• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
1.2.4. Intransitive adpositions

This section discusses intransitive adpositions. Subsection I shows that these adpositions probably do not form a homogeneous group, but must be divided into two groups, viz., locational adpositions and verbal particles. Subsection II provides a small sample of particle verbs and Subsection III discusses some syntactic differences between intransitive adpositions and verbal particles. Subsection IV, finally, is devoted to P + V compounds, which can be easily confused with verbs taking an intransitive adposition or a particle.

[+]  I.  Intransitive adpositions and particles

Adpositions can sometimes be used without a complement, in which case they are often called intransitive adpositions or (verbal) particles. It may be the case that intransitive adpositions and particles do not form a homogeneous group. Consider example (71).

Example 71
Jan zet zijn hoed op (zijn hoofd).
  Jan puts  his hat  on   his head

Example (71) shows that the particle op can be used in the same function as the predicative PP op zijn hoofd; substituting one for the other does not affect the core meaning of the example, which expresses that the hat is undergoing a change of location. It seems plausible that the fact that op can be used as an intransitive adposition is related to the fact that the information conveyed by the complement of the preposition op is more or lesss superfluous; when it is dropped, our knowledge of the world enables us to reconstruct the full event and to determine the new location of the moved entity. Regardless of how one would like to account for this intuition, it is at least clear that there is a close relation between the use of op as a preposition and its use as an intransitive adposition. In this respect the intransitive use of op resembles the pseudo-intransitive use of transitive verbs like eten'to eat'; if no direct object is present, it is inferred that some canonical object (an entity that is edible) is involved. Intransitive adpositions are generally locational in nature, and are mostly used with verbs denoting activities involving dressing and personal hygiene, as in (72a&b), or refer to pragmatically determinable locations, as in (72c). See Section, sub I, for more discussion.

Example 72
a. Jan doet zijn sjaal om (zijn nek).
  Jan puts  his shawl  around  his neck
b. Jan smeert zonnebrandolie op (zijn lichaam).
  Jan smears  suntan oil  on   his body
c. Het postkantoor is dicht bij (mijn huis).
  the post office  is close to   my house

      The adposition af in (73a) also seems to perform a function similar to the PP op zijn hoofd in (71). The main difference is that whereas the intransitive use of op in (71) has implications concerning the new location of the hat, (73a) identifies the original location of the hat. It is, however, less clear whether af can indeed be considered an intransitive adposition. If it is one, it must have the lexical property that it can only be used as such, given that it cannot take the noun phrase zijn hoofd as its complement. Alternative, one might of course speculate that the particle af is somehow related to its use in the circumposition van .. af; cf. (73b).

Example 73
a. Jan zet zijn hoed af (*zijn hoofd).
  Jan puts  his hat  off     his head
b. Jan zet zijn hoed (?van zijn hoofd) af.
  Jan puts  his hat    from his head  off

      Often, there is no apparent semantic relation between the use of intransitive adpositions and their prepositional counterparts. In such cases, we will use the term (verbal) particle. These particles normally form a more or lesss fixed semantic unit with their associated main verb and they cannot be replaced by a full PP without affecting the core meaning of the construction. Despite the fact that Dutch orthography requires the particle and the verb to be written as a single word if they are adjacent, the combination probably cannot be considered a morphological compound since the finite form of the verb can be placed in the second position of main clauses while stranding the particle in clause-final position. Illustrations of this split pattern are given in the primed examples in (74).

Example 74
a. Jan wil wat achterstallig werk inhalen.
  Jan wants  some overdue work  prt.-catch
  'Jan wants to catch up on some overdue work.'
a'. Jan haalde snel wat achterstallig werk in.
  Jan caught  quickly  some overdue work  prt.
  'Jan caught up on some overdue work quickly.'
b. De minister wou cruciale informatie achterhouden.
  the minister  wanted  crucial information  prt.-keep
  'The minister wanted to withhold crucial information.'
b'. De minister hield cruciale informatie achter.
  the minister  kept  crucial information  prt.
  'The minister was withholding crucial information.'

