Finnish for busy people

“Suomen mestari” series – Finnish Study Books

As of right now, the Suomen mestari series of books is one the best for learning Finnish. When asking for recommendations, you’re likely to have this book recommended to you. Let’s take a look at the series more closely in this article!

The Suomen mestari series consists of 4 books:

    1. Suomen mestari 1 (level zero to A1.3)
    2. Suomen mestari 2 (level A1.3 to A2.1)
    3. Suomen mestari 3 (level A2.2 to B1.1)
    4. Suomen mestari 4 (level B1.1 to B2)

Language levels of the series

The levels mentioned between brackets above are what’s used to assess language skills according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). For the purpose of this page, all you need to know is that the Suomen mestari series has the lofty goal of getting you to level B2. If you want to read more about the different language levels, you can find the articles I’ve written about this topic on this page.

While you will be nowhere near perfect at level B2, you can understand and be understood in most situations. You can communicate easily and spontaneously in a clear and detailed manner.

Please be aware that there are two versions!

The Suomen mestari series was originally published in the 2010’s, and then revamped in the 2020’s. Currently, the first two books in the series have been updated, while the other two are waiting their turn. This matters because, in addition to the book, the audio will also be different, depending on what version you have. The audio for the older version is currently available to listen to for free online. The newest book’s audio must be purchased.

The biggest difference between the new and the old version is related to the use of colloquial Finnish. The earlier publication of the books had dialogues completely in written Finnish. This is unnatural because nobody talks Finnish the way it’s written. When learning Finnish, you need to learn both the standard language (yleiskieli – sometimes also referred to as kirjakieli) and the spoken, colloquial way of speaking Finnish (usually referred to as puhekieli).

The attitude of Finnish teachers towards spoken language has changed over the years. The current approach is that students learn both standard and spoken language side by side. This differs from the approach taken when the books were originally published, when the main focus in the very beginning was only on written Finnish. Thus, the books were remade to fit the new approach. The narratives present in each chapter of the old book are now dialogues, which are written in standard Finnish. However, the dialogues that were already present in the old version have now been made into spoken language dialogues.

If you already own the old version, I don’t think the difference is so drastic that you should upgrade to the latest edition. The new book has a slightly larger format than the old one, which makes it more pleasant to look at. Many new exercises have been added to each chapter.

Things to pay attention to when deciding what to buy

  • Note that the Suomen mestari series utilizes Finnish only! Use it in combination with Uusi kielemme and other sources to reach the best results.
  • There are two versions of the books, which can cause confusion. Look for the word uudistettu “revised, updated” if you aim to buy the newest book online. The cover of the books doesn’t have this word unfortunately. I’m only linking to the “uudistettu” version because I figure the old one will disappear soon enough.
  • For the older version, the audio is currently available for free (see details below). There is no telling how long it will remain available. For the newer version, you can use the Otso app on your phone to listen to the audio.
  • There are a lot of extra materials and different versions available for this book, so this can be confusing. You can find the links to all the parts of this series below.

1. Suomen mestari 1

For this book, two versions are available.

Name of the book Suomen mestari 1 – Suomen kielen oppikirja aikuisille
Author(s) Sonja Gehring, Sanni Heinzmann
Publisher Finn Lectura
Most recent edition 2020
Language(s) used Finnish only
Level range zero to A1.3 (beginner coursebook)

1.1. Contents of Suomen mestari 1

Suomen mestari 1 takes you from the very basics, starting with how to explain where you’re from. The first book covers the typical zero to A1.3 topics: weather, months, numbers, family, colors, the clock, furniture, food and professions. It pays special attention to actual language use, such as asking for help, directions or for the price of something, booking a room in a hotel, ordering in a restaurant and communicating in a clothing store.

The grammar is focused on the very basics, such as the verbtypes, consonant gradation, the imperative, the partitive and genitive case and postpositions.

Each chapter contains a reading text. After that you get a couple of pages of vocabulary related to the topic, often in the form of colorful pictures. Next, there’s a dialogue that’s also related to the theme. Each chapter contains several pages displaying the new grammar elements the chapter introduces. After that, you get a lot of exercises, such as listening exercises, fill-in-the gap grammar exercises, and conversation prompts to carry out in pairs or small groups.

The first book of this series advances slowly and steadily. It can work for self-study, if you can handle the fact that it’s written entirely in Finnish. Part of the exercises are meant to be done with a partner. The book looks really nice and engaging, with the use of colors and pictures.

