Finnish for busy people

Finnish Vocab to Refer to Something Broken – Rikki Poikki Hajalla

There is a phase in every Finnish language learner’s journey where you have a pretty good base vocabulary. That’s when you should start looking at alternative ways to say the same thing. You could say something is “broken”, but there are different ways to refer to something broken: maybe it’s stuck, shattered, fractured, wonky, malfunctioning, won’t turn on or won’t start.

This article only mentions the usage of these words in contexts where they mean “broken”! For example, the word halki “in two” often doesn’t mean that something is broken necessarily; it’s just in two, which might be exactly what we want. Halki will generally refer to things being broken with the verbs mennä and olla. With other verbs, such as leikata hali “to cut in two” and sahata “to saw in two”, the breaking is intentional and wanted.

1. Adverbs that refer to something broken

1.1. Adverbs that don’t inflect

The following adverbs all end in -i. They all can express that something is broken.

Finnish English
rikki broken (default word)
halki broken in two lengthwise
poikki broken in two crosswise
puhki punctured, burst open
irti loose, off
ratki ripped, torn (rare)
katki broken (dialect)

All these adverbs regularly appear with the verbs olla and mennä. Some of these adverbs also appear with other verbs, such as lähteä. You can find examples in the table below.

Finnish English
Puhelimeni on rikki. My phone is broken.
Puhelimeni meni rikki. My phone broke.
Ikkuna on rikki. The window is broken.
Vaatteet menivät rikki. The clothes broke.
Sydämeni on rikki. My heart is broken.
Lautanen meni halki. The plate broke in two lengthwise.
iPadin näyttö oli halki. The iPad’s screen was in two pieces.
Hänellä on jalka poikki. He has a broken leg.
Luu voi mennä poikki. A bone can break.
Jakohihna napsahti poikki. The timing belt snapped.
Vedenjakelu oli poikki. The water distribution was cut off.
Sähköt menivät poikki. The power was cut.
Autonrengas on puhki. There’s a hole in the tire.
Hän ampui renkaan puhki. He shot the tire out.
Housut ovat takaa puhki. The pants have a hole in the back.
Pallo meni puhki. The ball go a hole in it.
Saappaan vuori kului puhki. The lining of the boot wore off.
Nappi oli irti. The button had come off.
Oho, timantti lähti irti. Whoops, a diamond came off.
Varpaankynsi lähti irti. The toenail fell off.

1.2. Adverbs that do inflect

The following group consists of adverbs that do inflect, albeit only in the missä and mihin forms.

Finnish English
hajalla broken into pieces
pilalla ruined, spoiled (often abstract)
epäkunnossa broken down, malfunctioning
jumissa stuck, jammed
tukossa stopped up, blocked, plugged
solmussa tangled up, in a knot
Missä Mihin
olla hajalla mennä hajalle
olla pilalla mennä pilalle
olla epäkunnossa mennä epäkuntoon
olla jumissa mennä jumiin, jäädä jumiin
olla tukossa mennä tukkoon
olla solmussa mennä solmuun
Finnish English
Kengät ovat hajalla. The shoes are falling apart.
Kännykän näyttö on hajalla. The mobile’s screen is shattered.
Pesukone on hajalla. The washing machine is broken.
Jääkaappi meni hajalle. The fridge broke down.
Polveni on hajalla. My knee is badly damaged.
Elämäni on hajalla. My life is in pieces.
Hyi, maito on pilalla. Yuck, the milk has spoiled.
Liha meni pilalle. The meat went bad.
Lattia meni vedestä pilalle. The floor was ruined by water.
Yllätys on pilalla. The surprise has been ruined.
Hissi on epäkunnossa. The elevator has broken down.
Moottori on epäkunnossa. The engine is malfunctioning.
Laite meni taas epäkuntoon! The device is broken again!
Automaatti on epäkunnossa. The dispenser is out of order.
Hissi on jumissa. The elevator is stuck.
Vetoketju on jumissa. The zipper is stuck.
Tulostin meni jumiin. The printer got jammed.
Juna jäi jumiin asemalle. The train was stuck at the station.
Koira jäi jumiin lumihankeen. The dog got stuck in the snow.
Minulla on nenä tukossa. My nose is stuck.
Kaikki tiet ovat tukossa. All the roads are blocked.
Viemärit ovat tukossa. The sewers are clogged.
Vessa meni tukkoon. The toilet became clogged.
Piuhat ovat taas solmussa. The wires are tangled up again.
Nappikuulokkeet on solmussa. The earphones are in a knot.
Liikenne meni solmuun. The traffic got tangled up.
Siimat meni solmuun. The fishing lines went into a knot.

