Think in Finnish


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