1.2. Materials available for Suomen mestari 1

Printed version of Suomen mestari 1

Finn LecturaSuomalainen kirjakauppa (links to the newest version)

Digital version of Suomen mestari 1

The digital version of the book opens in your browser and is also usable on your smartphone or tablet. The contents are the same as the printed book. In addition, you can click on the listening exercises in the digital version to listen to them. You get the correct answers to the exercises by clicking on the exercise. The digital version can be leased for 6 months12 months or 3 years. This version only works when you have an internet connection.

Audio of Suomen mestari 1

The audio situation is complicated, so pay attention!

If you have the older version of Suomen mestari 1, you can listen to the audio for free by making an account here. On the “Materials” page, click the tab that says “Free Materials” and then the first link “Finn Lecturan maksuttomat äännitteet ONL”. Scroll down and click “Suomen mestarin äännitteet” and start listening! The older version of the book has less materials and less spoken language in the dialogues that are technically supposed to be colloquial language.

If you have the physical “uudistettu” version of Suomen mestari 1 (released 2020 and later), you can listen to the audio on your phone through the Otso-app. Find this app on your phone by searching for “Otso sovellus” in the Play Store. Once you’ve installed it, open it, and click the red button that says “Skannaa kansi”. Then, scan the front of your copy of the book! It should show you the right cover when it recognizes what you’re scanning. Next, you will scan the individual pages of the book in the same way to start listening to the content. For the texts, you will be able to listen both to a standard language version and a colloquial language version.

In addition to this, you can also buy the newer version’s audio on a CD, as mp3s, or lease them for 6 months or 12 months. The main text of each chapter is included both in colloquial and in standard Finnish. For the leased versions, you will require an internet connection to use them.

Audio in text form

Also available for Suomen mestari 1 is a PDF which includes the audio of the listening exercises in text form. This might help you if you want to read along while you listen. In addition, this PDF also contains the solutions to the exercises of the newest book. Note that these solutions are also included in the back of the physical book, making this kind of redundant. If you have the digital version of the book, the pages will be clickable in your browser to show you the correct answers.

Digital exercises for Suomen mestari 1

In addition to the exercises in the book, you can also lease additional digital exercises for 12 months. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to these exercises, so all I know is what Finn Lectura has to say about their content. It included additional exercises for each chapter, and it also has videos of the texts in the book as well as other additional videos.

Teacher’s guide for Suomen mestari 1

The teacher’s guide can be purchased both as a physical copy or as a PDF. It contains some additional exercises which work well in a classroom setting for working in groups. I don’t think this material is very useful for you as a learner on your own and the cost is quite steep.

Vocabulary lists for Suomen mestari 1

Finn Lectura has also released vocabulary booklets for the following languages: English, Swedish, Ukrainian, Estonian, French, Somali, Russian, Arabic and German. These booklets contain lists of the vocabulary used in each chapter in Suomen mestari 1.

2. Suomen mestari 2

For this book, two versions are available.

Name of book Suomen mestari 2 – Suomen kielen oppikirja aikuisille
Author(s) Sonja Gehring, Sanni Heinzmann
Publisher Finn Lectura
Most recent edition 2022
Language(s) used Finnish only
Level range A1.3 to A2.1 (intermediate beginner course book)

2.1. Contents of Suomen mestari 2

Suomen mestari 2 has been updated so there are currently two versions on the market. I’m only linking to the renewed materials (which you can find yourself as well by googling “uudistettu“). The older version of Suomen mestari 2 is from 2019, the newest from 2022.

This book continues where the first one ended and does so in a similarly slow and steady pace, up until it gets to the last two chapters, which to me suddenly feel full of more difficult topics.

The grammar in the first part of Suomen mestari 2 is typical for more or less level A2.1-A2.2: the past tense, the perfect tense, rections, the third and fourth infinitive, and the object. In the last two chapters, we take a jump into the plural location cases, plural partitive and plural genitive. This is strange when the third book dives back into the passive and conditional conjugations. It’s likely this was done in order to not make Suomen mestari 2 too verb-oriented, as it already contains very many verb forms.

The reading texts get more challenging as you advance through the chapters, but it’s a pretty smooth ride with little to no jumps in the level required to read the texts. Topics covered in the book relate to, for example, hobbies, nature, traveling, health, education and Finnish culture.

