The Comparative in Finnish

The comparative is used to compare two characteristics to each other. When comparing three or more characteristics, the superlative is used. Unlike in English, the Finnish comparative, which is subject to k-p-t changes, can be used with adjectives, pronouns and nouns.

Formation of the comparative for nouns, pronouns and adjectives

The formation of the comparative is, in principle, easy as it entails adding -mpi to the inflecting stem (i.e., the genitive stem) of a noun, pronoun or adjective. As the final vowel may undergo changes, the formation of the comparative may look more difficult than it actually is. The crucial factor in forming the comparison, besides the final vowel in the inflecting stem is how many syllables the word has:

Words with two syllables

-A/-Ä as the final vowel

If the word to be used in the comparative has two syllables and ends in -a/-ä, the -a/-ä changes to -e in the comparative (e.g.  --> , --> )

Word in the nominative

Inflecting stem

Comparative form

vanha

vanha-

vanhempi

halpa

halva-

halvempi

kesä

kesä-

kesempi

harva

harva-

harvempi

This is also true for the adjectives that have irregular comparatives:

Word in the nominative

Inflecting stem

Comparative form

hyvä

parhaa-*

parempi

pitkä

pite-
pide-

pitempi
pidempi

*The inflecting stems that have -haa following a consonant (e.g., alhaa-, ylhää-, parhaa-, etc.) replace the -haa- with -e- when forming the comparative.

All other vowels as the final vowel

The final vowel doesn't change if the word ends in any other vowel than -a or -ä (e.g. terve --> tervee- --> terveempi).

Word in the nominative

Inflecting stem

Comparative form

kiltti

kilti-

kiltimpi

pöhkö

pöhkö-

pöhkömpi

hassu

hassu-

hassumpi

ontto

onto-

ontompi

Words with three or more syllables

If a word has more than two syllables, -mpi is added to the inflecting stem of the word and the word does not undergo any vowel changes:

Word in the nominative

Inflecting stem

Comparative form

väsynyt

väsynee-

väsyneempi

taitava

taitava-

taitavampi

höperö

höperö-

höperömpi

usea

usea-

useampi

murheellinen murheellise- murheellisempi

Parallel forms

Kiva

For some reason, the form kivampi is also considered acceptable, even though it flouts the rules above. The form kivempi, however, is by far the more common form.

Pitkä

The form pitempi is oftentimes the one taught in grammar books, even though the form pidempi is by far the more common form.

Formation of the comparative for adverbs

The comparative form for adverbs is, in principle, formed by using the adjectival comparative form and replacing the -mpi with -mmin. In other words, the adverbal comparative form is the same as the instructive form of the comparative for adjectives:

Word in the nominative

Comparative form
(adjective)

Comparative form
(adverb)

väsynyt

väsyneempi

väsyneemmin

nopea

nopeampi

nopeammin

höperö

höperömpi

höperömmin

hyvä

parempi

paremmin

alas alempi alemmin

Exceptions

There are, however, considered to be a number of exceptions, mainly related to words referring to location and amount. Note the change in case when forming the comparative:

Location

Word 

Comparative form
(adverb)

alas

alemmaksi

alhaalla

alempana

alhaalta

alempaa

Directions

Word 

Comparative form
(adverb)

etelään

etelämmäksi

etelässä

etelämpänä

etelästä

etelämpää

Amount

Basic word

Comparative form
(adverb)

vähän

vähemmän

paljon

enemmän

Related subjects


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