Suomen kieli ulkomaalaisille/Eksistentiaalilause
What is an Existential Clause?
An existential clause is one using the verb to declare the existence or place (or movement to or from a place) of some SUBJECT not previously spoken about. So it would be impossible to use a pronoun in an existential clause because pronouns require that we know what the noun is.
Format of an Existential Clause
Existential clauses always begin with the declaration of place, followed by the verb (usually OLLA but not necessarily).
So typically the format is
- ADVERB VERB SUBJECT
- MISSÄ ON MIKÄ (or MITÄ)
- At some place IS something
Note: There is never an object in an existential statement.
Pihalla on kaksi polkupyörää
- Literally On the yard there is two bikes
- Standard English There are a couple of bikes in the yard
Equally the existential sentence can be negative in meaning, in which case the verb is negative
Asunnossamme ei ole saunaa
- Literally In our apartment not is sauna
- Standard English There is no sauna in our apartment
And the verb does not have to be OLLA
Kouluun tulee pari vierailijaa
- Literally To the school comes two visitors
- Standard English There are two visitors coming the school
Some Important Things to Note
Despite the similarity to English, there are several strong difference here.
1. The strong preference in English for SUBJECT to come before the VERB means that English puts the adverbial aspect at the end, whereas Finnish ALWAYS puts the adverbial place first when the sentence is introducing a new subject in an existential clause. So although Finnish is often more relaxed than English about word order, the existential clause word order is always ADVERB-VERB-SUBJECT.
2. English moves the verb according to the subject (IS or THERE ARE according to number). Finnish existential sentences the verb is ALWAYS IN THE THIRD PERSON SINGULAR even when there is more than one SUBJECT.
- Hence the use of the verbs form ON and TULEE not OVAT and TULEVAT in the examples above.