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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
Strong Weak Example Result
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.