How to Say “Here” and “There” in Finnish
This article deals with how to say “here” and “there” in Finnish. The words we’ll be discussing are:
- HERE: tässä and täällä (from the word tämä)
- OVER THERE: tuossa and tuolla (from the word tuo)
- THERE: siinä and siellä (from the word se)
There are two dimensions to take into account when dealing with these words. One is size, the other is distance. In other words, these words differ from each other based on the size of the area that we’re talking about and the distance of the thing we’re talking about from the speaker or the listener.
1. Size of the Area
Size is the simplest of the two: tässä, tuossa and siinä refer to a small area, while täällä, tuolla and siellä refer to a larger area.
1.1. Tässä vs. Täällä
Tässä and täällä both mean “here”. Of these two, tässä refers to a small area with clear borders. Täällä is a larger area which is often less defined. We could say that tässä is “here” and täällä is “over here”, but often English doesn’t make the distinction.
|Tässä vs. Täällä|
|Tässä on mukava istua.||It’s pleasant to sit here.|
|Täällä on mukava istua.||It’s pleasant to sit here.|
Say you’re sitting on a comfortable couch, you could tell your friend: “Tässä on mukava istua“. You’re referring to the small space you’re sitting on (the couch). In contrast, when you’re outside with the same friend, and the two of your are sitting in the park, you could say “Täällä on mukava istua“. In this situations you mean that it’s nice to be sitting in this park, a larger place.
1.2. Tuossa vs. Tuolla
Tuossa and tuolla both mean “(over) there”. For small, well-defined areas, you will use tuossa. For larger areas that you can point to the general vicinity of, you’ll use tuolla. Both are close enough to point at.
|Tuossa vs. Tuolla|
|Kynäsi on tuossa.||Your pen is over there.|
|Mummoni asuu tuolla.||My grandma lives over there.|
In this example, you will use tuossa to refer to a small area: “Missä on kynäni?” “Se on tuossa, pöydällä.” The table is a small area. In contrast, tuolla will be used for a bigger area: “Missä sinun mummosi asuu?” “Hän asuu tuolla, sinisessä kerrostalossa.” If you’d be pointing at one specific window of the apartment building, though, you could say “Hän asuu tuossa.” and your friend would know exactly in which apartment your grandma lives.
1.3. Siinä vs. Siellä
Siinä and siellä both mean “there”. Siinä is used for small areas with clear borders. Siellä is used for larger, vaguer areas.
|Siinä vs. Siellä|
|Rannekello on siinä.||The watch is there.|
|Rannekello on siellä.||The watch is there.|
Imagine you’re in the living room and your friend is in the bedroom. He yells from the other room whether you know where his watch might be. Then you can say “Etsi makuuhuoneen vaaleanpunaisesta laatikosta. Luulen, että se on siinä.” The box you are referring to is a small area, so you are using siinä instead of siellä. When talking about a bigger area, you can use siellä: “Etsi rannekelloasi kylpyhuoneesta! Luulen, että se on siellä.” The bathroom is a larger area.
2. Perception of Size
People’s perception about which places are small and which ones are large can change.
Your spot on the couch is inarguably a small place, but what about your whole apartment? It’s definitely larger than the couch, but the park is larger. And while the park seems like a large place, compared to the whole city of Tampere (“Täällä on kiva asua“), the park is suddenly tiny.
So we go, in size, from the couch > your apartment > the park > Tampere. How large each of those is perceived to be depends on the speaker and the context. There is no one right answer.
3. Distance from the Speaker
Distance is a little tricky, because people and things are constantly moving. An object of which we could say tuolla during one moment, will be täällä a little later.
There are three proximities to take into consideration, all from the perspective of the speaker:
- Tässä and täällä: close enough to touch, or closer to the speaker than the listener.
- Tuossa and tuolla: close enough to point at, but not close enough to touch.
- Siinä and siellä: invisible to the speaker, not close enough to point at or touch.
3.1. Tässä vs. Tuossa vs. Siinä
Tässä (“here”), tuossa (“over there”) and siinä (“there”) all refer to a small area, but differ in how close they are to the speaker.
|Tässä vs Tuossa vs Siinä|
|Kynäni on tässä.||My pen is here.|
|Kynäni on tuossa.||My pen is over there.|
|Kynäni on siinä.||My pen is there.|
When comparing tässä, tuossa and siinä, we’re in all three sentences dealing with a small area. The difference between these three sentences lies in their proximity to the speaker. “Kynäni on tässä” implies that the pen is close enough to touch. “Kynäni on tuossa” implies that – although I can’t touch the pen right now – it’s visible from where I am. I can point at it but not touch it. “Kynäni on siinä.” means that I can’t see the pen. It could be in a closed cupboard or in a different room.
3.2. Täällä vs. Tuolla vs. Siellä
When comparing täällä (“here”), tuolla (“over there”) and siellä (“there”) we’re dealing with a larger area. The difference between these three sentences lies in their proximity to the speaker.
|Täällä vs Tuolla vs Siellä|
|Minä asun täällä.||I live here.|
|Minä asun tuolla.||I live over there.|
|Minä asun siellä.||I live there.|
When you say “Minä asun täällä.” you are referring to your immediate surrounding, close proximity. You might be referring to the neighborhood you’re standing in, or the apartment block you’re in front of. It is a large area.
“Minä asun tuolla.” requires the place to be close enough to point at, but still at some distance from the speaker. Perhaps we’re standing in front of one apartment building and you’re pointing at one further away.
When you say “Minä asun siellä.” the location you’re talking about is currently away far enough not to be visible.
4. Perception of Distance
People’s perception of close proximity can differ depending on where the speakers are standing. When something is at some distance from the speaker, it would generally require the tuolla-form. However, if the topic in question is closer to the speaker than to the listener, you might still use the täällä-form. For example:
- The bus stop is here: “Bussipysäkki on täällä” (where we’re standing)
- The bus stop is over there: “Bussipysäkki on tuolla” (close enough to point at)
- The bus stop is over here: “Bussipysäkki on täällä” (closer to me than to you, but far enough to only point at)
- The bus stop is there: “Bussipysäkki on siellä” (we can’t see it from where we’re standing)
- The bus stop is there: “Bussipysäkki on siellä” (closer to you than to me, but pretty far away from me)
As talked about in this article, there are two dimensions to the usage of these words: the size of the area in question and its proximity to the speaker.
|MISSÄ||Small place||Large place|
|Can point at||tuossa||tuolla|
|Can think of||siinä||siellä|
That’s it for this article on how to say “here” and “there” in Finnish. However, there is much more to this topic! All these words that mean “here” and “there” can be inflected in the missä, mistä and mihin forms. Here’s a table with all the forms: