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Verbs Ending in -OTTAA and -OITTAA (ehdottaa kirjoittaa)

The difference between verbs ending in -OTTAA and -OITTAA (all verbtype 1 verbs) is actually something Finns have more trouble with than learners! This is due to the fact that, in spoken language, none of these verbs will have an –i-. People will say, for example, kirjottaa instead of kirjoittaa.

Should you care? I’m not sure! As a learner on Finnish, you are likely to just learn these verbs based on how they are written. As such, you will learn them with an –i– if they have one. As such, you won’t get used to the sometimes incorrect –ottaa used in spoken language. On the other side, if you have learned Finnish mainly through speaking, this page might offer you some insight in the issue.

1. Verbs ending in -oittaa

1.1. Stem word: two syllables, end in -a/-ä

Stem words of two syllables (e.g. kirja, aika) that end in –a/ä will usually get –oittaa when you derive a verb from them.

Noun Verb Translation
kirja kirjoittaa to write
puna punoittaa to be red, blush
rauha rauhoittaa to soothe, appease
seka sekoittaa to mix
terä teroittaa to sharpen
haava haavoittaa to wound
mitta mitoittaa to measure up
aika ajoittaa to schedule

1.2. Stem word: three or more syllables

In addition, all verbs that have three or more syllables when they’ve been derived will get –oittaa.

Noun Verb Translation
autio autioittaa to depopulate
hedelmä hedelmöittää to fertilize
saippua saippuoittaa to soap up
hankala hankaloittaa to make more complicated
elävä elävöittää to revitalize
vaurio vaurioittaa to damage
vahinko vahingoittaa to harm, damage

2. Verbs ending in -ottaa

2.1. Word stem: two syllables, ending in -o/ö

Verbs that have been derived from a noun of two syllables that end in –o/ö (e.g. helppo, sähkö) will have –ottaa.

Noun Verb Translation
kiilto kiillottaa to polish, shine
tieto tiedottaa to report
ero erottaa to dismiss; to separate
pomo pomottaa to boss over
helppo helpottaa to facilitate; to alleviate
sähkö sähköttää to wire
himo himottaa to lust after
jakso jaksottaa to divide in parts
jauho jauhottaa to flour (a surface)
jörö jöröttää to mope

2.2. Verbs that also have a similar verbtype 4 -ota-verb

Secondly, those verbs of which also exist a similar verb ending in –ota will also belong to this group.

Noun Verb Translation
erota erottaa to dismiss; to separate
hajota hajottaa to scatter
inhota inhottaa to repulse
irrota irrottaa to detach, remove
lihota lihottaa to fatten

2.2. Verbs without a clear word stem

In addition, most verbs that don’t have a clear stem word they’ve been derived from usually also have –ottaa.

Many of the following words have a noun connected to them (e.g. karkottaa : karkotus; kehottaa : kehotus; haukottaa : haukotus). However, it is likely that the noun has been fashioned after the verb rather than the other way around.

Noun Verb Translation
? ällöttää to sicken
? yökättää to sticken
? törröttää to stick out
? toitottaa to toot
? hekottaa to laugh
? karkottaa to expel, drive away
? haukottaa to yawn
? helottaa to beam (e.g. sun)
? häämöttää to loom over
? kehottaa to urge

3. Exceptions

There are only a couple of exceptions. Many of these have just fossilized over time. The following words should end in -ottaa, but don’t:  innoittaa (from the word into), and virvoittaa (from the verb virota).

On the other hand, the verb laiskottaa should have an –i– because it’s derived from the word laiska (a two-syllable word ending in –a as in part 1.1), but it doesn’t.

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