Last modified on 23 May 2014, at 13:14

Suomen kieli ulkomaalaisille/Sisältö/Suomen aakkoset

  • Note to editors and readers: Be careful when interpreting or adding to descriptions of pronunciations. Pronunciation of English words varies from region to region in the world. An attempt has been made here to approximate to something that works in US and British English. Where there is a conflict, the more widely known US English has been followed. For instance in the specimen sentence "Adam Asks for Apple Advice". the a in "Asks" is a US or Northern British "Asks" which ryhmes with the A in "hat" rather than the Southern English RP "Asks" where the A rhymes with the A as in "Father".

The main letters of the Finnish Language are:


The other letters you will find in a Finnish dictionary, if only to accommodate words of foreign origin, are the standard letters from the English alphabet missing in the above list:


Y is a vowel in Finnish, so in effect there are many more formally written vowels in Finnish and rather less formally written consonants.

Finnish is a very phonetic language, as every pronunciation has its own letter. That is to say that things are "pronounced exactly as they are written" so SAMPA and IPA notations of Finnish words are almost identical to the written language. However, do not take this too literally; there are certainly many details in speech that cannot be easily expressed in written language, and Finnish is no exception.

It is arguable that D is really a modified T - the sounds are very similar and D only ever appears when a letter T has been modified by the rules of Finnish consonant mutation to a D. For this reason, no native word in Finnish can ever begin with the letter D.

The glyphs 'ä' and 'ö' have been borrowed from Swedish, and even if their pronunciation is similar, their grammatical role is vastly different, as Finnish is not a Nordic language. They are independent letters and phonemes, not modified nor accented letters. Changing 'Ä' into 'A' or 'Ö' into 'O' is akin to changing 'O' into 'Q'.

This can be one of the most difficult thing for the English speaking learner of Finnish to grasp, so it is as well to be aware of it early on in learning.

  • Pronouncing Ä: "A fat pancake man sat on a cat."
If you got through that sentence you said "Ä" in native Finnish style five times in all the boldtext parts.
  • Pronouncing Ö: This is rather like the vowel sound in the English word "learn" (long) or as in the end of "water"(short). But it is rather more closed and does not include the r at the end.
  • Pronouncing Y. The best way to pronounce Y is to round your lips lightly as if to say "oo" as in shoo! but instead of pronouncing "oo" try to pronounce "ee" as in "fee" instead, still keeping your lips rounded. The resulting sound you make approximates to the Finnish Y sound.

All Finnish vowels are pronounced "short" unless the letter is shown doubled. All Finnish consonants are pronounced "short" unless the letter is doubled. The doubling of the letter does not mean that the consonant is sounded twice however. In the case of the letters n, l r and s, the consonant is sounded double length. In the case of the plosive consonants k, p, and t, the length of time holding the sound before releasing the plosive sound making the consonant sound is lengthened.

Kisat The competitions

Kissat The cats

The single s in Kisat is sounded shorter than the double ss in Kissat. However, it is not excessively long.

Mato A Worm

Matto A carpet

The word mato is pronounced ma-to whereas Matto is pronounced Mat-to. It is rather like trying to say the English words "Last Tuesday" and being careful to pronounce the t in last without sounding the t twice. In effect we create a long "stop" at the "t" to indicate both letters. Finnish does this all the time with the double plosive consonants KK, PP and TT.

Acknowledgment: This text is borrowed from another wikibook on Finnish. Note: It does not exist in the Finnish version of this book.

Alphabet English for the Alphabet Pronunciation in English
a (aah) part
b (beh) best
c (seh) cement
d (deh) develop
e (eeh) better
f (aeff) affection
g (geh) gave
h (hoh) hold
i (ee) eat
j (yee) yield
k kooh covert
l ael altitude
m aem ambrosia
n aen ant
o ooh oval
p peeh pellet
q kuuh cook
r aer arrogant
s aes ask
t teeh tepid
u oo foot
v veeh very
w kahksoisveeh west, very
x aex axe
y eew cute
z zed zoo
å ruotsalainen ooh oval
ä ae Adam asks for apple advice
ö oe Curled girl spoke an absurd word