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Joku Jokin – Jotakuta Jollakin – Finnish Pronouns

The topic of this article are the pronouns joku and jokin. Generally, joku someone” refers a person and jokinsomething” refers to a thing. However, when we inflect these words in the cases, they get mixed up. We’ll explore these crossovers below.

Table of Contents
  1. Inflected forms of joku and jokin
  2. Joku and jokin as nouns
  3. Joku and jokin as adjectives
  4. Crossovers
    1. Crossovers when talking about people
    2. Crossovers when talking about things
  5. Expressing small amounts
  6. Recap
  7. Example sentences

1. Inflected forms of joku and jokin

While I am listing both singular and plural forms of joku and jokin in the tables below, the plurals are fairly rare. I will focus on common examples and phrases, so you won’t find many examples of the plural forms.


Cases Singular Plural
Basic joku jotkut
Partitive jotakuta joitakuita
Genitive jonkun joidenkuiden
Mihin? johonkuhun joihinkuihin
Missä? jossakussa joissakuissa
Mistä? jostakusta joistakuista
Mille? jollekulle joillekuille
Millä? jollakulla joillakuilla
Miltä? joltakulta joiltakuilta
Trans. joksikuksi joiksikuiksi
Essive jonakuna joinakuina


Cases Singular Plural
Basic jokin jotkin
Partitive jotakin ~ jotain joitakin ~ joitain
Genitive jonkin joidenkin
Mihin? johonkin joihinkin
Missä? jossakin ~ jossain joissakin ~ joissain
Mistä? jostakin ~ jostain joistakin ~ joistain
Mille? jollekin joillekin
Millä? jollakin ~ jollain joillakin ~ joillain
Miltä? joltakin ~ joltain joiltakin ~ joiltain
Trans. joksikin joiksikin
Essive jonakin ~ jonain joinakin ~ joinain

2. Joku and jokin as nouns

In their most strict sense, joku refers to people, while jokin refers to everything else (e.g. a thing, an animal, a place).

Finnish English
Joku tulee. Someone‘s coming.
Siellä on joku. There’s someone there.
Näen jonkun siellä. I see someone there.
Onko jollakulla kynä? Does someone have a pen?
Jotkut myöhästyvät aina. Some are always late.
Joku koputtaa ovelle. Someone‘s knocking on the door.
Jonkun pitää auttaa. Someone has to help.
Pyydä jotakuta mukaan. Ask someone to go with you.
Annoitko sen jollekulle? Did you give it to someone?
Kunpa voisin johonkuhun luottaa! If only I could trust someone!
Siellä kolisee jokin. Something is rattling there.
Jokin liikkuu ulkona. Something is moving outside.
Jokin nyt ei täsmää. Something doesn’t add up.
Painaako jokin mieltäsi? Is something bothering you?
Jokin on muuttunut. Something has changed.
Haluatko syödä jotakin ~ jotain? Do you want to eat something?
Löysin jotakin ~ jotain. I found something.

3. Joku and jokin as adjectives

When we use joku and jokin attached to a noun (e.g. joku mies, jokin kirja), they mean “some” or “a”. This is one way in which Finnish makes up for the lack of demonstrative pronouns (“the” and “a”). When we’re not specifying who or what exactly, joku and jokin are often included.

Finnish English
Ota [jokin kirja] mukaasi. Take [some book] with you.
Ota [joku kaveri] mukaasi. Take [some friend] with you.
Ostitko [jonkin kirjan]? Did you buy [some book]?
Tapasitko [jonkun kaverin]. Did you meet [a friend]?
Voitko suositella [jotakin ~ jotain kirjaa]? Can you recommend [a book]?
Ajattele [jotakuta kaveria]. Think of [a friend].

4. Crossovers

While the sentences above are all clear, in practice joku and jokin will be the subject of crossovers. This is allowed even in standard Finnish!

