Finnish language has 15 noun cases which pack a lot of expressive power. For example, let's take the word “kissa” (cat). Here are some of the cases:

  • kissan — of cat (kissan koko; the size of the cat)
  • kissassa — in cat (hiiri on kissassa; the mouse is in the cat)
  • kissasta — from inside the cat (kakka tuli kissasta; poop came out of the cat)
  • kissana — as cat
  • kissatta — without cat

This third one is the elative case. It's one of the locative cases which are used to indicate physical direction, along with inessive (kisassa).

So, you learn this stuff and in your mind the ending -sta becomes associated with “from”.

  • Apteekista — from the pharmacy
  • Maasta — from land
  • Talosta — from the house

And then you see this:

tästä syystä
for this reason

It means “for this reason”. Notice how both “this” and “reason” get the illative ending. This is something pretty alien to English speakers, but usual for languages such as Finnish or Russian (which are not related, but share this property). No matter how many words describe the “reason”, they all should be in the same case:

stä suuresta tärkeästä mielenkiintoisesta syystä
For this big important interesting reason.

Anyway, you look at “tästä syystä” and think, well, “from a reason” — it kinda makes sense. In English, “for a reason” is actually pretty weird. We're used to it, but something like “by a reason” would make more sense than “for”. So, “from a reason” is actually alright.

But then you see this:

Pidän kissasta
I like the cat

Wait, what? Literally, “I like from cat”?! So, illative is used to indicate the object of an action (to like, to love, to hate, to know, etc). Why?!

And it goes deeper!

Puhu kissasta
To talk about the cat

“About” is the same as “from”!

This property is one of many weird things I find about Finnish as I learn this wonderfully strange language.