1   Vowel Phonems

There are 8 vowel phonemes in Finnish: [a], [e], [i], [o], [u], [y], [æ], and [ø]. Back vowels are a [a], o [o], and u [u], middle vowels are e [e] and i [i], and front vowels are ä [æ], ö [ø], and y [y]. The guideline for pronunciation follows the system of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).

Back vowels Middle vowels Front vowels
a e ä
o i ö
u   y

2   Duration

The vowels have two durations: short and long. A short vowel is written with one letter and a long one with two letters.

3   Pronunciation

The pronunciation of the vowels is shown in the following table.

Sound Example Pronunciation
A [a] auto [auto] 'car'
aamu [a:mu] 'morning'
English a in car
German a in Auto
Estonian a in auto
Russian а in автомобил
E [e] että [ettæ] 'that'
tulee [tule:] '(he) comes'
English e in let
German e in messen
Estonian e in mets
Russian э in этот
I [i] sika [sika] 'pig'
siika [si:ka] 'whitefish'
English i in sit
German i in Brille
Estonian i in kivi
Russian и in они
O [o] kori [kori] 'basket'
loota [lo:ta] 'box'
English o in or
German o in oder
Estonian o in osta
Russian о in корова
U [u] tuli [tuli] 'fire'
tuuli [tu:li] 'wind'
English oo in book
German u in putzen
Estonian u in uks
Russian у in тут
Y [y] syksy [syksy] 'autumn'
syys [sy:s] 'autumn'
English has no equivalent sound
German ü in müssen
Estonian ü in üks
Russian has no equivalent sound
Ä [æ] käsi [kæsi] 'hand'
käärme [kæ:rme] 'snake'
English a in cat
German has no equivalent sound
Estonian ä in käsi
Russian has no equivalent sound
Ö [ø] möly [møly] 'noise'
miljöö [miljø:] 'milieu'
English i in bird
German ö in nötig
Estonian ö in töö
Russian has no equivalent sound

The ninth vowel that belongs to the Finnish alphabet is å and it occurs only in words of Swedish origin, e.g. vårdöläinen (an inhabitant from Vårdö, a county on the Åland Islands). It is pronounced like o in Finnish.

4   Notes

There are no schwa vowel [ə] nor nasal vowels in Finnish.