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Emotive Causative Verbs -TTAA or -TUTTAA

This article deals with the derivation of emotive causative verbs aka feeling verbs. These are verbs that cause someone to feel a certain way: they cause emotions.

Table of Contents
  1. Transitivity and intransitivity
  2. Emotive causative -utta/yttä- verbs
  3. Emotive causative noun-based verbs

This article’s intention is to shed light on how these words are formed. If you want to learn how to use them and what they mean, you should check out our article on feeling verbs.

Emotive causative verbs usually have the markers –tta-/-ttä-, -utta-/-yttä– or –tutta-/-tyttä-.

1. Transitivity and intransitivity

Feeling verbs are interesting because they don’t fit super neatly into the transitive vs intransitive verb division. In short, a transitive verb will get an object (e.g. avaan oven), while an intransitive verb will not (e.g. ovi avautuu).

Generally, sentences with these feeling verbs will include the person experiencing the feeling or emotion in the partitive case (e.g. Minua ärsyttää). In addition, it’s often possible to also add the thing that’s causing the feeling to the sentence as well (Minua ärsyttää moni asia). However, there isn’t always a clear cause for the emotion.

Linguists have squabbled over which function these two parts of the sentence fulfill: which one is the object and which one the subject.

2. Emotive causative verb-based verbs

The first group of clearly identifiable feeling verbs are based on another verb.

  • For stem verbs that end in -aa/-ää, the final vowels will be replaced completely with the marker -utta/yttä- (e.g. aivast-aa → aivast-uttaa).
  • For stem verbs that end in -ua/-yä, the stem verb’s -u- and the marker’s -u- will blend (e.g. huolestu-a → huolest-u-ttaa).
Stem Verb English Causative English
aivastaa to sneeze aivastuttaa to feel like sneezing
hengästyä to get winded hengästyttää to feel winded
hermostua to get nervous hermostuttaa to feel nervous
huolestua to become anxious huolestuttaa to feel anxious
hämmästyä to become surprised hämmästyttää to feel surprised
ilahtua to get happy ilahduttaa to feel delighted
katua to regret kaduttaa to feel regret
kauhistua to become terrified kauhistuttaa to feel terrified
kyllästyä to get bored kyllästyttää to feel bored
nukkua to sleep nukuttaa to feel like falling asleep
pyörtyä to faint pyörryttää to feel faint
raivostua to fly into a rage raivostuttaa to feel infuriated
suuttua to get angry suututtaa to feel angry
tyrmistyä to become shocked tyrmistyttää to feel shocked
väsyä to become tired väsyttää to feel tired
ärtyä to get annoyed ärsyttää to feel annoyed

3. Emotive causative noun-based verbs

There is also a fairly large from of feeling verbs that are based on a noun rather than a verb. The marker -ttaa/-ttää is added to the weak stem of the noun.

Noun English Verb English
harmi nuisance harmittaa to feel vexed
heikko weak heikottaa to feel weak
helppo easy helpottaa to ease up
hirveä terrible hirvittää to feel terrified
huvi amusement huvittaa to feel amused
jano thirst janottaa to feel thirsty
kakka poop kakattaa to feel like pooping
kiukku anger kiukuttaa to feel angry
kuuma hot kuumottaa to feel hot
nolo embarrassment nolottaa to feel embarrassed
pelko fear pelottaa to feel scared
pissa pee pissattaa to feel like peeing
surkea sad, wretched surettaa to feel sad
sääli pity säälittää to feel pity
ujo shy ujostuttaa to feel shy
vilu cold viluttaa to feel cold
vittu fuck vituttaa to feel pissed off

That’s it for the general formation of feeling verbs. This article doesn’t include any of the numerous verbs that have been formed exceptionally.

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Reading through the feeling verbs, it seems like Finns have a lot of words for being angry: kiukutta, suututtaa, raivostuttaa

But then I realize how many are in English…
Feel anger, ire, wrath, rage, fury (infuriate), mad (madden)
aggravated (not really anger in English, it’s sort of like gradually make more annoyed or angry or other negative arousal)

inhotta – to feel dislike
kiukutta – to feel aggravated/testy
suututtaa – to feel angry
raivostuttaa – to feel rage/to infuriate (more than suututtaa, related to raivota – to rage)

It’s always hard to pick which one(s) to kind of just use as a baseline, and then as I learn more Finnish to substitute others as I learn their connotations.