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!
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”).
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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.