notice that the window have been opened.
Huomasitko, että kirja on siirretty? Did you notice that the book has been moved?
Huomasitko, että kirjaa ei ole siirretty? Did you notice that the book hasn’t been moved?

Finally, the perfect tense is also used with future events when one action takes place further in the future than the other.

Finnish English
Kun kahvit on juotu, lähdetään kotiin. When the coffee has been drunk, people will go home.
Kun lahjat on valittu, ne maksetaan. When the gifts have been chosen, they are paid for.
Kun tarkistus on tehty, ostetaan talo. When the inspection is done, we will buy the house.
Kun on urheiltu, pitää käydä suihkussa. When one has done sports, one must shower.
Kun on opiskeltu hyvin, koe on helppo. When one has studied well, the exam is easy.

1.2. The passive aspect of the passive perfect tense

Generally speaking, the Finnish passive is used in three different situations. Firstly, the proper passive is used to express that something has been done by someone. For example, the sentence “Paperi on revitty” means “The paper has been torn”. The paper isn’t tearing itself. Rather, there is an unnamed human agent who brings this action about.

Finnish English
Kirja on luettu. The book has been read.
Aamiainen on syöty. Breakfast has been eaten.
Kirjat on palautettu kirjastoon. The books have been returned to the library.
Olohuonetta ei ole imuroitu. The living room hasn’t been vacuum-cleaned.
Lapset on hoidettu hyvin. The children have been well taken care of.

The passive is also used in spoken Finnish as a replacement for the first person plural form. For example, the sentence “Me olemme menneet” will become “me on menty” or even more commonly “me ollaan menty“. More on this below as well.

Finnish English
Me ollaan syöty hyvin tänään. We have eaten well today.
Me ollaan palautettu kirjat kirjastoon. We’ve returned the books to the library.
Me ollaan syöty aamiainen ennen kouluun lähtöä. We ate breakfast before going to school.
Me ollaan jo avattu lahjat. We’ve already opened the presents.

You will also find the passive in suggestions, such as in the sentence “Mennään ulos!” which means “Let’s go out!”. The perfect tense isn’t used in this manner, so we won’t be looking at this form any closer in this article. You can read more about it here.

2. The Formation of the Passive Perfect Tense

The passive perfect tense consists of the verb olla in the third person singular present tense and the TU-participle form of the main verb.

The TU-participle’s marker is -(t)tu or -(t)ty. You will have a double -tt- for verbtypes 1, 4, 5 and 6. Verbtypes 2 and 3 only have one -t-. To know where to use -u- versus -y- you need to know about vowel harmony.

Verbtype Verb Passive perfect Negative form
Verbtype 1 nukkua on nukuttu ei ole nukuttu
Verbtype 1 leipoa on leivottu ei ole leivottu
Verbtype 1 kysyä on kysytty ei ole kysytty
Verbtype 1 siirtää on siirretty ei ole siirretty
Verbtype 2 juoda on juotu ei ole juotu
Verbtype 2 tehdä on tehty ei ole tehty
Verbtype 2 imuroida on imuroitu ei ole imuroitu
Verbtype 2 käydä on käyty ei ole käyty
Verbtype 3 olla on oltu ei ole oltu
Verbtype 3 ommella on ommeltu ei ole ommeltu
Verbtype 3 mennä on menty ei ole menty
Verbtype 3 purra on purtu ei ole purtu
Verbtype 3 pestä on pesty ei ole pesty
Verbtype 4 tavata on tavattu ei ole tavattu
Verbtype 4 haluta on haluttu ei ole haluttu
Verbtype 4 pelätä on pelätty ei ole pelätty
Verbtype 4 pelata on pelattu ei ole pelattu
Verbtype 5 tarvita on tarvittu ei ole tarvittu
Verbtype 5 hillitä on hillitty ei ole hillitty
Vebrtype 5  valita on valittu ei ole valittu
Verbtype 6 rohjeta on rohjettu ei ole rohjettu
Verbtype 6 tarjeta on tarjettu ei ole tarjettu

3. Syntax of Passive Perfect Sentences

3.1. Active versus passive sentences

When making sentences using the passive perfect tense, it’s important to apply the same syntactic changes which apply to all passive tenses. There are two main differences between active and passive sentences:

  1. The word order in passive sentences is usually flipped. The object will appear first in the sentences. If there is no object, we will generally put either a place or a time in front of the verb.
  2. The object of a passive sentence won’t get -n at the end (you can call this the genitive or the accusative). Instead, you will use the basic form for objects which in an active sentence would have the suffix -n.

