Meeting people, Lesson 1



In the following dialogue, two guys Matti and Antti run into each other. Read the dialog, and learn how they greet each other.

Matti ja antti tapaavat kadulla.


Tervehdykset - Greetings

Here are some common greetings in Finnish.

These are neutral or informal ways to say Hello! or Hi!. Terve means literarily healthy. When someone sneezes, you can say something similary: terveydeksi, but you don't use that when you toast drinks, but you can say kippis! instead.

Informal greetings you can use with your friends. They probably come from god morgon (Good morning in Swedish), but you can use them any time of the day.

These are formal greetings. Literarily hyvää päivää means (I wish you) good day.

Hyvää huomenta!
Good morning!, at morning, before 12.
Hyvää iltaa
Good afternoon after 6 pm (a bit formal).
Hyvää yötä!
Good night! (when going to sleep).
Hauska tutustua!
Nice to meet you! when you meet someone for the first time.

Mitä kuuluu? Miten menee?

There are two ways to ask "How are you?"

Mitä kuuluu?
positive answer Hyvää kuuluu! Hyvää, kiitos!
neutral answer Ihan hyvää. Mikäpä tässä...
negative answer Huonoa.
Miten menee?
positive answer Hyvin menee! Hyvin, kiitos.
neutral answer Ihan hyvin.
negative answer Huonosti.

Cultural notes

Finns use kiitos quite often. It's normal to say it after any phrase and repeat it often. That's perhaps because there's no word for 'please' in Finnish.

Finns shake hands more rarely than many other nationalities. It happens mainly in formal settings and official events. If you meet someone for the first time, it's good manners to shake hands, but friends very rarely shake hands. So don't be offended if your Finnish friends don't shake hands all the time!

Kissing on the cheek in South European style is considered as too girlish. Finnish men don't usually kiss each other, women only if they are friends. Do not kiss a Finn without warning! :)

Personal pronouns

personal pronouns
singular plural
minä me
sinä te
hän he

"You" is sinä is in singular, te in plural. In formal speech, te is used instead of sinä. There's only one word for "he" and "she", hän. This refers to male and female.

In a formal context plural pronoun te is usually used instead of sinä. (Like in French: tu/vous). More about pronouns.


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