      The examples above suggest that there is a gradient scale by which intransitive adpositions are related to their prepositional counterparts. In some cases the relation is quite tight, whereas in other cases the relation is looser or perhaps even nonexistent. Although the distinction between intransitive adpositions of the type in (71) and the verbal particles in (74) is often not very clear-cut as a result, we will nevertheless make this distinction. In doing so, we will rely heavily on whether the adposition has retained its original spatial meaning and can appear in the same environment as a predicative PP, or whether it has (partly) lost its meaning and cannot be replaced by a predicative PP (without affecting the core meaning of the construction). Subsection III will discuss a number of syntactic differences between intransitive adpositions and verbal particles, but first we want to discuss the particle verbs in more detail.

[+]  II.  Particle verbs

Dutch has numerous particle verbs, that is, more or lesss fixed combinations of verbs and particles. The meanings of these particle verbs are generally not compositionally determined; they are to a certain extent unpredictable and must therefore be listed in the lexicon. This is especially clear from the fact that there are several particle verbs that seem to be derived not from a verb, but from an adjective or noun. Table (75) provides some examples of such cases.

Example 75
Particle verbs derived from adjectives/nouns
adjective/noun verb particle verb
sterkA'strong' *sterken aan + sterken'to recuperate'
zwakA'weak' *zwakken af + zwakken'to tone down'
diepA'deep' *diepen op + diepen'to bring out'
brief 'letter' *brieven over + brieven 'to pass on'
disN'meal/dining table' *dissen op +dissen'to dish up (a story)'
beenN'bone' *benen uit + benen'to bone'

The fact that the meaning of the particle verbs in (75) must be listed in the lexicon suggests that we are dealing with complex words. Subsection IV will show, however, that particle verbs cannot be considered complex words in the normal, morphological sense of the term. For this reason, we will often choose to not follow the orthographic rule according to which the particle and the verb are written as a single word (if they are adjacent). Note that the fact that particle verbs are not regular compounds is also recognized by Dutch traditional grammar, which uses the term scheidbaar samengesteld werkwoord “separable compound verb” for these verbs in order to distinguish them from real compounds of the type P + V that do not allow the “split” pattern. A brief discussion of the differences between the particle verbs and these so-called onscheidbaar samengestelde werkwoorden “inseparable compound verbs” can also be found in Subsection IV.
      Table 9 provides a small sample of particle verbs that are derived from existing verbs; cf. De Haas & Trommelen (1993: Chapter 2, sub 6) for many more examples. Broadly speaking, the particles can be said to constitute a subset of the spatial prepositions. There are only three exceptions, which are marked with an asterisk in the table. First, the particle af has no prepositional counterpart in colloquial Standard Dutch at all (but see the remark above Table 7 in Section 1.2.3). Second, the particle mee, which is homophonous to the stranded counterpart of the preposition met used in instrumental and comitative phrases, is clearly not spatial. Finally, the particle na cannot be used as a spatial preposition (as a preposition it expresses a temporal meaning); perhaps it is an abbreviation of the complex spatial particle achterna'after/behind', which can be used as a postposition, as in Hij liep de jongen achterna'He followed the boy'. The fact that the meanings of the particle verbs are not compositionally determined does not mean that the original spatial meanings of the particles are completely undetectable; many of the particles in Table 9 can still be recognized as–that is, still feel like–spatial adpositions. Consequently, some of the examples in the table come semantically rather close to the examples involving intransitive adpositions discussed in Subsection I.

