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1.3.3. Non-spatial/temporal prepositions
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[+]  I.  Prepositions that take a “reference object”

Many of the spatial/temporal prepositions can also be used to denote a non-spatial/temporal relation. Such prepositional phrases often involve a metaphorical spatial relation in the sense that they express that the “located object” is in the state denoted by the “reference object”; example (370a), for instance, expresses that the house is in the state of being afire. If (370a) is indeed comparable to the locational construction, the (b)-examples are comparable to the change of location construction; these examples express that a change of state takes place.

Example 370
a. Het huis staat in brand.
state
  the house  stands  on fire
  'The house is on fire.'
b. Het huis raakt in brand.
change of state
  the house  gets  on fire
  'The house bursts into flames.'
b'. Jan zet/steekt het huis in brand.
change of state
  Jan puts  the house  on fire
  'Jan sets the house on fire.'

More examples of the same sort are given in (371). Example (371a) expresses that Jan is in the state of being in trouble, whereas the (b)-examples express that a change of state is taking place.

Example 371
a. Jan zit in de problemen.
state
  Jan sits  in the problems
  'Jan is in problems/trouble.'
b. Jan raakt in de problemen.
change of state
  Jan gets  into the problems
  'Jan gets into problems/trouble.'
b'. Peter brengt Jan in de problemen.
change of state
  Peter brings  Jan into the problems
  'Peter gets Jan into problems/trouble.'

      There are numerous prepositional predicates of this type that denote mental states, and are therefore predicated of human subjects only. Most of these predicates, a small sample of which are given in (372), have an idiomatic flavor. This is clear from the fact that attributive modification of the nominal complement of the preposition is normally excluded; an exception is op zijn (dooie) gemak'at his ease', in which dooie'dead' functions as an amplifier and cannot be replaced by any other adjective. The PPs in (372) are normally used predicatively, although op zijn (dooie) gemak again constitutes an exception in that it can also be used as an adverbial phrase of manner: Jan werkte op zijn dooie gemak'Jan worked at his ease'. For the possible origin/meaning of the unglossed words in small caps, we refer to the Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal.

Example 372
a. Jan is (zeer) op zijn gemak.
  Jan is very  at his ease
  'Jan is at his ease.'
b. Jan is (helemaal) in zʼn knollentuin/nopjes/sas/schik.
  Jan is completely  in his vegetable garden/nopjes/sas/schik
  'Jan is (very) pleased'
c. Jan was/raakte (erg) uit zijn humeur.
  Jan was/got   very  out his mood
  'Jan was/got in a bad mood.'
d. Jan is niet (helemaal goed) bij zijn verstand.
  Jan is not   totally well  with  his senses
  'Jan isnʼt in possession of his senses.'
e. Jan is (goed) op zijn hoede.
  Jan is  very  on his guard
  'Jan is on the alert.'
f. Jan is (flink) bij de pinken.
  Jan is  quite  with  the pinken
  'Jan is (very) smart.'
g. Jan is (erg) in de contramine.
  Jan is  very  in the contramine
  'Jan is (very) uncooperative.'
h. Jan is/komt helemaal op gang/dreef.
  Jan is/comes  completely  on going/dreef
  'Jan has/gets the hang of it.'
i. Jan was/raakte (zeer) van streek.
  Jan was/got   very  of streek
  'Jan was/got upset.'

Section 3.3, sub I, will show that PPs of this sort behave like adjectives in several respects; for the moment it suffices to note that their modification possibilities are more typical for adjectival than for prepositional phrases; the amplifier zeer'very' in (372a&i), for example, can normally be used for modification of adjectives only. See Section A3 for a comprehensive discussion of modification of APs.
      The examples in (370) to (372) all involve a (change of) state. The examples in (373), on the other hand, are perhaps more appropriately described as involving a path. They express a (gradual) change from one state into another; cf. (343).

Example 373
a. Jan veranderde (van een verlegen jongen) in een oproerkraaier.
  Jan changed   from a shy boy  into an agitator
a'. State 1: Jan is a shy boy
State ...: Jan is in some intermediate stage
State n: Jan is an agitator
b. Het water wordt nu omgezet in waterstof en zuurstof.
  the water  is  now  converted  into hydrogen and oxygen
[+]  II.  Prepositions that do not take a “reference object”

Besides the spatial and temporal prepositions, there is a set of prepositions with different meanings. Some of them are used to express certain specific semantic roles in the clause. For example, the preposition aan'to' can be used to introduce a goal and voor'for' can be used to introduce the beneficiary argument of the verb. Prepositions of this kind, which we will conveniently call role prepositions, are discussed in Subsection A. Another group of prepositions consists of prepositions that are selected by the verb, like English for in to wait for. Prepositions of this kind, which we will call functional prepositions, are discussed in Subsection B. Finally, Subsection C discusses prepositions heading non-spatial/temporal adverbial phrases.

