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1.2. Inflection

One of the typical properties of attributively used adjectives is that they can be followed by an inflectional -e ending. The distribution of the attributive -e ending depends on the nominal features gender and number as well as the definiteness of the noun phrase as a whole.
      Nouns can be divided into two groups on the basis of the definite determiner they select in the singular: (i) the de-group, which consists of masculine and feminine nouns, and (ii) the het-group, which consists of neuter nouns; cf. N1.1.1, sub II. The examples in Table 2 show that the attributive -e ending is generally obligatorily present on the adjective if it precedes a (non-neuter) de-noun.

Table 2: Adjectival inflection with de-nouns
  singular plural
definite de oude/*oud stoel
the old chair
de oude/*oud stoelen
the old chairs
indefinite een oude/*oud stoel
an old chair
oude/*oud stoelen
old chairs

With (neuter) het-nouns, on the other hand, the attributive -e ending is absent from the adjective in indefinite singular noun phrases. In the remaining cases, the ending is obligatory. This is illustrated in Table 3.

Table 3: Adjectival inflection with het-nouns
  singular plural
definite het oude/*oud paard
the old horse
de oude/*oud paarden
the old horse
indefinite een *oude/oud paard
an old horse
oude/*oud paarden
old horses

In the case of non-count nouns the number feature is, of course, neutralized, as a result of which only gender and definiteness are relevant: Table 4 shows that adjectives modifying a non-count noun of the de-class always receive the attributive -e ending, whereas those modifying a neuter non-count noun only get the -e ending if they are preceded by a definite determiner like het.

Table 4: Adjectival inflection with non-count nouns
  de-noun het-noun
definite de lekkere rijst
the tasty rice
het lekkere bier
tasty beer
indefinite lekkere rijst
tasty rice
lekker- bier
tasty beer

      The discussion above describes the general pattern, but it should be noted that several exceptions are found. The examples in (21), for instance, show that the attributive -e ending is not realized if the adjective ends in a schwa, as in (21a), or in one of the long vowels /a:/, /o:/ or /i:/, as in (21b-d).

Example 21
a. een oranje-Ø jas
cf. de jas
  an  orange  coat
b. een prima-Ø opmerking
cf. de opmerking
  an  excellent  remark
c. een albino-Ø muis
cf. de muis
  an  albino  mouse
d. de kaki-Ø muts
cf. de muts
  the  khaki  cap

This will be discussed more extensively in Section 5.1, along with other exceptions to the general pattern, which is summarized schematically in Table 5.

Table 5: The inflection of attributively used adjectives (summary)
  singular plural non–count
  de-noun het-noun de-noun het-noun de-noun het-noun
definite A+-e A+-e A+-e A+-e A+-e A+-e
indefinite A+-e A+-∅ A+-e A+-e A+-e A+-∅

      The inflectional properties of attributively used adjectives can be useful for distinguishing the attributive adjectives from other elements that are placed between the determiner and the noun, such as the cardinal numeral vier'four' in (22a') or the adverbially used adjective goed'well' in (22b'); cf. Section 5.2.

Example 22
a. de fier-e mannen
fier e = attributive adjective
  the  proud  men
a'. de vier/*vier-e mannen
vier = cardinal numeral
  the  four  men
b. de goede, leesbare roman
goed e = attributive adjective
  the  good  readable  novel
b'. de goed leesbare roman
goed = adverbially used adjective
  the  well  readable  novel

      We conclude this subsection on adjectival inflection with a brief remark on the adjectival use of participles and modal infinitives. The participles are divided into two groups: present participles, such as vechtend'fighting', and past/passive participles, such as gekust'kissed'. Both types can be used as attributive adjectives, which is clear from the fact that they exhibit the pattern of attributive inflection in Table 5. This is illustrated in (i) and (ii) in Table 6 for the present and past participles, respectively.

Table 6: The inflection of attributively used past/passive and present participles
de-nouns singular plural
definite (i) de vechtende jongen
the fighting boy
(i) de vechtende jongens
the fighting boys
  (ii) de gekuste jongen
the kissed boy
(ii) de gekuste jongens
the kissed boys
indefinite (i) een vechtende jongen
a fighting boy
(i) vechtende jongens
fighting boys
  (ii) een gekuste jongen
a kissed boy
(ii) gekuste jongens
kissed boys
het-nouns singular plural
definite (i) het vechtende kind
the fighting child
(i) de vechtende kinderen
the fighting children
  (ii) het gekuste kind
the kissed child
(ii) de gekuste kinderen
the kissed children
indefinite (i) een vechtend- kind
a fighting child
(i) vechtende kinderen
fighting children
  (ii) een gekust- kind
a kissed child
(ii) gekuste kinderen
kissed children

If exhibiting attributive inflection is a sufficient condition for assuming adjectival status, the examples in Table 6 unambiguously show that the past/passive and present participles can occasionally be used as adjectives (see Section 3.1.2, sub IA and IB, however, for a severely restricted set of adverbially used adjectives that seem to be inflected as well). We will return to this use of participles in Chapter 9.
      The examples in (23) show that modal infinitives can also be used in attributive position (the term modal is used here because the infinitive is deontic in the sense that it inherently expresses some notion of “ability" or “obligation"). In accordance with the observation illustrated earlier in (21a), modal infinitives never get the attributive -e ending given that they are pronounced with a word-final schwa, which is orthographically represented as -en. This use of the modal infinitives is also more extensively discussed in Chapter 9.

Example 23
de te lezen boeken
  the  to read  books
'the books that must be read'
    This topic is the result of an automatic conversion from Word and may therefore contain errors.
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