Languages that originate from the same protolanguage have a lot in common. Over thousands of years, the languages have diverged into separate languages and therefore no longer sound very similar. Languages that are related to each other share some of their vocabulary, but linguistic relatedness is particularly apparent in their other features.

1. No articles

The English language has the articles a, an and the.
The Uralic languages do not have articles (with the exception of Hungarian).

2. No grammatical gender for words

In the Uralic languages, words do not have a grammatical gender. This means they do not have masculines, feminines and neuters like languages such as German do.

3. Lots of endings and suffixes

  • verb inflection (conjugation)
  • case inflection
  • possessive suffixes
  • clitic particles

4. Lots of compound words

New words can be formed by sticking together previously known words.

5. Negative verb

The Uralic languages have negative verbs that conjugate (inflect) to mark the person as well as the tense.
The Ugric languages (Hungarian, Khanty and Mansi) use a different system.

Verb inflection (conjugation)

Finnish Veps Skolt Saami Hungarian [taulukon otsikot käännetään]

*Note that Skolt Saami (and a few other languages) also use the dual form. Verbs conjugate (inflect) in the same way in the dual as well as the plural, but you can tell the dual and the plural apart on the basis of the personal pronoun used. Like this: muäna mõõnnâp means ‘the two of us are going’, tuäna mõõnnveʹted ’the two of you are going’ and suäna mâʹnne ‘the two of them are going’.


Häkkinen, Kaisa 2003: Suomen kielen historia: 1, Suomen kielen äänne- ja muotorakenteen historiallista taustaa [History of the Finnish Language: 1, Historical Background to the Phonology and Morphology of Finnish]. University of Turku.

Itkonen, Erkki 1966: Kieli ja sen tutkimus [Language and Language Research]. WSOY.

Janhunen, Juha 1982: On the structure of Proto-Uralic. Finnisch-Ugrische Forschungen XLIV. Helsinki 1982.

Kotilainen, Lari 2016: Kielen elämä: suomen kieli eilisestä huomiseen [The Life of a Language: Finnish from Yesterday to Tomorrow]. Siltala Publishing.

Lehtinen, Tapani 2007: Kielen vuosituhannet. Suomen kielen kehitys kantauralista varhaissuomeen [Language through the Millennia. Development of the Finnish Language from Proto-Uralic to Early Finnish]. Finnish Literature Society.

Sammallahti, Pekka 1988: Historical phonology of the Uralic languages. The Uralic Languages. Description, history and foreign influences. Ed. Denis Sinor.