Think in Finnish

Syllables

Understanding the syllabic boundaries in Finnish allows you to use correct syllable stress and vowel harmony, and makes it easier to learn the concept of consonant gradation.

A syllable can either be open (when it ends in a vowel) or closed (when it ends in a consonant).

Syllable rules

V stands for vokaali (vowel) and K stands for konsonantti (consonant):

Rules Examples
V-V 1 no-pe-a, rus-ke-a, pi-me-ä
V-KV o-mena, i-lo-ja
VV-KV ai-ta, äi-ti, päi-, Puo-la
VK-KV öl-jy, il-ta, ik-ku-na
VKK-KV Rans-ka, Tans-ka, pork-ka-na

Syllable stress

In Finnish, the primary stress is always on the first syllable:

In a compound word, a secondary stress falls on the second word’s first syllable. For example, isoäiti (grandmother) is stressed as /‘isoˌæiti/2.


  1. The V-V rule only applies to monophthongs; if two vowels make up a diphthong, this rule does not apply. [return]
  2. Note that the computer-generated pronounciation has a small glitch between ä and i. [return]
Last updated on 20 Apr 2019

© 2019 Ursula Kallio