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The words tämä, tuo and se can be put in the different cases, just like almost any word in Finnish. But how do you use them in the location cases? I'll be talking about the words tässä, täällä, tuossa, tuolla, siinä and siellä in this post!

There are two dimensions to take into account when dealing with these words. One is SIZE, the other is DISTANCE. In other words, these words differ from each other based on the size of the area that we'ra talking about and the distance of the thing we're talking about from the speaker or the listener.

SIZE is the simplest of the two: tässä, tuossa and siinä refer to a small area, täällä, tuolla and siellä to a bigger area.
So you will say for example to your friend sitting on an uncomfortable chair: "Tässä on mukava istua", referring to the soft couch you are using. When you're outside with the same friend, and the two of your are sitting in the park, you could say "Täällä on mukava istua". Then you mean that it's nice to be sitting in this park, a larger place.
Likewise, you will use tuossa to refer to a small area: "Missä on kynäni?" "Se on tuossa, pöydällä." And tuolla will be used for a bigger area: "Missä sinun mummosi asuu?" "Hän asuu tuolla, sinisessä kerrostalossa." If you'd be pointing at one specific window of the apartment building, though, you could say "Hän asuu tuossa." and your friend would know exactly in which apartment your grandma lives.
Another example will demonstrate the use of siinä and siellä. Imagine you're in the living room and your friend is in the bedroom. He yells from the other room whether you know where his watch might be. Then you can say "Etsi makuuhuoneen vaaleanpunaisesta laatikosta. Luulen, että se on siinä." The box you are referring to is a small area, so you are using siinä instead of siellä. When talking about a bigger area, you can use siellä: "Etsi rannekelloasi kylpyhuoneesta! Luulen, että se on siellä."

DISTANCE is a little more tricky, because people and things are constantly moving. A thing that is tuolla during one moment, will be täällä a little later. Tässä and täällä are used for things that are in your immediate surroundings. "Tässä on mukava istua." (on the couch) and "Täällä on mukava istua." (in the park) were used for a situation where the couch and the park were in your close surroundings. "Kynä on tuossa." and "Hän asuu tuolla." were used for things you could point at, but  not touch. They were within the edge of your vision, but not touchable. "Rannekellosi on siinä." (on the table) and "Rannekellosi on siellä." (in the bathroom) were two examples where the place you were referring to was somwhere outside your line of vision. You could not see the place or item, not touch it nor point at it.

Tässä: small area, close-by
Täällä: bigger area, close-by
Tuossa: small area, close enough so you can point but not touch it
Tuolla: bigger area, close enough so you can point but not touch it
Siinä: small area, you can't see it nor touch it
Siellä: bigger area, you can't see it nor touch it

For the ones who thought this was easy: next there's a list of these words in the location cases! I suggest that you DON'T learn these yet IF the previous explanation was new to you. Practise the missä-form which was given above during a few weeks, until it becomes natural to you, and then move on to the other location cases. I could write a second post for those to remind you at that point ;)
tässä - tästä - tähän
tuossa - tuosta - tuohon
siinä - siitä - siihen
täällä - täältä - tänne
tuolla - tuolta - tuonne
siellä - sieltä - sinne


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Grace Dm
Sep. 23rd, 2012 08:59 am (UTC)
Niin hyvää tietoä
I hope you will continue to share more information in your website because you actually don't know how you make my student life easier. I learned so many grammar secrets from you. If only you publish everything in a book, I will surely buy it! :)
Abo Alsoom
Jan. 23rd, 2014 08:53 am (UTC)
that was so informative, facilitating and helpful
thank you very much
Jukka Krjoja
Nov. 19th, 2014 12:22 pm (UTC)
Tämä, tuo, se
Thanks for the clear presentation. I'd like to add something about the difference of tämä, tuo and se, which those locative adverbs are connected with. You spoke only about the distance. That's true, but it's also connected to the SPEAKER and LISTENER.

I've teached the difference in the following way:

SPEAKER and the LISTENER in the same room etc.:
TÄMÄ is near the SPEAKER, far from LISTENER.
TUO is far from the both, but both can see it.
SE is far from the SPEAKER but near the LISTENER.

SPEAKER and the LISTENER on the phone etc.:
TÄMÄ is near the SPEAKER.
SE is near the LISTENER.

SPEAKER and LISTENER are speaking about not present object:
SE is far from both of them and not visible.

SPEAKER and LISTENER are speaking about the same theme again:
TÄMÄ becomes SE.
TUO becomes SE.
SE remains SE.

It's easier to draw it...

Similar system works with the places. Only thing is that you must decide between pointlike and broad area: TÄSSÄ/TÄÄLLÄ etc.

But come on, no one blaims you if you mix them in a living speech... Like in Italian between li/la, qui/qua...
Peris Tammelin
Nov. 19th, 2016 06:42 am (UTC)
Well said.
It's a great idea to explain in English.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )