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Show full table of contents Relative personal pronouns

This section on relative personal pronouns will be relatively brief given that these pronouns can be discussed in a more natural way in relation to the syntactic context in which they are found, relative clauses; see Section, sub I, for a more exhaustive discussion of these pronouns. Here, we will confine ourselves to a concise discussion of the most common forms in their most common uses, and focus on the fact that these pronouns can be used as arguments of the clause, and should hence be considered personal pronouns. The relative personal pronouns in question can be divided into the three groups in (368).

Example 368
a. D-pronouns: die and dat
b. W-pronouns: wie[+human] and wat[-human]
c. R-pronoun: waar + P
[+]  I.  D-group

The choice between die and dat depends on the gender and number features of the antecedent of the pronoun: dat is used for singular, neuter nouns and die in all other cases. This is illustrated in example (369).

Example 369
The antecedent of relative personal pronouns of the D-group
  singular plural
[-neuter] de bal die daar ligt
the ball that there lies
‘the ball that is lying there’
de ballen die daar liggen
the balls that there lie
‘the balls that are lying there’
[+neuter] het boek dat daar ligt
the book that there lies
‘the book that is lying there’
de boeken die daar liggen
the books that there lie
‘the books that are lying there’

The D-pronouns must be considered personal pronouns given that they may occur as subject or object of the relative clause, as is illustrated in (370a-c). Example (370d) shows, however, that D-pronouns are special in that they do not occur as the complement of a preposition.

Example 370
a. de jongen [die hier gisteren was]
  the boy  that  here  yesterday  was
  'the boy who was here yesterday'
b. het boek [dat ik gisteren gekocht heb]
direct object
  the book  that  yesterday  bought  have
  'the book I bought yesterday'
c. het meisje [dat ik het boek gegeven heb]
indirect object
  the girl  that  the book  given  have
  'the girl that I gave the book'
d. * de jongen [over die ik spreek]
complement of P
  the boy  of that  I speak
  Intended meaning: 'the boy I spoke about'
[+]  II.  W-pronouns

The choice between wie and wat depends on whether the antecedent is human or not. Given that the W-pronouns are typically used in free relative clauses, this antecedent will generally be left implicit. The W-pronouns can be used as the subject or the object of the relative clause. Example (371c) is perhaps slightly marked due to the fact that it is potentially ambiguous: both the relative pronoun and the personal pronoun can in principle be interpreted as indirect objects. It is hard to construct natural sounding examples for wat with the function of indirect object, which is due to the fact that indirect objects are typically human.

Example 371
a. [Wie dit zegt] is gek.
  who  this  says  is crazy
  'Whoever is saying this is mad.'
a'. [Wat daar staat] klopt niet.
  what  there  stands  be.correct  not
  'What is written there is false.'
b. [Wie je daar ziet] is Peter.
  who  you  there  see  is Peter
  'The person you see over there is Peter.'
b'. [Wat je daar zegt] klopt niet.
  what  you  there  say  is.correct  not
  'What youʼre saying there is false.'
c. ? [Wie je dat geeft] wordt een gelukkig mens.
  who  you  that  give  becomes  a lucky person
  'The person you give that to will be a lucky person.'

As is discussed in Section, sub I, the use of W-pronouns is subject to several constraints if the antecedent is overtly realized. However, in this context wie can readily be used as the complement of a preposition. The pronoun w at, on the other hand, cannot be used in this position: the next subsection will show that it triggers R-pronominalization, just like the referential pronoun het.

Example 372
a. De man [op wie ik wacht] is Peter.
  the man for whom  wait  is Peter
  'The man for whom Iʼm waiting is Peter.'
b. * De tekening [naar wat ik kijk] is erg mooi.
  the drawing   at what  look  is very beautiful
  Intended meaning: 'The drawing Iʼm looking at is very beautiful.'
[+]  III.  The R-pronoun waar + P

The R-pronoun waar is typically used as the complement of a preposition. The pronoun is not sensitive to the nominal features of the antecedent, and can be used both with human and non-human antecedents. This means that example (372a) freely alternates with the form in (373a), despite normative pressure in favor of the former variant. The grammatical counterpart of example (372b) is the one in (373b). R-pronominalization is possible both with PP-complements of the verb and with certain adverbial PPs; examples of the latter can be found in Section, sub I.

Example 373
a. De man [waar ik op wacht] is Peter.
  the man where  for  wait  is Peter
  'The man Iʼm waiting for is Peter.'
b. De tekening [waar ik naar kijk] is erg mooi.
  the drawing  where  at  look  is very beautiful
  'The drawing Iʼm looking at is very beautiful.'
[+]  IV.  Conclusion

The previous subsections have shown that the relative pronouns in (368) can be used as arguments of the verb, and should hence be considered personal pronouns. This does not mean, however, that they can occur in all positions. We have seen that there are several additional constraints that regulate their distribution. A more extensive discussion of these relative pronouns can be found in Section, sub I.

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