Table 9: Particle-verb combinations
particle example translation
aan een kaars aan steken
drie kilo aan komen
to light a candle
to increase three kiloʼs in weight
achter achter blijven
informatie achter houden
to stay behind
to withhold information
*af af gaan
een band af spelen
af studeren
to fail/lose face
to play a tape
to graduate
bij bij blijven
de literatuur bij houden
drie euro bij betalen
to keep up to date
to keep up to date with the literature
to pay three Euros as extra charge
binnen binnen sijpelen
een subsidie binnen halen
to seep inside
to obtain a subsidy
boven boven komen
boven liggen
to come upstairs/on top
to lie on top
buiten buiten komen
buiten sluiten
to come outside
to shut out
door iets door snijden
door lopen
de vakantie ergens door brengen
to cut something through
to continue to walk
to spend the vacation somewhere
in iets in brengen
iets in dienen
iets in schatten
to insert something
to submit something
to estimate something
langs bij iemand langs gaan
iets ergens langs brengen
to briefly visit someone
to deliver something somewhere
*mee iets aan iemand mee delen
aan iets mee doen
iets meenemen
to inform someone of something
to partake in something
to take something along
*na iemand na lopen
over iets na praten
iemand na praten
to run after someone
to talk something over
to parrot
om iets om draaien
iemand om kopen
om komen
to turn something around
to bribe someone
to die in an accident or a calamity
onder iets onder binden
ergens onder duiken
iets onder verdelen
to fasten something (under the feet)
go into hiding somewhere
to classify something
op iets op schrijven
op houden
kinderen op voeden
to put down (on paper)
to stop
to raise children
over over stromen
over steken
een tekst over schrijven
to flood
to cross
to copy a text
rond rond rijden
een nieuwtje rond vertellen
rond draaien
to drive around
to spread an item of news around
to turn/spin (around)
tegen iets tegen houden
iets tegen spreken
iemand tegen komen
to stop something
to object to/argue with something
to meet someone
toe toe stromen
iemand toe dekken
iets toe geven
to crowd towards
to tuck something in
to admit something
tussen iets tussen werpen to interpolate
uit iets uit kotsen
iets uit sluiten
iets uit zenden
to throw up
to exclude something
to broadcast
voor iets voor binden
iets voordoen
to put on something
to demonstrate
voorbij voorbij lopen/rijden/vliegen
iemand voorbij streven
to pass
to outstrip someone

      Besides the particles in Table 9, which clearly have an adpositional counterpart, Dutch has many other elements that are traditionally considered adverbs but that resemble particles in that they may occur in a fixed combination with certain verbs. Moreover, many of them resemble adpositional phrases in that they may express a change of location or direction. A small sample is given in (76); we refer to De Haas & Trommelen (1993:ch.2, sub 6.3.2) for more cases.

Example 76
a. heen gaan 'to die'
b. weg lopen 'to walk away'
c. neer dalen 'to come down'
d. terug gaan 'to go back'
e. thuis komen 'to come home'
f. verder komen 'to make headway'
g. verder lopen 'to continue to walk'
h. voort lopen 'to continue to walk'
i. vooruit komen 'to make headway'
j. weer keren 'to return'
k. Jan komt in de gevangenis terecht.
  Jan comes  in the prison  terecht
  'Jan will end up in prison.'

In addition, De Haas & Trommelen (1993:ch.2, sub 6.3.3) give a large set of complex particles. Since these complex forms behave just like the simple ones, we will not discuss them here, but confine ourselves to giving a list. The first subset involves particles that are formed with achter/voor +P as their first member and that denote a location, direction or time. All forms can also be used as prepositions with the exception of the particles in (77b). Note that the particles achteraf/vooraf in (77a) are temporal in nature.

Example 77
Complex locational/temporal and directional particles
a. achteraan/ vooraan 'in the back/front'
achterin/ voorin 'in the back/front'
achterom/ voorom 'around the back/front'
achterop/ voorop 'on the back/front'
achteruit/ vooruit 'backwards/forwards'
b. achteraf/ vooraf 'afterwards/beforehand'
achterna 'after'
omhoog/omlaag 'upwards/downwards'

The second subset in (78) involves particles denoting a state. The particles P + een in (78a) alternate with the construction P + elkaar'each other'; cf. Hij frommelde de papieren in elkaar/ineen'He crumpled the papers.'

Example 78
Complex particles denoting a state
a. aaneen'on end'
opeen'on each other'
b. achterover(liggen) 'to lie on the back'
voorover (liggen)'to lie on the front'
onderuit (liggen)'to lie flat'
omver (duwen)'to push over'

      Although the meanings of the particles are sometimes quite remote from predicatively used adpositional phrases, they share at least one syntactic property with them. First, Section, sub IIA, has discussed that the addition of a predicative PP may turn a regular intransitive verb into an unaccusative verb. As a general rule, the particles in Table 9 have the same effect. Take the case of af studeren'to graduate'. While studeren'to study' in (79a) has all the characteristics of a regular intransitive verb, the particle verb afstuderen'to graduate' in (79a') has the properties of an unaccusative verb: the (b)-examples show that whereas studeren takes the auxiliary hebben in the perfect tense, afstuderen takes zijn; the (c)-examples show that whereas the past/passive participle gestudeerd cannot be used as an attributive modifier of a noun that corresponds to the subject of the clause, af gestudeerd can; the (d)-examples, finally, show that whereas studeren allows impersonal passivization, afstuderen does not.