[+]  A.  Prepositions introducing specific semantic roles

This subsection discusses various role prepositions, that is, prepositions that are used to introduce noun phrases with specific semantic roles in the clause.

[+]  1.  Door'by'

The role preposition door'by' has three functions. The first function involves the introduction of an agent in a passive clause, as in (374a). Its second function is the introduction of a cause in (active or passive) clauses, as in (374b). Example (374c), finally, shows that door-phrases can also express a means, provided that its complement is an infinitival clause.

Example 374
a. Jan werd ontslagen door zijn baas.
  Jan was  sacked  by his boss
b. Jan raakte gewond door een omvallende boom.
  Jan got  hurt  by a falling tree
c. Door hard te werken werd Jan topmanager van het bedrijf.
  by hard to work  became  Jan top manager of the company
  'By working hard Jan became a top manager of the company.'

Since agentive and causal door-PPs can both occur in a passive construction, they can be easily confused. This is illustrated in the primeless examples in (375). They differ, however, in that R-extraction is only fully acceptable from passive door-phrases; R-extraction from a door-PP introducing a cause gives rise to a marked result. This is illustrated in the primed examples by means of R-extraction in relative clauses.

Example 375
a. Het ongeluk werd door Jan veroorzaakt.
  the accident  was  by Jan  caused
  'The accident was caused by Jan.'
a'. de jongen waar het ongeluk door veroorzaakt werd
  the boy  where  the accident  by  caused  was
  'The boy by whom the accident was caused.'
b. Het ongeluk werd door nalatigheid veroorzaakt.
  the accident  was  by negligence  caused
  'The accident was caused by a falling tree.'
b'. ?? de nalatigheid waar het ongeluk door veroorzaakt werd
  the negligence  where  the accident  by  caused  was

      Agentive door-phrases are not restricted to passive constructions. In (376), it is shown that they can also occur in nominalizations, especially if the noun is derived from a transitive verb; if the noun is derived from an intransitive verb (or if the direct object is not expressed) the preposition van is normally preferred; see N2.2.3.2 for extensive discussion.

Example 376
a. het lachen van/?door Urgje
  the laughing  of/by Urgje
b. het lezen van boeken door/*?van Jan
  the reading  of books  by/of Jan

Example (377b) further shows that agentive door-phrases can also be used to express the agent of a transitive verb embedded under the causative verb laten'to make'; cf. V5.2.3.4, sub V.

Example 377
a. Marie liet de studenten het boek bestuderen.
  Marie made  the students  the book  study
  'Mary made the students study the book.'
b. Marie liet het boek door de studenten bestuderen.
  Marie made  the book  by  the students  study
[+]  2.  Aan'to' and v oor'for'

The role preposition aan introduces a goal. In the general case, the construction with aan alternates with the double object construction (although not all double object constructions alternate with constructions with an aan-PP; See V3.3.1.1).

Example 378
a. Marie gaf het boek aan Peter.
  Marie gave  the book  to Peter
b. Marie gaf Peter het boek.
  Marie gave  Peter the book

      The role preposition voor introduces a beneficiary. Unlike the goal-construction with aan, the construction with the voor-PP normally does not alternate with a double object construction in Standard Dutch. The construction is common in many other varieties of Dutch, though, for which reason we marked (379b) with a percentage sign.

Example 379
a. Marie kocht een cadeautje voor Jan.
  Marie  bought  a present  for Jan
b. % Marie kocht Jan een cadeautje.
  Marie  bought  Jan  a present

The examples in (380) show that the alternation can also be found in Standard Dutch in a number of more or lesss fixed expressions; these two examples differ in that (380b) expresses that the drink is intended for Marie, whereas (380a) simply expresses that Jan is performing the action on behalf of Marie, that is, the drink may but need not be for her. We refer the reader to V3.3.1.5 for more discussion.

Example 380
a. Jan schonk een borrel voor Marie in.
  Jan poured  a drink  for Marie  prt.
b. Jan schonk Marie een borrel in.
  Jan poured  Marie a drink  prt.

