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2.5.1. Absolute met-construction

This section is concerned with the absolute met-construction, subsection I starts by showing that the construction constitutes a phrase, subsections II to IV continue by discussing, respectively, the properties of the predicative part of the construction, the syntactic uses of the construction, and the properties of the noun phrase of which the predicative part of the construction is predicated, subsection V concludes by discussing some syntactic properties of the construction as a whole.

[+]  I.  Constituency

That the phrase met Jan in het doel in (69a) forms a constituent is clear from the fact illustrated in (69b&c) that it can be placed in clause-initial or extraposed position; cf. the constituency test. Furthermore, the primed examples show that the construction cannot be split; this is illustrated in the (b)-examples for topicalization and in the (c)-examples for PP-over-V.

Example 69
a. We kunnen [met Jan in het doel] niet verliezen.
  we  can   with Jan in the goal  not  lose
  'We cannot lose with Jan in the goal.'
b. [Met Jan in het doel] kunnen we niet verliezen.
b'. * Met Jan kunnen we in het doel niet verliezen.
b''. * In het doel kunnen we met Jan niet verliezen.
c. We kunnen niet verliezen [met Jan in het doel].
c'. * We kunnen met Jan niet verliezen in het doel.
c''. * We kunnen in het doel niet verliezen met Jan.
[+]  II.  The predicative part

The following subsections show that the predicative part of the absolute met-construction can be of several categories.

[+]  A.  Adpositional predicates

Adpositional predicates are probably the most common in the absolute met-construction. If the adposition is prepositional, as in (70), the PP may express either a location or a direction.

Example 70
a. [Met Jan in het doel] kunnen we niet verliezen.
  with  Jan  in the goal  can  we  not  lose
  'With Jan in the goal we cannot lose.'
b. [Met de baby naar de crèche] kan Jan weer gaan werken.
  with  the baby  to the crèche  can Jan again  go  work
  'With the baby to the crèche Jan can work again.'

Given that the directional reading is possible, it will not come as a surprise that postpositional and circumpositional phrases are also possible; cf. (71).

Example 71
a. [Met Marie het huis uit] kan Jan een eigen kamer krijgen.
  with  Marie  the house  out  can  Jan an own room  get
  'With Marie out of the house Jan can get a room of his own.'
b. [Met de draad door de naald heen] kan ik eindelijk mijn broek repareren.
  with  the thread  through the needle  heen  can  finally my trousers  repair
  'With the thread through the needle I can finally repair my trousers.'

Example (72a) shows that intransitive prepositions can also be used. Verbal particles like op in (72b) are marginally possible if they occur with the main verb hebben'to have' (like Hij heeft zijn borrel op'He has finished his drink') or if they can be used in a copular construction (cf. De drank is op'The booze is finished'), and are excluded in all other cases.

Example 72
a. [Met een nette das om] ging hij de club binnen.
  with  a neat tie  around  went  he  the club  inside
  'He went inside the club with a neat tie around (his neck).'
b. ? [Met de drank op] vertrok iedereen snel.
  with  the booze  op  left  everyone  quickly
  'With the booze finished everyone left quickly.'
[+]  B.  Adjectival predicates

The examples in (73) show that the predicative part of an absolute met-construction may also be an adjectival phrase. In order to be able to occur in this construction, the adjective must denote a transitory property: typical stage-level adjectives like ziek'ill' and dronken'drunk' generally give rise to a felicitous result, whereas typical individual-level predicates like intelligent'intelligent' or klein van stuk'small of posture' are excluded in this construction.

Example 73
Stage-level adjectives
a. [Met Jan ziek] kan de vergadering niet doorgaan.
  with  Jan ill  can  the meeting  not  take.place
  'With Jan ill the meeting cannot take place.'
b. [Met de helft van de ploeg dronken] verliezen we zeker.
  with  the half of the team  drunk  lose  we certainly
  'With half of the team drunk, we will certainly lose.'
Example 74
Individual-level adjectives
a. * [Met Jan intelligent] lossen we alles op.
  with  Jan intelligent  solve  we  everything  prt.
b. * [Met Peter en Jan klein van stuk] kunnen ze gemakkelijk in één bed slapen.
  with  Peter and Jan  small of posture  can  they  easily  in one bed  sleep
[+]  C.  Nominal predicates

Nominal predicates cannot readily be used in the absolute met-construction. Instead, the nominal predicate appears preceded by the element als'as', which also appears in the supplementive and complementive constructions in (76).

Example 75
a. ?? [Met Jan voorzitter] zal de vergaderen snel verlopen.
  with  Jan  chairman  will  the meeting  quickly  proceed
b. [Met Jan als voorzitter] zal de vergaderen snel verlopen.
  with  Jan  as chairman  will  the meeting  quickly  proceed
  'With Jan as chairman, the meeting will proceed quickly.'
Example 76
a. Als voorzitter is Jan verantwoordelijk voor de procedure.
  as chairman  is Jan responsible  for the procedure
  'As chairman, Jan is responsible for the procedure.'
b. Ik beschouw Jan als onze voorzitter.
  consider  Jan  as our chairman
[+]  D.  Past/Present participles and modal infinitives

It seems that participles and infinitives can at best marginally act as predicates in absolute met-constructions. Example (77a) is a potentially acceptable example that involves a passive participle. The judgments on this example seem to vary from “perfect” to “marginal”; that we are dealing here with a (verbal) passive participle is supported by the fact that a passive door-phrase is present. However, including the perfect participle gedronken'drunk' in example (77b) leads to an ungrammatical result; the particle op must stand alone. In order to be able to fully appreciate the importance of (77b), it should be noted that many apparent cases of past/passive participles may actually involve deverbal adjectives. Example (77c) illustrates this; that we are dealing with an adjective in this example is clear from the fact that gesloten'closed' expresses a stative property.

Example 77
a. % [Met Jan achtervolgd door de politie] moeten we nu voorzichtig zijn.
  with  Jan chased by the police  must  we now  careful  be
  'With Jan chased by the police, we have to be careful.'
b. [Met een borrel op (*gedronken)] mag je geen auto besturen.
  with  a drink  up     drank  may you  no car  steer
  'One isnʼt allowed to drive a car after drinking.'
c. [Met het museum gesloten] is hier niets te doen.
  with  the museum  closed  is here  nothing  to do
  'With the museum closed, there is nothing to do here.'

      The use of present participles, as in (78a), is generally judged as marginal. However, if the present participle is suffixed with an -e ending, as in (78b), the result is well-formed, which is of course related to the fact that such forms can also be used in copular constructions such as (78b'); cf. Section A9.3.1, sub II.

Example 78
a. [Met Jan naast mij (??lopend)] voel ik me niet op mijn gemak.
  with  Jan  next.to me     walking  feel  refl  not  at my ease
  'With John (walking) beside me, I donʼt feel at my ease.'
b. [Met Jan stervende/??stervend] kunnen we niet op vakantie gaan.
  with  Jan dying  can  we  not  on holiday  go
  'With Jan dying we cannot go on holiday.'
b'. Jan bleek stervende/*stervend.
  Jan turned.out  dying

      Modal infinitives can also be used in this construction, which is not surprising since they can also appear as predicates of copular constructions. The fact that the te + infinitive sequences precede the finite verbs in the primed examples shows that they are not dependent clauses, since clausal te-infinitives never precede the finite verb in clause-final position; cf. Section V7.

Example 79
a. [Met nog drie wedstrijden te spelen] ...
  with  yet  three games  to play
a'. dat er nog drie wedstrijden te spelen zijn.
  that  there  yet  three games  to play  are
  'that there are still three games to play.'
b. [Met nog drie kilometer te gaan] ...
  with yet three kilometer to go
b'. dat er nog drie kilometer te gaan is.
  that  there  yet  three kilometer  to go  is
  'that there are still three kilometers to go.'

Example (80a) shows that the use of regular, non-modal ( te-)infinitives is excluded in Standard Dutch. It can be noted, however, that this use does occur in certain dialects spoken in Flanders and Brabant. The grammatical example in (80b) is from the Flemish dialect spoken in Wambeek, the properties of this construction are discussed in Haslinger (2007: Chapter 3).

Example 80
a. * [Met Marie (te) werken] moet hij de hele dag thuis blijven.
  with  Marie to work must  he  the whole day  home  stay
b. [Mè zaai te werken] moest-n-ai de gieln dag toisj blaaiven
  with  she  to work  must-he  the whole day  home  stay
  'With her working, he had to stay home all day.'
[+]  III.  Syntactic uses

The absolute met-construction can perform various syntactic functions, which are discussed in this subsection. We will also compare the absolute constructions with constructions involving the main verb hebben'to have' and the copular verb zijn'to be', since this comparison has played an important role in the discussion about the internal structure of the absolute met-construction; see Subsection D for a brief summary of this discussion.

[+]  A.  Attributive use

In (81a&b), the absolute met-construction is used attributively, as is clear from the fact that the sequence consisting of the noun phrase and the absolute construction is placed in clause-initial position. If the absolute construction is used attributively, there are several additional restrictions on the predicative part of the absolute construction, as is clear from the unacceptability of the examples in (81c&d).

Example 81
a. [NP Die man [PP met een revolver in zijn hand]] is gevaarlijk.
  that man  with  a revolver  in his hand  is dangerous
b. [NP Die vrouw [PP met dat boek voor zich]] is de nieuwe hoogleraar.
  that woman  with  that book  in.front.of refl  is the new professor
  'That woman with that book in front of her is the new professor.'
c. * [NP Die man [PP met zijn vrouw ziek]] is ongelukkig.
  that man  with  his wife  ill  is unhappy
d. * [NP Die vrouw [PP met haar benen verlamd]] is de nieuw hoogleraar.
  that woman  with  her legs paralyzed  is the new professor

The data in (81) suggest that adjectives are not possible in attributively used absolute met-constructions. It has been argued, however, that the difference between the two cases is related to the fact that the constructions in (81a&b) can be paraphrased by means of a relative clause containing the verb hebben, whereas the examples in (81c&d) cannot.

Example 82
a. Die man die een revolver in zijn hand heeft ...
  that man  who  a revolver  in his hand  has
b. Die vrouw die een boek voor zich heeft ...
  that woman  who  a book  in.front.of refl  has
c. *? Die man die zijn vrouw ziek heeft ...
  that man  who  his wife  ill  has
d. *? Die vrouw die haar benen verlamd heeft ...
  that woman  who her legs  paralyzed  has

It should be noted, however, that the correspondence between the absolute met-construction and the relative construction with hebben does not work in reverse: whereas the construction with a relative clause in (83b) is fully acceptable, the absolute construction in (83a) is ungrammatical.

