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2.2.1. Directional van/tot + PP
quickinfo

The first exception to the general rule that adpositions do not take adpositional complements involves the directional prepositions van'from' and tot'until', which refer to, respectively, the starting and the endpoint of an implied path; the exceptional behavior holds both for the spatial and the temporal uses of these prepositions.

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[+]  I.  Spatial van-PPs

The preposition van'from' is a directional preposition that denotes the starting point of the implied path. It is therefore not surprising that its complement refers to a location: in (12a) the city Utrecht is the starting point of the path that ultimately leads to Groningen (the complement of the directional preposition naar'to'), and in (12b) the location of the cupboard is the starting point of the path that ultimately leads to the door.

Example 12
a. Jan reed van Utrecht naar Groningen.
  Jan drove  from Utrecht  to Groningen
b. Marie liep van de kast naar de deur.
  Marie walked  from the cupboard  to the door

Since locations are typically expressed by means of locational adpositional phrases, it is not really surprising that we also find prepositional or circumpositional phrases as complements of van. Some examples are given in (13).

Example 13
a. van boven/onder de kast (vandaan)
  from  above/under  the cupboard  vandaan
b. van voor/achter het huis (vandaan)
  from  in.front.of/behind  the house  vandaan
c. van naast het huis (vandaan)
  from  next.to  the house  vandaan
d. van links/rechts van het huis (vandaan)
  from  left/right  of the house  vandaan

That we are really dealing with van-PPs with a PP-complement, and not with morphologically complex prepositions like vanboven, can be motivated on basis of the facts given in Subsections A-C, subsection D discusses a number of cases that can readily be confused with van-PPs with a PP-complement.

[+]  A.  Pronominalization of the PP

The PP-complement can be replaced by the locational pro-form daar/hier'there/here', just like other locational preposition phrases: example (14), for instance, provides the demonstrative variants of the examples in (13).

Example 14
van daar/hier
  from  there/here
[+]  B.  Placement of the R-word in cases of R-extraction

The examples in (15) show that, like all locational PPs, the PPs in (13) allow R-extraction. The fact that the R-word daar intervenes between van'from' and the second preposition unambiguously shows that we are not dealing with compounds.

Example 15
a. De muis kwam van boven/onder de kast (vandaan).
  the mouse  came  from  above/under  the cupboard  vandaan
b. De muis kwam van daar boven/onder (vandaan).
  the mouse  came  from  there  above/under  vandaan

The fact, illustrated in the examples in (16), that the R-word must follow and cannot precede van also supports the claim that we are not dealing with compounds, given that the examples in (17) show that the R-word must precede the first member of undisputed compounds like tegenover'opposite'; cf. 1.2.1, sub II.

Example 16
a. daar boven/onder (vandaan).
  there  above/under  vandaan
  'from under/above it'
a'. * daar van boven/onder (vandaan)
b. van daar voor/achter/naast
  from  there  in.front.of/behind/next.to
  'from in front of/behind/next to it'
b'. * daar van voor/achter/naast
c. van links/rechts daar van
  from  left/right  there  of
  'from the left/right of it'
c'. * daar van links/rechts van
Example 17
a. tegenover het huis
  opposite  the house
b. daar tegenover
  there  opposite
c. * tegen daar over
[+]  C.  Modification of the PP

Like other locational prepositional phrases, the complement of van can be modified by means of adverbs of orientation and distance. The primed examples in (18) show that the modifier must intervene between van and the PP-complement. This shows that we cannot be dealing with compounds, given that the modifier must precede the first member of compounds like tegenover'opposite' in (19).

