A compact guide to the accusative

Emmi maalaa   oven  . The Finnish accusative is often used when the action is considered a completed action.

Do you constantly get your accusative endings corrected by Finnish speakers? Are you confused about how to choose between the n-accusative and the accusative without ending? I’ll explain this with the help of the verb maalata (to paint).

In this post, I will presume you know when to choose the accusative over the partitive. If you don’t, please leave a comment below and I’ll put together another blog post on that. Please note also that what I will teach here does not apply to personal pronouns (they have a world of their own, I'm afraid…).

The above photo shows me painting a door at the summer cottage.

Minä maalasin oven. — I painted the door.


The action (the painting of the door) is completed because I’m using the n-akkusatiivi (oveN) – so you can happily forget about the partitive (although all of the examples below could also take the partitive, but then it would mean that the door might not be painted completely).

However, the accusative can appear in another form, too. It can look like the nominative. Here are some examples on how to use it:

1.      Maalaa ovi!Paint the door! (a command)


2.      Ovi maalataan.The door will be painted. (the passive)


3.      Minun täytyy maalata ovi.I have to paint the door. (“minun täytyy” construction, necessity)


4.      Minulla on aikaa maalata ovi. I have time to paint the door. (”I have time to..”)


5.      Oli kivaa maalata ovi.It was nice to paint the door. (“olla kivaa/hauskaa” tehdä jotakin)


Note that with minä haluan you have to use the n-accusative (or the partitive if you don’t necessarily intend to paint the whole door):
Minä haluan maalata oven.