German and Finnish: Key Features of Translation

Although German and Finnish share many similar features, the difficulties in translation tend to come from the differences. This is why we have decided to highlight three of the key features to keep in mind when translating between German and Finnish.

  • Cases

A common way to indicate the role of a noun in a sentence is via the use of different cases, German tends to use the nominative, accusative, dative and genitive cases. The situation in Finnish is somewhat more complicated as there are fifteen different cases. Obviously, they do not all have a direct equivalent in German – notably the partitive as there are much fewer cases, so sentences with these cases cannot be directly translated, and may need to be rearranged in some way.

  • Tenses

The formation and use of tenses in Finnish and German are broadly similar but the biggest difference concerns the future tense. In German, the future tense is formed either by changing the ending of the verb or by using werden and the infinitive. However, there is no future tense in Finnish, the present tense is used instead to express this, which can present potential difficulties when translating a text from Finnish to German.

  • Plurals

The formation of plural nouns differs between these two languages. Both tend to change the ending of a noun to indicate that the plural is being used. In German -e, -n, and -en are the most common endings to be added to nouns in the plural and in Finnish -t is the ending seen most frequently on plural nouns. Therefore, if you are translating a text from Finnish to German and a noun ends in t, it is worth reading the rest of the sentence carefully to check the context and whether it could be in plural, otherwise the meaning of the sentence is likely to be distorted in translation.

Now that you know more about the key features of translation between German and Norwegian, why not have a glance at our other articles on the difficulties of translating between other pairs of languages.


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