listen_20 helleaalto


Noun: heat wave.


Helleaalto is a compound word that  is made from helle (”hot weather above +25”) plus aalto (”wave”or ”outbreak”).

In our example, helleaalto is hyphenated because it is a compound word broken onto two lines.


Uusi means ”new.”

”Jopa yli +30 C!” means or ”as much as over 30 C!”

By the way, Aalto is also the last name of famous Finnish architect and designer, Alvar Aalto.



listen_20 ohukainen


Noun: pancake, crepe.


Ohukainen comes from ohut, an adjective meaning ”thin.”


In our example, pinaatti means ”spinach.”

Here are some more words related to ohut:

  • oheta – verb meaning ”to thin out” or ”to become thin.”
  • ohentua – intransitive verb meaning ”to thin out” or ”to become thin”
  • ohentaa – transitive verb meaning ”to thin out” or ”to dilute.”
  • ohuus -noun meaning ”thinness” or ”rarity” (as in air).


laatu (laadusta)


listen_20 laatu


Noun: sort, quality.

Laatu appears in our example in the elative singular, laadusta.

In the elative case, a word normally takes the basic meaning of ”out of” or ”from,” as in ”Olen Amerikasta kotoisin” (”I come from America.”) However, in our example, the laadusta in the elative takes on the meaning of ”about quality.”  In our phrase, which is a fragment of a sentence without a verb, a verb like sanoa is implied. With verbs like sanoa (”to say” or ”to tell”) or puhua (”to talk”) the person, place or thing that gets the indirect action (gets talked about) is in the elative case.

Here is a list of words that require the elative.


Let’s translate the entire bus stop advertisement, ”Pari sanaa laadusta: DNA ja iPhone,” or ”A couple of words about quality: DNA and iPhone.”

Pari is a noun that means ”couple,” ”pair” or ”few.” Here it translates into English as ”a couple of” or ”a couple” and modifies the following word, sanaa.

Sanaa means ”words.” It is the partitive singular of sana, meaning ”word.”  Remember that partitive singular is used when you are talking about ”some” or ”a few.”

DNA ja iPhone refers to the pairing of DNA (Finnish cell phone company) and the iPhone.

tuntematon sotilas

tuntematon sotilas

listen_20 tuntematon sotilas


Noun: unknown soldier.


Tuntematon is an adjective that means ”unknown.” It is constructed from tuntea, a verb meaning ”to feel,” ”to sense” or ”to know” + ma (front vowel harmony variant –mä), a deverbal suffix which is used to form result nouns from verbs + -ton (front vowel harmony variant -tön) a suffix indicating a lack of something. Tuntematon is also the negative 3rd participle of tuntea. (See tuntea fully conjugated here.)

Some other -maton words you may see include naimaton (”unmarried, single”), korjaamaton (”unfixed, in disrepair”), and loppumaton (”endless.”)

Sotilas means soldier. In chess, it can also mean a pawn.  As a modifier in compound terms it can also mean ”military.”


Tuntematon Sotilas is also the name of a famous Finnish novel by Väinö Linna, which was been made into a movie in both 1955 and 1985.

The film is about the Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union from the point of view of the soldiers. The 1955 version is incredibly well-known and is broadcast every Independence Day (December 6th) in Finland on YLE, national television.

olla luvassa


listen_20 olla luvassa


Idiomatic phrase:  to be in for, it is to be expected.


Luvassa is the inessive singular form of lupa which means ”permission” or a ”license” or ”permit.” There is also a related verb, luvata, which means ”to promise,” ”to vow” or ”to bode” which has a similar meaning to the idiomatic phrase olla luvassa as in ”it bodes” to be . . .

If you have a better explanation of the origin of this idiomatic phrase, please leave it in the comments.


As is common in newspaper headlines, a form of the verb olla is omitted, but it is implied. If the verb were there, the phrase would likely be ”Luvassa on lämmin syksy,” and it would be translated idiomatically as ”We’re in for a warm autumn.” ”Luvassa on” is often seen in the news when talking about things (especially weather) which are expected or coming up.

Uusi pitkän ajan ennuste” means ”A new long-term forecast.”

erämaa (erämaahan)


listen_20 erämaa


Noun: wilderness, quarantine, waste, wasteland.

Erämaa appears in our example in the illative singular, erämaahan.


Erämaa is a compound term that comes from erä (which usually means ”wilds” or ”hunting” when used here as a modifier in compound terms) plus maa (”earth”, ”land” or ”country”). In the illative, erämaahan might be translated into English using the preposition ”into,” however in our example the best translation is probably just ”in the wilderness.”

Erä as a noun by itself can mean  ”batch,” ”lot” or ”installment” or in sports can refer to the time-limited periods into which games or matches are subdivided.

Other words made with erä:

  • erämies (“hunter, hiker”)
  • eränkävijä (“hunter, hiker”)
  • eräopas (“wilderness guide”)
  • eräpäivä (”due date for bills,” ”expiration date”)
  • eräpallo (”game/set/match point” in tennis)


Let’s translate the whole headline, ”Erämaahan kaavaillaan mökkikylää,” or ”Cabin village is being envisaged in the wilderness.”

Kaavaillaan is the passive present of the verb kaavailla, which means ”to envisage” or ”to plan in the early stages.”  It means here ”is being envisaged.”

Mökkikylää is another compound word which comes from mökki, a summer home or summer cottage popular with Finns plus kylää the partitive form of kylä which means ”village.”

Read the whole story in Helsingin Sanomat here.

parrasvalo (parrasvaloista)


listen_20 parrasvalo


Noun: limelight, footlights (in plural, parrasvalot).

Parrasvalo appears in the elative plural, parrasvaloista, in our example from Metro (free Finnish newspaper that comes out on weekdays).


Parrasvalo is a compound word formed from parras (”brink,” ”verge” or ”edge”) and valo (”light”).  In this compound word, parras has a theatrical shade of meaning, referring to the edge of a stage, known as the ”apron.” Parrasvalo refers to a light that might be located at such a place, i.e. the ”footlight.”


Let’s translate the whole headline, ”Pois Parrasvaloista,” or ”Away from the limelight.” Even better in colloquial English might be ”Out of the limelight.”

Pois is here an adverb meaning ”off,” ”away” or ”out.”

Parrasvaloista in the elative plural means ”from the limelight”.

The rest of the picture caption, ”Kivimiehet katosivat päärautatieasemalta,” means ”The stone men disappeared from Central Station.” The story is about the stone figures which flank the main doors to the central railway station in Helsinki being taken away for cleaning and repair. It’s kind of a big deal because these stone men are one of the iconic images of Helsinki. They should be fully back in place by mid November.



listen_20 sukellusvene


Compound word (noun): submarine, sub.


Sukellusvene is a compound noun made from sukellus (“diving” or ”dive”) +‎ vene (“boat”).

The related verb to sukellus is sukeltaa, which means ”to dive.”


The most famous submarine in Finland is probably Sukellusvene Vesikko which is now a museum on Susisaari island at Suomenlinna sea fortress in Helsinki. Vesikko (the Finnish name for the ”European mink”) was launched in 1933 in Turku. It was given to the military museum in 1959, and opened to the public in Helsinki 1973 after restoration.