Finnish for busy people

The Compass – Etelä Pohjoinen Itä Länsi

When traveling or hiking, the compass is a useful tool to find your way. In addition, there are plenty of things you could say using the words “pohjoinen” and “etelä”. For example, you could want to say you’re from the South of England.

Finnish English
kompassi compass
ilmansuunnat points of the compass
pohjoinen North
etelä South
itä East
länsi West
koillinen Northeast
kaakko Southeast
lounas Southwest
luode Northwest
Pohjois-Suomi the North of Finland
Etelä-Suomi the South of Finland
Itä-Suomi the East of Finland
Länsi-Suomi the West of Finland
pohjoisessa in the North
etelässä in the South
idässä in the East
lännessä in the West
Finnish English
pohjoissuomalainen a Finn from the North of Finland
länsimaailma the Western world
lännen nopein the fastest in the West
Itämeri the Baltic Sea
idän pikajuna the Orient Express
Lähi-itä the Middle East
Aurinko nousee idästä. The sun rises in the East.
pohjoistuuli Northern wind
pohjoisnapa North Pole
pohjoinen pallonpuolisko the Northern Hemisphere
pohjoismaa Northern country
lännenelokuva a Western (film)
villi länsi the wild West
länsirintama the Western Front (World War I)
läntinen pallonpuolisko the Western Hemiphere
Linnut lentävät etelään. The birds fly to the South.
etelänmatka vacation trip to the South
Etelämanner Antarctica
Finnish English
Olen kotoisin Pohjois-Espanjasta. I come from the North of Spain.
Olen kotoisin Etelä-Kiinasta. I come from the South of China.
Asuin minun kotimaassani Etelä-Englannissa. I lived in the South of England in my home country.
Olen syntynyt Itä-Venäjällä. I was born in the East of Russia.
Minun kotikaupunki sijaitsee Länsi-Ranskassa. My home city is situated in the West of France
Olen asunut monta vuotta Etelä-Amerikassa. I’ve lived in South-America for many years.
Somalia sijaitsee Itä-Afrikassa. Somalia is located in the East of Africa.
Minun kotimaani on etelässä. My home country is in the South.
Etelä-Italiassa kannattaa käydä lomalla. The South of Italy is a good place to go on vacation.
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Hmm, there is no Northern, Southern, Western, etc in Finnish?

Inge (admin)

Funnily enough, my English isn’t really good enough to be able to answer that question! I don’t know when you would use “Northern” rather than “North” in English. There are some specific examples in this article though: Northern wind, Western hemisphere.

In any case, Finnish doesn’t have a separate word for North and Northern. Both can be either pohjoinen (as an adjective) or pohjois- (in compound words).


This may help.
North is a primarily a noun which, as well as being a compass point, refers to a location (used to specify a place or area, the north of), e.g. north Finland, or even north Helsinki, but it is sometimes also used as an adjective (on the north shore) or an adverb (to travel north).
Northern is only an adjective, and is more vague or general, e.g. the northern lights (anywhere in the north) or the northern climate (likewise, less specific).
Northerly is also an adjective, but it relates to movement, e.g. northerly winds (from the north).
Example: In Finland, Rovaniemi is a northern town (adj), located in the north (noun) of Finland, and to travel there you would (usually) drive north (adv), in a northerly (adj) direction.
It seems almost as complicated as Finnish. 🙂


I think it is also interesting that Austria is called in Finnish Itävalta (“eastern power/state”), which is just like German Österreich or Swedisch Österrike.