Finnish for busy people

Open and Closed in Finnish – Auki Avoin Kiinni Suljettu

This article deals with how to say “open” and “closed” in Finnish. You can find an analysis of the words auki, avoin, kiinni, suljettu as well as avattu and avoinna. If you’ve found your way here through Google, it is likely because you’ve wondered how these four words differ from each other.

1. How to say closed and closed in Finnish

Both kiinni and suljettu (as well as suljettuna) can be translated as “closed”. However, there is a difference in their function as well as their inflection.

1.1. Kiinni – closed

In most situations, you will be using kiinni (#1) rather than suljettu. Using kiinni is your best option for sentences where “closed” is at the end of the sentence: Kauppa on kiinni. Silmäni ovat kiinni. Pidän silmäni kiinni.

Grammatically, the word kiinni is an adverb. Its basic function is to be used in sentences with a verb other than olla. You will, for example, use it with the verbs laittaa and mennä (#2).

1.2. Suljettu – closed

The word suljettu is grammatically the TU-participle of the verb sulkea “to close”. Because of this, it conveys the meaning of some kind of permanent closure. The store, for example, isn’t just closed, it has closed down (#3). If our intent is to express that the closure is temporary, we can use suljettuna, with the essive case (#3).

When you’re using “closed” as an adjective in front of a noun (eg. “closed doors”, “closed eyes”, “closed box”), you can only use suljettu, not kiinni (#4).

# Finnish English
1 Kauppa on kiinni. The store is closed.
1 Laatikko on kiinni. The box is closed.
2 Laitan ikkunan kiinni. I closed the window.
2 Ovi meni kiinni. The door closed.
2 Hän istuu silmät kiinni. She sits with her eyes closed.
2 Pidä silmät kiinni! Keep your eyes closed!
2 Laatikko pysyy kiinni. The box stays closed.
3 Kauppa on suljettu. The store has closed down.
3 Kauppa on suljettuna. The store is closed.
4 [Suljettujen ovien] takana. Behind closed doors.
4 Seison [suljetun oven] edessä. I stand in front of the closed door.
4 Valitsen [suljetun laatikon]. I choose the closed box.

2. Auki, avoin, avoinna and avattu

Next, we have auki, avoin, avoinna and avattu, which all mean “open, opened”.

2.1. Auki – open

The adverb auki can be used with the verb olla, as well as other static verbs such as pysyä auki “to stay open” and jättää auki “to keep open”. The idea is that auki refers to a “state of openness” rather than the act of opening something (#1).

That’s why, in contrast with kiinni, we can’t use auki to express the action of something opening. It’s common to say ovi menee kiinni “the door ‘goes closed’, closes”, but in contrast ovi menee auki “the door goes open” just isn’t proper Finnish. We need to say ovi avautuu or ovi aukeaa to express that the door opens (#2).

Likewise, the sentence Laitan oven auki “I put the door open” does work, but does not refer to the act of opening the door. It means that you’re leaving the door open, not just opening it. If you’re describing the act of opening the door, you need to use the verb avata: Avaan oven (#3).

2.2. Avoin – open

The adjective avoin is often used in more abstract meanings. This doesn’t mean you can use it in a concrete meaning (eg. avoin kirja “open book”, avoin ovi “open door”). However, you’re more likely to see it used to mean “available, open to” (#4) or “open minded, open for” (#5).

The adjective avoin will without a doubt be used most often in situations where we need to inflect the word (#6). That’s because – unlike most of the other alternatives for “open” – avoin is a regular adjective which can be inflected (eg. avoimet, avoimessa, avoimeen, avoimena).

2.3. Avoinna – open

Avoinna is used very often in relation with opening hours (#7). However, instead of kauppa on avoinna, we can use just as well kauppa on auki. The word avoinna is perhaps more official.

On signs, you will see the word aukioloajat “visiting hours”, which is a compound word using the word auki. However, when saying these opening hours out loud, you’re more likely to use avoinna (eg. avoinna maanantaista perjantaihin “open from Monday till Friday”).

2.4. Avattu – opened

Just like suljettu above, avattu is a TU-participle. It’s used to express that a person has opened something.It mostly appears in regular on avattu “has been opened” sentences (#8).

However, when used as an adjective, we mostly use it for things that have been opened, but won’t be closed again, or not soon (#9). The connotation that it was opened by a person is very strongly present when using this avattu.

# Finnish English
1 Kauppa on auki. The store is open.
1 Laatikko on auki. The box is open.
1 Hän nukkuu silmät auki. She sleeps with her eyes open.
1 Pidä ovi auki! Keep the door open!
1 Ovi pystyy auki/avoimena. The door stays open.
1 Hän jätti oven auki. He left the door open.
2 “Ovi menee auki.” → Ovi aukeaa. The door opens.
3 Minä avaan ikkunan.
I open the window.
3 Minä laitan ikkunan auki.
I leave the window open.
4 Kirjasto on avoin kaikille. The library is open to all.
4 Avoin tennisturnaus. A tennis tournament open to all.
5 Hän on avoin uusille ideoille He’s open to new ideas.
6 Tänään museossa on [avoimet ovet]. Today the museum has open doors.
6 Firma ilmoitti [avoimesta työpaikasta]. The firm reported a job opening.
7 Pankki on avoinna klo 10-16. The bank is open 10 am – 4 pm.
7 Avoinna myös sunnuntaisin! Open even of Sundays!
8 Alakertaan on avattu baari. A bar has been opened downstairs.
8 Ilmoittautumiset on nyt avattu. Registrations are now open.
9 [Avattua pakettia] ei voi enää palauttaa. An opened package can’t be returned.
9 [Avattu pullo] ei säily pitkään. An opened bottle won’t last long.

Conclusion

The words for open and closed in Finnish are quite complex. For “closed”, language learners could generally stick to using the word kiinni in most situations. This is a good approach, except when “closed” is placed in front of a noun. For example, a “closed door” will be suljettu ovi.

Picking the right word for “open” is more complicated, especially because we have more alternatives there: auki, avoin, avoinna, avattu, aukinainen. Of those options, choosing auki is probably your best pick in most situations. However, in front of a noun, you will have to pick an adjective instead: avoin.

If you’re looking to improve your Finnish, you could use verbs instead of the adverbs and adjectives above: sulkea, sulkeutua, avata, avautua, and aueta.

Finnish English
Suljen oven. I close the door.
Ovi sulkeutuu. The door closes.
Ovi suljetaan. The door is being closed.
Ovi suljettiin. The door was closed.
Avaan oven. I open the door.
Ovi avautuu. The door opens.
Ovi aukeaa. The door opens.
Ovi avataan. The door is being opened.
Ovi avattiin. The door was opened.

This is it for ways to say open and closed in Finnish! It’s a complicated matter because, as far as I know, most languages don’t have this many alternatives.

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