When you don’t understand why someone is doing what they’re doing, you can express your confusion or astonishment in English by saying “Why on earth?” Read on to find out how to say this in Finnish and how to tweak this sentence further. (NB! The end of the article contains Finnish swear words, both in the text and the audio.)

  1. Why on earth are you still awake?
  2. Why on earth don’t you use this app?

In Finnish, you can use the word ‘ihme‘(“a strange thing or a phenomemon” / “miracle”), instead of ‘earth’.

The first question to ask is: How do you say ihme in the inessive case (-ssa/-ssä)?

This is how:

ihme – ihmeessä (2 x e because ihme ends in an e and doubling of the vowel is usually what happens with words that end in e in the basic form… You can learn more about this in my online course on Finnish cases here!)

girl saying "Miksi ihmeessä minä en tajunnut tätä aikaisemmin?"
"Miksi ihmeessä minä en tajunnut tätä aikaisemmin?" = "Why on earth didn't I realize this before?"

Want to change the interrogative?

If you know other question words, you can tweak the expression. For example, in English, you can switch ‘why’ to where.


Where on earth were you?

Missä ihmeessä sinä olit?

You can also say:

How on earth did you do it?

Miten ihmeessä sinä teit sen?


Here’s another one:

What on earth are you talking about?

Mistä ihmeestä sinä puhut?

Eh? We now changed ihmeessä to ihmeestä? Yep, that’s because mistä is in the elative case and ihme needs to follow that case, so we need to use it in the elative, too.


Alternatives to ‘why’

Now, let’s go back to our original sentence involving “Why on earth?”. You may know that there are a couple of other ways to say “why?” in Finnish.

Those are

Even though they’re longer than Miksi? they are fairly common expressions and a great way to make your language more expressive.

And they can, naturally, also be used with ihme, which is when you can be even more expressive.


What we’ll need to do is change the case.

Minkä is the genitive of mikä. So let’s turn ihme into the genitive case, too:

Feeling emotional? Use a swear word of your choice instead of ihme!