I've been wanting to write a proper blog post about kpt-changes for ages, and I have a question in my inbox that is the perfect excuse!
First though, a word about kpt-changes in general.
In Finnish, words tend to morph in different ways depending on the meaning you want to convey. For example, cake in Finnish is kakku. Now, say your friends have suprised you with a cake on your birthday. In English, we just stick stuff in front, to get with a cake.
In Finnish, however, we stick stuff at the end of the word:
with a cake
= kakku + lla
(= cake + with)
Pretty simple so far. But, with the addition of -lla, the word itself also changes. One k goes away, and we get kakulla, with just the one k.
This is what I'm talking about when I'm talking about kpt-changes. These are a pretty weird and intricate part of Finnish grammar, and they're one of the reasons why we have memes like this:
The good part about Finnish is that compared to the so called soft little kitty languages like Swedish, there's often a method behind the madness, and that's true for kpt-changes also. Languages like Swedish can require much more learning by heart. Also, I've seen that same meme with English grammar pictured as that soft little kitten. I'm pretty convinced that the person who made that choice has never really had to study English grammar, which is actually ridiculously complicated once you get past beginner level. The thing is, with English, people are much more confident of speaking less than perfectly, so it can feel like it's just easy soft kitty going all the time.
Kpt-changes usually come up pretty quickly when you're just starting out with Finnish, and so they can seem like a basic thing that needs to be mastered properly right away.
With the help of Latrice Royale:
This is not true! KPT-changes are an inevitable part of Finnish, but they do not need to be mastered perfectly, not by a long shot.
I'm a native Finnish speaker, I have 12 years of studying and researching Finnish grammar under my belt, plus 11 years of teaching Finnish as a second language, and I still make the occasional kpt-mistake! I promise you, there is not a single Finnish speaker, native or non-native, who hasn't blundered their kpt-changes when they've come accross a word that they don't know. So it's a completely unrealistic expectation that you should have all of it down right away.
A lot of the time, what you're trying to say can easily be understood even if you make a mistake. However, sometimes kpt-changes do matter quite a lot. For example, a carpet, matto, can accidentally become a worm, mato. Which one you mean is usually pretty obvious from the context, but I don't think it would be fair if teachers just pretended that kpt-changes don't exist. So we usually bring them on right away so you know what you're in for.
Personally, I'm a big grammar nerd and all for understanding the logic behind what can seem like a muddle of random rules, so there's kpt-explanation post coming up very soon! I'll also finally be answering a reader question, thank you so much for them and thank you so much for your patience!
In the comment section of my YKI tips, reader Harry pointed out that my number one textbook recommendation for YKI prep (Hyvin menee 2) doesn't include answers to the exercises, which makes it a bit tricky for self study. Thank you so much Harry, I hadn't thought of this pretty crucial aspect of self study!
The answers and lots of extra material for Hyvin menee 2 are available in a separate teacher's guide (Opettajan opas). Also, the audio has to be obtained separately as well, and listening comprehension is a pretty important part of YKI prep, so you need to get your hands on that as well. If you're in Finland, all of this is available for free via your local library, but if you want to buy it new, it'll cost something in the neighborhood of 150-200 euros altogether.
Another, much cheaper textbook option is Suomea paremmin by Susanna Hart, which includes the answers to the exercises and the audio for about 40 euros. I don't think that Suomea paremmin is nearly as good as Hyvin menee 2 for YKI prep (for one, the audio includes Finnish actors pretending to be learning Finnish as a second language, which... cringe!), but it has many advantages for self study. It's much more concise so it can be a lot clearer and less overwhelming to study with, but that can be a mixed blessing - a less overwhelming textbook may mean a much more overwhelming test experience, so it's super important that you supplement it with more demanding online materials.
I'm currently 7 months pregnant, finishing a textbook of my own, teaching my regular students and classes, running my small business and napping at least two hours a day, so it's been slow going when it comes to blogging (not to even mention my PhD thesis!). I haven't forgotten about the blog though and will get back to your excellent questions as soon as possible!
First snow! Sometimes, winter arrives in October. Hei hei syksy, tervetuloa talvi!
Picture by Raili Ahonen
Ask a Finnish Teacher / Toiminimi Mari Nikonen
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