Voor-PPs can also be used to refer to the benefit of the action, as in (381a&b). An example such as (381c) is ambiguous between the beneficiary and benefit reading: on the former reading, the example means that Marie does anything for someone who has a pretty face, on the latter that she is doing anything in order to get a pretty face.

Example 381
a. Jan werkt daar alleen maar voor de centen.
  Jan works there  only  for the cents
  'Jan is working there only for the money.'
b. Jan beledigde haar alleen maar voor de lol.
  Jan insulted  her  only  for fun
  'Jan insulted her just for the fun of it.'
c. Marie zou alles doen voor een leuk gezichtje.
  Marie would  everything  do  for a pretty face
  'Marie would do anything for a pretty face.'

Finally, voor-PPs may refer to media of exchange with verbs like kopen'to buy' and verkopen'to sell', and betalen'to pay', as in (382a&b). An example such as (382c) is ambiguous between the beneficiary and the countertransfer reading; on the former reading Jan is given 50 euro that he can spend in order to purchase a CD-player, whereas on the second reading he is receiving 50 euro in exchange for his CD-player.

Example 382
a. Jan (ver)kocht het boek voor 15 euro.
  Jan bought/sold  the book  for 15 euro
  'Jan bought/sold the book for 15 euros.'
b. Jan betaalde 15 euro voor het boek.
  Jan paid  15 euro  for the book
  'Jan paid 15 euros for the book.'
c. Jan kreeg 50 euro voor zijn cd-speler.
  Jan received  50 euro  for his CD-player
  'Jan received 50 euros for his CD-player.'
[+]  3.  Met'with'

The role preposition met can perform three functions. It can introduce an instrument, a co-agent, or a located object. In (383), we give several examples with an instrumental met-PP.

Example 383
a. Jan opende de kist met een breekijzer.
  Jan opened  the box  with a crowbar
b. Marie bekeek het lijk met een zaklamp.
  Marie looked.at  the body  with a flashlight

      The primeless examples in (384) involve comitative met-PPs, that is, PPs in which met introduces a co-agent. A typical property of such examples is that they alternate with constructions in which the agent and the co-agent are coordinated in subject position; cf. the primed examples. The main semantic difference between the primeless and primed examples is related to prominence; in the primeless examples the referent denoted by the noun phrase in subject position is considered a more prominent participant in the event than the referent in the met-PP, whereas in the primed example the two coordinated noun phrases in subject position are presented as equally important.

Example 384
a. Jan wandelde met Peter naar het park.
  Jan walked  with Peter  to the park
a'. Jan en Peter wandelen naar het park.
  Jan and Peter  walk  to the park
b. Marie is gisteren met Peter getrouwd.
  Marie has  yesterday  with Peter  married
b'. Marie en Peter zijn gisteren getrouwd.
  Marie and Peter  have  yesterday  married

A remarkable fact is that the presence of a comitative met-PP triggers plural agreement on a predicatively used noun phrase in (385c). First consider the examples in (385a&b), which show that the singular noun phrase Jan triggers singular agreement on the predicative noun phrase een vriendje van Marie'a friend of Marie', and that the plural noun phrase Jan en Peter triggers plural agreement: vriendjes van Marie'friends of Marie'. The plural agreement on the predicative noun phrase in (385c) has led to the hypothesis that, underlyingly, the phrase headed by met is a coordinate structure (Jan met Peter). This plural coordinated structure acts as the logical subject of the predicatively used noun phrase and thus triggers plural agreement; the surface structure is derived by placing the first conjunct into the subject position of the clause, where it triggers singular agreement on the verb. See Kayne (1994) for more discussion.

Example 385
a. Jan is een vriendje van Marie.
  Jan is  a friend  of Marieʼs
b. Jan en Peter zijn vriendjes van Marie.
  Jan and Peter  are  friends of Marieʼs
c. Jan is vriendjes/*een vriendje met Peter.
  Jan is friends/*a friend  with Peter

At first sight, it seems that comitative met-PPs are not only construed with subjects, but also with direct objects, as in (386a). It is not so clear, however, whether the met-PP acts as an independent constituent in this example. Given that it is pied-piped with the direct object under topicalization, it seems more plausible that it acts as a modifier of the noun doperwten'peas' or, perhaps, as the second conjunct of a coordinate structure.

Example 386
a. Jan eet graag doperwten met biefstuk.
  Jan eats  gladly  peas  with beefsteak
  'Jan likes to eat peas with beefsteak.'
b. Doperwten met biefstuk eet Jan graag.