2. Adjectives that Refer to Something Broken

There aren’t all that many adjectives that I could think of! I think it’s because Finns use a lot of participles (see below) instead.

Finnish English
rikkinäinen broken (default word)
rikkonainen broken, not whole
pirstaleinen shattered, splintered
repaleinen torn, tattered, ragged
ryysyinen torn, tattered, ragged
rääsyinen torn, tattered, ragged
risainen torn, tattered, ragged
resuinen torn, tattered, ragged
epäkuntoinen broken-down, inoperative
viallinen faulty, defective

3. Participles that Refer to Something Broken

Below, you can find how the NUT-participle and the TU-participle are used to express that something is broken. In addition to what’s below, you can read a different article on verbs that mean “to break”.

3.1. NUT-Participles

The NUT-participle is often used similarly to adjectives, in which case it inflects in all the cases.

  • Nenäni on murtunut “My nose has broken”; we’re describing what has happened.
  • Nenäni on murtunut “My nose is broken”; we’re explaining the current state of things.
  • Hän selvisi murtuneella nenällä “He survived with a broken nose”.
  • Ei murtuneeseen nenään kuole “You can’t die of a broken nose”.
Finnish English
hajonnut broken-down
särkynyt broken (vase, heart)
murtunut broken (bone, nose)
rikkoutunut broken (statue, toy)
murskautunut crushed (car, dreams)
repeytynyt torn (paper, pants)
revennyt split, ruptured (pants, seam)
haljennut split, broken in two
katkennut broken, snapped in two
tukkeutunut blocked (sewer, ducht)
pilaantunut spoiled, bad (food)
mädännyt rotten (apple, corpse)

3.2. TU-Participles

The TU-participle can also be used to refer to something is broken. In constrast with the NUT-participle above, these sentences clearly convey the message that someone or something has caused the damage. The focus is not on the end result but on the act of breaking.

Finnish English
rikottu broken
revitty ripped, torn apart
tuhottu destroyed, demolished
hajotettu demolished (building)

4. Simple Verbs to Express Things are Broken

The following list contains some common household problems where things are broken. This list only contains the very basics. I have a separate article on verbs that mean “to break”. You can also check out household problems vocabulary.

Finnish English
Hana vuotaa. The faucet is leaking.
Televisio ei toimi. The television doesn’t work.
Viemäri ei vedä. The drain is clogged.
Netti katkeilee. The internet is unstable.
Tietokone ei käynnisty. The computer won’t turn on.
Auto ei lähde käyntiin. The car won’t start.
Ikkuna ei sulkeudu. The window won’t close.
Patteri ei lämpene. The radiator doesn’t heat up.

5. The Essive to Express a Broken State

Occasionally you will also come across the essive expressing the state something is in once it’s broken (in pieces, in shatters etc).

Finnish English
Oven ikkuna oli palasina. The door’s glass was in pieces.
Kellon lasi oli kappaleina. The glass of the clock was in pieces.
Maljakko on pirstaleina. The vase is in shatters.
Peili on sirpaleina. The mirror is in shards.

Hopefully things in your life aren’t too broken!

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Markku Maja

Ilta oli ratki riemukas.

Inge (admin)

Oi, hieno ilmaus! Lisään sen tähän listaan