Example 83
a. * [De man [met zijn schoenen nu eindelijk schoon]] is mijn broer.
  the man  with  his shoes  now  finally  clean  is my brother
b. [De man [die zijn schoenen nu eindelijk schoon heeft]] is mijn broer.
  the man  who  his shoes  now  finally  clean  has  is my brother
  'The man who has his shoes finally clean is my brother.'
[+]  B.  Adverbial use

Adverbially used absolute met-constructions express an accessory circumstance with respect to the event expressed by the clause: they may express a cause, as in (84a), specify a condition under which the event in the main clause takes place, as in (84b), describe a state or an event that simultaneously takes place, as in (84c), etc.

Example 84
a. We schaatsen altijd [met zoveel sneeuw op straat].
  we  skate  always  with  so.much snow  in the.street
  'With so much snow in the streets, weʼre always skating.'
b. Jan spijbelt altijd [met zoʼn voetbalwedstrijd op TV].
  Jan plays.truant  always  with  such.a soccer.game  on TV
  'Jan always plays truant with such a soccer game on TV.'
c. Jan slaapt altijd [met het raam open].
  Jan sleeps  always  with  the window  open
  'Jan always sleeps with his window open.'

In this respect the absolute met-constructions in (84) do not differ from the PPs in (85), the complements of which do not involve predication.

Example 85
a. We schaatsen altijd met zulk mooi weer.
  we  skate  always  with such beautiful weather
  'With such beautiful weather weʼre always skating.'
b. Jan spijbelt altijd met zoʼn voetbalwedstrijd.
  Jan plays.truant  always  with  such.a soccer.game
  'Jan always plays truant with such a soccer game.'
c. Jan slaapt altijd met een open raam.
  Jan sleeps  always  with an open window
  'Jan always sleeps with an open window.'

The examples in (86) and (87) show that the constructions in (84) and (85) are not only semantically, but also syntactically similar: they do not allow R-extraction, in contrast to what is normally the case with other types of met-PPs; cf. the discussion of example (390) in Section 1.3.3, sub II {{0}}.

Example 86
a. * De sneeuw waar we [mee op straat] schaatsen.
  the snow  that  we  with  in the.street  skate
b. * De voetbalwedstrijd waar Jan altijd [mee op TV] spijbelt.
  the soccer.game  that  Jan always  with  on TV  plays.truant
c. * Het raam waar Jan altijd [mee open] slaapt.
  the window  that  Jan always  with  open  sleeps
Example 87
a. * Het mooie weer waar we altijd mee schaatsen.
  the beautiful weather  that  we always  with  skate
b. * De voetbalwedstrijd waar Jan altijd mee spijbelt.
  the soccer.game  that  Jan always  with  plays.truant
c. * Het open raam waar Jan altijd mee slaapt.
  the open window  that  Jan always  with  sleeps

      This similarity in meaning and syntactic behavior seems to justify the assumption that the two constructions are essentially the same, the only difference being that in (84) the preposition met takes a complex phrase expressing a predicative relation as its complement, whereas in (85) the preposition simply takes a nominal complement. We refer the reader to Beukema & Hoekstra (1984) for an alternative account for the ungrammaticality of the examples in (86) and to Subsection VC, for some apparent counterexamples to the claim that R-extraction from absolute met-constructions is excluded.
      For completeness' sake, we want to note that the absolute constructions in the examples in (84) can be paraphrased by means of copular constructions.

Example 88
a. We schaatsen altijd als er zoveel sneeuw op straat is.
  we  skate  always  when  there  so.much snow  in the.street  is
  'When there is so much snow in the street, weʼre always skating.'
b. Jan spijbelt altijd als er zoʼn voetbalwedstrijd op TV is.
  Jan plays.truant  always  when  there  such.a soccer.game  on TV  is
  'Jan always plays truant when there is such a soccer game on TV.'
c. Jan slaapt altijd terwijl het raam open is.
  Jan sleeps  always  while  the window  open is
  'Jan always sleeps while the window is open.'
[+]  C.  Supplementive use

The examples in the previous subsection involve cases in which the absolute PP is used adverbially and refers to some accessory circumstance under which the event denoted by the verb takes place. The absolute PP can, however, also be used as a supplementive and thus convey additional information about one of the arguments of the verb. This is illustrated in (89).

Example 89
a. Marie zag de rover [met een revolver in zijn hand] wegrennen.
  Marie saw  the robber  with a revolver in his hand  away ran
  'Marie saw the robber run away with a revolver in his hand.'
b. Marie liep [met een revolver in haar hand] naar de rover toe
  Marie walked  with a revolver in her hand  to the robber  toe
  'Marie walked to the robber with a revolver in her hand.'
c. * De auto reed [met een revolver in haar/de hand] weg.
  the car  drove  with a revolver in her/the hand  away

In (89a) the absolute PP modifies the direct object of the clause: it expresses that the robber, who is running away, has a revolver in his hand, which is clear from the fact (indicated by italics) that the possessive pronoun zijn'his' must be construed as coreferential with the noun phrase de rover'the robber'. Like supplementive APs, supplementive absolute PPs can also modify the subject of the clause; in (89b), the absolute PP expresses that Marie, who is approaching the robber, has a revolver in her hand, which is clear from the fact that the possessive pronoun haar'her' must be construed as coreferential with the noun phrase Marie. Supplementive absolute PPs must modify some argument of the verb: in (89c) no suitable antecedent is available and the sentence is ungrammatical.
      Like attributively used absolute PPs, the supplementive absolute PPs in (89) can be paraphrased by means of a construction involving hebben; cf. (90).