Example 18
a. Er klonk een stem van diep onder het puin (vandaan).
  there  sounded  a voice  from  deep  under the wreckage  vandaan
  'A voice came from deep under the wreckage.'
a'. *? Er klonk een stem diep van onder het puin.
b. De auto naderde van schuin/ver achter het huis (vandaan).
  the car  approached  from  diagonally/far  behind the house  vandaan
b'. * De auto naderde schuin/ver van achter het huis.
Example 19
a. Het café staat schuin tegenover de kerk.
  the bar  stands  diagonally  opposite the church
  'The bar is situated diagonally across from the church.'
b. * Het café staat tegen schuin over de kerk.
[+]  D.  Apparent cases of van with a PP-complement

Although Subsection I has shown that van'from' may take a PP-complement, not all sequences of van and a preposition-like element must be analyzed as involving complementation. We start with the form vanaf'from' in (20a), which is probably a complex preposition. One potential argument in favor of this analysis is that R-pronouns cannot intervene between van and af in (20b), but this may not be sufficient given that R-extraction does not seem to be possible at all; example (20c) is also unacceptable. However, the fact that af Groningen cannot be used as a locational PP in isolation, and cannot be replaced by the locational pro-form daar'there' (cf. (20d)) strongly suggests that we are indeed dealing with a compound.

Example 20
a. Jan zeurt al vanaf Groningen om een ijsje.
  Jan nags already  from Groningen  for an ice.cream
  'Jan has been pestering for an ice cream since Groningen.'
b. ?? Jan zeurt al van daar af om een ijsje.
c. * Jan zeurt al daar vanaf om een ijsje.
d. Jan zeurt al van??(af) daar om een ijsje.

In passing we note that the claim that vanaf in (20a) is a compound does not imply that the sequence daar van af never occurs. It does, but it has a different source, namely the circumpositional phrase van ... af in (21a). This circumpositional phrase does allow R-extraction and thus gives rise to the sequence in question; cf. (21b).

Example 21
a. Jan sprong van het dak af.
  Jan jumped  from the roof  af
  'Jan jumped down from the roof.'
b. Jan sprong daar van af.
  Jan jumped  there  from  af
  'Jan jumped down from there.'

Given the data in (21), the relative acceptability of (20c) can also readily be accounted for: it has more or lesss the same marginal status as ??Jan zeurt al van Groningen af om een ijsje.
      Confusion may also arise between example (22a) and the somewhat marked example with the circumpositional phrase van deze positie uit in (22b).

Example 22
a. Van uit deze positie kan je de optocht goed zien.
  from  out.of  this position  can  you  the parade  well  observe
  'You can observe the parade well from this position.'
b. ? Van deze positie uit kan je de optocht goed zien.

In fact, it is not quite clear how the construction in (22a) should be analyzed. At first sight, example (23a) seems to suggest that we are dealing with a PP headed by van and a PP complement uit deze positie. However, since hier cannot be replaced by the typical R-pronoun er, it is not evident that hier must be analyzed as an R-pronoun or as a locational pro-form. In the latter case (23a) should be analyzed as a circumpositional phrase, so we can no longer use this example to exclude the compound analysis for vanuit in (22a). The fact that (22b) is marginal at best, on the other hand, seems to go against the idea that vanuit in (22a) is a compound.

Example 23
a. Van hier uit kan je de optocht goed zien.
  from  here  out.of  can  you  the parade  well  observe
  'You can observe the parade well from here.'
b. ?? Hier van uit kan je de optocht goed zien.

We will not try to solve this puzzle here, but simply leave it to future research to decide what the correct analysis is for example (22a).
      To conclude note that the sequence er van uit in (24b) is fine, but that this example involves neither the complex preposition vanuit nor the circumposition van ... uit. This example involves the particle verb uit gaan'to assume', which takes an obligatory PP-complement headed by van; this is clear from the fact that in (24a) the van-PP can either precede or follow the particle uit.

