Grammatical case of direct object

Discussion in 'Suomi (Finnish)' started by rhitagawr, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    British English
    I’ve only just started learning Finnish, so don’t expect too much. In Teach Yourself Finnish chapter 5, section Matkatoimistossa Helsingissä, a tourist who wants to go to Russia asks Mistä minä saan viisumin? The travel agent says …teillä ei varmaan ole aikaa hankkia viisumia and …on paras hankkia viisumi etukäteen.
    Viisumi is the direct object. I’d expect it to be in the genitive. Why is it in three cases? Thanks in advance for any replies.
  2. altazure Junior Member

    In Finnish, a direct object can be either in the genitive or in the partitive.
    The genitive object ("Mistä minä saan viisumin?") is used when the action is considered "complete" or "finished" for good, or it affects the whole object instead of just a part of it.
    The partitive object is used when the action is not complete or is ongoing, or when it affects only a part of the object. Negative sentences always use the partitive object as they are, by definition, not complete ("ei ole aikaa hankkia viisumia").

    With the infinitive form of a verb, a genitive object is changed into nominative ("on paras hankkia viisumi").

    I'm sure that someone can give a better, more linguistic explanation, but I hope that this is helpful.
  3. DrWatson

    DrWatson Senior Member

    Finland (North)
    The Finnish direct object is indeed an intricate matter, and, in my experience, one of the most difficult things to grasp for a foreigner learning the language. A nice brief explanation on the variation of the case of the object in Finnish can be found here.
  4. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    British English
    Thank you, altazure and DrWatson. So Lue kirjan! means Read the whole book! and Lue kirja! means something like Read the book although not necessarily all of it!? The website gives Lue kirjan! as an example but explains Lue kirja! But I see it also says Tuo kirja!,which can only refer to the whole book.
    Hats off to the Finns for remembering all of this.
  5. Grumpy Old Man Senior Member

    I hope you don't mind my butting in. Lue kirjan! is ungrammatical.
  6. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    Unfortunately there's a mistake on the website. Lue kirjan! (imperative) is absolutely wrong. Lue kirja! means Read the book (entirely)! and Lue kirjaa! means Read the book although not necessarily all of it!
  7. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    British English
    Kiitoksia paljon, everyone. I think it's clearer now.

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