Suomen kieli ulkomaalaisille/Sisältö/Genetiivi

What is the Genitive case? edit

The genitive case is used to indicate the ownership of an object to some other person or object.

Its equivalent in English is the use of "'s" (apostrophe s) to indicate ownership, but in Finnish it also extends to an attributive form which in English is not marked with apostrophe s.

Genitive singular case ending edit

Rule: The genitive singular case ending is -n.

Genitive plural case endings edit

The genitive plural is a rather complex subject.

The plural is usually formed by adding the plural marker -i- to the singular stem before adding the genitive -en. However, the formation will transform the -i- to -j- if it appears between two vowels, and there are other transformations that often take place.

The common genitive plural endings are -ien -iden -itten -ojen and less often -sten -ten

Do you already understand the genitive plural? You can improve this section by writing the rules for the formation of the genitive plural!

How to use the Genitive edit

Genitive object attribute edit

The genitive case is used an attribute of ownership in much the same way as apostrophe s ('s) does for nouns in English.

Tämä auto on Timon

This is Timo's car (Literally, this car is Timo's)

Sometimes, however, English will mark ownership with the word "of". In equivalent phrases in Finnish the genitive is used.

Baabelin torni

The tower of Babel

Helsingin yliopisto

The University of Helsinki

And there are situations where English does not always mark the attribute with an "apostrophe s" or with the word "of", but uses the nominative form. However, Finnish is usually consistent and marks it with the genitive.

Turun Linna

Turku Castle (Turku's castle or the Castle of Turku)

Lontoon pörssi

The London Stock Exchange (London's Stock Exchange or The Stock Exchange of London"

Personal Suffixes with Nouns and Pronouns edit

Except in existential phrases, the genitive marker -N is added to the person or the pronoun and the object owned is marked with a personal suffix.

The personal suffixes are as follows

Personal Noun Suffixes
Person Singular Plural
First person -ni -mme
Second person -si -nne
Third person -nsa/-nsä or -Vn see third person explanation below

Meidän talomme on jo remontoitu

Our house has already been renovated
me we becomes meidän our in genitive. Talo house adds -mme as a personal suffix.

Pesin isän auton

I washed dad's car

""""""""::Note that isän is the genitive. Car, auto, also has an -n ending but this is not the genitive. It is instead a whole object marker known as the -N accusative.

Pesin hänen autonsa

However, in spoken language, (and especially in Helsinki!) the personal ending is often left out.

Pesin sen auton

I washed his car

We have already seen the exceptional existential phrase structure that does not mark the sentence's OBJECT with a personal suffix. These will always have the existential verb olla.

Tämä auto on Timon

That is Timo's car (Literally, that is the car Timo's)
The phrase is essentially existential (something is something). These types of sentence do not take a personal suffix.

But on the other hand, if the object owned is the SUBJECT of the sentence then the personal suffix must be given.

Minun kelloni on rikki

My watch is broken

The personal suffix is always added to the stem but if the word already carries a case marker then the personal suffix is always added after the case ending.

He tulivat meidän talollemme

They came to our house
House Talo adds case ending lle before personal suffix-mme

Hampaani on kipeä

My tooth aches
Tooth, hammas has the stem form hampaa- to which the personal siffix -ni is added.

But note! The addition of a personal suffix will NOT of itself cause a hard grade consonant to weaken.

Meidän kirkkomme

Our church
the word for church kirkko normally weakens to a stem form kirko- when adding a case ending. However, personal suffix endings DO NOT WEAKEN THE FINAL CONSONANT.

Special Rules for the third person

Rule 1. The third person suffix is the same whether the subject is singular or plural. That is, it applies to situations such as "his", "her" or "their". Whether the meaning is singular or plural is known because the personal genitive will either be singular or plural.

Se on hänen talonsa

Its his house

Se on heidän talonsa

Its their house

Rule 2. The genitive marker of the person is not used if the person is the person owning is the person of the verb

He menivät pankkiinsa

They went to their bank
pankkiin + -nsa becomes pankiinsa (- see Rule 3). Heidän pankkiinsa would be incorrect if the bank was the place where "they" do their own banking.


Kokkoset kulkivat kauppatorilla Erkki ja Marja Suomelan kanssa. Sitten he menivät heidän pankkiinsa

The Kokkonens walked in the market square with Erkki and Marja Suomela. Then they went to their bank.
the use of the word heidän their can only mean the Suomelas' bank, not the Kokkonens' bank.

Rule 3. The third person marker is only -nsa (or -nsä) if the case is nominative singular (unmarked), nominative plural (-T) genitive, illative, or accusative ( -N or -T forms). The -N or -T from these forms is dropped before adding the -NSA. Otherwise the vowel at the end of the case ending is lengthened and just -n is added to make the personal suffix.