Example 24
a. Jan ging <uit> van de volgende vooronderstellingen <uit>.
  Jan went   prt.  from the following assumptions
  'Jan adopted the following assumptions.'
b. Jan ging er van uit dat ....
  Jan went  there  from  prt.  that
  'Jan assumed that ...'
[+]  II.  Temporal van-PPs

The preposition van'from' takes not only locational PPs as its complement, but can also take temporal PPs. Two examples are given in (25a) and (26a). As with locational PPs, there are again several facts that suggest that we are not dealing with the complex prepositions vanvoor and vanna. First, the (b)-examples show that the temporal PPs can be combined with a modifier of “distance”, which intervenes between van and the temporal prepositions. Second, the (c)-examples show that temporal PPs allow R-extraction and that the R-words intervene between van and the temporal prepositions; the R-words cannot precede van, which would be expected if we were dealing with a compound. Finally, the (d)-examples show that the temporal PPs can be replaced by the pro-form toen'then'.

Example 25
a. van voor de oorlog
  from  before  the war
b. van vlak voor de oorlog
  from  just  before  the war
c. <*daar> van <daar> voor
    there  from  before
  'from before it'
d. van toen
  from  then
Example 26
a. van na de oorlog
  from  after the war
b. van vlak na de oorlog
  from  just  after the war
c. <*er> van vlak <er> na
  there  from  just  after
  'from just after it'
d. van toen
  from then

In passing, observe that van can also take a temporal clause as its complement, as in the primeless examples in (27). The temporal clause must be finite; infinitival clauses, as in the primed examples, lead to ungrammaticality.

Example 27
a. Dit model dateert van voordat ik geboren was.
  this model  dates  from  before  born  was
  'This model dates from before I was born.'
a'. * Hij herinnert zich dat van voor te zijn geboren.
  he remembers  refl  that  from  before  to be  born
b. van nadat hij ontslagen was
  from  after  he  fired  was
b'. * van na ontslagen te zijn
  from  after  fired  to be

      The formation vanaf'from' does not seem to involve complementation on its temporal reading either, but instead acts like a complex preposition. Example (28b) shows that an R-pronoun cannot intervene between van and af, which is again not sufficient to claim that we are dealing with a compound, since R-extraction does not seem to be possible at all; example (28c) is also unacceptable. However, the fact that af zijn verjaardag cannot be used as a locational/temporal PP in isolation and cannot be replaced by the temporal pro-form toen'then' strongly suggests that we are indeed dealing with a compound.

Example 28
a. Jan is al vanaf zijn verjaardag ziek.
b. * Jan is al van daar af ziek.
c. * Jan is al daar vanaf ziek.
d. * Jan is al van toen ziek.

Note that the existence of the temporal circumposition van .. af does not complicate matters in this case, given that it never allows R-extraction: daar van af has only a spatial meaning.

[+]  III.  Spatial tot-PPs

The preposition tot'until' is also a directional preposition, but in contrast to van'from' it expresses what the endpoint of the implied path is. As in the case of van, the complement of tot refers to a location; in (29) the city Groningen is the endpoint of the path.

Example 29
Jan rijdt tot Groningen.
  Jan drives  until Groningen

Example (30a) shows that the preposition tot can also take a locational prepositional phrase. That we are dealing with a PP-complement is clear from the following facts. First, (30a) shows that the locational PP can be combined with a modifier like vlak'just', which must intervene between tot and the locational preposition. Second, the (b)-examples show that the locational PP allows R-extraction and the R-word intervenes between tot and the locational preposition; the R-word cannot precede the preposition tot or its stranded allomorph toe, which would be expected if we were dealing with a compound. Example (30c), finally, shows that the PP can be replaced by the locational pro-forms daar/hier'there/here'.

Example 30
a. Jan reed de auto <*vlak> tot <vlak> voor de garage.
  Jan drove  the car      just  until  in.front.of the garage
b. Jan reed de auto tot er voor.
  Jan drove  the car  until  there  in.front.of
b'. * Jan reed de auto er tot/toe voor.
  Jan drove  the car  there  until  in.front.of
c. Jan reed de auto tot daar/hier.
  Jan drove  the car  until  there/here

For completeness' sake, note that the constructions in (30) can be extended by means of the elements aan and toe, as in (31). These elements can also be used in constructions such as (32), in which case aan can even occupy two different positions with respect to the reference object het station'the station'. It is not clear to us what the function of the elements aan and toe is.

