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The Verb Saada – Many Meanings #2

This page is all about the verb saada. This is the second verb I’m addressing in a series about verbs with many meanings. Saada certainly fits the bill with its wide arrange of meanings and phrases employing the verb.

The verb saada has two meanings that are super common: to be allowed to (e.g. saan tulla) and to receive (e.g. saan lahjan). However, it’s a very versatile verb with many other meanings as well. Saada is is often used as an auxiliary verb, meaning it appears in verb+verb constructions (e.g. saan mennä ulos, saatko tulla meille, saamme jäädä kotiin).

  1. To have permission to do something
  2. To receive something concrete
  3. To receive something abstract
  4. To cause something (saada + accusative + third infinitive)
  5. To manage something (saada + passive past participle)
  6. To get laid (spoken language)
Finnish English
1 Äiti sanoi, että saan tulla teille. Mom said that I can come to your place.
1 Ilman ajokorttia ei saa ajaa autoa. Without a driver’s license, you’re not allowed to drive a car.
1 Sain luvan tulla tänne. I got permission to come here.
2 Sain Kelasta asumistukea. I received a housing benefit from Kela.
2 Kaikki ovat saaneet kahvia. Everyone has gotten coffee.
2 Sain lahjaksi pelkkiä kirjoja. I only got books as a present.
3 Sain vakavan rangaistuksen. I got a serious punishment.
3 Hän sai osakseen kiitosta. She was praised (was given thanks).
4 Tiina sai minut itkemään. Tiina made me cry.
4 Huijari sai meidät epäröimään. The scammer made us hesitate.
4 Kevään lämpö sai kukat kukkimaan. The warmth of spring made the flowers blossom.
5 Sain hädin tuskin avattua oven. I barely managed to open the door.
5 Sain läksyt tehdyksi vartissa. I managed to do my homework in 15 minutes.
6 Sain eilen yhdeltä blondilta. I got laid by a blonde yesterday.


Phrases with the verb saada

The verb saada is also very common in phrases. Below, you can find some of the more common ones. Please note that many of these have a possessive suffix included. This suffix will have to match the subject of the sentence (e.g. minä sain turpaani, sinä sait turpaasi, hän sai turpaansa).

Saying Literally Explanation
Minä sain jalan oven rakoon. “I got my foot into the door crack. I got an opportunity, a start.
Minä sain näpeilleni. “I got on my fingers.” I experienced a setback.
Hän sai näpeillensä. “He got on his fingers.” He experienced a setback.
Hanke sai tuulta purjeisiinsa. “The project got wind in its sails.” It got properly started, advanced.
Minä sain turpaani. “I got on my muzzle.” I got beaten up.
Hän sai turpaansa. “He got on his muzzle.” He got beaten up.
Hän sai suunsa makeaksi. “He got his mouth sweet.” He ate something delicious and sweet.
Minä sain tarpeekseni tästä. “I got my enough.” I have had enough of this.
Hän sai tarpeekseen. “He got his enough.” He had had enough.
Minä sain potkut. “I got the kicks.” I was fired, I lost my job.
Saan harmaita hiuksia tästä. “I get grey hairs from this.” This is causing me a lot of worry.
Hän sai päähänsä tehdä jotain. “He got into his head to do something.” He stubbornly start doing something.
Hän sai sulan hattuun. “He got a feather in his cap.” He got respect for doing something.
En saa unta. I can’t get sleep. I can’t sleep.
En saa unen päästä kiinni. “I can’t grasp the head/end of sleep.” I can’t fall asleep.
Sain aikaan pelkkää tuhoa. “I got to time only destruction.” I only caused desctruction.
Se sai alkunsa salamasta. “It got its beginning from lightning.” It (e.g. fire) was caused by lightning.
Haluan saada tämän alta pois. “I want to get this away from under.” I want to get this over with.
En saa otetta elämästäni. I can’t get a grip on my life. I can’t turn my life around.
Hän sai minut puolelleen. He got me to his side. He won me over.
Idea sai laajaa kannatusta. The idea got wide support. The idea resonated with many.

That’s it for this deeper look at the verb saada! Hopefully you learned something new!

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For the meaning of “to manage something” one of the examples uses partitive (“avattua”) and the other translative (“tehdyksi”). Is there some difference?