Example 90
a. Marie zag de rover wegrennen terwijl hij een revolver in zijn hand had.
  Marie saw  the robber  away.run  while  he  a revolver  in his hand  had
b. Marie liep naar de rover toe terwijl zij een revolver in haar hand had.
  Marie  went  to the robber prt.  while  she  a revolver  in her hand  had

The examples in (91) show that if the hebben-construction is excluded, the supplementive use of the absolute met-PP is not possible either.

Example 91
a. * Jan vertrok [met zijn vrouw ziek].
  Jan left  with his wife  ill
b. * Jan vertrok terwijl hij zijn vrouw ziek had.
  Jan left  while  he his wife  ill  had
[+]  D.  Concluding remarks

The preceding subsections have shown that, in terms of paraphrases, there is a difference between the adverbial use of the absolute construction, on the one hand, and its attributive and supplementive use, on the other. The fact that the latter must allow a paraphrase with hebben'to have' has led to the hypothesis in (92a), according to which the complement of met has a clause-like structure with an empty abstract verb [Ve] meaning “to have” and a PRO-subject that corresponds to the subject of the paraphrase with hebben; cf. Klein (1983). This hypothesis has been refuted by pointing to adverbially used absolute constructions, which certainly do not involve the postulated empty verb or a PRO-subject, in favor of the “Small Clause” structure in (92b); cf. Beukema & Hoekstra (1983), and also Van Riemsdijk (1978) for additional arguments against structures like (92a). However, a problem with the proposal in (92b), which was also defended within a non-generative framework by Duinhoven (1985), is that it does not account for the clause-like properties of the complement of met: Subsection V will show that the complement of met may contain all kinds of phrases that we would expect within a clause rather than within a Small Clause; these include adverbial phrases, supplementives, (moved) R-words, etc. An attempt to reconcile the two approaches can be found in Smits & Vat (1985), who assume that the complement of met is a verbal projection which is smaller than a full clause and therefore does not contain a PRO-subject, as in (92c). To our knowledge, the discussion on the internal structure of the absolute met-construction has not been continued since.

Example 92
a. [PP met/zonder [S PRO ... NP PRED [V e]]]
b. [PP met/zonder [SC NP PRED]]
c. [PP met/zonder [VP ... NP PRED ..[Ve]]]
[+]  IV.  The noun phrase part

The examples in (84) and (85) in Subsection III have shown that the predicative part of the absolute met-construction is (in a sense) optional. This does not hold for the noun phrase that the predicative part of the construction is predicated of. Dropping it results in ungrammaticality, as is illustrated in (93) on the basis of the examples in (84).

Example 93
a. We schaatsen altijd met *(zoveel sneeuw) op straat.
  we  skate  always  with    so much snow  in the.street
b. Jan spijbelt altijd met *(zoʼn voetbalwedstrijd) op TV.
  Jan  plays.truant  always  with     such a soccer.game  on TV
c. Jan slaapt altijd met *(het raam) open.
  Jan sleeps  always  with   the window  open

The noun phrase is assigned case by the preposition. It cannot be demonstrated whether dative or accusative case is involved since Dutch has no morphological case marking, but the German examples in (94) suggest that dative case is involved: the noun phrase is assigned dative case by mit'with', just like a simple nominal complement of mit would be. This strongly suggests that case-assignment in the absolute met-construction is of the exceptional type in the sense that the noun phrase is assigned case by met across the boundary of the complement of the preposition. That is, the absolute construction behaves like English constructions such as I consider [him to be nice], where the verb consider assigns case to the subject of the embedded infinitival clause.

Example 94
a. [Mit dem Gepäckdat im Flugzeug] kann die Reise jetzt anfangen.
  with  the luggage  in.the airplane  can  the journey  now  start
b. [Mit dem Fensterdat offen] schläft man besser.
  with  the window  open  sleeps  one  better

Note in passing that Beukema & Hoekstra (1983) point out that assuming this form of exceptional case marking is problematic for structure (92a). First, we would expect the empty verb to assign accusative case to the noun phrase, and, second, PRO should be excluded since it only occurs in positions in which case cannot be assigned. Smits & Vat (1985) try to solve this problem for (92c) by assuming that there is no PRO argument and that the empty position is not a real verb but an empty position licensed by the preposition; as a result, the preposition can be held indirectly responsible for case-assignment to the noun phrase.
      There are virtually no restrictions on the noun phrase in the absolute met-construction. The examples in (95a-f) show that all regular NP types are possible in this construction, with the exception of weak pronouns. The lack of restrictions is important to note, since Section 2.5.2 will show that the absolute zonder-construction does impose restrictions on the noun phrase. Note further that the use of a bare singular noun phrase, as in (95g), leads to ungrammaticality; the absolute zonder-construction will be shown to behave differently in this respect as well.

Example 95
a. [Met Jan in het doel] kunnen we niet verliezen.
proper noun
  with  Jan in the goal  can  we  not  lose
  'With Jan in the goal we cannot lose.'
b. [Met hem/*'m in het doel] ...
strong/weak pronoun
  with  him/him  in the goal
c. [Met de juiste man in het doel] ...
definite NP
  with  the right person  in the goal
d. [Met die keeper in het doel] ...
demonstrative NP
  with  that goalkeeper  in the goal
e. [Met een goede keeper in het doel] ...
existentially quantified NP
  with  a good goalkeeper  in the goal
e'. [Met alle spelers in het doel] ...
universally quantified NP
  with all players  in the goal
f. [Met wie in het doel] ...?
interrogative phrase
  with whom  in the goal
g. * [Met goede keeper in het doel] ...
bare singular NP
  with  good goalkeeper  in the goal

The prohibition on weak pronouns in the absolute met-construction is due to the fact that the absolute met-construction has a characteristic accentuation pattern; the examples in (96) show that both the noun phrase and the predicate must receive accent, which is indicated by small capitals.

