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Automative Verbs -UA/-YÄ – Kaataa Kaatua – Transitivity

This article deals with automative verbs ending in -ua/yä (eg. kaatua, estyä). These verbs are derived from a similar verb ending in -aa/-ää (kaataa, estää). The meaning of the automative verbs is that the action happens without outward interference. For example:

  • Transitive verb kaataa:
    Minä kaadan puun. “I fell the tree”. I’m doing the action to the tree.
  • Intransitive verb kaatua:
    Puu kaatuu talon päälle “The tree falls on the house”. The tree undergoes the action.

1. Transitivity vs Intransitivity

The matter of transitivity and intransivity of Finnish verbs is quite complex. This article is part of a series about transitive and intransitive verbs.

In short, transitive verbs are verbs that get an object, eg. Jatkan työt “I continue the work”. Intransitive verbs don’t get an object, eg. Työt jatkuvat “The work continues”. As you see, a transitive verb’s object can become an intransitive verb’s subject.

The topic of this article are automative verbs ending in -ua/-yä, which are one of the types nof intransitive verbs. This is, however, not the only verb group with an automative meaning. There are, for example, verbs ending in -utua/ytyä that carry the same meaning.

There are many other verbs that belong completely or partly in this semantical group, but I’m limiting the scope of this article considerably. In addition, many of these verbs have several meanings. I’m only presenting the translations that make the most sense within the automative derivate system.

2. Automative Verbs -aa/ää-ua/yä

I have marked the most basic verbs in green, so you know which ones to focus on when you’re just getting started. This is another of those word lists that are useful to look through, but that you shouldn’t just copy, paste and learn by heart. Pick the ones you will actually be using!

Finnish English Finnish English
edistää to boost, to further edistyä to progress, improve
eristää to insolate eristyä to become isolated
estää to prevent estyä to be prevented
haavoittaa to wound haavoittua to be wounded
hoitaa to take care of hoitua to be taken care of
jatkaa to continue jatkua to last, to continue
johtaa to lead to johtua to be due to
järjestää to organize järjestyä to work out
kaataa to poor kaatua to fall
kastaa to sop, to baptize kastua to get wet
kehittää to develop kehittyä to progress
kohdistaa to target, focus kohdistua to focus
korostaa to stress korostua to be stressed
käynnistää to start, to turn on käynnistyä to start working
kääntää to turn, to twist kääntyä to turn, to be turned
laajentaa to extend, expand laajentua to expand
lannistaa to discourage lannistua to be discouraged
liittää to attach, to add liittyä to be joined
lyhentää to shorten lyhentyä to get shorter
löytää to find löytyä to be found
maustaa to spice, season maustua to marinade
muodostaa to form, construct muodostua to be formed
muuttaa to change, move muuttua to shift, change
painaa to push, to weigh painua to sink, to droop
paistaa to fry, to shine paistua to be fried, to roast
paljastaa to reveal paljastua to be revealed
peittää to cover peittyä to be covered
pelastaa to save pelastua to be saved
perustaa to establish, found perustua to be based on
puhdistaa to clean puhdistua to be cleansed
rajoittaa to limit rajoittua to be limited to
rauhoittaa to reassure, calm rauhoittua to calm down
sekoittaa to mix up, blend sekoittua to blend, be mixed
selittää to explain selittyä to be explained
siirtää to transfer, move siirtyä to move, to shift
sisältää to include, contain sisältyä to be contained
säästää to save säästyä to be saved
tasoittaa to even sth out tasoittua to even out
toistaa to repeat toistua to recur, be repeated
toteuttaa to excute, to fulfill toteutua to be realized
tulostaa to print tulostua to be imprinted
täydentää to supplement täydentyä to replenish
täyttää to fill täyttyä to fill up with
unohtaa to forget unohtua to be forgotten
uudistaa to renew uudistua to be renewed
vahvistaa to strengthen vahvistua to get stronger
vaihtaa to change sth vaihtua to change
valmistaa to prepare valmistua to graduate from
ylittää to cross ylittyä to exceed
yllättää to surprise yllättyä to be surprised

3. Example sentences of automative -ua/yä verbs

The automative verbs from the table above are repeated below, each with an example. As you see below, the transitive verb has an underlined object. In contrast, the intransitive verbs don’t have objects.

