Finnish for busy people

How to say TO TRY in Finnish – Yrittää Pyrkiä Kokeilla

In this article, we will take a look at the different way to say TO TRY in Finnish. This article is especially important if you’re learning about verb rections: the verbs below all have different rections:

  • Yrittää + verb in the infinitive
  • Kokeilla + partitive object
  • Sovittaa + partitive object
  • Koetella + partitive object
  • Tavoitella + partitive object
  • Koettaa + verb in the infinitive / partitive object
  • Pyrkiä + verb in the maan form / object in the mihin form

1. Yrittää

The most standard way to say “to try” is yrittää. It is followed by a second verb in its infinitive form.

Finnish English
Yritän vastata kysymyksiin. I try to answer to the questions.
Yritän oppia suomen kieltä. I’m trying to learn Finnish.
Yritä rentoutua. Try to relax.
Tämä kauppa yritettiin ryöstää. An attempt was made to rob this store.
Nainen yritti ottaa kuvaa. The woman tried to take a picture.

2. Kokeilla

The verb kokeilla is a derivate from the noun koe “test, trial”. Most of the time, kokeilla means “to try on” or “to try out”. It refers to the act of checking whether something fits us or whether it works for us. Kokeilla is a partitive verb. You can’t add a verb after kokeilla.

Finnish English
Haluan kokeilla noita kenk. I want to try on those shoes.
Oletko kokeillut ohjelmaa? Have you tried out this program?
Haluatko sinä kokeilla si? Do you want to try it (on/out)?
Kokeillaan jotain uutta! Let’s try out something new!

3. Sovittaa

The verb sovittaa is a derivate from the verb sopia “to fit, to be suitable”. The verb sovittaa is used most often for trying out clothes and such. It’s a partitive verb.

Sovittaa has other meanings, but those are completely unrelated to trying and, thus, not covered in this article. Some examples: sovittaa valokuva kehykseen (“to fit a picture into a frame”), sovittaa palaveri aikatauluun (“to plan a meeting into the schedule”), and sovittaa riitaa (“to reconcile a dispute”).

Finnish English
Sovitin takkia kaupassa. I tried on the coat in the store.
Sovitin monia silmälaseja. I tried on many glasses.
Haluatko sovittaaitä jalkaan? Do you want to try these on your feet?

4. Pyrkiä

The verb pyrkiä is probably my favorite one of the bunch. It’s means “to try to get into”. I think it’s pretty cool to have a single verb for this whole concept. Often, it can also be translated as “to attempt” or “to run for”. Yrittää usually carries the connotation that the attempt requires an effort; it’s not easy to succeed. The verb pyrkiä usually just means one try with high stakes.

Because of its “into” meaning, it will usually be used with the mihin form of the word connected to it. When running for office or another position, you will use the translative case. We can also follow up pyrkiä with a second verb: this verb will appear in the -maan form.

Finnish English
Pyrin yliopistoon, mutten päässyt. I tried to get into college, but I didn’t get in.
Pyritkö aina täydellisyyteen? Do you always try for perfection?
Kissani pyrkii aina syliin. My cat always tries to get on my lap.
Hän pyrkii presidentiksi. He’s running for president.
Anni ei pyri puheenjohtajaksi. Anni isn’t trying to become the chair.
Hän on pyrkinyt vaikuttamaan politiikkaan. She has tried to influence politics.
Hän pyrkii ostamaan kierrätettyjä vaatteita. She strives to buy recycled clothes.
Olen pyrkinyt vähentämään ruokahävikkiä. I’ve been trying to reduce food wastage.
Olen ahkerasti pyrkinyt osallistumaan. I’ve actively attempted to participate.

5. Tavoitella

Just like pyrkiä, the verb tavoitella has the added meaning that something is hard to reach or achieve. With tavoitella, you’re generally trying constantly or repeatedly. Often, it can be translated as “to seek”.

Alternatively, because of the noun it’s derived from (tavoite “goal”), you can also come across this verb in situations where a goal has been set and now it is being attempted to achieve: you’re aiming for something.

Finnish English
Tavoittelin onnellisuutta. I sought happiness.
Ennen tavoittelin tiettyä ulkonäköä. Before, I sought a particular appearance.
Nyt tavoittelen hyvinvointia. Now, I seek well-being.
Anna tavoitteli rentouttavaa rantalomaa. Anna tried to have a relaxing beach holiday.
Urheilija tavoitteli kultamitalia. The athlete was aiming for the gold medal.
Messukeskus tavoittelee 20 000 kävijää. The Fair Center is aiming for 20,000 visitors.
Yritys tavoittelee 10 000 euron säästö. The company seeks savings of 10 000 euros.

6. Koettaa

The verb koettaa comes from the noun koe “test, trial”. It can be used in combination with both verbs (in the infinitive form) and nouns (in the partitive). In spoken language, koettaa can often be used as a synonym for both sovittaa and yrittää.

In addition, it’s used in certain fixed situations, such as koettaa voimia “try one’s strength” and koettaa onnea “try one’s luck”. In these cases, it doesn’t refer to us trying something. Rather, something is trying us; putting difficulties in our way. You might hear the verb koittaa used in spoken language instead of koettaa.

Finnish English
Koetapa kestää! Try to hang on!
Koeta keksiä esimerkkejä! Try to come up with examples!
Koetetaan nostaa se yhdessä. Let’s try to lift it together.
Saanko minäkin koettaa? Can I try, too?
Koetetaan, kumpi meistä on nopeampi. Let’s test, which one of us is faster.
Koeta haarukalla perunoiden kypsyyttä! Test the readiness of the potatoes with a fork!
Se koettaa voimia. It tries our strength.
Hän koetti onneaan. He tried his luck.
Hän koettaa kenk jalkaansa. She tries the shoes on.

7. Koetella

The verb koetella is also a derivate from the noun koe “test, trial”. It’s almost exclusively used to mean that something is trying us: e.g. our strength, our patience. In constrast with koettaa, koetella means the testing is long-lasting and repeated. The object of these sentences will be inflected in the partitive case.

Finnish English
Suru koettelee voimia. Grief tests one’s strength.
VR koettelee matkustajien kärsivällisyyttä. VR is testing passenger’s patience.
Miksi Jumala koettelee minua näin? Why does God try me like this?
Masennus koettelee koko perhettä. Depression affects the whole family.

Those were the verbs most commonly used to say TO TRY in Finnish.

5 2 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments