Finnish people are proud, good-humored, and humble people. They take pride in their families and jobs, and many Finns prefer to spend their time out in nature rather than with people. Finland has a population of only 5.5 million people, which means that most of Finland is just miles and miles of forests and lakes.
Finns do not expect foreigners to be able to speak their language since it’s one of the most difficult languages in the world. However, they do greatly appreciate people trying to speak the language, even if their grammar or pronunciation isn’t perfect.
If you’re going to Finland and want to make a friendly impression (and perhaps even make a Finnish friend), check out the list of basic Finnish words below to learn how to say thank you in Finnish!
How to say “thank you” in Finnish
1. “Thank you” in Finnish – “kiitos“
Kiitos is Finnish for thank you. In the Finnish language, “kiitos” is like ketchup–it goes with anything.
In Finland, people do not generally distinguish between formal and informal situations. Most of the time, people use informal words when they meet someone, talk to family, friends, and even strangers. A Finnish thank you will get you far since it’s applicable in every situation.
2. “Thank you so much” in Finnish – “kiitos paljon“
Another way to say thank you in Finnish is by saying kiitos paljon. Since “kiitos” is Finnish for thanks, and the word “paljon” is Finnish for “much”, you can just combine those words to form the phrase “thank you so much.” The phrase “kiitos paljon” is the perfect word to use when you want to express a little more gratitude.
3. “Many thanks” in Finnish – “paljon kiitoksia“
Do you see the resemblance of paljon kiitoksia to the phrase above? In order to say many thanks in Finnish, all you have to do is reverse the words “kiitos” and “paljon” and conjugate the word into another form, but that’s a little too complicated to explain here. There’s a reason why Finnish is one of the most difficult languages in the world…
4. How to say “thank you” as a real Finnish person
Many Finns substitute the ubiquitous word “kiitos” for kiitti, which means the exact same thing. “Kiitti” is a colloquial word and is used all over the country.
Although, beware! “Kiitti” should only be used with people you feel comfortable with, such as friends, family, or colleagues. If you say “kiitti” to someone you’ve never met before, it might rub them the wrong way.
5. “My thanks to you” in Finnish – “kiitos sinulle“
It’s very important to say thank you in Finnish. If you receive a gift, a free drink at a bar, or if someone helps you change a tire, this phrase can come in handy. Kiitos sinulle means “thanks to you”, and is commonly used by Finnish people. It’s a quirky and more personal way to thank someone, and it’s greatly appreciated.
However, it is important to note that this phrase is only applicable in situations where you want to thank one person. If you’d like to say thank you to two or more people, you must use the phrase kiitos teille, which refers to multiple people.
6. “That’s very kind of you” in Finnish – “se on erittäin ystävällistä sinulta“
Another way to say thank you in Finnish is to say “se on erittäin ystävällistä sinulta.” It means “that’s very kind of you” and can be used in similar situations as “kiitos sinulle”.
However, if you think it’s too difficult to say se on erittäin ystävällistä sinulta (ystävällistä is pronounced “IIST-ayh-well-ii-stah”), “kiitos sinulle” will do just fine.
7. “Thank you for the coffee” in Finnish – “kiitos kahvista“
Did you know that Finnish people drink the most coffee in the world per capita? Finland even surpasses coffee-loving Sweden–the land of the Fika. According to statistics, Finnish people drink 12 kg (26.5 pounds) of coffee per person every year! When you visit Finland, it is a must to visit one of the many quirky and modern Finnish cafés. Not only do Finnish cafés serve great coffee, but they offer a number of delicacies, ranging from freshly baked cinnamon buns to cakes or pies topped with freshly picked berries.
When you visit a café, Finnish friends, or get served a cup of coffee in a meeting, you should say kiitos kahvista, which is Finnish for “thank you for the coffee.” Finns take their coffee-drinking very seriously, and greatly appreciate other people showing gratitude for their coffee.
