Finnish and Estonian have a grammatical aspect contrast of telicity between telic and atelic.

Telic sentences signal that the intended goal of an action is achieved. Atelic sentences do not signal whether any such goal has been achieved. The aspect is indicated by the case of the object: accusative is telic and partitive is atelic.

For example, the (implicit) purpose of shooting is to kill, such that:

  • Ammuin karhun meaning “I shot the bear (succeeded; it is done)” i.e., “I shot the bear dead”. = Telic.
  • Ammuin karhua meaning “I shot at the bear” i.e., “I shot the bear (and I am not telling if it died)”. = Atelic.

Sometimes, corresponding telic and atelic forms have as little to do with each other semantically as “take” has with “take off”.

For example, naida means “to marry” when telic, but “to have sex with” when atelic.

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