Finnish for busy people

Negative Present Passive – Passiivi

Most of this article, aside from the examples, is exactly the same as on the page for the present passive. If you’re new to the passive, start with that article!

Table of Contents
  1. The Use of the Negative Present Passive
    1. When we don’t say WHO
    2. As the spoken language we-form
    3. With suggestions
    4. How to tell usage 1 to 3 apart
  2. The Formation of the Negative Present Passive
    1. Verbtype 1 passive
    2. Verbtypes 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6
  3. Consonant Gradation in the Negative Present Passive

1. Use of the Negative Present Passive

1.1. When we don’t say who

In most sentences, the passive is used when we don’t say WHO is doing the action. The reason why we’re not saying so can be that it’s not important who is doing the thing or we don’t know who is doing it:

For example: “Ouluun ei rakenneta raitiovaunulinjaa.

  • Translation: “They’re not building a tram line in Oulu” or “A tram line is not being built in Oulu”
  • Interpretation #1: We don’t know who would be doing the building, if there was any building going on.
  • Interpretation #2: We don’t really care who. The point of the sentence is the end result: nobody is building it.

Generally, the passive kind of implies it’s a person or group doing the thing. Most of the time it’s used for plural “subjects” (I use the term subject loosely, because of course there is no subject in a passive sentence).

Finnish English
Suomessa ei juoda paljon kombutsaa. In Finland they don’t drink a lot of kombucha.
Puhelimia ei käytetä ajaessa. Phones are not being used while driving.
Huomenna ei juhlita mitään. Tomorrow nothing is being celebrated.

1.2. As the spoken language we-form

“Puhekielen me-muoto” is a very popular form in spoken language, up to the point where you are much more likely to hear “me ei mennä” over the regular “me emme mene” form. In standard language and especially in official written sources, you will not find this form.

Verb Standard language Spoken language
mennä (to go) Me emme mene baariin. Me ei mennä baariin.
rakastaa (to love) Me emme rakasta sinua. Me ei rakasteta sinua.
kävellä (to walk) Me emme kävele metsässä. Me ei kävellä metsässä.

1.3. With suggestions

The third use is often translated to the “let’s…” form in English. You’re suggesting something that you and whoever you’re talking to can do together. The idea is specifically that you both do it; it’s not an imperative to make the other person do something.

Verb Suggestion Translation
mennä Ei mennä teatteriin ensi viikolla. Let’s not go to the theater next week.
käydä Ei käydä kaupassa. Let’s not go to (visit) the store.
lukea Ei lueta tätä kirjaa. Let’s not read this book.


1.4. How to tell usage 1 to 3 apart

The three ways of using the passive mentioned above each have a very distinct sentence pattern to them.

  1. The no-subject passive will always have either a place, an object or a time at the beginning of the sentence.
  2. The spoken language passive will always start with “me”.
  3. The suggestion passive will always have the passive verb at the beginning of the sentence.
1.1 1.2 1.3
Junalla ei matkusteta paljon. Me ei matkusteta paljon junalla. Ei matkusteta junalla!
Ensi vuonna ei äänestetä uutta presidenttiä. Me ei äänestetä uutta presidenttiä. Ei äänestetä uutta presidenttiä!
Vedenkeitintä ei käytetä päivittäin monissa kodeissa. Me ei käytetä vedenkeitintä. Ei käytetä vedenkeitintä!

As you can see above, 1.1 has a location case (“junalla”), expression of time (“ensi vuonna) and an object “vedenkeitintä” at the beginning of the sentence. In contrast, 1.2 starts with the 1st person plural personal pronoun “me”. In 1.3 the verb is at the beginning of the sentence.

2. The Formation of the Negative Present Passive

For all verbtypes, the negative present passive is formed in the same way. You take the affirmative present passive form, remove the -an/-än from the end of it, and add “ei” to the beginning.

For verbtypes 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 this means that the negative present passive form will look exactly the same as the verb’s infinitive

Verb Passive Negative passive
sanoa sanotaan ei sanota
nukkua nukutaan ei nukuta
lähteä lähdetään ei lähde
ostaa ostetaan* ei osteta*
maksaa maksetaan* ei makseta*
saada saadaan ei saada
tehdä tehdään ei teh
ajatella ajatellaan ei ajatella
tavata tavataan ei tavata
häiritä häiritään ei häiri
rohjeta rohjetaan ei rohjeta

* When the infinitive of a verb ends in -aa, -a- changes to -e- when making the verb passive.

3. Consonant Gradation in the Negative Present Passive

The passive present for all verbtypes is weak! That’s due to the fact that verbtype 1 is taken from the first person singular (the minä-form) and the other verbtypes from the basic form. Finally something is easy!

Verb Passive Verb Passive Verb Passive
nukkua ei nukuta leipoa ei leivota ampua ei ammuta
kunnella ei kuunnella jutella ei jutella ommella ei ommella
pelätä ei pelätä tavata ei tavata pudota ei pudota
tarjeta ei tarjeta lämmetä eimmetä paeta ei paeta

That concludes the article on the negative present passive!


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Just a small kirjoitusvirhe: in Part 1.4. How to tell usage 1 to 3 apart, the example of 1.3 should be “Ei käytetä vedenkeitintä!” 🙂

Inge (admin)

Kiitos! 🙂