4.1. Crossovers when talking about people

Forms like joltakulta and joistakuista are long and the double inflection feels a little redundant. Because of this, we can use the conjugated forms of jokin to take over the job of joku in forms of 4 syllables. This is not possible in every single case, but it is for the following:

Finnish English
Tutustuin siellä johonkuhun ~ johonkin.
I met someone there.
Vika on jossakussa ~ jossakin ~ jossain muussa.
It’s someone else’s fault.
Anna se jollekulle ~ jollekin!
Give it to someone!
Onko jollakulla~ jollakin ~ jollain kynäni? Does someone have my pen?
Lainaa se joltakulta ~ joltakin ~ joltain.
Borrow it from someone.
Hän muuttui joksikuksi ~joksikin toiseksi.
He changed into someone else.
Esiinnyin jonakuna ~ jonakin ~ jonain toisena.
I performed as someone else.

As you can see joku, jotakuta, jonkun and jostakusta are missing from the table above. This is because if we would use jokin for these forms, it would be hard to understand whether we’re talking about someone or something.

Someone Something
Joku on tulossa tänne. Jokin on tulossa tänne.
Pelkään jotakuta. Pelkään jotakin ~ jotain.
Se on jonkun koti. Se on jonkin koti.
Pidän jostakusta tosi paljon.
Pidän jostakin ~ jostaintosi paljon.

4.2. Crossovers when talking about things

In the basic form, genitive and T-plural, we can use joku to refer to things. This only works when the pronoun is followed by a noun (e.g. jokin kirja, jonkin talon). This is limited to only these three forms. Sometimes a sentence is still ambiguous in these cases. If there is the danger of being misunderstood, we revert back to the general rule of joku for people and jokin for things.

Finnish English
Ota [jokin ~ joku kirja] mukaasi. Take [some book] with you.
Lainasin [jonkin ~ jonkun kirjan]. I borrowed [some book].
[Jotkin ~ jotkut kirjat] muuttavat maailmaa. [Some books] change the world.

5. Expressing Small Amounts

In addition to everything above, joku and jokin can also be used to express a small unspecific amount.

Finnish English
Näin voi säästää [jonkun ~ jonkin euron]. This can save a couple of euros.
Matkaa on [joku ~ jokin kilometri]. The distance is a couple of kilometers.
Kävelimme [jonkun ~ jonkin matkaa]. We walked a short distance.
Minulla on [jonkun ~ jonkin verran] aikaa. I have a little bit of time.
Vaihdoimme [jonkun ~ jonkin sanan]. We exchanged a couple of words.
Se tapahtui [joku ~ jokin aika sitten]. It happened a short while ago.
Kävelin [joitakin kilmetrejä]. I walked some kilometers.
Se tapahtui [joitakin kertoja]. It happened a few times.

6. Recap

6.1. Joku ja jokin in the nominative case

When used on their own, joku and jokin don’t mix. When a noun is attached to them, we can use joku for animals and objects.

Finnish English
Pensaassa on joku. There’s someone in the bush.
Pensaassa on jokin. There’s something in the bush.
Pensaassa on [joku mies]. There’s some man in the bush.
Pensaassa on [jokin ~ joku eläin]. There’s some animal in the bush.

6.2. Joku ja jokin in the T-plural

My awkward example sentences are just meant to demonstrate the idea. I don’t recommend learning these!

Finnish English
Jotkut lakkasivat tulemasta. Some (people) stopped coming.
Jotkin lakkasivat toimimasta. Some (things) stopped working.
[Jotkut miehet] olivat myöhässä. Some men were late.
[Jotkin ~ jotkut koneet] olivat epäkunnossa. Some machines were non-functional.

6.3. Joku ja jokin in the genitive case

When used on their own, joku and jokin don’t mix. When a noun is attached to them, we can use joku for animals and objects.

Finnish English
Se on jonkun jalanjälki. It’s someone’s footprint.
Se on jonkin jalanjälki. It’s a footprint of something.
Se on [jonkun lapsen] jalanjälki. It’s some child’s foorprint.
Se on [jonkin ~ jonkun eläimen] jalanjälki. It’s some animal’s footprint.

6.4. Joku ja jokin in the partitive case

The opposite of the genitive takes place here: we can use both words for a person, while for animals and other things, we can only use jokin.

