Finnish for busy people

Tämmönen and Semmonen – Tällainen and Sellainen

Tämmönen and semmonen are words you might have come across in spoken language. In this article, we look at the adjectives formed from the pronouns tämä, tuo and se.

Written Spoken Translation
tällainen tämmöinen, tämmönen “this kind of”
tuollainen tommoinen, tommonen “that kind of”
sellainen semmoinen, semmonen “that kind of”
millainen millanen, mimmonen “what kind of”

This article idea was suggested by ClearSkies on our discord server. Thanks, ClearSkies!

1. Terminology

Linguists call these words “proadjectives”, which is a term that’s used for words not aren’t adjectives but serve the same purpose. The words tällainen and sellainen (and tämmönen and semmonen) are used both in the same way as an adjective as in the role of a pronoun.

Tällainen, tuollainen and sellainen differ from adjectives because they don’t describe the quality of a noun. Instead, they refer to a quality that’s clear from the context. For example, the sentence hän on nyt vaan sellainen “that’s just the kind he is” doesn’t actually tell what kind the subject is, but depends on the context to make it clear.

The proadjectives can be used as nouns as well (eg. En usko tuollaiseen “I don’t believe in that kind of thing”).

2. Tämä Tuo Se

In order to understand the difference between tällainen, tuollainen and sellainen (and their spoken language alternatives), you should first understand the difference between the demonstrative pronouns tämä, tuo and se.

  • Tämä, tällainen and tämmöinen refer to something that’s close to the speaker, usually within touching distance (eg. tämä takki “this coat”, tällainen takki “this kind of coat”).
  • Tuo, tuollainen and tommonen refer to something which the speaker can see but not necessarily touch (eg. tuo takki “that coat”, tommonen takki “that kind of coat”).
  • Se, sellainen and semmonen refer to something that’s further away, and usually not visible to the speaker (eg. se takki, joka nähtiin “that coat we saw earlier”, sellainen takki, jossa on taskuja “the kind of coat with pockets”).

3. Tällainen Tämmönen

Tällainen means “this kind of”. It’s short for tämänlainen. Because it’s originally a compound word (tämän-lainen), it doesn’t adhere to the normal vowel harmony rules. You’re not likely to hear tämänlainen or tällainen regularly in everyday speech. In spoken language tällainen nearly always is replaced by tämmöinen or tämmönen.

Haluaisin ostaa tällaisen takin. “I would like to buy this kind of coat.”

  • Context: two friends are in the store, they see a coat they like, and want to express they like the type of coat. Then, they start looking for the right size.
  • Contrast: Haluaisin ostaa tämän takin. “I would like to buy this coat.” would mean that I have the right size and everything picked out and I am speaking of a specific coat, not a coat of the same type.

Juuri tällaiset virheet ärsyttävät lukijaa.“These are exactly the kind of mistakes that annoy readers”.

  • Context: The speaker has read a text and started ranting about how the type of mistakes he just read are frowned upon. Perhaps he’s talking about mixing pronouns like they’re/their/there and such.
  • Contrast: Juuri nämä virheet ärsyttävät lukijaa.“These are exactly the mistakes that annoy readers.” would have a more limited meaning, perhaps just the wrong spelling of two specific words.
Finnish English
Tää nyt on vaan tämmönen. This is nothing special.
Täällä nyt on vaan tällaista. That’s just how things are here.
Saako teiltä tällaisia? Do you have these kind of things?
Tämä saa kelvata tällaisena. This will just have to do as it is.
En oo koskaan kokenut tällaista. I’ve never experienced this kind of thing.
Oletko ennen nähnyt tämmösiä? Have you seen this kind of things before?

4. Tuollainen Tommonen

Tuollainen means “that kind of”. In spoken language tuollainen is nearly always replaced by tollanen or tommonen.

Haluaisin ostaa tommosen takin. “I would like to buy that kind of coat.”

  • Context: two friends are standing in front of the store, they see a coat they like showcased, and want to express they like that type of coat. They point at the coat.
  • Contrast: Haluaisin ostaa tuon takin. “I would like to buy that coat.” would mean that I am speaking of a specific coat, not a coat of the same type.

Aina tuollaiset asiat muistetaan. “They always remember things like that”.

  • Context: The speaker might be upset that it’s always the negative things that people remember of a celebrity, things like what they said when they were drunk, or what silly outfit they were wearing. People remember celebrities for things like that. He’d rather people remembered the good the celebrities did.
  • Contrast: Aina nuo asiat muistetaan. “They always remember those things.” Here, the speaker is talking about the specific things people remember, not just the type of things.
Finnish English
Minäkin haluan tuollaisen. I want one of those too.
Tommonen leivos, kiitos. One of those pastries, please.
Et sä voi tulla tollasena. You can’t come like that.
Hän nyt vaan on tommonen mies. That’s just the kind of man he is.
Miks sä oot tommonen? Why are you like that?
Älä ole tommonen! Do be like that, behave like that!

5. Sellainen Semmonen

Sellainen means “that kind of”, just like tuollainen. English doesn’t have separate words for the two. In spoken language sellainen is often replaced by semmoinen or semmonen.

The difference with tuollainen lies in the fact that tuollainen refers to something that’s visible, that can be pointed at. Sellainen is more abstract. I hope the following examples help make the difference clear.

Haluaisin ostaa sellaisen takin. “I would like to buy that kind of coat.”

  • Context: two friends are at home, talking about Emilia’s coat. One of them really would like to buy a coat like the one Emilia has.
  • Contrast: Haluaisin ostaa sen takin. “I would like to buy the coat.” means we’re talking about a specific coat that’s not present while we’re talking about it. Maybe the friends want to buy Emilia’s coat, not a coat like Emilia has.

Juuri sellaiset ihmiset ärsyttävät muita.“Those are exactly the kind of people that annoy others.”

  • Context: The speaker is talking about a specific type of person that annoys others. Perhaps the kind that chews too loud or are filled with false positivity. These people he’s referring to are not currently present.
  • Contrast: Juuri ne ihmiset ärsyttävät muita.“These people are the ones that annoy others.” would mean that we are talking about some specific people, perhaps Viljami and Ville. These two are not currently present, but he’s referring to them specifically.
Finnish English
Se nyt on vaan sellaista. That’s just what it’s like.
Onko teillä sellaista mutakakkua? Do you have that kind of mud cake?
Se on semmonen leikkipuisto. It’s one of those playgrounds.
En mä semmosta voi tehdä. I can’t do that kind of thing.
Kakkua, keksejä ja sen sellaista. Cake, cookies and suchlike.

6. Millainen Mimmonen

The question word millainen (or minkälainen) means “what kind of”, and is often replaced with mimmonen in spoken language.

Finnish English
Millaisen takin haluat? What kind of a coat do you want?
Millainen ihminen hän on? What kind of a person is he?
Mimmosta se oli? What was it like?
Mimmonen se jätkä on? What’s that dude like?

That’s it for tämmönen and semmonen, as well as tällainen, tuollainen, sellainen and millainen!

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