Finnish for busy people

The Verb Antaa – Many Meanings

This page is all about the verb antaa. On its own, it only has two common meanings (to give and to allow), but it’s used in a wide variety of commonly used phrases where it has a particular meaning.

1. To give something to someone

In these sentences, you will generally have both an object and a recipient. The object will follow the regular object rules. The recipient will be inflected in the allative case (-lle).

Just like in English, the verb antaa can be used for giving something both temporarily and permanently to someone. One way to make this difference clear in Finnish is by using the translative case (-ksi). Word order is fairly free for these sentences.

Finnish English
Annoin kahvikupin hänelle. I gave the coffee cup to her.
En antanut juomalasia hänelle. I didn’t give a glass to her.
Annatko minulle lahjan? Will you give me a present?
Älä anna minulle lahjoja! Don’t give me presents!
Hän antoi minulle kirjan lahjaksi. He gave me a book as a present.
Hän antoi minulle kirjan lainaksi. He gave me a book to borrow.
Annan sinulle palkinnoksi kirjan. I give you a book as a reward.
Annan sinulle maksuksi kirjan. I give you a book as payment.
Annoin hänelle miettimisaikaa. I gave him time to think.
Anna kaukosäädin minulle! Give the remote to me!
Annoin Antille kukkia. I gave Antti some flowers.

2. To allow someone to do something

This special sentence construction (permessiivirakenne) expresses that someone is being allowed by someone else to do something. It requires the genitive, followed by the infinitive of the verb.

What is the most interesting about this construction is that – even in negative sentences – you will use the genitive!

Finnish English
Opettaja antoi minun mennä. The teacher allowed me to leave.
Annoin pojan mennä. I allowed the boy to leave.
En antanut pojan mennä. I didn’t allow the boy to leave.
Anna kissan syödä rauhassa! Let the cat eat in peace!
Äiti ei anna lapsen valvoa. Mom doesn’t let the child stay up.
Anna minun olla! Leave me be!
Anna minun auttaa. Let me help. Allow me to help.
Anna oven olla auki. Let the door be open.
Älä anna oven olla auki. Don’t let the door be open.

3. Phrases with the verb antaa

The verb antaa appears in a large amount of phrases. I’ve listed them below more or less according to their meaning.

If you look up these words in a Finnish dictionary, you will come across some abbreviations which are meant to help you with the rections of these phrases. I have not used those abbreviations because they are somewhat confusing. As such, here are the official abbreviations and my replacements for them:

  • antaa valtaa jllek “to give power to something”
    jllek means jollekin “to something”
    → I have replaced this with asialle “to the thing”
  • antaa jklle vapaat kädet “to give someone free reign”
    → jklle means jollekulle “to someone”
    → I have replaced this with hänelle “to him”
  • antaa selkoa jstak “to explain something”
    → jstak
     means jostakin “of/from/about something”
    → I have replaced this with asiasta “of/from/about the thing”

In addition, many of these phrases have an object. When the object always appears in the partitive, you will find the words inflected in the partitive in my list. When the object follows the normal total object rules, I have given the basic form. For example:

