Finnish for busy people

Ne menee, ne tulee, ne kattoo – Spoken Language

In addition to its own vocabulary, spoken language also has its own grammar. There are many differences between written and spoken language in Finnish. On this page, I want to focus on conjugations such as he menevät, he tulevat and he katsovat in spoken language (ne menee, ne tulee, ne kattoo). Both the personal pronoun and the verb change.

The third person plural’s verb won’t be conjugated into the -vat form. Instead, you will use the third person singular’s conjugation: ne menee (instead of menevät), ne syö (instead of syövät), ne kuunteli (instead of kuuntelivat).

Finnish Spoken Language: Ne menee – Ne meni

As you can see below, this is true for both the present and the past tense. In addition to adjusting the verbs, I have also added some spoken language vocabulary (duuni, safka, fillari) and a spoken language pronoun (sua).

Written language Spoken language Translation
He menevät töihin. Ne menee duuniin. They’re going to work.
He syövät ruokaa. Ne syö safkaa. They’re eating food.
He odottavat sinua. Ne odottaa sua. They are waiting for you.
He odottivat sinua. Ne odotti sua. They waited for you.
He olivat myöhässä. Ne oli myöhäs. They were late.
He ajoivat polkupyörällä. Ne ajoi fillarilla. They drove a bike.

Finnish Spoken Language: Ne on mennyt – Ne oli mennyt

This simplification of the conjugation of verbs will also extend to the perfect and the plusquamperfect. In these tenses, you will be simplifying both the verb olla (on instead on ovat) and the main verb (tullut instead of tulleet).

I could have still shortened these by removing the -t from the end of the participle, as is often done in spoken language (e.g. tullu instead of tullut). However, this isn’t always done.

Written language Spoken language Translation
He ovat jo tulleet. Ne on jo tullut. They’ve come already.
He ovat juoneet liikaa. Ne on juonut liikaa. They’ve drunk too much.
He olivat siivonneet. Ne oli siivonnut. They had cleaned up.
He olivat imuroineet. Ne oli imuroinut. They had vacuum-cleaned.

Finnish Spoken Language: Ne ei mene – Ne ei mennyt

It doesn’t stop there! All the negative forms will of course also follow this simplification. Again, some of these spoken language forms could still be shortened (e.g. ollu(t) saapunu(t) as well as possibly oottanu “odottanut”).

Written language Spoken language Translation
He eivät mene töihin. Ne ei mene duuniin. They’re not going to work.
He eivät syö ruokaa. Ne ei syö safkaa. They don’t eat food.
He eivät odottaneet sinua. Ne ei odottanut sua. They didn’t wait for you.
He eivät olleet saapuneet myöhässä. Ne ei ollut saapunut myöhäs. They hadn’t arrived late.
He eivät olleet juoneet liikaa. Ne ei ollut juonut liikaa. They hadn’t drunk too much.
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