Vowel harmony in finnish

Vowel harmony in Finnish language

Vowel harmony is a common technique in many languages. We will need it when adding endings or suffixes. This rule requires that vowels within a word belong to the same group.

Finnish vowels

Finnish vowels fall into two categories: back vowels (a, o, u) and front vowels (ä, ö, y) depending on where they are articulated in the mouth. Vowels from these two groups cannot be mixed within the same word.

Recognizing these vowels is easy, just remember that front vowels have the so-called umlaut, so the dots on top of them.

In a nutshell Vowel harmony means, that these vowel types cannot be in the same word.

Front and back vowels cannot be in the same word.

As mentioned in other pages, Finnish makes use of suffixes to express grammatical relations. Many suffixes have both back vowel and front vowel variants. The choice between the two is governed by vowel harmony.

Essentially, the vowels in the word stem determine the type of vowel in the suffix. The vowels in the suffix must be either of the same group as those in the stem or belong to the neutral set. This may sound complicated, but it is really quite simple. All you need to remember is that if the stem contains a back vowel, pick the back vowel variant of the suffix. Otherwise choose the front vowel variant. This will become much clearer as you progress through your language learning process.

Examples of Vowel harmony in finnish

  • Minä puhun ruotsia, mutta Hän puhuu venäjää (using partitive here)
  • Minä asun Savonlinnassa mutta hän asuu Helsingissä.
  • Tuletko Suomeen tänään vai lähdet Ruotsiin huomenna?

How to learn vowel harmony in finnish?

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