8. “Thank you for the food” in Finnish – “kiitos ruoasta“
While it’s important to say thank you for coffee, it’s also important to say thank you for the food. Finns prefer carb-heavy food, especially in winter. If you visit Finland in winter, which lasts from November to March, you’ll likely notice that Finns, and even restaurants, serve carb-heavy foods and recipes like mashed potatoes and meatballs, or large salmon drenched in a creamy, fatty sauce.
To say “thank you for the food” in Finnish, you just say kiitos ruoasta.
9. “Thank you for the birthday wishes” in Finnish – a true tongue-twister
Does your birthday coincide with your visit to Finland? That’s too bad for you. It’s rather difficult for a foreigner to thank someone for the birthday wishes in Finnish.
Don’t believe me? Just look at this: kiitos syntymäpäiväonnitteluista (pronounced “SIN-tih-may-pay-veh”). If you’re afraid that you’ll choke on the birthday wishes halfway through, you might be better off by saying kiitos paljon.
If you don’t know how a birthday wish sounds like, I’ve got a whole article on how to say “happy birthday” in Finnish!
How to say “you’re welcome” in Finnish
10. “You’re welcome” in Finnish – “ole hyvä“
Ole hyvä is Finnish for you’re welcome, and you can hear it all the time in Finland. It’s used just the same way as it is in English. Even though Finnish people are rather socially awkward, they still appreciate politeness.
11. “No problem” in Finnish – “eipä kestä” or “ei se mitään“
There is no phrase in the Finnish language that’s equivalent to “no problem.” There are, however, other very similar words that you can use to be polite.
The usage of eipä kestä or ei se mitään depends on the context. If someone thanks you for something you did, then the phrase “eipä kestä” should be used. But if someone says they’re sorry, or if they’re apologizing for something, then you should say “ei se mitään”, which means “it doesn’t matter” or “no worries”. If someone accidentally bumps into you on the street, and consequently apologizes to you, then you should say “ei se mitään”, to let them know that you didn’t take offense.
12. “No worries” or “it’s cool” in Finnish – “ei hätää“
This is a rather peculiar and funny expression that is only suitable for certain situations. If someone spills coffee on you and gets nervous and embarrassed, then it’s apposite to say ei hätää.
Why? Because “hätää” means urgency or agony, and in this situation, the person who spilled coffee on you feels both urgency and agony. You say “ei hätää” to let him or her know that it’s no urgency, it’s cool, and that he or she doesn’t have to worry.
A little lesson on the word “please”
If you ever find yourself waiting in line at a Finnish café, or in line at the Ateneum, you might wonder what the Finnish word for please is. In Finnish, just like in Swedish, there is no word for “please”. That doesn’t mean, however, that Finns are impolite or rude–quite the opposite. Finnish people are kind and will go out of their ways to make you happy and comfortable. Instead, Finnish people use other words and phrases to express their gratitude or complaisance. In Finnish culture, it’s extremely important to say “thank you” (“kiitos”).
Finnish people also expect people to make eye contact, despite their social inhibition. In Finland, eye contact (and perhaps a little smile) is regarded as a sign of politeness and is greatly appreciated. If you’d like to be extra polite, you could start a question by saying voisitko, which means “would you (please)”. However, that the closest to the word “please” as you come in the Finnish language. Any foreigner who wants to be polite, and who feels insecure about their ability to speak the Finnish language, could simply just say “kiitos paljon” (thank you very much), and smile while making eye contact–that will get you far.
Hopefully, you have now learned how to say thank you in Finnish! Finnish is an extremely complex and difficult language to learn, but the good thing is that Finns are aware of this. They don’t expect foreigners to be able to speak Finnish (not even a little bit), but they sure do appreciate the effort.
P.S.: Most Finnish people speak English very well, so even if you don’t know a word of Finnish, you can still have a friendly conversation with any Finn you meet.