Below, I am providing you with some active vs. passive sentences using the perfect tense. Note the changes in word order and the object. Unfortunately, not all of these sound natural when translated to English, so take the translation with a grain of salt: the idea is that something has been done in the room by an unspecified person or persons.

Finnish Finnish English
Active Joku on avannut oven. Somebody has opened the door.
Passive Ovi on avattu. The door has been opened.
Active Joku on varastanut pyörän. Somebody has stolen the bike.
Passive Pyörä on varastettu. The bike has been stolen.
Active Joku on maalannut seinän. Someone has painted the wall.
Passive Seinä on maalattu. The wall has been painted.
Active Joku on imuroinut täällä. Someone has vacuum-cleaned here.
Passive Täällä on imuroitu. There has been vacuum-cleaned here.
Active Joku on tupakoinut huoneessa. Somebody has smoked in the room.
Passive Huoneessa on tupakoitu. In the room, “there has been smoked”.
Active Joku on juhlinut viikonloppuna. Someone has partied on the weekend.
Passive Viikonloppuna on juhlittu. On the weekend, “there has been partied”.
Active Joku on leiponut keittiössä. Someone has baked in the kitchen.
Passive Keittiössä on leivottu. In the kitchen, “there has been baked”.

Below, you can find the negative forms of some of the example sentences above. Note that the object will appear in the partitive case both in the active and the passive sentence.

Finnish Finnish English
Active Kukaan ei ole avannut ovea. Nobody has opened the door.
Passive Ovea ei ole avattu. The door hasn’t been opened.
Active Kukaan ei ole varastanut pyörää. Nobody has stolen the bike.
Passive Pyörää ei ole varastettu. The bike hasn’t been stolen.
Active Kukaan ei ole leiponut keittiössä. Nobody has baked in the kitchen.
Passive Keittiössä ei ole leivottu. There has been no baking in the kitchen.

3.2. Passive perfect without “on

In certain situations, where people want to be concise and not write full sentences, you can find the passive perfect tense without the verb olla. This is common, for example, in hospitals and homes for the elderly in patient reports (potilaskertomus). These sentences report that something has been taken care of. It informs other workers what the situation of a patient is.

Verb Active imperfect tense Passive perfect tense
ajaa Ajoin potilaan parran. Parta ajettu.
antaa Annoin lääkkeet potilaalle. Lääkkeet annettu.
hoitaa Hoidin haavan. Haava hoidettu.
jakaa Jaoin lääkkeet dosettiin. Lääkkeet jaettu dosettiin.
lämmittää Lämmitin lounaan. Lounas lämmitetty.
ottaa Otin ompeleet pois. Ompeleet otettu pois.
pistää Pistin insuliinin. Insuliini pistetty.
vaihtaa Vaihdoin virtsapussin. Virtsapussi vaihdettu.
tehdä Tein aamupalan. Aamupala tehty.
pestä Pesin potilaan hampaat. Hampaat pesty.
mitata Mittasin potilaan verenpaineen. Verenpaine mitattu.
rasvata Rasvasin potilaan jalkaterät. Jalkaterät rasvattu.
tilata Tilasin verikokeet. Verikokeet tilattu.
tarjota Tarjosin aamiaista. Aamiaista tarjottu.

3.3. The spoken language passive perfect

The spoken language and standard language forms of the passive perfect differ in several aspects. Firstly, in spoken language, you will be adding the pronoun “me” in front of the passive. Secondly, the word order will be different. Lastly and most importantly, the verb olla will be conjugated as on in standard Finnish, and as ollaan in spoken Finnish. The form using ollaan is called “kaksoispassiivi” in Finnish and generally a source of much disapproval. However, it is so common that it would be important for you to familiarize yourself with it and even start using it yourself when speaking.