Example 96
a. met Jan in het doel
  with  Jan  in the goal
b. met sneeuw op straat
  with  snow  in the.street
c. met het raam open
  with  the window  open

Since only strong pronouns can be assigned stress, this causes the unacceptability of the weak pronouns in the examples in (97). Note in passing that Standard Dutch has no weak forms for the first and second person plural pronouns in (97d&e).

Example 97
a. met mij/*me in het doel
  with  me  in the goal
d. met ons in het doel
  with us  in the goal
b. met jou/*je in het doel
  with  you  in the goal
e. met jullie in het doel
  with youpl  in the goal
c. met hem/*'m in het doel
  with  him  in the goal
f. met hun/*ze in het doel
  with them  in the goal
c'. met haar/*'r in het doel
  with  her  in the goal

The fact that weak pronouns cannot occur in the absolute met-construction may help us to distinguish examples that involve the sequence of a met-PP and some other PP from the absolute met-construction. The examples in (98), for instance, involve a comitative met-PP followed by a complementive PP.

Example 98
a. Jan stond met me voor de deur.
  Jan stood with me  in.front.of  the door
b. Jan liep met je naar school toe.
  Jan walked  with  you  to school
c. Jan stond met 'm/'r/ze voor de deur.
  Jan stood with hem/her/them  in.front.of  the door

      In (97), we did not include examples with the neuter pronoun het. The examples in (99) show that this pronoun can never be used in the absolute met-construction, neither in its weak nor in its strong form. This is due to the fact that het normally resists assignment of accent; cf. N5.2.1.

Example 99
a. met het raam open
  with  the window  open
b. * met het/het/'t open
  with  it  open

If this explanation of the ungrammaticality of (99b) is indeed correct, the impossibility of this example need not be stated in terms of the general rule that the neuter pronoun het cannot occur as the complement of a preposition; see Section 5.1 for discussion. This may be important for analyses of the type in (92) that do not consider the noun phrase to be the complement of the preposition but part of a larger phrase.

[+]  V.  Some syntactic properties

This subsection discusses a number of syntactic properties of (the constituting parts of) absolute met-constructions. We will start our discussion with the binding properties of the noun phrases that may occur within the absolute met-construction.

[+]  A.  Binding

The examples in (100) show that the noun phrases Jan and Marie en Jan may act as the antecedent of an anaphor in the complement of the predicative adjectival phrases headed by geïnteresseerd'interested' and verliefd'in love' (coreference is indicated by means of identity of indices). This supports the idea that the nominal part of the absolute construction acts as the logical subject of the predicative part; if the anaphors zichzelf and elkaar are complements of the adjectival head, they can only be bound by the subject of the predicative AP; see Section N5.2.1.5, sub III, for extensive discussion.

Example 100
a. met Jani alleen geïnteresseerd in zichzelfi
  with  Jan just  interested  in himself
b. met [Marie en Jan]i verliefd op elkaari
  with   Marie and Jan  in.love  with each other

Example (101a) shows that if the predicative part of the absolute met-construction is a locational PP, the (long-distance) simple reflexive pronoun zich cannot be bound by the nominal part of the absolute met-construction, but must be bound by an argument of the main clause. This again supports the idea that the noun phrase acts as the subject of the predicative part of the absolute construction, given that the subject of a predicative PP can never act as the binder of simplex reflexive zich; cf. Section N5.2.1.5, sub III. Example (101b) shows that if the absolute met-construction is used attributively, zich can also be coreferential with the head of the modified noun phrase.

Example 101
a. Mariei liep naar buiten [met een knappe manj naast zichi/*j].
  Marie  walked  outside  with a handsome man  next.to  refl
  'Marie came outside with a handsome man next to her.'
b. Ik zag [NP een mani [met een hondj naast zichi/*j]].
  saw  a man   with a dog  next.to  refl
  'I saw a man who had a dog next to (with) him.'

      Examples (102a&b) show that the nominal part of the construction may also appear in a reflexive form. A remarkable restriction is that the predicate must be adpositional or appear as an als-phrase; if the predicate is adjectival, as in (102c), the construction is excluded. This may be a pragmatic matter, given that the supplementive ziek in (102c') is able to express the intended meaning more economically than the absolute construction met zichzelf ziek; see Smits & Vat (1985) for an alternative proposal.

Example 102
a. [Met zichzelfi in de hoofdrol] wou Jani de film wel financieren.
  with himself in the leading part  wanted  Jan  the movie  prt  finance
  'With himself playing the leading.part, Jan was willing to finance the movie.'
b. [Met zichzelfi als voorzitter] kon Jani het voorstel goedgekeurd krijgen.
  with himself as chairman  could  Jan the proposal  prt.-approved  get
  'With himself as chairman, Jan was able to get the proposal approved.'
c. * [Met zichzelfi ziek] kon Jani niet vertrekken.
  with himself ill  could  Jan  not  leave
c'. Ziek kon Jan niet vertrekken.
  ill  could  Jan not  leave
  'Being ill, Jan couldnʼt leave.'

