Finnish: A Comprehensive Grammar (Paperback) book cover


A Comprehensive Grammar

By Fred Karlsson

© 2018 – Routledge

500 pages

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Paperback: 9781138821040
pub: 2017-09-13
Hardback: 9781138821033
pub: 2017-09-13

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Finnish: A Comprehensive Grammar presents a fresh, accessible and thorough description of the language, concentrating on the real patterns of use in modern Finnish.

The book moves from the sound system through morphology and word classes to a detailed analysis of sentence structures and semantic features.

Key features include:

  • particular focus on examples from spoken Finnish reflecting current usage
  • grammatical phenomena classified as common or rare
  • appendices identifying stems and sequences of endings
  • English-Finnish contrasts highlighted throughout.

Finnish: A Comprehensive Grammar is an essential reference for the intermediate and advanced learner and user of Finnish.

Table of Contents



Notational conventions and abbreviations

Chapter 1 Introduction

1.1 The relation of Finnish to other languages

1.2 Finnish and Finland, past and present

1.3 The basic characteristics of Finnish

1.4 What are the special difficulties?

Chapter 2 Pronunciation and sound structure

2.1 Letters and sounds

2.2 Vowels and consonants

2.3 Short and long sounds

2.4 Diphthongs

2.5 Syllables

2.6 Rhythm, word stress patterns and intonation patterns

2.6.1 Rhythm

2.6.2 Word stress patterns

2.6.3 Intonation patterns and accentuation

2.7 Vowel harmony

2.8 Major dialectal differences in pronunciation

Chapter 3 Word structure

3.1 Nominals and their inflectional endings

3.2 Finite verb forms and their endings

3.3 Non-finite verb forms and their endings

Chapter 4 Two important sound alternations

4.1 Consonant gradation of p, t, k

4.1.1 The types of consonant gradation

4.1.2 The rules of consonant gradation

4.1.3 Applying the basic rule to nominals

4.1.4 Applying the rules to verbs

4.1.5 Additional comments

4.1.6 The most common words with consonant gradation

4.2 Vowel changes before i endings

Chapter 5 The declension of nominals

5.1 Nominals inflected on the basic form

5.1.1 Tunti nominals with short final-i

5.1.2 Talo nominals with short final -u, -o, -y, -ö

5.1.3 Kala nominals with short final -a

5.1.4 Isä nominals with short final -ä

5.1.5 Nominals with final diphthong or long vowel

5.2 Nominals with short final -i or -e and separate inflectional stem

5.2.1 Kivi nominals, inflectional stem in -e, partitive -A

5.2.2 Kieli nominals, inflectional stem in -e, partitive -tA

5.2.3 Vesi nominals, inflectional stem in -te,partitive-tA

5.2.4 Perhe nominals with short final -e

5.3 Nominals with a final consonant and separate inflectional stem

5.3.1 Ihminen nominals

5.3.2 Ajat>us nouns

5.3.3 Taivas nominal

5.3.4 Hyv>yys nominals

5.3.5 Ava>in nominals

5.3.6 Työ>tön nominals

5.3.7 Askel nominals

5.3.8 Lyhyt nominals

5.3.9 Adaptation of new borrowed nouns

5.4 Singular and plural

Chapter 6 The conjugation of verbs

6.1 Infinitive endings

6.2 Inflectional stems

6.2.1 Anta-a verbs

6.2.2 Saa-da verbs

6.2.3 Tul-la and nous-ta verbs

6.2.4 Huomat-a verbs

6.2.5 Tarvit-a verbs

6.2.6 Lämm>et-ä verbs

6.3 Personal endings and agreement of person

Chapter 7 Interplay between Finnish morphology and syntax

7.1 Parts of speech

7.2 Phrases

7.3 Syntactic functions of phrases in clauses

7.4 Cases and adpositional phrases are markers of syntactic functions

7.5 Syntactic functions, phrases and clauses elaborated

Chapter 8

8.1 Phrase types

8.2 The noun phrase

8.2.1 Structure

8.2.2 Agreement within the noun phrase

8.2.3 Functions of the noun phrase

8.2.4 Complexity of the noun phrase

8.3 The adjective phrase

8.4 The numeral phrase

8.5 Adpositional phrases

8.6 The adverb phrase

8.7 The infinitive phrase

8.8 The participle phrase

Chapter 9 Simple clauses

9.1 Clause types

9.2 Clauses with basic order subject + verb

9.3 Clauses with basic order verb + subject

9.4 Free adverbials, questions, negation, word order variations

9.5 Clauses without subject

9.6 Negative clauses

9.7 Questions and answers

9.7.1 Questions with -kO (‘yes-no’ questions)

9.7.2 Question-word questions (‘wh-’ questions)

9.8 Minimal examples of simple clause types

