The origins of Finnish

Finnish is a Uralic language belonging to the Finno-Ugric language family (which also includes Hungarian and Estonian) which has seen English, German and Slavic influence. It is a very ancient language, deriving from the Proto-Finnic language after Sámi was separated from it. However, the first records of a written form of the Sami language date back to 1500 AD and show a writing system based on Latin, German and Swedish models.

Grammatical and lexical features

The Finnish Language is an agglutinative language that has no gender distinction (even if it does differentiate number between singular and plural), but it does have no less than fifteen cases!


expresses a subject.



expresses the direct object.



answers the question “whose”.



expresses partiality or lack of result. It is often used to express unknown identities.



answers the question “where” with reference to an internal place.



answers the question “where to” with movement originating from an internal place, or the origin.



answers the question “where” with reference to an internal place, or the question “in what way” or “how”.



answers the question “where from” with movement originating from an external place.



answers the question “where to” with movement directed to an external place or the indirect object. .



expresses a temporary state of being.



expresses the status or an event occurring upon a transformation.



answers the question “how”.



answer the question “with whom”.


expresses the absence of something.

Initially, the language had many neologisms coming from foreign languages (such as Russian and Swedish) which have now been replaced by words created from existing Finnish terms: for example, the word “telephone” translates into Finnish as puhelin which derives from the word puhelI (“to speak). Nowadays, the language has not undergone significant changes with regards to its older variants.

Modern Finnish

Finnish is spoken in Finland, as well as in some regions of Sweden, with some regional variations: for example, in the region of Tornedalen, Meänkieli (meaning “our language”) is spoken which is very similar to standard Finnish.

Even though Finish is not very widespread, there are a number of variations and dialects. There are two main official variations: the spoken language (puhekieli) and the standard language (yleiskieli). The standard language is used for formal events and official communication and is the language learnt at school. The spoken language is used in informal settings (such as on television or radio or for general discussions) and is continuously evolving, gradually becoming simpler.

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