Since personal and reflexive pronouns are normally in complementary distribution, it does not come as a surprise that zichzelf cannot be replaced by hem without changing the coreferentiality relation: the examples in (103a&b) are only possible if hem refers to some person other than Jan. The fact that the pronoun hem in (103c) cannot be bound by Jan either supports our earlier suggestion that (102c) is blocked by the more economical expression in (102c') and is thus not due to the binding conditions on zichzelf; if zichzelf were excluded by the binding conditions, we would expect binding of hem to be possible in (103c).

Example 103
a. [Met hemj/*i in de hoofdrol] wou Jani de film wel financieren.
b. [Met hemj/*i als voorzitter] kon Jani het voorstel goedgekeurd krijgen.
c. [Met hemj/*i ziek] kon Jani niet vertrekken.

Note that some speakers allow replacement of zichzelf in (102a&b) by the anaphoric-like form 'mzelf; as in (104a&b); cf. Section N2.2.5.2. Observe that substituting 'mzelf for zichzelf in (102c) does not improve this example, which again supports the claim that the contrast between (102a&b) and (102c) is not due to some binding restriction on zichzelf.

Example 104
a. [Met 'mzelfi in de hoofdrol] wou Jani de film wel financieren.
b. [Met 'mzelfi als voorzitter] kon Jani het voorstel goedgekeurd krijgen.
c. *[Met 'mzelfj/*i ziek] kon Jani vertrekken.

The simplex reflexive zich cannot be substituted for any of the occurrences of zichzelf in the examples in (102). It is not a priori clear whether this is due to the binding restrictions on the reflexive form: since zich is phonetically weak, the fact that we are unable to substitute zich for zichzelf may also follow from the fact that the pronoun must be strong; cf. example (97).

Example 105
a. * [Met zichi/j in de hoofdrol] wou Jani de film wel financieren.
b. * [Met zichi/j als voorzitter] kon Jani het voorstel goedgekeurd krijgen.
c. * [Met zichi/j ziek] kon Jani niet vertrekken.
[+]  B.  Modification

The complement of the preposition met can be modified by temporal, locational and other adverbial phrases. In (106), we give some examples with the temporal phrases nog altijd/steeds'still' and voortdurend'continuously'.

Example 106
a. met Jan nog altijd boos over die opmerking
  with  Jan  still  always  angry  about that remark
  'with Jan still angry about that remark'
b. met nog steeds dezelfde soort bloemen voor het raam
  with  still  always  the.same kind [of] flowers  in.front.of  the window
  'with still the same kind of flowers in the window'
c. met zijn vader voortdurend dronken
  with  his father  continuously  drunk

The temporal phrases in (106) are quantified and are normally used as clausal adverbs. The addition of temporal VP adverbs that refer to a fixed point on the time line, on the other hand, gives rise to an infelicitous result. This is shown in (107).

Example 107
a. *? met Jan gisteren boos over die opmerking
  with  Jan yesterday  angry  about that remark
b. *? met morgen dezelfde soort bloemen voor het raam
  with  tomorrow  the.same kind of flowers  in.front.of  the window
c. *? met zijn vader vroeg dronken
  with  his father  early  drunk

In (108) we give examples with locational phrases. Note that the use of locational phrases may lead to ambiguity; the primed (b)-examples show that it is not clear whether we should consider the als-phrase or the locational phrase voorop as the predicate in (108b). The examples in (109) involve modal adverbial phrases.

Example 108
a. een veld met hier en daar wat bloemen in het gras
  a field  with  here and there  some flowers  in the grass
b. een optocht met Jan <als aanvoerder> voorop <als aanvoerder>
  a parade  with Jan    as leader  in front
b'. een optocht met Jan als aanvoerder
b''. een optocht met Jan voorop
Example 109
a. een jurk met helaas wat vlekken op de zoom
  a dress  with  unfortunately  some stains  on the border
b. een jurk met natuurlijk een rits op de rug
  a dress  with  of course  a zipper  on the back

      Besides adverbial phrases, the absolute PP may also contain supplementive phrases. In (110a), the adjective verfrommeld preceding the locational PP functions as a supplementive predicated of the noun phrase zijn hoed and in (110a) the adjectival participle phrase vastgebonden is predicated of the noun phrase zijn handen.

Example 110
a. met zijn hoed verfrommeld op zijn hoofd
  with  his hat  crumpled  on his head
b. met zijn handen vastgebonden achter zijn rug
  with  his hands  tied  behind his back

      Example (111) further shows that the predicative PP can be modified by a modifier of distance or direction; cf. Section 3.1.4, sub I, for a discussion of these modifiers.

Example 111
[Met de tafel [vlak/schuin voor de kast]] lijkt de kamer kleiner.
  with the table close/diagonally  in.front.of the closet  seems  the room  smaller

Example (112), finally, shows that the absolute met-construction itself can also be modified; this is restricted to the addition of focus particles like alleen'only', zelfs'even', etc.

Example 112
[Alleen/Zelfs met Jan in het doel] kunnen we winnen.
  only/even  with Jan  in the goal  can  we win
[+]  C.  R-extraction and R-words

The (b)-examples in (113) show that the predicative PP voor de kast may undergo R-extraction. The fact that the R-word must follow the preposition met but precede the modifier vlak shows that the landing site is internal to the absolute met-phrase but external to the predicative PP.