Transitive verb Intransitive verb
Liikunta edistää oppimista.
= Exercise improves learning.
Opiskelija edistyy nopeasti.
= The student improves quickly.
Opettaja eristi hänet muista.
= The teacher separated him from the rest.
Poika eristyi muista.
= The boy became isolated from the rest.
Köysi estää meitä putoamasta.
= The rope prevents us from falling.
Me estyimme putoamasta.
= We were prevented from falling.
Sotilas haavoitti hänet.
= A soldier wounded him.
Hän haavoittui taistelussa.
= He was wounded in battle.
Hoidan asian nopeasti.
= I took care of the matter quickly.
Asia hoitui nopeasti.
= The matter was resolved quickly.
Jatkoin työskentelyä pitkään.
= I continued working for a long time.
Työskentely jatkui pitkään.
= The work continued for a long time.
Voin järjestää asian.
= I can make it work.
Asia järjestyy varmasti.
= This will definitely work out.
Metsuri kaataa puita.
= The lumberjack felled trees.
Minä kaaduin metsässä.
= I fell in the forest.
Kastan varpaani kylmään veteen.
= I dip my toe in the cold water.
Varpaani kastuivat.
= My toes got wet.
Minä kehitän kielitaitoani itse.
= I develop my language skills myself.
Kielitaito kehittyy hitaasti.
= Language skill develops slowly.
Kohdistan katseeni työnantajiin.
= I focus my eyes on the employers.
Katseet kohdistuvat työnantajiin.
= The eyes are focused on the employers.
Korostan työn merkitystä.
= I stress the importance of the job.
Työn merkitys korostuu.
=  The job’s importance is emphasized.
Käynnistän tietokoneen uudelleen.
= I reboot the computer.
Tietokone käynnistyy uudelleen.
= The computer reboots.
Käännän kirjan sivua.
= I turn the page of the book.
Uusi sivu kääntyi.
= A new page was turned.
Hän laajensi silmiään vähän.
= He widened his eyes slightly.
Hänen silmänsä laajentuivat kauhusta.
= His eyes widened in terror.
Älä lannista lasta!
= Do not discourage the child!
Älä lannistu!
= Don’t get discouraged!
Liitän tiedoston viestiin.
= I attach a file to the message.
Nämä asiat eivät liity toisiinsa.
= These things are not related.
Armeija-aika voisi lyhentää.
= They could make army service shorter.
Armeija-aika lyhentyy 15 päivää.
= Army service is shortened by 15 days.
Löysin lompakkoni kahvilasta.
= I found my wallet in the cafe.
Lompakkoni löytyi kahvilasta.
= My wallet was found in the cafe.
Maustan kanan rosmariinilla.
= I season the chicken with rosemary.
Kana maustuu rosmariinilla.
= The chicken is flavored with rosemary.
Jäsenet voivat muodostaa johtokunnan.
= Members may form a board.
Johtokunta muodostuu 5 jäsenestä.
= The board is made up of 5 members.
Hän muutti yhdistyksen sääntöjä.
= He changed the association’s rules.
Yhdistyksen säännöt muuttuivat.
= The rules of the association changed.
Painoin kaapelin vinoon.
= I bent the cable.
Kaapeli painui vinoon.
= The cable was slanted.
Paistoin makkaroita nuotiolla.
= I fried sausages on the campfire.
Makkarat paistuivat nuotiolla.
= The sausages roasted on the campfire.
Antti paljasti totuuden.
= Antti revealed the truth.
Totuus paljastui yllättäen.
= The truth was unexpectedly revealed.
Lumi peittää maan Oulussa.
= The snow covers the ground in Oulu.
Maa peittyy lumeen Oulussa.
= Ground is covered in snow in Oulu.
Nainen pelasti hänet tulipalosta.
= A woman saved him from the fire.
Perhe pelastui tulipalosta.
= The family was saved from the fire.
Täytyy perustaa väitteet tosiasioihin.
= You have to base the arguments on facts.
Väitteet perustuvat tosiasioihin.
= The allegations are based on facts.
Kasvit puhdistavat sisäilmaa.
= Plants purify indoor air.
Sateella ilma puhdistuu.
= During rain the air is cleaned.
Hän rajoitti tulipalon leviämistä.
= He restricted the spread of the fire.
Tulipalo rajoittui keittiöön.
= The fire was confined to the kitchen.
Rauhoitin säikähtänyttä hevosta.
= I calmed the frightened horse.
Säikähtänyt hevonen rauhoittui.
= The frightened horse calmed down.
Sekoitin ainekset keskenään.
= I combined the ingredients.
Suruun sekoittui viha.
= Sadness mixed with anger.
Selitin tilanteen hänelle.
= I explained the situation to her.
Tämä selittyy vain yhdellä tavalla.
= This can only be explained in one way.
Siirsin näyttelyn kesään.
= I moved the exhibition to summer.
Näyttely siirtyi kesään.
= The exhibition move to summer.
Hinta sisältää kurssimateriaalit.
= The price includes the course materials.
Materiaalit sisältyvät hintaan.
= The materials are included in the price.
En säästä mitään rahaa.
= I’m not saving any money.
Rahaa ei säästy verkko-opiskelusssa.
= No money is saved through e-learning.
Merituuli tasoittaa lämpötilan.
= The sea breeze stabilizes the temp.
Lämpötila tasoittui.
= The temperature stabilized.
Toistan aina samat virheet.
= I keep repeating the same mistakes.
Samat ongelmat toistuvat.
= The same problems keep repeating.
Suunnitelmaa ei voi toteuttaa.
= The plan can not be implemented.
Suunnitelma ei toteudu.
= The plan won’t materialize.
Tulostan tekstin nopeasti.
= I print the text quickly.
Teksti tulostuu parissa sekunnissa.
= The text prints in a few seconds.
Täydennä harjoituksen lauseet!
= Complete the exercise’s sentences!
Museon kokoelma täydentyi.
= The museum’s collection expanded.
Täytän astian vedellä.
= I fill the container with water.
Astia täyttyy vedellä.
= The container fills up with water.
Unohdin lompakkoni pöydälle.
= I forgot my wallet on the table.
Lompakkoni unohtui pöydälle.
= My wallet was forgotten on the table.
Kauppa uudistaa valikoimaansa.
= The store renews its selection.
Kaupan valikoima uudistuu.
= The store’s selection will renew.
Vahvista mielenterveyttäsi!
= Strengthen your mental health!
Terveys vahvistuu liikkumalla.
= Health is strengthened by exercise.
Vaihdan auton uuteen.
= I’m replacing my car with a new one.
Päivä vaihtuu yöhön.
= Day changes to night.
Valmistan kakun tunnissa.
= I’ll make the cake in an hour.
Kakku valmistuu tunnissa.
= The cake will be finished in an hour.
Johanna ylitti entisen ennätyksen.
= Johanna broke the former record.
Entinen ennätys ylittyi.
= The former record was exceeded.
Ystävä yllätti minut.
= A friend surprised me.
Yllätyin todella paljon.
= I was really surprised.

