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16 Essential Finnish Words & Phrases to Master Before You Visit Finland

Written by Going Places

While it’s praised as one of the most phonetic languages in the world, Finnish can also be one of the most difficult. The grammar is quite different from English and while don’t even get us started on trying to master those 60 plus letter words that’ll leave you tongue-tied. So if you’re planning on visiting Finland, it might be a good idea to start practicing these 16 essential words and phrases long before you land or your European vacation in Finland!


When you bump into someone you know or are greeted by a friend, they might say “Hei.” Pronounced just like the English phrase “hey,” this word is used as an informal greeting.


If you’re leaving a gathering, you might hear what sounds like someone telling you that they’re not coming. That’s because the Finnish word for “goodbye” is pronounced “nah kah meen”.

Hyvää huomenta

You will probably hear the phrase “whovah who amenda” a lot as you start your day. Don’t worry if you don’t know someone named Amanda…they are just wishing you a good morning!

Hyvää yötä

If you hear the phrase “who va oo-ata,” you’ll know that it’s late and should be thinking about coming back to the hotel, because the speaker has just wished you to have a good night.

Nähdään myöhemmin

You can let someone know that you’ll be back by simply telling them, “Nah hah dahn moo ah hameen”…which seems like a lot of syllables for a short phrase like “see you later”!

Hyvää päivänjatkoa

This is a phrase you might hear when you leave a shop or restaurant. That’s because someone saying “who va pa ee vahn yacht koa” is wishing you to have a nice day.


If you ask someone if they are able to help you, they may reply with a smile and the phrase “cool la.” Make sure to thank them, because they just said “yes.”


When you hear someone say “a,” you don’t have to respond with the rest of the English alphabet. This long-vowel sound is simply how people in Finland say “no.”


Among polite company, you can expect to hear the phrase “key toes” to come up in conversation fairly often. That’s because this word is how you say “thank you” in Finnish.

Hyvää ruokahalua

“Who va roo oak aha loo wa” is a friendly phrase that you likely only hear right before you begin to eat, because it means “bon appétit” or “enjoy your meal.”

En ymmärrä

This is an important phrase for anyone dealing with a language barrier. “En oo marra” (with trilled “r’s”) means “I don’t understand,” and can help people adjust the way they talk to make conversation easier.

Missä on…?

Whether you’re looking for your hotel or trying to find something in a store, use the phrase “me sah on” (meaning “where is”) along with the name of the item to ask for help finding it.

You may also like: European Feast! How to Say “Bon Appétit” in 10 Languages

Olen hukassa

When you aren’t quite sure how to get where you’re going and want to say “I am lost,” say “Oh len who kah sah” so you will be understood and can get help.


This phrase will come in handy whenever you want to ride on public transportation, go to the movies, visit an art museum, or keep booking cheap flights for your European adventure. “Leap-oo,” is the Finnish word for “ticket.”

Ei kestä

“A kess tah” is a versatile phrase that has many translations, but it’s always appropriate to use it after being thanked. That’s because it can mean “you’re welcome,” “my pleasure,” or “don’t mention it.”


If someone tells you “on taxi,” they aren’t asking you to hail a cab! They’re simply saying “I’m sorry,” “excuse me,” or “pardon me” in Finnish.

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Going Places

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