One helpful thing when studying Finnish is the regular pronunciation; we use to say that "Finnish is always pronounced like it's written". In ideal case each letter corresponds to one and the same sound, and each sound corresponds to one and the same letter.
Here are all the sounds and letters in Finnish. There are 8 vowels: a, e, i, o, u, y, ä and ö; and 14 consonants d, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v. They are similar to other European languages, but some consonants are left out, and there are two extra vowels, ä and ö. Other sounds (or letters) appear only in the loan words, such as "byrokratia".
Click the button to listen to the example.
- Stress is always on the first syllable.
- Y is a vowel, not a consonant, and it sounds a bit like German ü.
- You must pronounce every letter: nothing should be left out.
- Most sounds in Finnish may be either short or long.
The following consonants may occur in words borrowed recently into Finnish from other languages:
- b : banaani
- f : filmi
- g: golf
Consonants c, f, q, w, x, and z don't exist in Finnish words. Also, b is very rare and possible only in loanword (such as bussi).
A diphthong is a sound made by combining two vowels. In many other European languages, such as English that is interpreted as a single vowel, in Finnish usually as a combination. It means that both vowels are pronounced.
Diphtongs in Finnish language are:
ai, ei, oi, ui, yi, äi , öi, au, eu, iu, ou, äy, öy, ie, uo, yö
Lenght and double letters
The length of the sound is important in Finnish. The word can have a separate meaning depending on the length.
- tuli : tulli : tuuli
- fire : customs : wind
- Tule tänne!
- Come here!
- Pekka tulee.
- Pekka is coming.
- Ulkona ei tuule.
- Wind isn't blowing outside.
- Ulkona tuulee.
- Wind is blowing outside.
- Tuli polttaa.
- Fire burns.
- Tulli pysäytti miehen.
- The customs stopped a man.