That’s it for this article on automative verbs ending in -ua/yä.

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Michael Hämäläinen
Michael Hämäläinen

I see from the Wiktionary entry for -UA suffix that it is used for verbs that are stative (i.e., asserting that a subject has a particular property) or inchoative (i.e., aspectually indicating that a state is about to be entered or is in the process of being entered). A separate category page lists 267 verbs with -UA suffix. I wonder if anyone has seen information on this inchoative (FI: ‘inkoatiivinen’) usage? Iso Suomen Kielioppi only mentions it briefly, but (behind a paywall) I found an award-winning dissertation on Inchoative Emotion Verbs in Finnish. The abstract gives ‘suuttua’ (to get angry),… Read more »

Michael Hämäläinen
Michael Hämäläinen

As follow-up to my comment on inchoative emotion verbs, I see that this category of -UA verbs is addressed under 2. Emotive causative verb-based verbs on the Emotive Causative Verbs -TTAA or -TUTTAA page. Sorry for missing this!

https://uusikielemme.fi/finnish-grammar/verbs/types-of-verbs/emotive-causative-verbs-ttaa-or-tuttaa/

Recopying URLs for -UA inchoative emotion verbs:

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-ua#Finnish
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:Finnish_words_suffixed_with_-ua
https://elibrary.narr.digital/book/99.125005/9783823392996
http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-4192-7
http://scripta.kotus.fi/visk/sisallys.php?p=333

Inge (admin)
Inge (admin)

You’re right about lannistua, rauhoittaa and yllättyä; they are closer to inchoative emotion verbs than automative verbs in meaning. They just fit the pattern of lannistaa-lannistua so nicely! The verbs I list in the emotive causative verb article all have a -tuttaa verb pair, which the ones on this page don’t. The derivate system is full of holes and cross-overs. It doesn’t satisfy my love for rules and order at all. Btw, if you haven’t yet, check out the book Miten sanoja johdetaan. I’ve found it a big help while trying to figure out the Finnish derivative system for both… Read more »

Michael Hämäläinen
Michael Hämäläinen

Thanks for confirming – I’m glad to know my intuition was working properly! As a starting point for sorting through all the verb suffixes, I’ve been working through the table of 251 passive counterparts of common verbs included in Jukka Korpela’s Handbook of Finnish, plus some Wiktionary category pages. Your book recommendation seems like the perfect resource for this complicated topic!