• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
1.2.3. Postpositions
quickinfo

The examples in (67) show that, next to the prepositions, there is a smaller set of postpositions, which follow their complement. A comparison of (64a) and (67a) will reveal that some adpositions can be used both as a preposition and as a postposition. Broadly speaking, the most conspicuous semantic difference between pre- and postpositions is that the former refer to a certain position in space or on the time line, whereas the latter refer to a path; see Section 1.3.1 for a more precise and detailed discussion.

Example 67
a. Jan reed de sloot in.
  Jan drove  the ditch  into
  'Jan drove into the ditch.'
b. Jan kletste de hele voorstelling door.
  Jan chattered  the complete performance  through
  'Jan was chattering throughout the complete performance.'

Table 7 provides a list of spatial postpositions. When we compare this set of postpositions to the set of spatial prepositions in Table 5, we see that the former is practically a subset of the latter; the only adposition that cannot be found in Table 5 is the postposition af'off' (although the Van Dale dictionary mentions that af is used as a preposition in certain varieties of Dutch).

Table 7: Spatial postpositions
postposition example translation
af de berg af from the mountain
binnen het huis binnen into the house
door het hek door through the gate
in het huis in into the house
langs het huis langs along the house
om de hoek om around the corner
op de berg op onto the mountain
over het grasveld over across the lawn
rond het plein rond around the square
uit de auto uit out of the car
voorbij het huis voorbij past the house

In addition to the forms in Table 7, the adposition onder'under' seems to occur as a postposition in the southern and Flemish varieties of Dutch (Liliane Haegeman, p.c.). Standard Dutch has constructions such as (68), but there the noun kopje is clearly not the complement of the adposition; the adposition instead seems to have a cognate complement corresponding to the water in the English renderings. The phrases kopje onder gaan and iemand kopje onder duwen should be seen as fixed idiomatic expressions.

Example 68
a. Jan ging kopje onder.
  Jan went headdim  under
  'Jan went under the water.'
b. Jan duwde Marie kopje onder.
  Jan pushed  Marie  head  under
  'Jan pushed Marie under the water.'

      Table 8 shows that the set of temporal postpositions is even smaller than the set of spatial postpositions. The set seems to be exhausted by the adpositions door, in and uit.

Table 8: Temporal postpositions
postposition example translation
door het hele jaar door throughout the year
in het nieuwe jaar in into the new year
uit dag in dag uit lit: into day out of day 'continuously'

Occasionally, the elements geleden and terug in (69) are also included in the set of temporal postpositions. These elements differ from door, in and uit, however, in that they do not express the notion of path (on the time line), but simply refer to some fixed position on the time line.

Example 69
a. Drie weken geleden is ze overleden.
  three weeks ago  is she  died
  'She died three weeks ago.'
b. Jaren terug ben ik daar ook geweest.
  years ago  am  there  also been
  'Iʼve been there also years ago.'

      A final note may be needed on the expression het klokje rond, which refers to a span of time of approximately twelve hours. It seems wrong to interpret the adposition rond as a temporal postposition here, since what is implied is that the hour hand of the clock has traversed the path around the clock; therefore we are dealing with a spatial postposition. Note that besides (70a), (70b) is also possible; this may be due to the fact that a year can be measured by means of the zodiac, which is generally represented as a circle.

Example 70
a. Jan sliep het klokje rond.
  Jan slept  the clockdim  round
  'Jan slept for twelve hours.'
b. We zijn weer een jaar rond.
  we  are  again  a year  round
  'Another year has passed.'
readmore
References:
    cite
    print
    This topic is the result of an automatic conversion from Word and may therefore contain errors.
    A free Open Access publication of the corresponding volumes of the Syntax of Dutch is available at OAPEN.org.