Is Finnish difficult or just different?

Finnish is often regarded as one of the most difficult languages to learn. With its verb conjugation, case system, consonant gradation, and clitics it might feel quite difficult sure. However, the difficulty of the language depends a lot on your point of view.

Instead of difficult, Finnish could be better described as a different language.

Finnish, belonging to the Uralic language family, differs from many languages including widely spoken English, one of the many Indo-European languages. So, Finnish may seem difficult for English speakers. For Estonians on the other hand, the Finnish language may feel familiar and easier compared to other languages, as both Estonian and Finnish belong to the same language family.

Even though the language family of one’s mother tongue affects the experience of the Finnish language, it is probably not the only thing that matters when beginning to study Finnish. The importance of attitude is quite notable: to understand and to accept that languages work differently. For example, in the Finnish language, there are not so many prepositions. Instead, there are fifteen noun cases that are used to express the same things that the English speaking use prepositions for. Fifteen noun cases may sound a lot for the English speaking but so do 150 prepositions for the Finnish speaking. Either way, a difference between these languages does not make the other language a difficult one.

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Learning a new language is challenging, yet rewarding. The difficulty depends on the subjective point of view: there is always something you find hard to understand, but also something you consider easy. When it comes to the Finnish language, many struggle with all the inflected word forms but come to learn that the word stress is quite simple and the pronunciation natural.

Therefore, the absolute difficulty of the Finnish language is a myth. Learning to speak Finnish is just different.

Greetings are a good place to start, they might even seem quite familiar!
Also, we provide tips for studying Finnish comprehensively.

If you are a medical professional interested in working in Finland, the importance of proper terminology and clear, calm communication cannot be understated. Suomea Sairaalaympäristössä – Healthcare Finnish proficiency language courses are available to provide a flexible online alternative to classroom learning that guides you along a learning path from novice to natural in a year. We also have a free demo that presents important information about the qualification process, Finland, and Finnish healthcare and helps you get acquainted with the learning platform. To understand the important differences in our courses, please read more about them here.

Writer of the blog post:

Riikka Valkjärvi
Finnish language specialist