      The third and final function of the role preposition met is to introduce a located object; cf. Mulder (1992). Consider the examples in (387). Example (387a) is a simple change of location construction, in which it is expressed that the located object het hooi is given a location on the reference object de wagen. The construction in (387b) expresses essentially the same situation (the difference being that in this case the wagon must end up completely filled with hay, or, at least, that the hay is evenly distributed on the wagon). However, the located object no longer acts as the direct object of the construction (the reference object does that) but is expressed as the complement of the met-PP.

Example 387
a. Jan laadde het hooi op de wagen.
  Jan loaded  the hay  on the wagon
b. Jan belaadde de wagen met hooi.
  Jan loaded  the wagon  with hay

      This use of the met-PP is very common with verbs that are prefixed with be- or ver- and compound verbs with a preposition/particle as their first member, as in (388). Note that, at least synchronically seen, these verbs are not derivationally related to the verbs dekken'cover', trekken'to draw' or singelen'to gird', which accounts for the fact that they do not alternate with constructions in which the located object surfaces as the direct object and the reference object is expressed by a PP. This is especially clear in the case of omsingelen given that singelen does not belong to the present-day vernacular.

Example 388
a. Jan be-dekte de tafel met een kleed.
  Jan be-covered  the table  with a cloth
b. Jan over-trok de stoel met katoen.
  Jan over-covered  the chair  with cotton
c. De vijand om-singelde de stad met kanonnen.
  the enemy  om-surrounded  the city  with cannons

      This use of the met-PP is quite rare with simplex verbs and verbs without particles: one example is the verb vullen'to fill' in (389a). Example (389b) gives the corresponding example in which the located object acts as a direct object and the reference object is expressed by a PP.

Example 389
a. Jan vulde de tank met water.
  Jan filled  the tank  with water
b. Jan stopte water in de tank.
  Jan put  water into the tank

      For completeness' sake, it should be noted that met can also be used in phrases of accessory or concomitant circumstance. In this function met is probably not a role preposition but probably related to the preposition in the so-called absolute met-construction, discussed in Section 2.5.1. An example is given in (390a). This suggestion seems supported by the fact that such met-PPs differ from the ones discussed earlier in that they do not allow R-extraction, as will be clear by comparing example (390a') to those in (390b'-d').

Example 390
a. Jan speelt altijd met veel lawaai.
concomitant circumstance
  Jan plays  always  with  much noise
  'Jan always plays with a lot of noise.'
a'. * het lawaai waar Jan altijd mee speelt
  the noise  that  Jan always  with plays
b. Jan opende de kist met een breekijzer.
instrumental
  Jan opened  the box  with a crowbar
b'. het breekijzer waar Jan de kist mee opende
  the crowbar  that  Jan the box  with  opened
c. Jan speelde met zijn vriendje.
comitative
  Jan played  with his friend
c'. het vriendje waar Jan mee speelde
  the friend  that  Jan with  played
d. Jan laadt de wagen met hooi.
located object
  Jan loads  the wagon  with hay
d'. het hooi waar Jan de wagen mee laadt
  the hay  that  Jan the wagon  with  loads
[+]  4.  Bij'with'

The preposition bij in (391a) is used to express inalienable possession; Marie is construed as the inalienable possessor of the body part nek'neck'; cf. Corver (1992). That the bij-PP is dependent on the presence of the possessed entity is clear from the fact that it cannot be used if the PP in de nek is dropped. Note that the possessive bij-phrase alternates with the prenominal genitival possessor in (391b) and the possessive dative in (391c).

Example 391
a. Jan bijt bij Marie *(in de nek).
  Jan bites  with Marie    in the neck
  'Jan is biting in Marieʼs neck.'
b. Jan bijt in Maries/?de nek.
  Jan bites  in Marieʼs/the neck
c. Jan bijt Marie in de nek.
  Jan bites  Marie in the neck

The inalienable possessive construction in (391a), which in Standard Dutch can only occur if the possessed entity is the complement of predicative locational PP, is more extensively discussed in Section V3.3.1.4.

[+]  5.  Van'of' (in noun phrase)

The role preposition van is typically used in noun phrases. The examples in (392a-c) show that it can introduce a possessor, an agent or a theme. The contrast between (392b) and (392d) shows that agentive van-PPs are mainly used in nominalizations of monadic verbs; if the noun is derived from a dyadic verb, an agentive door-phrase is used instead. See Section N2.2.3.2 for more detailed discussion.

