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Basic Finnish phrases for beginners

Student practicing Arabic dialogue exercises in library.

Finnish, while considered a difficult language for many, can be conquered one phrase at a time. Here are some fundamental Finnish phrases and vocabulary that beginners can start with to lay the foundation for their language learning journey.

Hei – Hello
This is the simplest way to greet someone in Finnish.
Hei! Mitä kuuluu?

Hyvää huomenta – Good morning
Wish someone a good morning with this phrase.
Hyvää huomenta! Oletko jo syönyt aamupalaa?

Hyvää päivää – Good day
Used from midday to late afternoon, this is a polite greeting.
Hyvää päivää! Onpa kaunis sää tänään.

Hyvää iltaa – Good evening
This phrase is used to greet someone during the evening time.
Hyvää iltaa! Miten työpäiväsi sujui?

Näkemiin – Goodbye
This is how you bid farewell to someone, formally or informally.
Kiitos seurasta, näkemiin!

Anteeksi – Sorry / Excuse me
‘Anteeksi’ can be used both when you’re asking for forgiveness, or when you want to get by someone.
Anteeksi, en kuullut mitä sanoit.

Kiitos – Thank you
One of the essential words in any language, ‘kiitos’ shows gratitude.
Kiitos avusta!

Ole hyvä – You’re welcome
This is the response to ‘kiitos’, equivalent to ‘you’re welcome.’
Ei kestä, ole hyvä.

Kyllä – Yes
Affirmative answer to a yes-no question.
Haluatko lisää kahvia? Kyllä, kiitos.

Ei – No
This is the negative counterpart to ‘kyllä’, used to decline or disagree.
Onko sinulla nälkä? Ei, kiitos.

Minun nimeni on… – My name is…
To introduce yourself, use this phrase followed by your name.
Minun nimeni on Maria. Mikä sinun nimesi on?

Mikä sinun nimesi on? – What is your name?
When you want to know someone’s name, ask this question.
Hei, mikä sinun nimesi on?

Voitko puhua hitaammin? – Can you speak more slowly?
This is a helpful phrase when you’re not quite able to keep up with the pace of the conversation.
Anteeksi, voitko puhua hitaammin?

Ymmärrätkö? – Do you understand?
Asking someone if they understand can also be a way to ask for feedback during your practice.
Ymmärrätkö, mitä yritän sanoa?

En ymmärrä – I don’t understand
When you’re lost in conversation, don’t be afraid to admit it with this phrase.
Anteeksi, en ymmärrä.

Puhutko englantia? – Do you speak English?
If you’re a beginner, knowing how to ask this question can be very useful.
Hei, puhutko englantia?

Mastering these phrases won’t make you fluent, but they will certainly help you navigate some basic conversations in Finnish. Practice regularly, and you’ll be on your way to having more complex and engaging conversations in no time. Muista, harjoitus tekee mestarin – remember, practice makes perfect!

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