Example 113
a. met de tafel vlak voor de kast
  with  the table  close  in.front.of  the cupboard
b. met de tafel er vlak voor
  with  the table  there  close  in.front.of
b'. * ... er ... mee/met de tafel vlak voor
  there  with  the table  close  in.front.of

It has been claimed that locational er'there' can also be used in the absolute met-construction. We do not agree with this; according to us the use of the strong form daar is much preferred, which may be related to the stress properties of the construction; cf. the discussion of (96) to (99). Expletive er is never possible; insofar as the use of er is acceptable in (114), it must be construed as an adverbial phrase of place.

Example 114
met daar/%er zoveel mensen op de stoep
  with there  so many people  on the doorstep

Example (115b) shows that absolute met-PPs may contain quantitative er. Further, example (115d) shows that er can even simultaneously perform the quantitative and prepositional function of er; this conflation of functions, which also occurs in the clausal domain, is more extensively discussed in Section 5.5.3. The somewhat marked status of the examples in (115c-d) may again be due to the stress properties of the construction.

Example 115
a. met nog drie snoepjes in zijn zak
  with  still  three candies  in his pocket
b. (?) met er nog drie [e] in zijn zak
quantitative er
  with  there  still  three  in his pocket
c. (?) met er nog drie snoepjes in
prepositional er
  with there  still  three candies in
  'with still three candies in it'
d. (?) met er nog drie [e] in
quantitative + prepositional er
  with  there  still  three  in
  'with still three in it'

      Example (116) illustrates that the nominal part of the absolute met-construction cannot undergo R-extraction. There are, however, some apparent counterexamples, which will be the topic of the remainder of this subsection.

Example 116
a. met het boek in de kast
  with  the book/it  in the bookcase
b. * ... er ... mee/met in de kast
  there  with  in the bookcase

Consider the examples in (117). The singly-primed examples illustrate that the sequences met + NP + PP can be placed in clause-initial position, which shows that these sequences form a constituent and can therefore be analyzed as absolute met-PPs. Nevertheless, the doubly-primed examples show that R-extraction is possible.

Example 117
a. Jan zit daar met een baby op zijn arm.
  Jan sits  there  with a baby  on his arm
  'Jan is sitting there with a baby on his arm.'
a'. Met een baby op zijn arm zit Jan daar.
a''. de baby waar Jan mee op zijn arm zit
  the baby  where  Jan with  on his arm  sits
b. Jan loopt daar met zijn hond aan de lijn.
  Jan walks  there with his dog  on the leash
b'. Met zijn hond aan de lijn loopt Jan daar.
b''. de hond waar Jan mee aan de lijn loopt
  the dog  where  Jan with on the leash  walks

The fact that these sequences can be construed as absolute met-PPs need not imply, of course, that they must be so construed. Actually, there are various reasons for assuming that the structures in (117a&b) are ambiguous between a reading with an absolute met-PP and a reading with a met-PP and an independent locational PP. First, the (a)-examples in (118) and (119) demonstrate that the met + NP + PP sequences can be split, which is never possible with the absolute met-construction; cf, subsection I. Second, the (b)-examples show that the noun phrase following met can be a weak pronoun; Subsection IV has shown that this is not possible in the absolute met-construction either.

Example 118
a. de baby waarmee Jan op zijn arm zit
  the baby  where.with  Jan on his arm  sits
a'. Met wiens baby zit Jan op zijn arm?
  with whose baby  sits Jan  on his arm
a''. Jan zit met die baby altijd op zijn arm.
  Jan sits  with that baby  always  on his arm
b. Jan zit met 'r op zijn arm.
  Jan sits  with her  on his arm
Example 119
a. de hond waarmee Jan aan de lijn loopt
  the dog  where.with  Jan on the leash  walks
a'. Met wiens hond loopt Jan aan de lijn?
  with whose dogs  walks  Jan on the leash
a''. Jan loopt met zijn hond altijd aan de lijn.
  Jan walks  with his dog  always  on the leash
b. Jan loopt met 'm aan de lijn.
  Jan walks  with him  on the leash

The examples in (118) and (119) strongly suggest that the doubly-primed examples in (117) can be analyzed as cases of R-extraction, not from an absolute met-construction, but from a regular met-PP, which happens to be followed by some independent locational PP. We therefore conclude that R-extraction from absolute met-constructions is indeed blocked.

[+]  D.  Extraposition

Example (120b) shows that adverbial phrases contained in absolute met-constructions can be placed after the predicative PP, that is, we find a process similar to PP-over-V in clauses. The adverbial PP must, however, remain within the absolute phrase; movement of this PP across the verb(s) in clause-final position leads to ungrammaticality, as is shown in (120c).

Example 120
a. dat Jan [met een warme sjaal tegen de kou om zijn nek] vertrok.
  that  Jan with a warm scarf  against the cold  around his neck  left
  'that Jan left with a warm scarf around his neck against the cold.'
b. dat Jan [met een warme sjaal om zijn nek tegen de kou] vertrok.
c. * dat Jan [met een warme sjaal om zijn nek] vertrok tegen de kou.

The examples in (121) and (122) show that the same thing holds for, respectively, relative clauses and attributive PPs. The (b)-examples show that extraposition is possible from the nominal part of the construction; the resulting structures are perhaps somewhat marked, but this is probably due to their complexity. The (c)-examples show that the moved clause/PP must occupy a position in the right periphery of the absolute construction; placing it in a position to the right of a verb in clause-final position is not possible.