  • In the table below, antaa selkoa uses the partitive, so it will always have the partitive case:
    annan selkoa, anna selkoa, älä anna selkoa, annetaan selkoa
  • In contrast, antaa selkeä viesti has the basic form, so it will follow the object rules:
    annan selkeän viestin, anna selkeä viesti, älä anna selkeää viestiä, annetaan selkeä viesti
Finnish English
antaa periksi to give up, give in
antaa myöten asialle to give in to something, to yield
antaa myöten hänelle to relent to him/her, to yield
antaa hänet ilmi poliisille to turn him in to the police
antaa hänet ilmi rikoksesta to turn him in for a crime
antaa arvoa asialle to appreciate something
antaa liian vähän arvoa asialle to give too little value to something
antaa tilaa to give space, to accomodate for
antaa tilaa hänelle to give him space
antaa tilaa asialle to accomodate for something
antaa julkista valtaa to give public authority
antaa lisää valtaa hänelle to give more power to him/her
antaa aihetta to give cause, to give rise to
antaa aihetta huoleen to give cause for concern
antaa aihetta optimismiin to give reason for optimism
antaa ajattelemisen aihetta to give reason to think
antaa suuntaa elämälle to give direction to life
antaa suuntaa asialle to give direction to something
antaa suuntamerkki to give direction, to blink (car)
antaa merkki to signal
antaa elonmerkkiä to give a sign of life
antaa aloitusmerkki to give the starting signal
antaa valomerkki to give the light signal (bar)
antaa tehtäväksi to assign, commission
antaa hänen tehtäväksi to entrust him with
antaa hänelle tehtäväksi to give him the job of
antaa hänen haltuunsa to hand over to him/her
antaa valtaa to give power
antaa valtaa pelolle to give power to fear
antaa valtaa epäilyksille to give power to doubts
antaa hänelle vapaat kädet to give free reign to him
antaa hänelle valtuudet asiaan to give him authority to issue
antaa hänelle lupa to give permission to someone
antaa tuomio to deliver judgement
antaa hänelle opetus to teach him a lesson
antaa kuitti hänelle to give him the receipt
antaa ylen to put, to throw up
antaa henkensä to give one’s life for something
antaa kaikkensa to give his everything
antaa suostumuksensa to give his consent
antaa kunniansanansa to give his word of honor
antaa kaasua to step on the accelerator
antaa tietä to give way
antaa suudelma to give a kiss
antaa kielisuudelma to give a tongue kiss, French kiss
antaa rauhoittavia to give tranquilizers
antaa virheellinen kuva asiasta to give a false impression of sth
antaa selkeä kuva asiasta to give a clear picture of sth
antaa hyvä vaikutelma asiasta to give a good impression of sth
antaa asia maksutta to give something free of charge
antaa asia hänelle lainaksi to lend something to him
antaa asia vuokralle to lease something, rent out
antaa alivuokralle to sublease, to sublet
antaa asia myytäväksi to put something up for sale
antaa asia pantiksi to give something as a pledge
antaa hänelle tippiä to give him a tip (waiter)
antaa hänelle maksuaikaa to give him a grace period
antaa asia pois to give something away
antaa alennusta to give a discount
antaa hyvitystä to give a refund, to rebate
antaa hänelle ylennys to give him a promotion
antaa hänelle löysää to give him some slack
antaa hänelle anteeksi asiasta to forgive him something
antaa synnit anteeksi to absolve, to forgive sins
antaa hänelle potkut to fire him (spoken language)
antaa hänelle kenkää to fire him (spoken language)
antaa hänelle lähtöpassit to kick him out, to make him leave
antaa hänelle pakit to turn him down, to let him down
antaa hänelle rukkaset to turn him down, to refuse someone
antaa korvapuusti to hit someone on the ear
antaa piiskaa to spank
antaa selkäsaunaa to give a spanking
antaa selkään to whip, to beat, to spank
antaa nyrkistä to punch
antaa turpaan/turpiin to give a beating, to hit in the face
antaa nyrkkien puhua to let the fists speak
antaa takaisin hänelle to give back to him
antaa takaisin samalla mitalla to give tit for tat, give back in kind
antaa hänelle keppiä to beat someone (with a cane)
antaa selkeä viesti to give a clear signal
antaa selkoa asiasta to explain something
antaa selonteko asiasta to render an account, to report sth
antaa nenäkäs vastaus to give a sassy answer
antaa hänelle puheenvuoro to give him to floor, let him talk
antaa tunnustusta asiasta to give credit for something
antaa mielipiteensä asiasta to give one’s opinion on something
antaa palautetta asiasta to give feedback on something
antaa tyydytystä to bring satisfaction
antaa uutta voimaa to invigorate, to give new strength
antaa uutta eloa asialle to rejuvenate, to revitalize sth
antaa toinen mahdollisuus to give a second change
antaa toinen mahdollisuus to give a new opportunity
antaa asialle uutta potkua to give new momentum to something
antaa asia vastalahjaksi to reciprocate with something
antaa lohtua to give comfort, provide comfort
antaa tukea to provide support
antaa taloudellista tukea to provide financial support
antaa kaiken tukensa to give one’s full support
antaa hänelle puhtia to pep up, to give a little kick
antaa hänelle suojapaikka to provide refuge for someone
antaa hänelle kyytiä to give him a ride
antaa hänen kuulla kunniansa to give someone a piece of one’s mind
antaa äänensä kuulua to let one’s voice be heard, speak up
antaa asioiden olla to let things be, to let things slide
antaa asian olla to let something slide
antaa palaa (Anna palaa!) to go for it, to go ahead
antaa vetää (Anna vetää!) to piss off, to scram
antaa (hänen) ymmärtää to imply, insinuate something

Alternatives to the verb antaa

The phrases above are all commonly used and really good to get yourself acquainted with. However, if you want to enrich your own language use, many of these phrases can be replaced with an actual verb. Sure, you can say antaa ruokaa “to give food”, but you could just as well use ruokkia lintuja “to feed the birds” or syöttää vauvaa “to feed the baby”.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid the verb antaa in all these phrases. It’s very much like in English: there are situations where you are more prone to say “I give” (“I kiss” vs “I give a kiss”; “I protect” vs “I give protection”; “to command” vs “to give an order”). The following table matches some of these antaa-phrases with their respective verbs.

Antaa X Alternative English
antaa apua auttaa to (give) help
antaa arvoa arvostaa to value, to appreciate
antaa haleja halata to give hugs, to hug
antaa hoitoa hoitaa to give care, to take care of
antaa korvapuusti lyödä to hit around the head
antaa kukille vettä kastella kukkia to water plants
antaa käsky käskeä to (give an) order
antaa kättä kätellä to shake hands
antaa lohtua lohduttaa to give comfort, to console
antaa ohjeita ohjeistaa to give instructions
antaa opetus opettaa to teach (a lesson)
antaa periksi luovuttaa to give up, to give in
antaa potkut irtisanoa to fire someone
antaa päätös päättää to make a decision, to decide
antaa rintaa immettää to breast-feed
antaa ruokaa linnuille ruokkia lintuja to feed birds
antaa ruokaa vauvalle syöttää vauvaa to feed a baby
antaa suojaa suojata to give protection, to protect
antaa suudelma suudella to (give a) kiss
antaa suuntamerkki vilkuttaa to give the turning signal
antaa tehdä teettää to have sth made
antaa tiedoksi tiedottaa to notify, to inform
antaa tietä väistää to give way, to evade
antaa tukea tukea to (give) support
antaa tuomio tuomita to give judgement, to judge
antaa vastaus vastata to (give an) answer

That’s it for the verb antaa! I hope this article contained something interesting to each of you!

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