Se on heidän talonsa

Its their house
-nsa is used in the nominative

He kulkivat takaisin talolleen

They walked back to their house
talolle + -nsa becomes talolleen The meaning is implicitly their own house. If it was someone else's house it would add heidän their

Se ei ole heidän talonsa

Its not their house

Hän päätti, että hän ei myy taloaan

He decided not to sell his house
house is partitive for the same reason as above. So taloaan can be singular as in this example or plural (as in the previous example)

Kuluttajat luottavat lompakkoonsa

Consumers trust their (own) wallets
the verb luottaa trust requires the illative case (one puts trust INTO something in Finnish). Lompakko wallet is therefore in the illative "lompakkoon". This already has a long vowel ending so we do not use the vowel lengthening form. Instead, like all illative forms with the third person personal suffix, -nsa stays in its -nsa form. We know its third person plural because the verb has the ending -vat indicating plural person. Because the person owning is the same as the person of the verb, we do NOT say heidän lompakkoonsa because this would mean some other group's wallets.

Hänen omat saksensa eivät purreet siihen materiaaliin

His own scissors would not cut into the material
Sakset scissors is a plural noun as in English. Sakset + -nsa becomes saksensa. The plural t is lost altogether.

Raine on kadottanut lompakkonsa

Raine has lost his wallet
lompakko (nominative) plus -nsa. Note: No consonant degradation.

Raine ja Anne ovat molemmat kadottaneet lompakkonsa

Raine and Anne have both lost their wallets
So lompakkonsa can be both plural and singular depending on context. Lompakot (nominative plural) + -nsa becomes lompakkonsa

Hän otti lomapakon

He or she took the wallet (but we don't know whose wallet)
lompakon is in -N accusative form, which is identical in form to the genitive.


Hän otti lompakkonsa

He or she took (his or her own) wallet
Lompakon + -nsa becomes Lompakkonsa. Notwithstanding that this was originally in the weak case, the addition of the -nsa cause the original -n to be lost and the weakened stem to become string again.

and just to reinforce a point made before

Hän otti hänen lompakkonsa

He or She took his or her (i.e. someoneelse's) wallet

Genitive within Compound Words edit

The genitive form is sometimes seen within compound words. E.g. pyykinpesu pianonsoitonopettaja and talonpoika.

Knowing when to compound words and when to use the genitive in a compound word is quite a complex matter and even many Finns find it hard to understand. You can get an explanation of this at

If you understand Finnish and understand the article at the link above and can explain this en English, you may be able to help students reading this wikibook by updating this page with an English translation of elements relating to compound genitive words. Please also write this in the Finnish version of this page in the Finnish Wikibook.

Genitive with Prepositions edit

Many of the words describing relative place in Finnish such as edessaä in front of, takana behind, vieressä alongside come after the word describing the absolute place. This word is always a noun that is in the genitive case. Words such as veressä are therefore known as prepositions (meaning put after). Equivalent English words such as behind, under, over are known as prepositions. Lets look at a few genitive prepositional phrases.

Poytä on sohvan edessä

The table is in front of the sofa
So the construction when transliterated is something like the table is of the sofa in front. Because the construction is so different from English this sounds quite strange.

Kirkon vieressä on kirkkotupa 1600-luvulta.

Next to the Church is the church hall from the 1600s
tupa is cabin or hut but is translated here as hall (a meeting place separate from the Church itself)

Lapsuuteni kesät kuluivat isovanhempieni luona Raisiossa (pieni kaupunki Turun lähellä)

My childhood summers were spent at my grandparents place in Raisio (a small town close to Turku)

See the additional article about genitive prepositions.

Exercises edit

Exercise One edit

Genitive with Prepositions

Complete the sentences with the help of the hints that are in brackets.

  1. a on kaupunki (close to Rovaniemi).
  2. b on kylä (beside Turku).
  3. (On the table) on lehtiä ja (under it) on matto.
  4. (Inside the box) on pommi. (Inside the bomb) on ruutia.
  5. (in the front of the department store) on myyntikoju.
  6. (Beside the shop) on kirkko ja (Beside the church) on metsä.

Answers edit

Exercise one edit

  1. a on kaupunki Rovaniemen lähellä.
  2. b on kylä Turun vieressä
  3. Pöydän päällä on lehtiä ja sen alla on matto. (Pöydän päällä = pöydällä).
  4. Laatikon sisällä on pommi. Pommin sisällä on ruutia.
  5. Tavaratalon edessä on myyntikoju.
  6. Kaupan vieressä on kirkko ja kirkon vieressä on metsä.