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Compound Adjectives: hyvännäköinen mutta pahanhajuinen

This article’s focus is on compound adjectives. A compound word is a word that consists of two parts, glued together (eg. jää+kaappi; jää+kylmä). In this article — as the title says — we will look at compound adjectives like hyvännäköinen and pahanhajuinen.

What is a Compound Adjective?

The compound adjectives on this page have the following things in common:

  1. Their first part is generally inflected in the genetive case (eg. hyvän+näköinen; saman+hintainen)
  2. Their second part is an adjective that ends in -inen (eg. isonkokoinen; vakavanilmeinen)

While this page focuses on adjectives that have their first part in the genetive case, many adjectives can have a basic form instead of the genetive. Examples of this are sinisilmäinen, harmaapäinen, mustasukkainen, vaikeakulkuinen, helppotajuinen, ainutlaatuinen, and vasenkätinen.

Written as One or More Words?

Below, you can find the rules for when such a compound adjective is written as one word and when it is written as two words. This is an issue Finns struggle with and learn the rules for in school. I think that — if a Finn makes a mistake in something — it’s acceptable for YOU to also make the same mistake. Let go of perfection!

That said, here are the rules for writing compound adjectives as one word or two separate words:

  • If the first word is a short adjective, the compound adjective will usually be one word (1)
  • If the first words is a longer adjective, the compound adjective is usually two words (2)
  • If the first word is a noun, the compound adjective is usually two words (3)
  • If the first part consists of several words, the compound adjective will contain multiple separate words (4)
  • If the first word is a noun, but the compound adjective’s meaning is fossilized, it can be one word (5)

Compound Adjective Examples

Words marked with a * can be written both as one and as two words according to Kielitoimiston sanakirja. The numbers correspond to the rules mentioned above in the list with stars.

# Finnish English
hintainen – priced
1 minkähintainen what price
1 samanhintainen* similarly priced
2 sopivan hintainen suitably priced
3 euron hintainen priced at one euro
4 yhdeksän euron hintainen priced at nine euros
arvoinen – worth
1 samanarvoinen* equal, worth the same
1 kallisarvoinen precious
3 luottamuksen arvoinen trustworthy
4 tuhannen euron arvoinen worth one thousand euros
5 kullanarvoinen* worth its weight in gold
kokoinen – sized
1 isokokoinen big, large sized
1 erikokoinen of a different size
2 sopivan kokoinen of a suitable size
3 kerrostalon kokoinen the size of an apartment building
3 Helsingin kokoinen the size of Helsinki
korkuinen – height
1 samankorkuinen* of the same height
2 sopivan korkuinen the right height
3 talon korkuinen as tall as a house
4 viiden metrin korkuinen of a height of five meters
pituinen – length
1 vääränpituinen of the wrong length
3 tulitikun pituinen the length of a matchstick
4 sadan vuoden pituinen a hundred years long
hajuinen – smelling
1 pahanhajuinen malodorous, smelly
2 voimakkaan hajuinen strong smelling
3 pihkan hajuinen smelling of pitch
makuinen – flavored
1 hyvänmakuinen* good-flavored, good tasting
2 katkeran makuinen* bitter tasting
3 jalapenon makuinen jalapeno-flavored
5 paperinmakuinen tasting like paper
näköinen – looking
1 hauskannäköinen* nice-looking, comely
2 omituisen näköinen weird-looking
3 isänsä näköinen looking like his father
tuntuinen – feeling
1 hyväntuntuinen pleasant, feels good
2 tervejärkisen tuntuinen feels sensible
5 todentuntuinen life-like, feels real
oloinen – seeming, perceiving
1 pienenoloinen seeming to be small
2 kireän oloinen seeming to be tense
2 väsyneen oloinen tired-looking
3 ammattitaitoisen oloinen professional-looking
4 pienen lapsen oloinen similar to a small child
mittainen – sized
1 ylimittainen oversized
4 kymmenen sentin mittainen ten centimeters long
4 koko päivän mittainen the length of a whole day
muotoinen – shaped
1 pienimuotoinen small-scale
1 L-muotoinen shaped like an L
3 neliön muotoinen square-shaped
5 sydämenmuotoinen heart-shaped
aikainen – time
1 lyhytaikainen short-term, brief, fleeting
4 koko elämän aikainen life-long
5 sodanaikainen* wartime (eg. rations)
5 lapsuudenaikainen childhood (eg. friend)
mukainen – according to
4 teknisen sopimuksen mukainen according to the technical contract
5 tavanmukainen according to our customs, normal
5 tarpeenmukainen according to need, as necessary
tyyppinen – type
1 tietyntyyppinen* of a certain type
2 vastaavan tyyppinen* of a simlar type
3 betonin tyyppinen of a concrete type
värinen – colored
1 hopeanvärinen silver-colored
2 kauniin värinen* beautifully colored
3 kastanjan värinen chestnut colored
4 keväisen koivikon värinen the color of a spring birch
5 ihonvärinen skin-colored

Below, you can find some compound adjectives that can’t be used to make as many new words as the ones above. They are more fossilized, and may only have a couple of options, if even that.

Fossilized Compound Adjectives
Finnish English
kahdenkeskinen one-to-one
monipuolinen versatile
kaksinkertainen double, two-fold
samankaltainen similar
järjenvastainen irrational
kansainvälinen international
suomenkielinen Finnish
suonensisäinen intravenous
vanhanaikainen old-fashioned
hyväntahtoinen well-meaning
kyseenalainen questionable
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