Example 79
a. Jan studeert vlijtig.
  Jan studies  diligently
a'. Jan studeert snel af.
  Jan graduates  quickly  prt.
b. Jan heeft/*is vlijtig gestudeerd.
  Jan has/is  diligently  studied
b'. Jan is/*heeft snel afgestudeerd.
  Jan is/has  quickly  prt.-graduated
c. * de vlijtig gestudeerde jongen
  the  diligently studied  boy
c'. de snel afgestudeerde jongen
  the  quickly  prt.-graduated  boy
d. Er wordt vlijtig gestudeerd.
  there  is diligently  studied
d'. *? Er wordt snel afgestudeerd.
  there  is  quickly  prt.-graduated

In (80) we give similar examples involving weg'away', which is taken from the set of particles in (76): like predicative pre- or postpositional phrases, the particle changes the intransitive verb lopen into an unaccusative verb.

Example 80
a. Jan liep snel.
  Jan walked  fast
a'. Jan liep snel weg.
  Jan walked  quickly  away
b. Jan heeft/*is snel gelopen.
  Jan has/is  fast  walked
b'. Jan is/*heeft snel weg gelopen.
  Jan is/has  quickly  away  walked
c. * de snel gelopen jongen
  the  fast  walked  boy
c'. de snel weg gelopen jongen
  the quickly  away  walked  boy
d. Er wordt snel gelopen.
  there  is  fast  walked
d'. *? Er wordt snel weg gelopen.
  there  is  quickly  away walked

Second, the addition of a predicative PP may license as its logical subject an argument that is not selected by the verb; cf. Section, sub IIB. The examples in (81) show that the addition of a particle may have the same effect, and therefore show that the particle is also predicative in nature, despite the fact that it is not always clear what property the particle denotes; see Section, sub II, for a more extensive discussion of the semantics of particles.

Example 81
a. Jan speelt de band *(af).
  Jan plays  the tape    prt.
  'Jan parrots the girl.'
b . Jan praat het meisje *(na).
  Jan talks  the girl    prt.
  'Jan Jan parrots the girl.'
c. Jan kots zijn eten *(uit).
  Jan throws  his food    prt.
  'Jan throws his food up.'
d. Jan vocht zijn ontslag *(aan).
  Jan fought  his dismissal    prt.
  'Jan challenged his dismissal.'

      There are other elements that are sometimes considered verbal particles that do not have an adpositional counterpart, like the element samen'together' in (82a). It does not seem to be the case, however, that samen acts as a particle in the same sense as the elements discussed above, since it differs not only in meaning but also exhibits a different syntactic behavior. In contrast to the particles in (79) and (80), the addition of samen does not change a regular intransitive verb like werken'to work' into an unaccusative one: the verb selects the auxiliary hebben in the perfect-tense construction in (82b), the past/passive particle in (82c) cannot be used as an attributive modifier of a noun that corresponds to the subject of the clause, and the impersonal passive construction in (82d) is fully acceptable.

Example 82
a. Marie en Jan werken al jaren samen.
  Marie and Jan  work  already  for.years  together
  'Marie and Jan are already cooperating for years.'
b. Jan en Marie hebben/*zijn al jaren samen gewerkt.
  Jan and Marie  have/are  already  for.years  together  worked
c. * de samengewerkte vrienden
  the  cooperated  friends
d. Er wordt al jaren samen gewerkt.
  there  is  already  for.years  together  worked

The element samen also crucially differs from run-of-the-mill verbal particles in that it can readily be separated from the verbs in clause-final position: dat Jan en Peter samen aan dit project hebben gewerkt'that Jan and Peter worked on this project together'. It therefore seems safe to dismiss the claim that samen functions as a verbal particle in examples such as (82a).

[+]  III.  Differences between intransitive adpositions and particles

The following subsections discuss several differences between intransitive adpositions and verbal particles.