Example 31
a. Jan reed de auto tot (vlak) voor de garage aan toe.
  Jan drove  the care  until   just  in.front.of the garage  aan  toe
b. Jan reed de auto tot er voor aan toe.
c. Jan reed de auto tot daar/hier aan toe.
Example 32
tot <aan> het station <aan> toe
  until   aan  the station  toe
[+]  IV.  Temporal tot-PPs

The (a)-examples in (33) and (34) show that the preposition tot'until' takes not only locational PPs as its complement, but can also take temporal PPs. As in the case with locational PPs, we are not dealing here with the complex prepositions totvoor and totna, which is clear from the following facts. First, the (b)-examples show that the temporal PPs can be combined with a modifier of “distance”, which intervenes between tot and the temporal prepositions. Second, the (c)-examples show that the temporal PPs allow R-pronominalization and that the R-word intervenes between tot and the temporal preposition; the R-word cannot precede tot (or its stranded alternant toe), which would be expected if we were dealing with a compound. Finally, the (d)-examples show that the temporal PP can be replaced by the pro-form dan'then'. Note that this phrase tot dan! is also used as a fixed collocation meaning “see you later!”.

Example 33
a. tot voor de oorlog
  until  before the war
b. tot vlak voor de oorlog
  until  just  before the war
b. <*daar> tot <daar> voor
    there  until before
d. ? tot dan
  until  then
Example 34
a. tot na de oorlog
  until  after the war
b. tot lang na de oorlog
  until  long  after the war
c. <*daar> tot <daar> na
    there  until after
d. ? tot dan
  until  then

The examples in (35) show that, like van, tot can also take a finite, but not an infinitival, temporal clause as its complement.

Example 35
a. Wacht tot nadat we gegeten hebben!
  wait  until  after  we eaten  have
b. * Wacht tot na gegeten te hebben!
  wait  until  after  eaten  to have

      The (d)-examples in (33) and (34) are perhaps somewhat marked, but they improve considerably if we add the elements (aan) toe, as in (36a). This possibility is undoubtedly related to the fact, illustrated in the (b)-examples in (36), that these elements can also be added to the (b)-examples in (33) and (34). Note that, as in (32), the element aan can either precede or follow the reference object de morgen'the morning' in (37). In these cases, the function of the elements aan and toe is again not clear to us.

Example 36
a. tot dan (aan) toe
b. tot vlak voor de oorlog (aan) toe
  until  just  before the war  aan  toe
b'. tot lang na de oorlog (aan) toe
  until  long  after the war  aan  toe
Example 37
tot <aan> de morgen <aan> toe
  until   aan  the morning  toe
[+]  V.  Other directional adpositions

The previous subsections have shown that the directional prepositions van'from' and tot'until' may take a PP-complement. This may lead to the expectation that other directional prepositions behave in a similar way. This is not the case, however, which is demonstrated by means of the directional preposition naar'to' in (38). This suggests that the fact that van and tot refer to, respectively, the starting and endpoint of the path is crucial for allowing a PP as a complement.

Example 38
a. * naar boven/onder de kast
  to  above/under  the cupboard
b. * naar voor/achter het huis
  to  in.front.of/behind  the house
c. * naar naast het huis
  to  next.to  the house
d. * naar links/rechts van het huis
  to  left/right of  the house

Nevertheless it should be noted that naar can be followed by intransitive prepositions if it is in construction with van'from'; see the examples with the sequence van ... naar ... in (39). The unacceptability of *? van voor naar boven'from the front to the top' shows that the intransitive adpositions must be antonyms, which suggests that we are actually dealing with lexicalized expressions.

Example 39
a. Hij liep van voor naar achter.
  he  walked  from the.front  to the.back
b. Hij bekeek het voorwerp van onder tot boven.
  he  looked.at  the object  from the.bottom  to the.top
c. Hij schoof het boek van links naar rechts.
  he  slid  the book  from the.left  to the.right
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