What is love? (rakkaus)

Finns don’t throw this word around as often as other people. “Rakkaus” is serious business, and a Finnish man uses this word approximately 2-3 times in his life. The burger chain slogan “I’m loving it” sounds corny in Finnish. However, it’s a very important word to know.

As so often, the noun and the verb are the same in English: the verb “(to) love” and the noun “(a) love” look the same. In Finnish the verb is “rakastaa” and the noun is “rakkaus“. For example, “Minä rakastan sinua”/ I love you”, but “What is love? / Mitä on rakkaus?”

A person, who is loved, is “rakas” = belowed, dear, darling.

Mitä on rakkaus? Rakas, älä satuta minua enempää! / What is love? Baby don’t hurt me no more!

Other verb are: to fall in love = rakastua and when adults love each other, they might make love = rakastella.

Derivations and etymologies: hukkua

Hukkua” means “to drown”. “Eno putosi veneestä ja hukkui järveen.” / “Uncle fell out off the boat and got drown in the lake.”

It can also be used in a less dramatic context, the other meaning is “to get lost” : “Pekan avaimet hukkuivat / Pekka’s keys were lost.”.

Note the difference between “hukkua” and “hukata” In linguistics they are called transitive and intransitive verbs: transitive verbs need an object, intransitive cannot have one.

hukkua: “Avaimeni hukkuivat” / My keys were lost.
hukata: “Hukkasin avaimeni” / I lost my keys.

Hear, hear! (kuulua)

The verb “kuulua” is familiar from phrase “mitä kuuluu?” ~ “how are you?“. Literally it means “what can be heard?“. You can use this verb for example in sentences like “Naapurista kuuluu melua” “Some noise is coming from the neighbor.”

Do not mix this verb with transitive verb “kuulla”, “to hear”. For example: “Kuulen sinun puheesi” / “I can hear your speech”, “Puheesi kuuluu” / “Your speech can be heard”.

Another verb from the same root is “kuunnella”, to listen: “Kuuntelen hevimetallia” / “I listen to heavy metal.”.

Verb “kuulua” has also another meaning “to belong to” or “be a part of something”. It’s a loan from Swedish (“höra till”), so the semantical motivation comes from there. “Rikolliset kuuluvat vankilaan” / “Criminals belong in jail.” Also: “Pekka kuuluu rotareihin” / “Pekka is a member in Rotary-club”.

Author, write a book! (kirja)

Kirja is a typical example of a root which appear in several words.

Kirja means “a book”. The verb naturally is “kirjoittaa”, to write (note also “kirjata”, to book or to log). Kirjoitus means writing in general.

The “-ja” suffix is similar to English “-er”, thus kirjoittaa -> kirjailija = to write – > a writer (or an author). Kirjasto means a place with many books, a library (“a bookery”). Kirjallisuus means the literature (“bookness”).

Käsikirjoitus is a direct translation from latin, a manuscript.

Kirjain is “a letter” as a letter in alphabet, but Kirje is a kind of letter you send in post.

On the other hand, English has some uses for this word which Finnish doesn’t have. For example you “book” an apointment in English. Finnish has another word for that “varata”.
I booked an appointment for a doctor./
Varasin ajan lääkärille.

The company makes one alike (seura)

Seura is “company” or “companionship”. It can also be a society but not a business kind of company (that’s “yritys” or “liike”). If you like lots of company, you are “seurallinen”, sociable.

The verb is “seurata” “to accompany” or “to follow”. For example “seuraa johtajaa” , “follow the leader”. Seuraaja is a follower, also in an abstract sense: Hänellä on monta seuraajaa Twitterissä / He has many followers on Twitter.

“Seuraava” means “the following” as in “the next”. For example “Seuraava jonossa”, “the next in the line”.

“Seuraus” is something that follows from an action: a result or consequence.

A business attempt (yritys)

“Yrittää” means “to try” and the corresponding noun is “yritys”, a try.

In business language, yritys has the same meaning as “an enterprise”, or more commonly “a company”. An enterpreneur is “yrittäjä”.
“Yrittäjä yrittää saada yrityksen menestymään” / “An enterpreneur tries to make the business successful”.

The unknown guest next to you (vieras)

Vieri is a rarely used word by itself, but there are lot’s of other words derived from it. The basic meaning is “side”, for example, “tien vieri” = “roadside”.

You are more likely to hear “vieressä”, which means literarily ”in the side”, or more broadly “beside, by, near, near to, at, next to, near by” etc. For example, “Hän seisoo ihan vieressä”, “He’s standing right next to me”.

Vieras is an adjective with many meanings. The basic meaning is “unknown”, so somebody who’s not you, but the next person, a stranger. “Vieras kieli on vaikea ymmärtää” “A foreign language is difficult to understand”. “Vieras mies tuli taloon”, “A stranger came to the house”.

Quite contradictory, “vieras” can also mean “a guest”, because a guest is always also a bit stranger.

“Vieraanvaraisuus” is a nice word meaning “hospitality”, literarily “guest’s care”.

Anxiety in a tight spot (ahdas)

Ahdas means tight or narrow, as a place with little or no room. For example Pieni huone oli hyvin ahdas.

This word has lot’s of negative connotations in Finnish.
Pomo pani minut ahtaalle. / My boss put me in a tight spot.

Ahtaanpaikankammo is a one sort anxiety, “the fear of narrow places” = klaustrofobia. The word for anxiety itself is derived from this = ahdistus.

Harrasment can cause anxiety, that’s why harrasment = ahdistelu. A person who harrasses, for example a stalker or molester, is ahdistelija.

English words ending “ness” in Finnish

Many English words end with “ness” and many of these end “us/ys” or “uus/yys” in Finnish. Most of these are nouns derived from adjectives.

anxiousness ahdistus -> ahdistuneisuus
backwardness takapajuinen -> takapajuisuus
bitterness katkera -> katkeruus
emptiness tyhjä ->tyhjyys
goodness hyvä -> hyvyys
politeness kohtelias -> kohteliaisuus
shyness ujo -> ujous
weakness heikko -> heikkous
happiness onnellinen -> onnellisuus

Other examples with the same suffix. English has other suffixes like “sy”, “ship” or “hood” which can be translated with “us” suffix in Finnish.

jealousy kade -> kateus
truth tosi -> totuus
hardship vaikea -> vaikeus
friendship ystävä -> ystävyys
friendlyness ystävällinen -> ystävällisyys
adulthood aikuinen -> aikuisuus
parenthood vanhempi -> vanhemmuus
love rakas -> rakkaus

Right, right? (oikea)

Oikea means right, as in “right hand” (=oikea käsi). This word has other meanings both in English and Finnish, for example Sinä olet oikeassa. = “You are right”. (literally. “in right”).

Right as in “right to do something” is oikeus in Finnish.

Finland has a concept called “jokamiehen oikeus” ~ “Everyman’s right”. It means, that you can go freely in the forests and nature, as long as you don’t disturb people or damage property.

In politics, the right wing is oikeisto in Finnish.

Oikeus Suomi