Imperfect, the simple past tense

The simple past tense (often called imperfect) is formed with the suffix i. It's placed between the stem and the personal ending.

past tense conjugation
kysyin I asked kysyimme we asked
kysyit you asked kysyitte you asked
kysyi he asked kysyivät they asked

Some changes in the stem

There are some changes in the stem, when you add the i ending.

Long vowel or diphtong (verb type 2)

If there are 2 vowels (same or different, see the verb type 2), the other vowel drops, because there cannot be 3 vowels on a row. With a diphtong (2 different vowels) it's the first vowel that disappears.

past tense conjugation
InfinitivePresent Past tense Translation
saada saan sain I got
juoda juon join I drank
viedä vien vein I took (away)

Last a, ä, e or i disappears:

InfinitivePresentPast tense Translation
rakastaa rakastan rakastin I loved
matkustaa matkustan matkustin I travelled
pitää pidän pidin I liked
opiskella opiskelen opiskelin I studied
etsiä etsin etsin I searched
uida uin uin I swam

With some verbs last a becomes o:

InfinitivePresentPast tense Translation
antaa annan annoin I gave
kantaa kannan kannoin I carried


The suffix is si with some verbs. This includes verb type 4 and some of the verbs in type 1.

With the verb type 4 the suffix is always si.

InfinitivePresentPast tense Translation
haluta haluan halusin I wanted
siivota siivoan siivosin I cleaned
tavata tapaan tapasin I met
pelata pelaan pelasin I played

There are also some verbs in type 1, which have the suffix si. You should learn them by heart.

past tense conjugation
InfinitivePresentPast tense Translation
tietää tiedän tiesin I knew
pyytää pyydän pyysin I asked
löytää löydän löysin I found
huutaa huudan huusin I yelled
lentää lennän lensin I flew
ymmärtää ymmärrän ymmärsin I understood
piirtää piirrän piirsin I drew

See also the article about the negative imperfect.

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