Ten Basic Phrases In Finnish For Expats Moving To Finland

Finland, the fifth largest country in Europe, is a place of spectacular beauty. Almost 68 percent of its area is covered in forests and there are nearly 187,000 lakes located across the country. Apart from the incredible natural beauty, there are other reasons why many expats choose to move to Finland. The Finnish government places a great deal of emphasis on family well-being. There are maternity packages and grants available for expectant mothers and adoptive parents that are covered by the social security scheme. Women can take advantage of the ample maternity leave and maternity allowance that is even available for self-employed and unemployed individuals. There’s also paternity leave and a paternity allowance for men and following the birth of a child, mothers and fathers can take parental leave and receive parental allowance. Finland also performs well on other measures of well-being such as high living standards, good education, employment and overall life satisfaction.Expats in a new country often face the challenge of effectively communicating with locals. Having a basic knowledge of the local language can help with this. One thing expats should also keep in mind is that Finnish people are known to have a self-reflective temperament and don’t usually like engaging in small talk. This means that you may have to encounter long periods of silences even amidst a group of people. This should be not be perceived as disinterest or aloofness since Finnish people tend to speak only when they have something significant to say; indeed this can be rather refreshing!

Finnish, which is the language commonly spoken in Finland, can be challenging to master since the spoken form of the language seems completely different from the Finnish that is taught. So, even after getting some lessons in Finnish you may find great difficulty in understanding and communicating with people in the real world. But don’t be too disappointed with yourself, since Finnish is considered to be among the most difficult languages in the world to learn. The words can seem never-ending and each single letter that makes up a word needs to be pronounced. To improve efficiency, many people in Finland have given up the formal Finnish language completely while speaking. To simplify things a bit more for new expats, here is a list of ten basic Finnish phrases you will most likely require as you settle into life in Finland.

1. Puhutko englantia? (Do you speak English?)
This is perhaps the most useful phrase for people new to the country.

2. Puhun vain vähän suomea (I only speak very little Finnish)
Another useful phrase that can also break the ice at the beginning of meetings. English is widely spoken in Finland especially in the urban areas so you are likely to meet many locals who will be quite comfortable conversing with you in English while you catch up on your Finnish.

3. Voisitko puhua hitaammin? (Could you speak more slowly, please?)
Use this when asking for directions or shopping at the local markets.

4. Voisitko kirjoittaa sen ylös? (Could you write it down, please?)
A helpful phrase for those who are more comfortable with the written language.

5. En ymmärrä (I don’t understand)
Finnish people are open to expats and will not mind explaining a concept if necessary.

6. Ole hyvä (You’re welcome)
This can also be translated as ‘here you are’ or in formal speech as ‘please’.

7. Anteeksi (sorry, pardon, excuse me)
Some sentences which use the expression anteeksi are; anteeksi, että olen myöhässä (I’m sorry that I’m late), anteeksi, kun en soittanut (I’m sorry that I didn’t call) and anna anteeksi (Forgive me).

8. Terveydeksi (to your health)
You can say this when making a toast. Some other ways to do this include the more informal Kippis! (Cheers!) and Pohjanmaan kautta! (Bottoms up!).

9. Hyvää syntymäpäivää (Birthday greetings)
Translated as ‘Happy Birthday’, this one will no doubt come in use at some point or during your stay in Finland. Offering your greetings in the native language adds that special touch and will instantly win you warmth and friendliness from your hosts. Other common greetings for different occasions include Hyvää joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta (Christmas and new year greetings) and Hyvää Pääsiäistä or Iloista pääsiäistä (Easter greetings).

10. Kiitos (Thank you)
You can also say Kiitoksia oikein paljon (thank you very much!)

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