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Consonant gradation

Consonant gradation is an important grammatical rule that affects much of the Finnish language. These changes are usually identified by a specific cluster of consonants, often revolving around the letters of K, P and T, and can affect almost all words.

In the Finnish language words can change depending on the way that word is being used. This typically occurs when indicating where someone or something is. This can be frustrating as sometimes the word can change quite drastically, which gives rise to idea that Finnish is considered to be such a difficult language to learn.

Identifying the words can sometimes be tricky, but a good rule of thumb is to look for the last syllable of a word, and if the consonants match a pattern in the chart below then the word will change.

Note: Consonant gradation typically does not take effect if the syllable clusters include -sk, -sp, -st or -tk. For example:

  • TaskuTaskun
  • PiispaPiispan
  • MastoMaston
  • MatkaMatkan
StrongWeakExampleResult
KK
K
Afrikka
Afrikasta
PP
P
Pappi
Papin
TT
T
Konsertti
Konsertin
K
_
Turku
Turussa
P
V
Kylpy
Kylvssä
T
D
Katu
Kadulla
NK
NG
Helsinki
Helsingissä
NT
NN
Irlanti
Irlannin
MP
MM
Kampa
Kammalla
LT
LL
Ilta
Illalla
RT
RR
Parta
Parran
HT
HD
Tähti
Tähden
LKI
LJE
Jälki
Jäljet
RKI
RJE
Järki
Järjet
LJE
LKE
Hylje
Hylkeen
HJE
HKE
Lahje
Lahkeen

More information about consonant gradation can be found from this Finnish consonant gradation(Opens in new window) article on Wikipedia.