Finnish for busy people

Moni Monta Monet – Many

In this article, we’re focusing on the words moni, monta and monet. All of these words mean “many”. We’ll go over the difference between these three below.

Finnish has several other words that also mean “many”, eg. paljon, monet, usea, useat and useita. You can learn more about the difference between paljon and monet.

Table of Contents
  1. Moni and Monet as the Subject
    1. Moni and monet used as nouns
    2. Moni and monet used as adjectives
    3. The inflection of moni
    4. Example sentences of monessa monesta monista
  2. Monta Expressing a Quantity
  3. Monta vs Montaa
  4. Conclusion

1. Moni and Monet as the Subject

The pronoun moni is the singular, and monet is the plural. Both can be used to mean “many”. They can be used both as a noun on its own and as an adjective.

1.1. Moni and Monet Used as Nouns

Moni and monet can be used as nouns expressing the subject of a sentence. On their own, these words always refer to “many people“; even if we’re not specifying the “people” part.

There is barely any difference in meaning between the two when they’re used as the subject of a sentence. One could claim that monet might be slightly “more plentiful amount of people” than moni. Some googling seems to reveal that the singular moni is used more in the title of articles, while monet seems more common in the body of the article.

Notice how the verb will be conjugated differently! Moni will be followed by the third person singular (eg. moni menee), while monet will require the third person plural (eg. monet menevät).

Finnish English
Moni unohtaa tämän perusasian. Many forget this basic fact.
Tätä ei moni tiedä. This is something not many know.
Monet eivät tiedä tätä. Many don’t know this.
Moni haluaa, harva pystyy. Many want to, few are able to.
Liian moni kuolee putkaan. Too many (prisoners) die in prison.
Monet haluavat auttaa köyhiä. Many want to help the poor.
Monet harkitsevat alan vaihtoa. Many are considering a change of profession.

1.2. Moni and Monet Used as Adjectives

Moni and monet can also both be used as adjectives. Unlike when they’re used as nouns, these adjectives can refer just as much to people (monet opettajat) as to objects (monet asunnot).

According to some sources, “moni opettaja” and “monet opettajat” can be translated differently, with the first meaning “many a teacher” and the latter “many teachers”. In Finnish, there is a different feeling to both, but I can’t put my finger on it. Moni seems more formal than monet.

In any case, the difference is subtle and, as such, I wouldn’t worry about it as a language learner. If you want to use this type of sentence, I would recommend using the plural form monet, which seems to be used more in communication.

The verb will agree with the number of the subject, so it’ll be “moni opettaja on“, but “monet opettajat ovat“.

Finnish English
[Moni lapsi] tykkää puurosta. Many children like porridge.
[Monet lapset] tykkäävät puurosta. Many children like porridge.
[Moni opettaja] on uupunut. Many teachers are exhausted.
[Moni auto] hylätään katsastuksessa. Many cars are rejected at roadworthiness test.
[Monet suomalaiset] puhuvat murretta. Many Finns speak a dialect.
[Monet asiat] ovat nykyään paremmin. Many things are better these days.
[Moni muukin] ihmettelee sitä. Many others, too, wonder about this.
[Monet muut kuljettajat] jarruttivat. Many other drivers hit the breaks.

1.3. The Inflection of MoniMonessa Moneen Monissa

We can inflect moni in all the cases when it’s functioning as an adjective in the sentence. It will agree with the noun it is connected to, so we will say monessa talossa “in many houses”, moneen taloon “to many houses” and monena päivänä “during many days”.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative moni monet
Partitive monta monia
Genetive monen monien
Missä monessa monissa
Mistä monesta monista
Mihin moneen moniin
Millä monella monilla
Miltä monelta monilta
Mille monelle monille
Translative moneksi moniksi
Essive monena monina

1.4. Example Sentences of Monessa Monesta Monista

As you can see below, you can use both the singular and the plural of moni in these sentences. The plural gives a slightly more plentiful meaning that the singular, even though both mean “many”. The case used in the sentences below is often based on rections (eg. johtua always requires the mistä form, and vaikuttaa requires mihin.

Finnish English
[Monessa oppikirjassa] on esimerkkejä. In many textbooks are examples.
[Monissa oppikirjoissa] on esimerkkejä. In many textbooks are examples.
Se voi johtua [monesta syystä]. It can be due to many reasons.
Se voi johtua [monista syistä]. It can be due to many reasons.
Se vaikuttaa [moniin ihmisiin]. It affects many people.
[Monella naisella] on kuukautiskipuja. Many women have period pains.
Olen [monena kesänä] ollut töissä. I’ve been working many summers.
[Monen puhelimen] näyttö on rikki. Many phones’ screen is broken.
Se on [monien mahdollisuuksien] maa. It’s the land of many possibility.

2. Monta Expressing a Quantity

Grammatically speaking, monta is the partitive form of moni. Most often, it is used as you would use a number (eg. kaksi autoa; monta autoa). In this kind of a situation, monta is always followed by a partitive singular word.

Finnish English
Kadulla on [monta autoa]. There are many cars on the street.
Minulla on [monta ystävää]. I have many friends.
Olen ollut sairaana [monta päivää]. I’ve been sick for many days.
Se on [monta metriä] pitempi. It’s many meters longer.
[Kuinka monta siskoa] sinulla on? How many sisters do you have?

2. Monta vs Montaa

To some extent, the word monta has lost its partitive “meaning”. By this I mean that it is getting increasingly often seen as a basic form word, unrelated to moni. As a result of this, monta can be inflected in the partitive, becoming montaa.

Some people consider montaa a pet peeve and would rather get rid of it altogether. Still, one could argue that montaa has a specific use. You can read more about this in kielikello’s article, or in this forum debate. You can also see examples of that in the sentences below, which do show that both can be used to express a difference in meaning.

Finnish English
Pöydässä oli [monta juustoa]. There were many cheeses on the table.
Pöydässä oli [montaa juustoa]. There were many types of cheeses on the table.
Rakastan [montaa ihmistä]. I love many people.
Opiskelen [montaa kieltä]. I’m studying many languages.

3. Conclusion

That’s it for this article. I guess as a closing statement I could say: “Meitä on moneksi” aka “There are many kinds of us, of people”. Some love to use montaa, others hate it. No matter what you think yourself, the extremely simplified advice I would give you would be:

  • When faced with the choice between moni vs monet, use monet (Monet suomalaiset rather than moni suomalainen). I’m recommending this mainly because it is the most neutral of the two.
  • When faced with the choice between monta vs montaa, use monta (Hän ampui monta sorsaa rather than Hän ampui montaa sorsaa).

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