Just like in the first book, the construction of each chapter in Suomen mestari 2 is very clear and easy to follow. Each chapter starts with a reading text, which is generally a mix of some narrative text and a dialogue related to it. After that, each chapter comes with pictures and word lists with vocabulary related to the topic of the chapter. For example, after a text about a trip to the summer cottage, you get pictures and words related to Finnish nature. After the vocabulary pages, all the new grammar of the chapter is explained. This takes multiple pages because all the grammar is combined in that one section. I think the idea is that you jump back and forth between the grammar pages and the exercise pages as you process the grammar.

Then, there are the exercises, which often take more than ten pages per chapter. There are reading comprehension, listening and grammar exercises. In addition to plain grammar exercises, a good attempt has been made to also include exercises that instruct you to form your own sentences. In addition, every chapter has some exercises which are meant for a classroom setting, because you’re instructed to work in pairs. The answers to the exercises are included in the back of the book.

As is the case for most books on the market, this book is completely in Finnish and contains exercises that are designed for a classroom setting. However, I think Suomen mestari 2 is pretty nice for self-study. Its slow pace, the way it displays new vocabulary and the abundance of exercises (with solutions!) allow you to benefit from this book in self-study. I think it would be important to also invest in the listening exercises. You can find this book and its listening exercises in every Finnish library, because it’s been very popular.

2.2. Materials available for Suomen mestari 2

Printed version on Suomen mestari 2

Online stores: OtavaAdlibrisSuomalainen kirjakauppa (links to the newest version)

Digital version of Suomen mestari 2

The digital version of the book opens in your browser and is also usable on your smartphone or tablet. The contents are the same as the printed book. In addition, you can click on the listening exercises in the digital version to listen to them. You get the correct answers to the exercises by clicking on them. The digital version can be leased for 6 months, 12 months or 3 years. This version only works when you have an internet connection.

Audio of Suomen mestari 2

The audio situation is complicated, so pay attention!

If you have the older version of Suomen mestari 2, you can listen to the audio for free by making an account here. On the “Materials” page, click the tab that says “Free Materials” and then the first link “Finn Lecturan maksuttomat äännitteet ONL”. Scroll down and click “Suomen mestarin äännitteet” and start listening! The older version of the book has less materials and less spoken language in the dialogues that are technically supposed to be colloquial language.

If you have the physical “uudistettu” version of Suomen mestari 2 (released 2020 and later), you can listen to the audio on your phone through the Otso-app. Find this app on your phone by searching for “Otso sovellus” in the Play Store. Once you’ve installed it, open it and click the red button that says “Skannaa kansi”. Then, scan the front of your copy of the book! It should show you the right cover when it recognizes what you’re scanning. Next, you will scan the individual pages of the book in the same way to start listening to the content. For the texts, you will be able to listen both to a standard language version and a colloquial language version.

In addition to this, you can also buy the newer version’s audio on a CD, as mp3s, or lease them for 6 months or 12 months. The main text of each chapter is included both in colloquial and in standard Finnish. For the leased versions, you will require an internet connection to use them.

Audio in text form

Also available for Suomen mestari 2 is a PDF which includes the audio of the listening exercises in text form. This might help you if you want to read along while you listen. In addition, this PDF also contains the solutions to the exercises of the newest book. Note that these solutions are also included in the back of the physical book, making this kind of redundant. If you have the digital version of the book, the pages will be clickable in your browser to show you the correct answers.

Digital exercises for Suomen mestari 2 (currently not available)

I’m anticipating that Finn Lectura will publish similar types of exercises for Suomen mestari 2 as they have recently done for the first book. So far, they are not available yet (as of June 2023).

Teacher’s guide for Suomen mestari 2

The teacher’s guide of the old version can be purchased both as a physical copy or as a PDF. It contains some additional exercises which work well in a classroom setting for working in groups. I don’t think this material is very useful for you as a learner on your own and the cost is quite steep. The newer version’s teacher guide is scheduled to be published in December of 2023.

Vocabulary lists for Suomen mestari 2

Finn Lectura has also released vocabulary booklets for the following languages: English, Russian, Ukrainian, Arabic, Persian, and Estonian. These booklets contain lists of the vocabulary used in each chapter in Suomen mestari 2.

3. Suomen mestari 3

There is only one version of Suomen mestari 3.

Name of book Suomen mestari 3 – Suomen kielen oppikirja aikuisille
Author(s) Sonja Gehring, Sanni Heinzmann, Sari Päivärinne, Taija Udd
Publisher Finn Lectura
Most recent edition 2019
Language used Finnish only
Level range A2.2 – B1.1 (intermediate course book)

3.1. Contents of Suomen mestari 3

In Suomen mestari 3, there seems to be an abrupt increase in the length (and to some extent also in difficulty) of the reading texts compared to the earlier books. Another big difference between the second book and the third book is the usage of spoken language. In Suomen mestari 3, most of the texts are written in spoken language.

