Category Archives: Finnish grammar

Are the endings with -ä and -a both correct?

A client asked: “why there is one occurrence of “sta” and one occurrence of “stä” in the phrases below? Are both correct?

  • voi esiintyä useammalla kuin 1 potilaalla 10:stä
  • voi esiintyä enintään 1 potilaalla 100:sta

My quick answer (without long grammatical explanations):

-stä and -sta are both correct in their respective places. The reason:  the vowel used in the ending depends on the vovels present in the beginning of the word. This phenomenon  is called “vowel harmony“.

100 = sata -> sadasta
10 = kymmenen -> kymmenestä
1 = yksi -> yhdestä
1000 = tuhat -> tuhannesta

A certain vowel combination requires -ä, another vowel combination requires -a.

There are some foreign words where both endings can be used, e.g. analyysi; ‘analyysistä’ and ‘analyysista’ are both ok. But this is rare.


Months in Finnish (and how to write the date)

The months in Finnish are the following (English names in brackets):

  • tammikuu (January)
  • helmikuu (February)
  • maaliskuu (March)
  • huhtikuu (April)
  • toukokuu (May)
  • kesäkuu (June)
  • heinäkuu (July)
  • elokuu (August)
  • syyskuu (September)
  • lokakuu (October)
  • marraskuu (November)
  • joulukuu (December).

The date is normally expressed in the following ways:

  • 6.12.2015 = 6. joulukuuta 2015
  • 29.11.1962 = 29. marraskuuta 1962
  • 15.6.2016 = 15. kesäkuuta 2016

Please note that in the date expression where the month name is written out, there is a full stop after the number indicating the day,  and the ending ‘- ta’ must be added to the month name.

Shortening of the month names is done by dropping  the “kuu” part out of the word (kuu =month):  tammi, helmi, maalis etc.

In Finnish texts, dates are commonly written with numbers only:  3.1.2015. In more solemn texts, month names are used: 3. tammikuuta 2015.

In the Finnish templates, e.g. QRD template version 10.1 , SPC sections 9 and 10 (see below),  the expression ‘PP kuukausi VVVV’ is not correct – the date must be expressed PP. kuukautta VVVV. 


<Myyntiluvan myöntämisen päivämäärä: {PP kuukausi VVVV}>(My note: the spelling of the date is wrong)

<Viimeisimmän uudistamisen päivämäärä: {PP kuukausi VVVV}> (My note: the spelling of the date is wrong)




<{PP kuukausi VVVV}> (My note: the spelling of the date is wrong)


Month names can have other endings, too (e.g. in July = heinäkuussa),  so if you have to insert a month name in Finnish in the text but you don’t know Finnish, it is wise to ask a person who knows Finnish to check your insertion.


“Ohjeet antamisesta”, “ohjeet antamiseen or “antamisohjeet”?”

I often see the following type of translation in SPCs:

Comprehensive instructions for administration are given in the package leaflet, section 7, “Instructions for use”

Yksityiskohtaiset ohjeet XYZ-valmisteen antamisesta löytyvät pakkausselosteesta kohdasta 7, ”Käyttöohjeet”.

But one should translate “instructions for administration” using the structure “ohjeet antamiseen” or “antamisohjeet”. Think about “Instructions for making coffee”. In idiomatic Finnish. one doesn’t say “Ohjeet kahvin keittämisestä” but either “Kahvin keittämisohjeet” or “Ohjeet kahvin keittämiseen”. Do you agree?

This kind of a structure should be corrected in the templates, too, if present there.

Avoiding adessive (the -lla ending)

I have learnt that this kind of a structure:

“The most commonly reported advers reactions with Abcxyz are headache, pruritus and rash.”

is best translated by

“Yleisimmin raportoidut haittavaikutukset Abcxyz-valmistetta käytettäessä ovat päänsärky, kutina ja ihottuma.”  (literally translated: when Abcxyz is being used)

The same can be expressed … Abcxyz-valmisteen käytön yhteydessä… (…in connection with the use of Abcxyz...)

So one shouldn’t use the adessive case here:  Abczyz-valmisteella...   That is not good Finnish.

The medical writing handbook Lääketieteen kieliopas (published by Duodecim in 1994)  gives instructions on how to avoid the excessive use of adessive (pages 115 to 116).  According to it, one could also say e.g.

Abcxyc-valmistetta käyttävillä potilailla … (in patients who are using Abcxyz)

So, there are several alternatives to the -lla ending (adessive), which is not appropriate in these kind of expressions.

“Tradenamex kovat kapselit” or “kovat Tradenamex-kapselit”?

“Tradenamex kovat kapselit” (Tradenamex hard capsules) – is this good Finnish?  In my opinion it isn’t – nor is this name type:

“Tradenamex Medium 500 mg poretabletti”  (Tradenamex Medium 200 mg effervescent tablet). (“Tradenamex” and “Tradenamex Medium” present trade names here).

I think the correct forms would be as follows:

“Kovat Tradenamex-kapselit”  and

“500 mg:n Tradenamex Medium -poretabletti” / “Tradenamex Medium 500 mg -poretabletit”.

I would like to hear what Finnish language specialists think about this name problem.

Another thing that regularly annoys me is the following. Here are some Standard Terms:

Capsule, hard = Kapseli, kova
Capsule, soft = Kapseli, pehmeä
Chewable capsule, soft = Purukapseli, pehmeä
However, when you use this kind of a Standard Term in an entire phrase, I m puzzled what to do with the adjective, that cannot be left in the basic form in Finnish:
 Blisters contain 14, 21 or 56 capsules, hard.
-> Läpipainopakkaukset sisältävät 14, 21 tai 56 kapselia, kovaa (or kovia?).
My question is which form I should use here?  The simplest solution would be to write “… 56 kovaa kapselia”, but that is not an option here, as the Standard Term has to be kept as it is…?  Any advice is welcome.

Translating a proposed indication into Finnish: treament/prevention/diagnosis of

Translation of a “proposed indication” into Finnish:
Treatment/prevention/diagnosis of x = x:n hoito/ehkäisy/diagnosointi

In Finnish one cannot place “treatment/prevention/diagnosis” in front of the name of the disease, but it has to be placed after the name of the disease.

There is no separate word for “of” in Finnish. “Of” is translated by an ending (the form of which varies from word to word according to rather complicated grammar rules) attached to the end of another word /several words.

an example:
a/the car = auto
a/the president = presidentti
uusi = new
But : “the car of the new president” = uuden presidentin auto
You see how the word “presidentti” becomes changed in the end, as does the adjective “new”.

“Treatment of poorly controlled diabetes”
Poorly controlled diabetes = Epätasapainossa oleva diabetes
Treatment = hoito
Treatment of poorly controlled diabetes = Epätasapainossa olevan diabeteksen hoito