[+]  A.  Position with respect to the verbs in clause-final position

The most conspicuous difference between intransitive adpositions and verbal particles is that the former must precede the verbs in clause-final position, whereas the latter may intervene between these verbs. Example (83a), for example, is ambiguous between a reading in which voor is used as an intransitive adposition meaning “in front (of something)”, and a reading in which voor is used as a particle, in which case the combination voor staan means “to be leading (in a game)”. Example (83b) can only have the latter meaning.

Example 83
a. dat Jan voor lijkt te staan.
intransitive adposition or particle
  that  Jan  in.front  seems  to stand
  'Jan seems to be standing in front (of, e.g., the house).'
  'Jan seems to be leading in the game.'
b. dat Jan lijkt voor te staan.
particle only
  that  Jan  seems  in.front  to stand
  'Jan seems to be leading in the game.'
[+]  B.  PP-over-V

The examples in (84) show that, like adverbially used prepositional phrases, adverbially used intransitive adpositions may undergo PP-over-V, albeit that the result is somewhat marked for some speakers due to “lightness” of the intransitive adposition achter; PP-over-V is normally applied to relatively “heavy” constituents.

Example 84
a. dat Jan graag <achter het huis> speelt <achter het huis>.
  that  Jan gladly    behind the house  plays
  'that Jan likes to play in the back/behind the house.'
b. dat Jan graag <achter> speelt <%achter>.
  that  Jan gladly    behind  plays
  'that Jan likes to play in the back/behind (e.g., the house).'

The examples in (85) , on the other hand, show that particles like voor behave like predicatively used adpositional phrases like voor het huis in that they must precede their verbal associate: this is not really surprising, of course, given that the examples in (79) to (81) have already shown that particles are in fact predicative phrases, which must likewise precede the verb they are selected by.

Example 85
a. dat Jan <voor het huis> staat <*voor het huis>.
  that  Jan in.front.of the house  stands
  'that Jan is standing in front of the house.'
b. dat Jan <voor> staat <*voor>.
  that  Jan    prt.  leads
  'that Jan is leading the game.'
[+]  C.  Topicalization

It is easier to topicalize intransitive adpositions than particles, which is probably related to the fact that particles have little semantic content of their own and topicalization is normally used to emphasize some constituent, as in example (86a), in which contrastive accent is indicated by small capitals. But even when particles may induce meaning differences, topicalization seems to be disfavored; this is clear from the fact that voor and achter are preferably interpreted as locational intransitive adpositions in example (86b).

Example 86
a. Voor heb ik een woonkamer en achter een werkkamer.
  in.front  have  a living.room  and  behind  an office
  'The living room is in the front and the office in the back (of the ground floor).'
b. # Voor staat Jan en achter staat Marie.
  in.front  stands  Jan and  behind  stands  Marie
  Intended reading: 'Jan is leading the game and Marie isnʼt leading the game.'

Nevertheless, if the locational interpretation is unlikely and the context is sufficiently contrastive, topicalization seems to give rise to a fully acceptable result; cf. Hoeksema (1991a/1991b) and Bennis (1991).

Example 87
a. Op komt de zon in het oosten; onder gaat hij in het westen.
  up  comes  the sun  in the east  down  goes  he  in the west
  'The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.'
b. In ademen we zuurstof (en uit kooldioxide).
  in breathe  we  oxygen  and  out  carbon dioxide
  'We inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.'

Note that the acceptability of the topicalization is clearest when the particle verb is finite and the verbal part thus occupies the second position of the clause. If the second position of the clause is filled by an auxiliary, as in (88), VP-topicalization seems preferred to topicalization of the particle.

Example 88
a. ?? In hebben we zuurstof geademd (en uit kooldioxide).
  in have  we oxygen  breathed  and  out  carbon dioxide
b. ? In geademd hebben we zuurstof (en uit geademd kooldioxide).
  in breathed  have  we oxygen  and  out breathed carbon dioxide
[+]  D.  Progressive aan het + V construction

The examples in (89) show that intransitive prepositions and verbal particle differ in that only the latter can be adjacent to the main verb in the progressive aan het + V construction; whereas the verbal particle voor in voorlezen'to read aloud' can precede or follow the sequence aan het, the intransitive preposition voor must precede it.