Finnish English
Ajattelen jotakuta. I’m thinking of someone.
Ajattelen jotakin. I’m thinking of something.
Ajattelen [jotakuta ~ jotakin ystävää]. I’m thinking of some friend.
Ajattelen [jotakin eläintä]. I’m thinking of some animal.

6.5. Joku and jokin in cases with four syllables

The forms jossakussa, jostakusta, johonkuhun, jollakulla, joltakulta, jollekulle, joksikuksi and jonakuna are all four syllables long. As such, it is recommended to avoid using these forms when the content is clear whether we’re talking about people or things. This is especially true when we’re adding a noun after the pronoun (e.g. jostakin pojasta).

Finnish English
Tykkäätkö jostakusta? Do you like someone?
Tykkäätkö jostakin? Do you like something?
Tykkäsin [jostakusta ~ jostakin pojasta]. I liked some boy.
Tykkäsin [jostakin kirjasta]. I liked some book.
Haluan nojata johonkuhun. I want to lean on someone.
Haluan nojata johonkin. I want to lean on something.
Nojasin [johonkuhun ~ johonkin ystävään]. I leaned on some friend.
Nojasin [johonkin seinään]. I leaned on some wall.
Hän muuttui joksikuksi muuksi. He turned into someone else.
Hän muuttui joksikin muuksi. He turned into something else.
Hän muuttui [joksikuksi ~ joksikin huijariksi]. He turned into some fraud.
Hän muutui [joksikin eläimeksi]. He turned into some animal.

7. Example sentences

Finnish English
Onko jokin vialla? Is there something wrong?
Onko tämä jokin ~ joku vitsi? Is this some kind of joke?
Tässä nyt jokin mättää. Something is wrong here.
Jokin on hullusti. Something doesn’t add up.
Tässä täytyy olla jokin ~ joku virhe.
There must be some mistake here.
Painaako jokin ~ joku asia mieltäsi? Is something bothering you?
Paras ottaa jokin ~ joku kirja mukaan. You better bring a book with you.
Voinko kysyä jotakin jotain? Can I ask you something?
Haluatko jotakin ~ jotain juotavaa? Do you want something to drink?
Haluatko jotakin jotain syötävää? Do you want something to eat?
Haluatko jotakin jotain muuta? Do you want anything else?
Haluatko kuulla jotakin jotain hauskaa? Do you want to hear something funny?
Mennään johonkin syömään. Let’s go eat somewhere.
Voimmeko puhua jossakin jossain muualla? Can we talk somewhere else?
Hän ei jostakin jostain syystä palannut. He didn’t return for some reason.
Puhutaan jostakin jostain muusta asiasta. Let’s talk about something else.
Aiheutin sen jollakin ~jollaintavalla itse. I caused it myself somehow.
Hän teki sen jollakin ~ jollainihme tempulla. He did it by some miracle trick.
Tulemme käymään jonakin ~ jonainlähipäivänä. We’ll come visit in the next few days.
Lähdin joksikin aikaa pois. I left for a little while.
Istuuko tässä joku? Is someone sitting here?
Onko sinulla joku toinen? Are you seeing someone else?
Hän luulee olevansa joku. He thinks he’s better than the rest.
Ottaako joku lisää viiniä? Does anyone want more wine?
Se ei ollut minä vaan joku muu. It wasn’t me, it was someone else.
Paras ottaa joku tuttu mukaan. I better bring someone with me.
Se on jonkun toisen ongelma. That’s someone else’s problem.
Jonkun on paras selittää! Somebody better start talking!
Pyydä mukaan jotakuta ~ jotakin ystävääsi! Ask a friend to join you!
Soita huomenna jollekulle ~ jollekin meistä! Call one of us tomorrow!
Onko jollakulla ~ jollakin kysyttävää? Does anyone have any questions?
Vika on aina jossakussa ~ jossakin muussa. It’s always someone else’s fault.
Joihinkuihin ~ joihinkin ei vaan voi luottaa. Some people you just can’t trust.
Luulin sinua joksikuksi ~ joksikin muuksi. I thought you were someone else.

Read more elsewhere

That’s it for the words joku and jokin!

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Cassandra Telenko

Extremely helpful! Now I see why sometimes I get confused which to use.