Example 392
a. het boek van Jan
  the  book  of Janʼs
b. het dansen van de kinderen
  the  dancing  of the children
c. het opeten van de taart
  the  prt.-eating  of the cake
d. het eten van de pindaʼs door/*?van de kinderen
  the  eating  of the peanuts  by/of the children

The examples in (393) show that van-PPs can sometimes also be used to express causes.

Example 393
a. Hij rilt van de kou
  he trembles of the cold
  'He shivers'
b. Ik sterf van de honger
  I am dying of the hunger
  'I am starving.'
[+]  B.  Functional prepositions: prepositions heading PP-complements

Classifying prepositions heading PP-complements on semantic grounds does not seem to be useful. The actual choice of the prepositions in (394) is fully determined by the selectional properties of the governing verb, noun or adjective, and does not seem to be necessarily related to the meaning of the preposition itself. This of course does not imply that it is never possible to relate the functional preposition to its spatial meaning: volgen uit'to follow from' or zondigen tegen'to sin against', for example, are cases in which this is possible; in this respect, it is worthwhile to note that many functional prepositions are homophonous with locational prepositions.

Example 394
a. Jan zoekt naar een mooi boek.
  Jan looks  “to”  a nice book
  'Jan is looking for a nice book.'
b. de lengte van het pad
  the length  of the pad
c. trots op zijn kinderen
  proud  “on”  his children
  'proud of his children'

Table 29 provides a list of adpositions that can be used as functional prepositions; note that the prepositional complements of nouns are mainly “inherited” arguments of a verb or an adjective under nominalization.

Table 29: Functional Prepositions
verb noun adjective
lijden aan
'to suffer from'
de behoefte aan
'the want of'
gehoorzaam aan
'obedient to'
passen bij
'to fit with'
bijlage bij
'appendix to'
betrokken bij
'involved with'
geloven in
'to believe in'
het geloof in
'the faith/belief in'
bedreven in
'skilful in'
dwepen met
'to idolize'
de tevredenheid met
'the contentment with'
tevreden met
'satisfied with'
verlangen naar
'to desire'
het verlangen naar
'the desire for'
nieuwsgierig naar
'curious about'
vechten om
'to fight for'
het gevecht om
'the fight for'
beroemd om
'famous for'
bezwijken onder
'give way under'
het bezwijken onder
'the giving way under'
kalm (blijven) onder
'(to remain) calm under'
wachten op
'to wait for'
de jacht op
'the hunt for'
boos op
'angry with'
klagen over
'to complain about'
een artikel over
'an article on'
verontwaardigd over
'indignant about'
zondigen tegen
'to sin against'
de zonde tegen
'the sin against'
gekant tegen
'opposed to'
bijdragen tot
'to contribute to'
een bijdrage tot
'a contribution to'
bereid tot
'willing to'
kiezen tussen
'to choose between'
de keuze tussen
'the choice between'
volgen uit
'to follow from'
een selectie uit
'a selection from'
houden van
'to love/like'
een tekening van
'a drawing of'
(on)zeker van
'(not) convinced of'
zwichten voor
'to knuckle under'
de angst voor
'the angst for'
bang voor
'afraid of'

[+]  C.  Prepositions heading non-spatial/temporal adverbial phrases

Some common examples of prepositions heading adverbial phrases with a specialized meaning are given in Table 30; it should be kept in mind, however, that many of the prepositions in Table 13 and Table 25 can also express non-spatial and non-temporal meanings. PPs headed by the prepositions in Table 30 can only be used adverbially. It does not seem useful to classify these prepositions any further on semantic grounds, because their meaning seems to be purely a lexical matter.

Table 30: Prepositions with a specialized meaning (normal speech)
preposition example translation
dankzij dankzij zijn hulp thanks to his help
gezien gezien deze problemen in view of these problems
namens namens zijn broer in name of his brother
ondanks ondanks zijn tegenwerking despite his opposition
ongeacht ongeacht de kosten regardless of the costs
per per post/auto/kilo by mail/car/the kilo
vanwege vanwege de kosten because of the costs
volgens volgens Peter according to Peter
wegens wegens de kou because of the cold
zonder zonder zijn broer without his brother

References:
  • Corver, Norbert1992"Bij Marie in de nek": interne structuur en extractiegedragGramma/TTT21-40
  • Kayne, Richard S1994The antisymmetry of syntaxLinguistic inquiry monographs ; 25Cambridge, MAMIT Press
  • Mulder, René1992The aspectual nature of syntactic complementationLeidenUniversity of LeidenThesis
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