You may have heard about the Finnish participles. They are extremely useful because

  • they are very common both in spoken and in written Finnish

  • learning them will help you read more in Finnish and understand Finnish more in-depth.

I talk about the participles more inside my membership program for Finnish learners, the Finking Cap Club, where you can watch videos and complete exercises on the participles. But here’s how this first one out of the 5 possible Finnish participles looks like.

The -va participle /

the active first participle /

the active present participle

The active first participle is sometimes called the “-va participle” because it ends in -va or -vä. Some teachers may call it the active first participle or the active present participle.

naurava siili = siili, joka nauraa


a laughing hedgehog = a hedgehog that is laughing


So –va is like the English –ing after a verb?

You probably notice that in naurava siili, the letters va do pretty much the same job as the English ing in laughing hedgehog. That’s how it can often be translated, yes (but not always). This will be the basis for learning more about the participles.

What’s really important is that the Finnish active first participle is that in addition to –va, you can also have case endings after it:

Näin eilen nauravan siilin. = I saw a laughing hedgehog yesterday.

Here you see the -n, which is a Finnish case ending. Depending on your teacher or textbook, it’s called the genitive, the n-accusative or the accusative. I won’t go into why we’re using that case now (although it’s a pretty fascinating topic, too!).

Note that both naurava and siili take the –n, which will show you that the participle naurava is a bit like an adjective – it follows the case of the head noun.

Another example:

En ole ikinä nähnyt nauravaa siiliä. = I’ve never seen a laughing hedgehog.

Here, you have the partitive ending after siili, and that’s why we also have to have naurava in the partitive, i.e. nauravaa.

I hope this was useful. I bet you’ll soon start noticing the Finnish active first participle everywhere!

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