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There are several features that are often considered characteristic of adjectives, but that are nevertheless insufficient to fully delimit the set of adjectives. For instance, many adjectives can be used both in prenominal attributive and in clause-final predicative position, as is illustrated for aardig'nice' in, respectively, (1a) and (1a'). However, given that this does not hold for all adjectives, the ability to be used in these positions is not a necessary condition for calling something an adjective: deksels and onwel in the (b)- and (c)-examples are normally considered adjectives despite the fact that the former can only be used attributively and the latter can only be used predicatively.

Example 1
a. de aardige jongen
  the  nice  boy
a'. De jongen is aardig.
   the boy  is nice
b. die dekselse jongen
  that  confounded  boy
b'. * De jongen is deksels.
   the boy  is confounded
c. * een onwelle jongen
  an  ill  boy
c'. Jan is onwel.
   Jan is ill

Two other features are often considered characteristic of the class of adjectives: modification by means of an adverbial phrase of degree such as zeer/heel'very' or vrij'rather', as in (2a), and comparative/superlative formation, as in (2b&c). The primed examples show, however, that these features again single out only a subset of adjectives, namely the set of so-called gradable adjectives.

Example 2
a. zeer/heel/vrij aardig
  very/very/rather  nice
a'. * zeer dood
degree modification
   very  dead
b. aardiger
b'. * doder
c. aardigst
c'. * doodst

Since the properties discussed above only characterize subsets of adjectives, the best way of characterizing this category is perhaps by comparing it to the categories of verbs and nouns.
      Verbs and (at least a subset of the) adjectives both have the property that they may be predicated of a noun phrase in the clause. The most conspicuous difference between the two categories is, however, that only the former can be inflected with a tense morpheme: finite verbs may express present or past tense; cf. Ik wandel/wandelde'I walk/walked'. If adjectives are predicated of the subject of the clause, they are not inflected in Dutch and a copula must be inserted in order to express tense; cf. Ik ben/was ziek 'I am/was ill'. Further, finite verbs agree in number and person with the subject of the clause, whereas Dutch predicative adjectives never show agreement if they are predicated of the subject of the clause.
      Nouns are typically used to refer to an entity (or set of entities) in the domain of discourse. Due to this property, noun phrases may refer to participants in an event, and thus have the syntactic function of subject or direct/indirect object of a clause. In general, adjectives do not perform these syntactic functions (but see Section 6.7 for exceptions), and certainly not in those cases in which the clause is a projection of a main verb with descriptive contents.
      Despite the fact that it is difficult to characterize the class of adjectives, we will try to discuss some of the prominent properties of this class in this chapter: Section 1.1 will give a brief overview of the syntactic uses of the adjectives, and Section 1.2 will discuss the inflectional properties of the attributively used adjectives. Section 1.3 will provide a semantic classification of the adjectives, which at least partly coincides with classifications that can be made on syntactic or morphological grounds.

    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.