Finnish for busy people

The Imperative Mood – Imperatiivi – Tule! Mene! Syö!

The imperative mood is something you probably want to learn pretty early on when studying Finnish. The singular imperative is easy to form and used so much that it’s a great way to expand your communication skills (e.g. Syö! Mene! Tule!). The plural imperative is a whole lot more complicated.

In this article we will only look at the very basics of forming the imperative mood of verbs.

1. The Use of the Imperative Mood

The imperative mood is used in orders and requests. It’s one of the ways to express necessity, just like “täytyy” and “pitää”. It’s common to add an exclamation point to the end of an imperative sentence.

Finnish English
Voi hyvin! Be well!
Parane pian! Get well soon!
Pidä hauskaa! Have fun!
Varo autoja! Watch out for cars!
Katso taaksesi! Look behind you!
Älä astu lätäkköön! Don’t step into the puddle!
Ole hiljaa! Be quiet!
Kuuntele minua! Listen to me!
Sulje ja lukitse portti! (pic) Close and lock the gate!
Älä tallaa nurmikoita! Don’t trample the lawns!
Älä jätä tavaraa terassille! (pic) Don’t leave stuff on the terrace!
Älä osta karkkeja! Don’t buy candy!
Vatkaa munat kuohkeiksi. Whisk the eggs into fluff.
Käänny vasemmalle. Turn left.
Maksakaa kassalle, kiitos. (pic) Pay at the cash register, please.

Sometimes the imperative will be too direct, especially in more official situations. In those, you might want to use the polite conditional instead, e.g. “Voisitko auttaa”. You can also soften the imperative by adding the clitic -pa/-pä or -han/-hän to the end of the imperative verb.

2. The Formation of the Imperative

The Finnish imperative can be conjugated in all the personal forms except the first person singular. The more difficult forms will be addressed in a different article.

2.1. The singular imperative

To form the imperative, you take the first person singular without the -n. This is the case for all verbtypes (VT). The negative form will be the exact same, but with älä “don’t” in front of it. You can find more example sentences of the negative imperative here.

If you’re a beginner, note that I’m only adding verbtype 6 to be complete. In the beginning of your studies, it’s fine to forget about verbtype 6 because it’s so rarely used.

VT # Verb Minä Imperative Negative
VT 1 antaa anna-n anna! älä anna!
VT 1 nukkua nuku-n nuku! älä nuku!
VT 1 ostaa osta-n osta! (pic) älä osta!
VT 2 imuroida imuroi-n imuroi! älä imuroi!
VT 2 juoda juo-n juo! älä juo!
VT 2 tehdä tee-n tee! älä tee!
VT 3 suudella suutele-n suutele! älä suutele!
VT 3 pestä pese-n pese! (pic) älä pese!
VT 4 tavata tapaa-n tapaa! älä tapaa!
VT 4 pudota putoa-n putoa! älä putoa!
VT 5 valita valitse-n valitse! älä valitse!
VT 6 lämmetä lämpene-n lämpene! älä lämpene!
VT 6 vanheta vanhene-n vanhene! älä vanhene!

2.2. The plural imperative

The plural imperative’s marker -kaa/-kää (see vowel harmony) will be added to infinitive’s stem of the verb. You can find the infinitive’s stem by removing the infinitive’s marker.

  • Verbtype 1: remove the final -a/-ä
  • Verbtype 2: remove the final -da/-dä
  • Verbtype 3: remove the final two letters
  • Verbtype 4: remove the final -a/-ä (not the -t-!)
  • Verbtype 5: remove the final -a/-ä (not the -t-!)
  • Verbtype 6: remove the final -a/-ä (not the -t-!)

For the negative plural imperative, your auxiliary verb will be “älkää“, and your main verb will get -ko/-kö added to its infinitive stem. This means the stem of both the positive main verb and the negative one will be identical.

VT # Verb Imperative Negative
VT 1 anta-a antakaa! älkää antako!
VT 1 nukku-a nukkukaa! älkää nukkuko!
VT 1 silittä-ä silittäkää! älkää silittäkö!
VT 2 imuroi-da imuroikaa! älkää imuroiko!
VT 2 juo-da juokaa! älkää juoko!
VT 2 teh-dä tehkää! älkää tehkö!
VT 3 suudel-la suudelkaa! älkää suudelko!
VT 3 nous-ta nouskaa! älkää nousko!
VT 4 tavat-a tavatkaa! älkää tavatko!
VT 4 pudot-a pudotkaa! älkää pudotko!
VT 5 valit-a valitkaa! älkää valitko!
VT 6 lämmet-ä lämmetkää! älkää lämmetkö!
VT 6 vanhet-a vanhetkaa! älkää vanhetko!

3. The Object in Imperative Sentences

A regular sentence can have an object that looks like the genitive (Ostan omenan). When you turn a sentence like that into an imperative sentence, you will need to use the basic form of the object.

Regular Imperative
Avaan oven. Avaa ovi!
Luen kirjan. Lue kirja!
Ostan uuden takin. Osta uusi takki!
Annan kukan äidille. Anna kukka äidille!
Lainaan kynän kaverille. Lainaa kynä kaverille!

Partitive objects will remain partitive in an imperative sentence, and so will plural forms.

That’s it for the basic rules of the imperative!

If you have mastered the imperative, you might want to look at some other pages:


In addition to the basic rules, there are other imperative forms that are interesting once you hit level B1. You can read more about the kertokoon, kertokoot and kerrottakoon forms in our article on the jussiivi.

Person Positive Negative
sinä kerro! älä kerro!
hän kertokoon! älköön kertoko!
me kertokaamme! älkäämme kertoko!
te kertokaa! älkää kertoko!
he kertokoot! älkööt kertoko!
passive kerrottakoon! älköön kerrottako!
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Section 3 about objects of the imperative states that you should remove “n” from the genitive object for imperative sentences but that would result in “ove”, “uude”, and “kuka” instead of “ovi”, uusi”, and “kukka” in the examples.

Shouldn’t the imperative object be in the nominative form as stated in the cooking recipe phrases page? (URL below)

“All these phrases use the imperative in order to tell you what to do. In addition you can analyze these sentences for objects, which all appear in either the basic form or the T-plural (nominative plural).“

Inge (admin)

You’re right, that section was just weirdly phrased. It’s indeed the basic form (the nominative) that’s used instead of the genetive case. Thank you!


Moi! Silloin imperatiivi käyttää aina partitiivi? Kiitos!

Inge (admin)

Ei! Lue “3. The Object in Imperative Sentences”. Imperatiivissa ei käytetä genetiiviä, mutta perusmuoto, T-monikko ja partitiivi ovat kaikki mahdollisia.


Kiitos avusta!