Finnish/Nimet ja kansalaisuudet

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^^Contents^^ <<Hello! | What is your name? | Grammar-Vowel harmony>>

Now we are going to learn how to ask what someone's name is and ask what your name is. We are also looking on how to say your nationality, but first you need to know how to say the verb “to be”.

Olla – to be

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olla - to be
Finnish English Finnish English
1st person (minä) olen I am 1 (me) olemme we are
2nd person (sinä) olet you are 1 (te) olette you are 3
3rd person hän on he/she is 2 he ovat they (persons) are
It se on it is ne ovat they (non-persons) are
  1. “Minä” and “sinä” are “mä” and “sä” in the common Finnish slang.
  2. “Hän” means 'he' or 'she', there's no distinction.
  3. "Te olette" can also be used when being polite, to only one person. This polite form is sometimes used to people who you are not acquainted with. This is similar to the French vous and the German Sie, although it is used more rarely.

In Finnish, minä, sinä, me and te are usually not used, as the verb form shows the person and number in question. If they are used, it is usually to emphasize the subject in the sentence.

Mikä on nimesi? – What is your name?

Mikä on teidän nimenne? – What is your name? (more polite)

Nimeni on... – My name is...

Olen... – I am...

Example Dialog Number One

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Pekka is meeting someone.

  • Pekka: Hei, mikä on nimesi?
  • Päivi: Terve. Nimeni on Päivi.
  • Pekka: Olen Pekka.

Example Dialog Number Two

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Mr. Virtanen is meeting a new client.

  • Herra Virtanen: Hyvää huomenta, mikä on teidän nimenne?
  • Herra Hämäläinen: Hyvää päivää, nimeni on Hämäläinen. Mitä kuuluu?
  • Herra Virtanen: Kiitos, hyvää, herra Hämäläinen.


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We are now going to learn how to say your nationality. You say I am “Olen...” then the country, say England, “englanti” and a stem -lainen or -läinen”. So I am English is “Olen englantilainen”. It works for other countries “Olen ranskalainen”, “I am French”. To ask for someone's nationality, say:

Mikä on kansallisuutesi? – What is your nationality?

Mikä on kansalaisuutenne? – What is your nationality? (more polite)

Olen... – I am ...

yhdysvaltalainen – from United States

amerikkalainen – American

englantilainen – English

skotlantilainen – Scottish

walesilainen – Welsh. Note that the word Wales ends in a consonant. An i is added between "wales" and "lainen" to make it flow better.

pohjoisirlantilainen – Northern Irish

irlantilainen – Irish

eteläafrikkalainen – South African

kanadalainen – Canadian

australialainen – Australian

uusiseelantilainen – New Zealander

hollantilainen - Dutch

suomalainen – Finnish (Suomi - Finland)

ruotsalainen - Swedish (Ruotsi - Sweden)

venäläinen - Russian (Venäjä - Russia)

However, there are some exceptions to the rule:

brittiläinen or britti – British, because the word for Britain is Iso-Britannia.

The way of Olen... -lainen/-läinen exists even in cities and areas, so Olen helsinkiläinen is “I am a Helsinkian”, or Olen newyorkilainen "I am a New Yorker".

Note that although countries, cities and other definite areas are written with a capital letter in Finnish too, all nationalities are written with a small letter.

Exercise Number Two

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These people are saying where are they from. Can you figure out the cities they are from? Beware, for some of them are quite difficult.

Tip: They are all capital cities.

Answers are on the Answer pages at the back of the book.

  1. Olen lontoolainen.
  2. Olen pariisilainen.
  3. Olen tokiolainen.
  4. Olen berliiniläinen.
  5. Olen kööpenhaminalainen.
  6. Olen riikalainen.
  7. Olen pekingiläinen.
  8. Olen kapkaupunkilainen.
  9. Olen ateenalainen.
  10. Olen tukholmalainen.