Example 121
a. dat Jan [met die das die hij van Els gekregen had om zijn nek] vertrok.
  that Jan  with that tie that he from Els  got  had around his neck  left
  'that Jan left with that tie that was given to him by his sister around his neck.'
b. ? dat Jan [met die das om zijn nek die hij van zijn zusje gekregen had] vertrok.
c. * dat Jan [met die das om zijn nek] vertrok die hij van zijn zusje gekregen had.
Example 122
a. dat Jan [met die das van zijn oudste broer om zijn nek] vertrok.
  that Jan with  that tie  of his eldest brother  around his neck  left
b. ? dat Jan [met die das om zijn nek van zijn oudste broer] vertrok.
c. * dat Jan [met die das om zijn nek] vertrok van zijn oudste broer.
[+]  E.  Coordination

The complement of met can be a coordinated phrase. The predicates of the two conjuncts can but need not be of the same category: in (123a), the two predicates are both of the category PP, whereas in (123b) we are dealing with a predicative PP in the first conjunct and a predicative AP in the second.

Example 123
a. met [[zijn moeder in het ziekenhuis] en [zijn vader naar zijn werk]]
  with his mother  in the hospital  and   his father  to his work
b. met [[zijn moeder in het ziekenhuis] en [zijn vader voortdurend dronken]]
  with his mother  in the hospital  and his father  continuously  drunk
[+]  F.  Inversion

If the noun phrase is heavy, e.g., a modified noun phrase, the absolute met-construction allows inversion of the noun phrase and the predicate, provided that the predicate is adpositional or an als-phrase, as in (124).

Example 124
a. met de beste keeper aller tijden/Jan in het doel
  with  the best keeper of all times/Jan  in the goal
a'. met in het doel de beste keeper van alle tijden/*Jan
b. met de directeur van Philips/Jan als voorzitter
  with the director of Philips/Jan  as chairman
b'. met als voorzitter de directeur van Philips/*Jan

The examples in (125) show that inversion is not possible if the predicate is an intransitive adposition, a particle, or an adjectival phrase.

Example 125
a. met een mooie lange sjaal om (zijn nek)
  with  a beautiful long scarf  around his neck
a'. met om *(zijn nek) een mooie lange sjaal
b. met een stevige borrel op
  with  a stiff drink  up
b'. * met op een stevige borrel
c. met de directeur van Philips ziek
  with  the director of Philips  ill
c'. * met ziek de directeur van Philips

Inversion of the noun phrase and a predicative PP is also allowed in contrastive contexts like (126a), in which contrastive accent is indicated by small capitals, and in constructions in which both the noun phrase and the nominal complement of the predicative PP are quantified, as in (126b); compare this example to example (23) in Section, sub II.

Example 126
a. een huis met aan de linkerkant een boom en aan de rechterkant een hek
  a house  with on the left side a tree  and  on the right side a fence
  'a house with a tree on the left and a lamppost on the right side'
b. met in elke vaas twee rozen
  with  in each vase  two roses
  'with two roses in each vase'
[+]  G.  Conclusion

Let us conclude by considering again the structures proposed for the absolute met-construction by Beukema & Hoekstra (1983) and Smits & Vat (1985), which were given earlier as (92b&c) and are repeated here as (127).

Example 127
a. [PP met/zonder [SC NP PRED]]
b. [PP met/zonder [VP ... NP PRED ..[Ve]]]

The subsections above have discussed several syntactic properties of absolute met-constructions that seem to favor the more complex structure in (127b). First, absolute met-constructions allow modification by adverbial phrases that may also occur as clausal adverbs. Second, absolute met-phrases exhibit several word order phenomena that can also be found in clauses and which suggest a fair amount of movement within these phrases: R-extraction seems to target some position external to the predicative PP but internal to the absolute met-construction; extraposition is possible to the right periphery of the phrase; the construction also allows inversion of the predicate and its subject. This, of course, does not unequivocally show that the absolute met-construction contains some empty verb, as in (127b), but at least strongly suggests that it must have a more articulate structure than the one given in (127a). Establishing what this more articulate structure looks like is, of course, a matter for future research.

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  • Beukema, Frits & Hoekstra, Teun1983<i>Met</i> met PRO of <i>met</i> zonder PRODe Nieuwe Taalgids76532-548
  • Beukema, Frits & Hoekstra, Teun1983<i>Met</i> met PRO of <i>met</i> zonder PRODe Nieuwe Taalgids76532-548
  • Beukema, Frits & Hoekstra, Teun1984Extractions from <i>with</i>-constructionsLinguistic Inquiry15689-698
  • Duinhoven, A.M1985De deelwoorden vroeger en nuVoortgang697-138
  • Haslinger, Irene2007The syntactic location of events. Aspects of verbal complementation in DutchUniversity of TilburgThesis
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  • Riemsdijk, Henk C. van1978A case study in syntactic markedness: the binding nature of prepositional phrasesPeter de Ridder Press
  • Smits, R.J.C. & Vat, J1985Met jouw tanden in mijn bek, een onderzoek naar <i>met</i>-constructiesSpektator14445-470
  • Smits, R.J.C. & Vat, J1985Met jouw tanden in mijn bek, een onderzoek naar <i>met</i>-constructiesSpektator14445-470
  • Smits, R.J.C. & Vat, J1985Met jouw tanden in mijn bek, een onderzoek naar <i>met</i>-constructiesSpektator14445-470
  • Smits, R.J.C. & Vat, J1985Met jouw tanden in mijn bek, een onderzoek naar <i>met</i>-constructiesSpektator14445-470
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