Spoken language is used in all the dialogues. Included are many of the elements present in spoken language. This book does not limit itself to just personal pronouns. You get sentences such as “mä en oo vielä vastannu” and “mä tuun meiän yläkerran naapurin kans sisään“. This is important because that’s the way Finnish is actually spoken. Suomen mestari 3 does include written Finnish. It does this in a logical and consistent manner. There’s a clear division between texts that would generally be written in standard Finnish (newspaper articles, official emails, explanations about Finnish history) and texts that generally are written in spoken Finnish (emails to friends, postcards, text messages).

Each chapter starts with a reading text or dialogue (or both), followed by several pages of vocabulary lists and grammar explanations. These are followed by a large number of exercises. The exercises allow you to practice both the grammar and the vocabulary of the chapter. There are traditional exercises such as fill-in-the-gaps and rephrasing exercises as well as other types of exercises.

Vocabulary topics present in Suomen mestari 3 cover more abstract topics than the previous books. You can find, for example, content related to Finnish culture and art, protection of the environment, Finland’s history, geography and social life. Combined with this are topics that immigrants in Finland might run into, such as writing an email about one’s residence permit to the police. There are also several topics which require the learner to compare the situation in their home country to that in Finland (e.g. family and city life). Being able to compare more abstract topics is of great importance if you intend to participate in the YKI-testi. A lot of detail has also been put into expressing your opinion and feelings.

The grammar of Suomen mestari 3 contains verb forms that are pretty often glanced over in other course books. The normal A2.1-A2.2 verb topics are covered (e.g. the conditional and passive), but they’ve been expanded to contain, for example, the perfect conditional (olisin tehnyt), the passive conditional (tehtäisiin) and the passive plusquamperfect (oli tehty). In addition to verbs, the book also looks at the translative and essive case, inflection of the comparative and superlative, transitivity, feeling verbs and rections, which will help you get to level B1. While the verb forms included in this book may go beyond the A2.2-level it says it’s aimed at, each chapter contains valuable phrases and grammar tidbits.

This book is meant to be a classroom course book, which is apparent in a portion of the exercises. Each chapter comes with classroom discussion prompts to do in pairs. However, I would say that this book is suitable for self-study. It’s amazing that you can listen to the dialogues online for free. In addition, the answers to all the exercises are included in the back of the book.  If you’re using the book on your own, you should jump back and forth within the chapter, in order to combine the grammar explanations with the exercises. This is necessary because all the grammar is collected in one section which is located prior to the section with all the exercises.

3.2. Materials available for Suomen mestari 3

There is only one version of Suomen mestari 3 and 4. The revamp of the whole series is still underway, so you can expect to see a renewed version of Suomen mestari 3 in 2024. As such, it would perhaps be a good idea to put plans of buying the third book on hold until Finn Lectura has come to the point where the third book in the series gets its makeover, if you can stand the wait.

Printed version of Suomen mestari 3

Online stores: OtavaAdlibris (recommended to wait until the new version is printed)

Digital version of Suomen mestari 3

This doesn’t exist as of yet, but will likely become available in 2024.

Audio of Suomen mestari 3

You can listen to the audio for free by making an account here. On the “Materials” page, click the tab that says “Free Materials” and then the first link “Finn Lecturan maksuttomat äännitteet ONL”. Scroll down and click “Suomen mestarin äännitteet” and start listening! You can also buy this audio either as mp3s or on a CD.

The audio for the renewed version of Suomen mestari 3 will likely be available through the Otso app when it gets released.

Solutions to the listening exercises

The answers to the exercises in Suomen mestari 3 are listed in the back of the book. As such, I’m a little bit baffled why Finn Lectura is selling the solutions of specifically the listening exercises separately. I’m assuming this product also contains the full texts of each of the listening exercises, but the website doesn’t specify this. You can buy these solutions in PDF form.

Digital exercises for Suomen mestari 3 (currently not available)

I’m anticipating that Finn Lectura will publish similar types of exercises for Suomen mestari 3 as they have recently done for the first book. This will likely only become available in the latter part of 2024.

Teacher’s guide for Suomen mestari 3

The teacher’s guide of the old version can be purchased both physical copy or as PDF. It contains some additional exercises which work well in a classroom setting for working in groups. I don’t think this material is very useful for you as a learner on your own and the cost is quite steep. The newer version’s teacher guide will likely be published somewhere near the end of 2024.