Chapter 10 Complex sentences

10.1 Types of complex sentences

10.2 Complex sentences with subordinate clauses

10.3 Complex sentences with infinitive and participle phrases

10.4 Nominalization

10.5 Repeated embedding of subordinate clauses, non-finite phrases and nominalizations

10.6 Structure of the predicate

Chapter 11 The nominative case

11.1 Nominative singular and plural

11.2 Use of the nominative

11.2.1 The nominative marking subjects, objects and predicate complements

11.2.2 Special uses of the nominative

Chapter 12 The partitive case

12.1 Formation of the partitive

12.1.1 Partitive singular

12.1.2 Partitive plural

12.2 Use of the partitive

12.2.1 Partitive subject

12.2.2 Partitive object

12.2.3 Partitive predicate complement

12.2.4 The partitive in expressions of quantity

12.2.5 The partitive with adpositions

12.2.6 Special uses of the partitive

Chapter 13 The genitive case and total objects

13.1 Formation of the genitive

13.1.1 Genitive singular

13.1.2 Genitive plural

13.2 Use of the genitive

13.3 The total object

13.3.1 Total object and partitive object

13.3.2 Total object endings

13.4 Quantity adverbials taking object cases

Chapter 14 Possessive endings

14.1 Possessive endings in nouns

14.2 Possessive endings in other parts of speech

14.3 Ways of expressing ownership (possession)

Chapter 15 The six local cases

15.1 Inessive

15.2 Elative

15.3 Illative

15.4 Adessive

15.5 Ablative

15.6 Allative

15.7 Directional verbs

15.8 Place names

Chapter 16 Other cases

16.1 Essive

16.2 Translative

16.3 Abessive

16.4 Comitative

16.5 Instructive

Chapter 17 Numbers and numerals

17.1 Cardinal numbers

17.1.1 Inflection of cardinal numbers

17.1.2 Use of cardinal numbers

17.2 Ordinal numbers

17.3 Fractions

Chapter 18 Pronouns

18.1 Personal pronouns

18.2 Demonstrative pronouns

18.3 Interrogative pronouns

18.4 Indefinite pronouns

18.5 Relative pronouns

Chapter 19 Tenses

19.1 Present tense

19.2 Past tense

19.3 Perfect tense

19.4 Pluperfect tense

19.5 Negative forms

19.6 Expressing future time

Chapter 20 Moods and modality

20.1 Indicative

20.2 Conditional

20.3 Imperative

20.4 Potential

20.5 Other means for expressing modality

Chapter 21 Passive constructions

21.1 General

21.2 Passive present

21.3 Passive past

21.4 Passive perfect and pluperfect

21.5 Passive moods

Chapter 22 Infinitive-based constructions

22.1 General

22.2 A infinitive

22.2.1 Basic form of the A infinitive

22.2.2 A infinitive translative

22.3 E infinitive

22.3.1 E infinitive inessive

22.3.2 E infinitive instructive

22.4 MA infinitive

22.4.1 Formation

22.4.2 MA infinitive inessive

22.4.3 MA infinitive elative

22.4.4 MA infinitive illative

22.4.5 MA infinitive adessive, abessive and instructive

22.5 MINEN infinitive

Chapter 23 Participle-based constructions

23.1 General

23.2 VA participle active

23.3 VA participle passive

23.4 The NUT/TTU participles

23.5 The participial construction

23.6 The temporal construction

23.7 The agent construction

23.8 Verb unions with participles or infinitives

Chapter 24 Comparison of adjectives

24.1 Comparative

24.2 Superlative

Chapter 25 Other word classes and clitics

25.1 Adverbs

25.2 Prepositions

25.3 Postpositions

25.4 Conjunctions

25.5 Discourse particles

25.6 Clitics

Chapter 26 Word formation

26.1 General

26.2 Derivation

26.2.1 Deriving nominals from nominals

26.2.2 Deriving nominals from verbs

26.2.3 Deriving verbs from verbs

26.2.4 Deriving verbs from nominals

26.2.5 Rare derivational endings

26.2.6 Multiple derivation

26.3 Compounding

Chapter 27 The colloquial spoken language

27.1 General

27.2 Omission and assimilation of sounds

27.3 Differences of form

Appendix 1 Detecting word structure

Appendix 2 Definitions of key concepts

Appendix 3 Material for studying Finnish as a foreign language


About the Author

Fred Karlsson is Adjunct Professor of Finnish at the Universiity of Helsinki, Finland.

About the Series

Routledge Comprehensive Grammars

Comprehensive Grammars are clear guides to the entire grammar system of each language. They are suitable for intermediate to advanced learners and a must for every language reference library.

All Comprehensive Grammars are available as inspection copies.

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