Finnish for busy people

Typical Features of Finnish Spoken Language – Puhekieli

Finnish spoken language differs considerably from written Finnish. As such, it’s generally considered a good idea to get acquainted with both of them at the same time. After all, you want to be able to understand people when you’re out and about. This article contains links to all the articles I have on Uusi kielemme related to typical features of Finnish spoken language.

1. Different types of spoken language

There are different types of Finnish spoken language. What type of spoken language is used depends on where you are and who you are talking to.

First, there’s yleiskieli: the spoken language used in the news or during a job interview. This version of spoken Finnish is the closest to written Finnish, though you will also hear some spoken language elements there.

Second, puhekieli is the type of spoken language you use among friends and colleagues. This is the spoken language version that is the topic of this article. In this register, there are many things that differ from written Finnish. All the spoken language features presented in this article are the type that will be present when people are talking to their friends.

Third, murre aka “slang” refers to the regional dialects that people use. These dialects can be extremely local and hard to understand for people from outside the community. The article you are currently reading doesn’t address regional spoken language because those features wouldn’t be useful to people living outside of the region in question. Maybe I will write some articles detailing the murre of certain groups of places later.

2. Differences between written and spoken Finnish

Finnish spoken language slightly differs from written Finnish in almost every way.

2.1. Vocabulary Differences

Spoken Written Spoken Language Articles
mä, sä, se minä, sinä, hän personal pronouns
tää, toi, se tämä, tuo, se demonstrative pronouns
tämmönen tällainen proadjectives
kakskyt, ysiysi
kaksikymmentä, 99 numbers in spoken language
roskis, idis
roskakori, idea words ending in -is
jälkkäri, hodari
jälkiruoka, hotdog words ending in -Ari

Check out this overview of spoken language vocabulary also!

2.2. Conjugation differences

Spoken Written Spoken Language Article
ne menee he menevät third person plural, “he
mä meen minä menen some verbs get shortened
nukkuun nukkumaan third infinitive gets shortened
me mennään me menemme first person plural, “me-passive”
me mentiin me menimme past tense “me-passive”
me mentäis me menisimme conditional “me-passive”

Also check out this article which contains more information!

2.3. Pronunciation differences

Description Spoken Written Spoken Language Article
d > ∅, r, l meiän, meirän meidän pöydällä vs pöyrällä
ts > tt seittemän seitsemän ts– is rare in spoken language
oa > oo; ia > ii
taloo, kahvii taloa, kahvia partitive’s ending will assimilate
ea > ee
hirvee, vaikee hirveä, vaikea assimilation of vowel clusters
diphthongs punanen, kotosin punainen, kotoisin diphthongs ending in –i shorten
i > ∅ viis, sano viisi, sanoi i at the end of words is dropped
t > ∅ tullu, menny tullut, mennyt NUT-participle is shortened
n > vähä, kouluu vähän, kouluun n at the end of words is dropped
a > talos, asemal talossa, asemalla a at the end of words is dropped
schwa vowel kylymä kahavi kylmä kahvi schwa vowel in some dialects

Check out this article for an overview with more details!

2.4. Syntax differences

Spoken language differs from written language in many ways: in spoken language sentences are shorter, there’s more repetition and unfinished sentences and the speaker can also use non-verbal communication such as facial expressions and gestures.

Spoken Written Spoken Language Article
Tuletsä? Haluuksä? Tuletko? Haluatko? -ko/kö questions
Tuletsä milloin? Milloin sinä tulet? Question word redundancy
Et sattuis tietään? Satutko tietämään? Negative questions
mun kirja, sun kuppi kirjani, kuppisi No possessive suffixes
Kun nousin ylös Noustessani ylös No temporal constructions
Jotta saisin apua Saadakseni apua No final constructions
Luulin että tiesin Luulin tietäväni No referative constructions
Shorter sentences Longer sentences
More repetition Less repetition
tota, tota tota, niinku (not used) Filler words when thinking
Se Pekka tuli taas
Pekka tuli taas More pronouns used

Check out this article for an overview with more details on syntax differences!

Read more elsewhere on the internet

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Markku Maja

mun kirja, sun kuppi on kirjani, kuppisi


When I was invited to a whatsApp group with my coworkers, it was the first time I was ever exposed to live spoken Finnish in written format. It was there that I began to believe that everything I knew about Finnish was wrong. Words you think can’t be shortened are shortened and what not. Partitive really put me down as I studied that more than anything only to find that vowals are changed to long vowels(like in this article) and have heard it in speech a few times haha.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasikko
Inge (admin)

Nice! I wish everyone could be added to a WhatsApp group with Finns to get a good idea of what it’s like!


Tota, tota, tota…um, so, yeah, now I know why those words I heard repeatedly on a podcast didn’t come up in the, er…niinku…dictionary!


Are there theories as to why there’s such a significant difference between spoken and written Finnish? Shortening and simplifying are perhaps natural, but then is there some reason the written form follows along less than in other languages? The only other case I know of is French, but there the differences are more limited to a few specific areas like verb tenses that only occur in writing.

Inge (admin)

Part of it is that the Western and Eastern dialects of Finnish were (and still are to a lesser extent) very different. When the written language was “invented”, a choice had to be made on how to say/write certain things. Mikael Agricola built the Finnish written language to a certain extent on the dialects of Turku and Vyborg. Other writers kept his “base” but included elements from Tavastia for example.


What about Finnish written dialogue? When characters speak to each other in books, do they typically use written or spoken language, or does it depend on context?

Depends on the author mostly. Translated books don’t usually have any spoken language, but books by Finnish authors can have spoken dialogues. It’s just a decision authors make. Using spoken language is less common, but not THAT uncommon that someone would raise an eyebrow. There are some literary masterpieces (e.g. Tuntematon sotilas) from the 50s that have spoken language dialogues.

Last edited 4 months ago by Inge (admin)

I’m screwed for my test;-;