Example 89
a. Jan is de kinderen het boek <voor> aan het <voor> lezen.
  Jan is the children  the book    prt.  aan het  read
  'Jan is reading the book to the children.'
b. De kinderen zijn <voor> aan het <*voor> spelen.
  the children  are  in.front  aan het  play
  'The children are playing in front (of, e.g., the house).'
[+]  E.  Word formation

Intransitive adpositions and particles differ with respect to word formation. The former are never part of a complex word, whereas the latter can be; the examples in (90) and (91) show that many of the particle verbs in Table 9 can be the input for word formation.

Example 90
Nouns derived from particle verbs
a. aan + steken 'to light'
a'. aansteker 'lighter'
b. na + praten 'to parrot'
b'. naprater 'parrot'
c. op + voeden 'to raise'
c'. opvoeding 'education'
d. over + stromen 'to flood'
d'. overstroming 'flood'
Example 91
Adjectives derived from particle verbs
a. aan + steken 'to infect'
a'. aanstekelijk 'contagious'
b. om + kopen 'to bribe'
b'. onomkoopbaar 'incorruptible'
c. op + blazen 'inflate'
c'. opblaasbaar 'inflatable'
d. op + lossen 'to solve'
d'. onoplosbaar 'unsolvable'
e. op + merken 'to note'
e'. opmerkzaam 'observant'
[+]  F.  Co-occurrence restrictions and coordination

The examples in (92) show that intransitive adpositions can readily co-occur, as in (92a), and be coordinated, as in (92b).

Example 92
a. Jan speelt boven graag achter.
  Jan plays  above  gladly  behind
  'Upstairs, Jan likes to play in the back.'
b. De kinderen spelen zowel boven als achter.
  the children  play  both  above  and  behind
  'The children play both upstairs and in the back.'

The examples in (93) show that juxtaposition and coordination of verbal particles normally lead to severely degraded results and that, as a result, a clause cannot contain more then one single verbal particle. The differences in acceptability are probably due to the fact that the intransitive adpositions in (92) are used as regular locational adverbial phrases, whereas the particles in (93) constitute an inherent part of the meaning of the particle verb; cf. Subsection II.

Example 93
a. * Jan staat op voor.
  Jan stands  up  in.front
  Intended meaning: 'Jan is standing up and heʼs leading the game.'
b. * Jan staat zowel op als voor.
  Jan stands  both  up  and  in front
  Intended meaning: 'Jan is standing up and heʼs leading the game.'

However, example (94a) seems to show that the ban on coordination is lifted if the particles are antonyms. In principle, two analyses are possible for this example: either we are dealing with coordination of the two particles in and uit, as in the representation in (94b), or with coordination of the two particle verbs inademen'inhale' and uitademen'exhale' with backward conjunction reduction, as in the representation in (94b').

Example 94
a. Je moet rustig in en uit ademen.
  you  must  calmly  in and out  breathe
  'You must breathe in and out calmly.'
b. Je moet rustig [in en out] ademen.
b'. Je moet rustig [[in ademen] en [uit ademen]].

It is not easy to decide which of these two analyses is the correct one, and it may in fact be the case that they are both correct. That the analysis in (94b) may be correct is clear from the acceptability of example (95a): whereas the analysis in (95b) is unproblematic, the conjunction-reduction analysis in (95b') is untenable given that the infinitive in the first conjunct conjuncts is not licensed by being in the domain of a modal verb.

Example 95
a. dat je rustig in en uit moet ademen.
  that  you  calmly  in and out  must  breathe
b. dat je rustig [in en uit] moet ademen.
b'. * dat je rustig [[in ademen] en [moet uit ademen]].

That the analysis in (94b) may be correct is at least suggested by the acceptability of example (96a). We have added a percentage sign to the analysis in (96b), because Standard Dutch normally does not allow complex phrases to permeate the verbs in a verb cluster. If this restriction is indeed absolute, the analysis must be as given in (96b'). We leave it to future research to investigate whether it is possible to provide more conclusive evidence in favor of the conjunction-reduction analysis.

Example 96
a. dat je rustig moet in en uit ademen.
  that  you  calmly  must  in and out  breathe
b. % dat je rustig moet [in en uit] ademen.
b'. dat je rustig moet [[in ademenen] en [uit ademen]].

The discussion above has shown that coordination of particles is normally excluded, unless the particle are antonymous and, of course, are associated with the same verbal part. This seems to support the earlier suggestion that the ban on coordination is not syntactic but semantic in nature. For completeness' sake, example (97) shows that intransitive adpositions and particles can readily co-occur.

