Finland — The most peaceful country out there?

Brief Guide to Finnish vol. 1 — Basics

Juho Vepsäläinen
React Finland
Published in
3 min readJan 20, 2018


They say Finnish is one of the most difficult languages in the world. It’s obviously the easiest one for me since I was grown into it but I sort of see the point. It’s like the Perl of spoken languages given it’s amazingly flexible and powerful while being mostly logical at the same time.

Using Finnish puts you into a different mindset. Whereas English is mostly about doing things, Finnish is more contextual and we prefer a different kind of expression. It is difficult to explain without teaching you the language first so I’ll try to give you a brief guide to Finnish so you can get along better while visiting React Finland.

Note that when you try to speak Finnish with a Finn and they realise you aren’t a native, they’ll switch to English as soon as possible. This makes it difficult to learn the language properly. The best result you can expect is an awkward smile as they try to be polite with you.

Since the grammar is the size of Godzilla and it would take a long post to explain it and this is supposed to be a short one, I will cover some common expressions.

Greetings and Customs

  • To greet a Finn, you can say “terve” or “hei”. If you want to be casual with them, “moro” will work. “Tere” is understood as well and you can try “moi” as well.
  • To tell a Finn goodbye while wanting to see them again, you can say “näkemiin”. To tell them that you don’t want to see them again, you can use “hyvästi” although it still leaves a slight possibility open.
  • To thank for something, you can say “kiitos”. Most Finns don’t notice if you skip thanking, though, so this is an optional step. A simple nod is often enough to acknowledge reception of a message.


  • To say “bon apetit” in Finnish, you can use a simple phrase. Try “hyvää ruokahalua”. Simple as that.
  • To order a beer, you can “kalja”. Or if you want to be particularly polite, “kalja, kiitos”. If you want to specify the amount, you can say “yksi kalja, kiitos” (one beer, please) and if you just want to drink without specifying how much, you can use “kaljaa” which should get more or less the same result.
  • To order a non-alcoholic beer, you should use “alkoholiton” before saying “kalja” (you get “alkoholiton kalja”). Our beer comes with alcohol by default.
  • If beer is too much, you can also order water by saying “vettä”. A lemonade would be “limsaa” but it’s likely better to specify the brand you prefer as otherwise they’ll ask you something in Finnish you won’t understand. You might also get a confused look.
  • To order something to eat, you could say “ruokaa” but you get the same problem. If you prefer meat, you can use “liharuokaa” and if you prefer vegetarian, you can use “kasvisruokaa”. I cannot guarantee it’s vegan, though, and you may have to state separately that you are a vegan by saying “olen vegaani”.


  • To say that you are a programmer, you could say “olen ohjelmoija”.
  • To say that you are a web programmer, you could adapt as “olen web-ohjelmoija” and if you prefer React, maybe “olen React-ohjelmoija” or “olen web-ohjelmoija ja koodaan Reactia” (I am a web programmer and I code React).
  • To say that you can program React, you can say “osaan koodata Reactia”.
  • If you prefer whitespace over tabs, you can say “käytän välilyöntejä, en tabeja”. You can figure out yourself how to reverse the argument (pro tip: swap certain words).
  • To refer to the source code, you can say “lähdekoodi”, “koodi”, or “sorsa”. Sorsa is slang and means a mallard as well.


The nice thing is that you don’t have to learn Finnish in order to participate in React Finland! We will speak English with our beautiful Finnish accent (also known as tankero or rally English) with you.

If you want to know more about the language, continue to part two.