Vocabulary lists for Suomen mestari 3

There are no vocabulary booklets for Suomen mestari 3 available at all.

4. Suomen mestari 4

There is only one version of Suomen mestari 4.

Name of book Suomen mestari 4 – Suomen kielen oppikirja aikuisille
Author(s) Sonja Gehring, Sanni Heinzmann, Sari Päivärinne, Taija Udd
Publisher Finn Lectura
Most recent edition 2016
Language used Finnish only
Level range B1.1 – B2 (advanced course book)

4.1. Contents of Suomen mestari 4

Because the Suomen mestari series has four books, the writers have kept the participle forms and constructions out of the third book completely. I find this important because students aiming to participate in YKI-testi often attach too much importance to these verb forms. While it’s beneficial to be able to recognize the most common ones, you don’t need to be able to create these forms yourself nor know every little detail about them.

I think Suomen mestari 4 is very nice for students who are already level B1 and are working on getting to level B2. If you’re mainly looking for a book to learn and practice participles and lauseenvastikkeet, you will also get a lot out of this book, as each chapter covers a different participle or construction. In addition to these, the book pays special attention to word types and their derivation, rections and transitivity. I personally consider those much more important than the participles. The book starts by teaching you one participle at a time, and then starts combining them when getting to participle constructions and other complex sentence types.

Because this book is mainly aimed at students who have already achieved level B1.1, the reading texts are focused on more abstract, informational and general knowledge topics. It contains, for example, texts related to architecture, natural catastrophes, crime and geography. These texts are generally pretty long and fairly dry. Each chapter also includes a dialogue, which is written in near to natural sounding spoken Finnish.

Just like the other books in the series, this book has a lot of exercises. I find these much more repetitive in this book than in previous parts, which is largely because so many of them are related to participles. A large portion requires you to rephrase sentences. There are other exercise types as well, such as useful vocabulary exercises and listening comprehension.

The last book of the Suomen mestari series feels more rushed than the other parts. This is noticeable by how many new things are introduced in each chapter. The writers have also been unable to continue the system of introducing one vocabulary topic per chapter: the chapters contain a lot of random vocabulary. This book can feel too difficult to students who have just made it to level B1.1.

Suomen mestari 4 could be suitable for self-study. You can stream the audio online for free, which is a definite asset, and the solutions to the exercises are included in the back of the book. Some exercise types do not lend themselves to self-study (mainly conversation prompts), but at this level, you should be able to use those exercises in different ways if you have no one to do them with.

4.2. Materials available for Suomen mestari 4

There is only one version of Suomen mestari 3 and 4. The revamp of the whole series is still underway, so you can expect an updated version sometime in the future. It likely won’t be until the end of 2024. I will update this article as more information becomes available. The old version of this book is definitely also a good investment.

Printed version of Suomen mestari 4

Online stores: OtavaAdlibrisSuomalainen kirjakauppa

Digital version of Suomen mestari 4

This doesn’t exist as of yet, but will likely become available in 2024.

Audio of Suomen mestari 4

You can listen to the audio for free by making an account here. On the “Materials” page, click the tab that says “Free Materials” and then the first link “Finn Lecturan maksuttomat äännitteet ONL”. Scroll down and click “Suomen mestarin äännitteet” and start listening! You can also buy this audio either on a CD or as mp3s.

The audio for the renewed version of Suomen mestari 4 will likely be available through the Otso app when it gets released.

Audio in text form

Also available for Suomen mestari 4 is a PDF which includes the audio of the listening exercises in text form. This might help you if you want to read along while you listen. In addition, this PDF also contains the solutions to the exercises. Note that these solutions are also included in the back of the physical book, making this kind of redundant.

Digital exercises for Suomen mestari 4 (currently not available)

I’m anticipating that Finn Lectura will publish similar types of exercises for Suomen mestari 4 as they have recently done for the first book. This will likely only become available in 2024 or 2025.

Teacher’s guide for Suomen mestari 4

The teacher’s guide can used to be available as a book, but now can only be purchased as a PDF. It contains some additional exercises which work well in a classroom setting for working in groups. I don’t think this material is very useful for you as a learner on your own and the cost is quite steep. The newer version’s teacher guide will likely be published somewhere in 2025.


All in all, there are a lot of extra materials to the Suomen mestari series, which makes them extra useful but unfortunately also drives up the cost if you’re planning to get the most out of it. Luckily, the audio is available for free both for the old and the new version. The availability of the solutions to the exercises regardless of which version you have of the book is also a big plus.

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