Nominative, genitive, partitive: singular

These three cases are called grammatical cases, because they have special role in sentences: they identify the subject and the object. There is also the accusative case, but some grammars don't mention it because it looks like the genitive.

More how to use these cases on the sentence article.

Nominative singular

Nominative is the basic case found in dictionaries, it answers the question what?. Nominative doesn't have any ending in singular.

Genitive singular

Genitive shows the owner, and answers the question whose?. Genitive case ends with n.

Consonant gradation makes this little bit more complicated; genitive is usually in the weak grade.

examples of consonant gradation
nomimative genitive in English
pappi papin (a priest)
kuppi kupin (a cup)
tukka tukan (a hair)
Pekka Pekan
satu sadun (a tale)
tunti tunnin (an hour)

One exception is words ending with s. Then it's reversed: nominative is in weak grade, and genitive in the strong grade:

examples of consonant gradation
nomimative genitive in English
rikas rikkaan (rich)
lammas lampaan (a sheep)
hammas hampaan (a tooth)

Note also, that in this word type the last s disappears and the last vowel is long.

Other exceptions and changes on stems:

There are some othee exceptions, as well. Usually the problem is with consonants because you cannot add n after another consontant. That's why the stem transforms.

Words ending nen. Because words cannot end with two n's, that's why nen in the end of the word becomes sen

genitive declination, nen
nomimative genitive in English
ihminen ihmisen (a human)
nainen naisen (a woman)
Virtanen Virtasen

words ending with t. You cannot add n after t, that's why:

genitive declination, t
nomimative genitive in English
olut oluen (a beer)
lyhyt lyhyen (short)
kevät kevään (spring)

Words ending with s are always difficult. There are several types of these words.

Sometimes kse must be added:

genitive declination, kse
nomimative genitive in English
jänis jäniksen (a rabbit)
ajatus ajatuksen (a thought)
penis peniksen (a penis)
poikkeus poikkeuksen (an exception)

Many loan words belong to this group. For example, some Latin names and names from Bible.

genitive declination, us
nomimative genitive in English
Jeesus Jeesuksen
Matteus Matteuksen

Sometimes the s must be left out, and vowel lengthened:

taivas taivaan (sky)
oppilas oppilaan (a pupil)
kirves kirveen (an axe)

Sometimes de need to be added, if the word ends with -us:

genitive declination, de
nomimative genitive in English
varkaus varkauden (a theft)
hyvyys hyvyyden (goodness)
ystävyys ystävyyden (friendship)

Sometimes there are no rules at all:

genitive declination, exceptions
nomimative genitive in English
mies miehen (a man)
sisar sisaren (a sister)

There are some exceptions with vowels as well:

The last i becomes e in genitive in some words:

genitive declination, i
nomimative genitive in English
kivi kiven (a stone)
pilvi pilven (a cloud)
kieli kielen (a language)
suuri suuren (big)
mäki mäen (a hill)

If there is a short e in the ending of the word, it becomes long e (e:ee).

genitive declination, ee
nomimative genitive in English
huone huoneen ( a room)
vene veneen (a boat)

There are lots of rules, but if you know how to form genitive, you are able to form the location cases. See also the article about the declination types.

Partitive singular

Partitive answers the question what. It's an important case because objects are often in partitive case. (Read more about when to use partitive.)

Minä syön leipää.
I'm eating bread. / I eat bread.

You form the partitive case by adding -a or -ta -ending. You must also remember the vowel harmony.

talo taloa (a house)
juoma juomaa
poikkeus poikkeusta
pappi pappia
satu satua
maa maata

a-ending is used, when the word ends with a single vowel (short vowel):

partitive declination
nomimative partitive in English
auto autoa (a car)
liima liimaa (glue)
verho verhoa (a curtain)
satu satua (a fairytale)

j behaves like vowels:

partitive declination
nomimative partitive in English
hakija hakijaa (an applicant)
haltija haltijaa (an elf)

ta is used, when there are 2 vowels (vowel is long or a diphthong):

partitive declination
nomimative partitive in English
maa maata (a land)
työ työtä (a job, a work)
vyö vyötä (a belt)

or the word ends with consonant

nomimative partitive in English
partitive declination
askel askelta (a step)
rikas rikasta
ajatus ajatusta

Partitive is in same grade as nominative and opposite grade as genitive, thus:

partitive declination
pappi papin pappia
tukk tukan tukkaa
hammas hampaan hammasta

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