Example 97
Voor heb ik een plant neer gezet.
  in.front  have  a plant  down  put
'Iʼve put a plant down in the front.'
[+]  G.  Conclusion

We conclude this subsection with a brief illustration of the first four tests for particle verbs on the basis of the potentially problematic case in (98a), adapted from Hoeksema (1991a). Although the Van Dale dictionary lists voorstemmen as a particle verb, the fact that the element voor can be replaced by the PP voor het voorstel shows that we cannot a priori exclude the possibility that we are dealing with an intransitive adposition. Example (98b) suggests, however, that the Van Dale analysis of voor as a verbal particle is indeed the correct one: the element voor differs markedly from the PP voor het voorstel in that it cannot undergo PP-over-V, but must occur to the left of the main verb.

Example 98
a. Voor (het voorstel) stemde alleen de oppositie.
  in.favor.of the proposal  voted  just  the opposition
  'Only the opposition voted in favor of the proposal.'
b. dat de oppositie <voor (het voorstel)> stemde <voor *(het voorstel)>.
  that the opposition  in.favor.of the proposal  voted
  'that the opposition voted in favor of the proposal.'

Example (98b) thus strongly suggests that voorstemmen is indeed a particle verb, and this is also supported by the fact that voorstemmen can be the input for agentive er-nominalization; the noun voorstemmer is also listed in the Van Dale dictionary and a Google search on this form resulted in numerous hits.

[+]  IV.  Particle verbs versus P + V compounds

Subsections II and III have shown that particle verbs exhibit several of the properties of compounds. First, the meaning of a particle verb is not compositionally determined; it is normally impossible to fully predict the meaning of a particle verb on the basis of the meaning of the constituent parts, which is also a typical property of compounds. Second, table (75) has shown that there are particle verbs that involve verb forms that are only attested in combination with one specific particle; this seems problematic for an analysis according to which the verb selects the particle in the same way as it would select other adpositional phrases, given that selection generally involves entire classes of entities, not just a single word or phrase. Finally, examples (90) and (91) show that many particle verbs can be the input to morphological processes, which is normal for (complex) words, but much less common for phrases. However, there are also several problems for the claim that particle verbs are complex words. We will make this clear by comparing particle verbs to undisputed P + V compounds like voorzien'to anticipate' and overzien'to calculate'.

[+]  A.  Verb second

The easiest way of distinguishing particle verbs from P + V compounds is by considering main clauses in which the verb in question is finite and thus occupies the second position in the clause. When we are dealing with a particle verb, we get a split pattern, that is, the particle is stranded in clause-final position; when we are dealing with a compound, on the other hand, the split pattern is not possible.

Example 99
a. Jan <*over>schreef de antwoorden <over>.
particle verb
  Jan     prt.    wrote  the answers
  'Jan copied the answers.'
b. Jan <over>zag de consequenties niet meer <*over>.
  Jan over    saw  the consequences  no longer
  'Jan could no longer calculate the consequences.'
[+]  B.  Clause-final verb clusters and te-infinitives

If the clause contains a clause-final verb cluster, as in (100a), the particle may either precede the complete cluster or be left-adjacent to the main verb; the P+V compound in (100b), on the other hand, cannot be split by the auxiliary.

Example 100
a. dat Jan de antwoorden <over> wil <over> schrijven.
particle verb
  that  Jan the answers    prt.  wants  write
  'that Jan wants to copy the answers.'
b. dat Jan de consequentie niet <*over> kon <over>zien.
  that  Jan the consequences  not      prt.  could             see
  'that Jan couldnʼt calculate all the consequences.'

In te-infinitives like (101), the particle must precede the infinitival marker te. This marker cannot, however, permeate the P + V compound; see Section V7 for more extensive discussion of word order in verb clusters and te-infinitives.

Example 101
a. Het is verboden [om de antwoorden <over> te <*over> schrijven].
  it  is forbidden  COMP  the answers    prt.  to  write
  'It is forbidden to copy the answers.'
b. Het is moeilijk [om alle consequenties <*over> te <over>zien].
  it  is difficult  COMP  all consequences      prt.  to            see
  'It is difficult to calculate all the consequences.'
[+]  C.  Formation of the past/passive participle

In the case of particle verbs, the past/passive participle is prefixed by ge-, and the particle precedes this prefix. This prefix ge- does not arise, however, if we are dealing with a P + V compound. In this respect, P + V compounds behave like verbs prefixed with be-, ver- and ont-; cf. for example verrassen'to surprise': heeft <*ge->ver<*ge->rast'has surprised'.