  • Standard language: “Talo on rakennettu.” (the house has been built)
  • Spoken language: “Me ollaan rakennettu talo.” (we’ve built a house)
  • Standard language: “Lavalla ei ole tanssittu.” (there has not been danced on the stage)
  • Spoken language: “Me ei olla tanssittu lavalla.” (we haven’t danced on the stage)
Standard language Spoken language Proper passive
Me olemme rakentaneet talon. Me ollaan rakennettu talo. Talo on rakennettu.
Me emme ole rakentaneet taloa. Me ei olla rakennettu taloa. Taloa ei ole rakennettu.
Me olemme tanssineet lavalla. Me ollaan tanssittu lavalla. Lavalla on tanssittu.
Me emme ole tanssineet lavalla. Me ei olla tanssittu lavalla. Lavalla ei ole tanssittu.

3.4. Passive perfect tense vs. TU-participle adjectives

As a more advanced student, you will come across the phenomenon where the TU-participle is used as an adjective. This causes some changes in the cases used.

The passive perfect will have the auxiliary verb olla always in the singular form “on” (e.g. Pyörät on varastettu). In contrast, when the TU-participle is used as an adjective, you will use the plural form of the verb, so “ovat” (e.g. Pyörät ovat varastettuja). This is due to the fact that in “Pyörät on varastettu“, pyörät is the object of the sentence, while in “Pyörät ovat varastettuja“, pyörät is the subject of the sentence.

  • T-plural + on + -(t)tU: Conjugation in the passive perfect tense with a T-plural form object (#1)
  • T-plural + ovat + -(t)tUjA: Complement sentence with an adjective describing the T-plural form subject (#2)
  • Partitive + ei ole + -(t)tU: Conjugation of the passive perfect tense with a T-plural form object (#3)
  • Basic form + ei ole + -(t)tU: Complement sentence with an adjective describing what the subject is not like (#4)
# Finnish English
1 Pyörät on varastettu. The bikes have been stolen (ie. they’re no longer here).
2 Nämä pyörät ovat varastettuja. These bikes are stolen (ie. I can see that they’ve not been acquired legally).
1 Seinät on maalattu. The walls have been painted (ie. someone has painted them).
2 Seinät ovat maalattuja. The walls are painted (ie. they’re not bare or wallpapered).
3 Seinää ei ole maalattu. The wall hasn’t been painted (ie. nobody has painted it).
4 Seinä ei ole maalattu. The wall isn’t painted (ie. it’s bared or wallpapered).
3 Pyörää ei ole varastettu. The bike has not been stolen (ie. it’s still standing here).
4 Pyörä ei ole varastettu. The bike is not stolen (ie. I bought it, it’s legally mine).

That’s all for this article on the passive perfect tense. Hopefully this cleared up some potential confusion you might have had on the topic!

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Regarding the sentence Kun on urheiltu, pitää käydä suihkussa, even though it is grammatically passive, it’s a bit different because the verb urheilla is intransitive so there is no object and it is translated to English with the one pronoun instead. However, would it be possible to express it like this Kun on urheillut, pitää käydä suikussa? I’ve seen that sometimes in Finnish one uses a verb in the third person singular without any subject at all to make the sentence generic. Is there any difference between that and passive in this context?

Inge (admin)

Gosh, I hadn’t even noticed this! Urheilla is indeed intransitive, and the third person is often used for generic sentences indeed. However, “kun on urheillut” sounds like it applies to one person, while the passive expresses that this is the case for everyone who works out. Both sentences work though. I doubt anyone would find either sentence strange.


It seems that the passive in Finnish is quite different than in Indo-European languages (at least in those I am familiar with) as it can be used both with transitive and intransitive verbs. Moreover, I think when using passive in Finnish it is not possible to add who or what is performing the action? I mean, like in English one can say for instance Finnish is studied by the students, in Finnish one would need to use the active voice?

Yes, I think that such sentences with the third person verb are used rather for more individual situations. Quite often in conditional sentences, for example Jos nukkuu liian vähän, on koko ajan väsynyt. That would probably sound strange with passive as it describes a situation which happens under certain conditions.

Inge (admin)

As far as I know it is completely impossible to add a “by subject” type of element to a passive sentence in Finnish. You would indeed need the active voice for that.