Example 102
a. Jan heeft de antwoorden over *(ge-)schreven.
particle verb
  Jan has  the answers  prt.     written
  'Jan has copied the answers.'
b. Jan heeft niet alle consequenties over(*ge-)zien.
  Jan has  not  all  consequences  overseen
[+]  D.  Topicalization

Topicalization of particles is possible with antonym pairs like inademen'to breathe in' and uitademen'to breathe out' in (103a), provided that the particle receives contrastive accent; cf, subsection IIIC. Topicalization of the P-part of P + V compounds, on the other hand, is never acceptable, and thus also holds for antonym pairs like onderschatten'underestimate' and overschatten'overestimate' in (103b).

Example 103
a. In ademen we zuurstof (en uit kooldioxide).
particle verb
  in breathe  we  oxygen  and  out  carbon dioxide
b. * Onder schat Marie zichzelf (en over de anderen).
  under  estimates  Marie  herself  (and  over  the others)
[+]  E.  Stress

Word stress is always on the particle part of a particle verb, whereas in P + V compounds it is always on the verbal part; this is shown in (104), in which we have indicated word stress by means of small capitals.

Example 104
Stress assignment with participle verbs and P + V compounds
Particle verbs P+V compounds
DOOR lopen 'to walk on' doorLOpen 'to attend (a school)'
ONDER duiken 'to go into hiding' onderNEmen 'to undertake'
OVER schrijven 'to copy' overZIEN 'to calculate'
VOOR schrijven 'to prescribe' voorZIEN 'to anticipate'
[+]  F.  Conclusion

The data in Subsections A through E show that, despite the fact that particle verbs have certain properties of compounds, the particles and the verbs sometimes also behave like syntactic constituents in their own right. The proper analysis of particle verbs is, however, still the subject of an ongoing debate: the traditional assumption that particles are part of the particle verb has been defended again recently by, e.g., Neeleman (1994b), Neeleman and Weerman (1993/1999); the assumption that the particle is a syntactic constituent in its own right has been defended by, e.g., Bennis (1991), Den Dikken (1995), and Zeller (2001). Koopman (1995) and Den Dikken (2003) reconcile the two views by assuming that the particle syntactically incorporates into the verb. Booij (2010) reconciles the two views within construction grammar by claiming that the phrasal and the compound structure co-exist.

  • Bennis, Hans1991Theoretische aspekten van partikelvoorpplaatsing IITabu2189-95
  • Bennis, Hans1991Theoretische aspekten van partikelvoorpplaatsing IITabu2189-95
  • Booij, Geert2010Construction morphologyOxford/New YorkOxford University Press
  • Dikken, Marcel den1995Particles: on the syntax of verb-particle, triadic, and causative constructionsOxford studies in comparative syntaxNew York/OxfordOxford University Press
  • Dikken, Marcel den2003When particles don't part
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Hoeksema, Jack1991Theoretische aspekten van partikelvooropplaatsingTabu2118-26
  • Hoeksema, Jack1991Nogmaals PartikelvoorpplaatsingTabu21141-144
  • Hoeksema, Jack1991Theoretische aspekten van partikelvooropplaatsingTabu2118-26
  • Koopman, Hilda1995On verbs that fail to undergo V-secondLinguistic Inquiry26137-163
  • Neeleman, Ad1994Complex predicatesUtrechtUniversity of UtrechtThesis
  • Neeleman, Ad & Weerman, Fred1993The balance between syntax and morphology: Dutch particles and resultativesNatural Language & Linguistic Theory11433-475
  • Neeleman, Ad & Weerman, Fred1999Flexible syntax. A theory of case and argumentsStudies in Natural Language & Linguistic TheoryDordrecht/Boston/LondonKluwer
  • Zeller, Jochen2001Particle verbs and local domainsLinguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 41Amsterdam/PhiladelphiaJohn Benjamins
Suggestions for further reading ▼
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
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.