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Show full table of contents Pre-determiner bare al'all'

This section presents a survey of the distribution of pre-determiner bare al inside the noun phrase. Subsection I will first discuss the noun phrase types that may contain this pre-determiner. This is followed in Subsection II by a discussion of the restrictions al imposes on other elements within the noun phrase.

[+]  I.  Bare al and noun phrase types

Pre-determiner bare al cannot occur in singular count noun phrases, regardless of the grammatical gender of the noun, but does readily occur in plural noun phrases headed by definite determiners like the plural article de'the', the plural demonstratives die/deze'these/those' and the definite possessive pronouns; see Subsection II for a discussion of bare plurals.

Table 1: Pre-determiner bare al in noun phrases headed by a count noun
  singular [±neuter] plural [±neuter]
*al de stad/het huis
all the town/the house
al de steden/huizen
all the towns/houses
*al die stad/dat huis
all that town/that house
al die steden/huizen
all those towns/houses
  *al deze stad/dit huis
all this town/this house
al deze steden/huizen
all these towns/houses
*al mijn stad /huis
all my town/house
al mijn steden/huizen
all my towns/houses

In passing note that in older stages of the language, pre-determiner al could modify singular nouns; cf. Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal, lemma al. Some relics can still be found in Van Daleʼs dictionary of Dutch: al de stad'the whole city', al de vloot'the whole fleet' and al de wereld'the whole world', but in present-day Dutch heel'all/whole' is normally used in this context; cf. Section, sub I.
      Although pre-determiner bare al normally precedes plural noun phrases, it cannot be combined with pluralia tantum like (16a), or with formal plurals like (16b-d) that denote a conventionally fixed unit. Note that (16d) can be used when the individual islands of the Antillean archipelago are quantified by al, not on the intended reading in which the Antilles is seen as a unit. Section, sub I, will show that in this respect al is the exact opposite of the pre-determiner heel.

Example 16
a. * al de hersenen/tropen
  all  the brains/tropics
b. * al de kerstdagen (zat hij te zeuren)
  all  the Christmas days   sat  he  to nag
c. * al de Verenigde Staten
  all  the United States
d. # al de Antillen
  all  the Antilles
  'all the individual islands of the Antilles'

      Pre-determiner bare al also occurs in non-count noun phrases, in a position linearly preceding the definite article, the demonstrative or the possessive pronoun. Substance nouns and mass nouns behave in the same way, as the examples in Table 2 show. Note that the judgments are not affected by the gender of the noun. This is only shown for the substance nouns.

Table 2: Pre-determiner bare al in noun phrases headed by a non-count noun
  substance nouns [±neuter] mass nouns
(?)al de wijn/het water
all the wine/the water
(?)al het vee
all the cattle
al die wijn/dat water
all that wine/that water
al dat vee
all that cattle
  al deze wijn/dit water
all this wine/this water
al dit vee
all this cattle
al mijn wijn/water
all my wine/water
al mijn vee
all my cattle

The examples in (17) show that pre-determiner bare al can also be used with abstract nouns like ellende'misery/trouble' and verdriet'sorrow'.

Example 17
a. al (?)de/die/deze/zijn ellende
  all     the/that/this/his  misery
b. al (?)het/die/deze/zijn verdriet
  all     the/that/this/his  sorrow

The examples with the definite articles de/het given above are somewhat marked, but become perfectly acceptable if the noun phrase contains a restrictive modifier: cf. the examples in (18). A similar modifier effect does not show up in the other examples in Table 2, or, for that matter, in the examples to follow.

Example 18
a. al de rode wijn
  all  the  red  wine
b. al het vee in de stal
  'all the cattle in the stable'
c. al de ellende die ik heb meegemaakt
  all  the misery  that  have  prt.-made
  'all the misery that Iʼve been through'

      Pre-determiner bare al can also precede projections of deverbal nouns of the type in Table 3. These bare stem, infinitival and ge-nominalizations are systematically +neuter.

Table 3: Pre-determiner bare al in noun phrases headed by a deverbal noun
  bare stem inf-nominalization ge-nominalization
al het werk
all the work
al het werken
all the working
al het gewerk
all the working
al dat werk
all that work
al dat werken
all that working
al dat gewerk
all that working
  al dit werk
all this work
al dit werken
all this working
al dit gewerk
all this working
al mijn werk
all my work
(?)al mijn werken
all my working
al mijn gewerk
all my working

It is impossible, however, for al to be construed with result nominalizations instantiated by non-neuter nouns like aankomst'arrival' or aanvang'beginning', or neuter nouns like begin'beginning' or vertrek'departure'.

Example 19
a. * al de aanvang/aankomst
  all the beginning/arrival
a'. * al het begin/vertrek
  all the beginning/departure
b. * al die aanvang/aankomst
  all that beginning/arrival
b'. * al dat begin/vertrek
  all that beginning/departure
c. * al deze aanvang/aankomst
  all this beginning/arrival
c'. * al dit begin/vertrek
  all this beginning/departure

It is difficult to sharply distinguish the set of deverbal nouns that do not allow pre-determiner bare al from those that do. The unacceptability of the examples in (19) might be related to the fact that they all involve result nominals that denote a punctual event, that is, an event without a temporal extension. This tallies with the fact that pre-determiner bare al cannot be used with punctual non-deverbal nouns like einde'end' in (20) either.

Example 20
* al het/dat/dit einde
  all  the/that/this  end

We add, however, that the context may force an eventive interpretation upon nouns of the type in (19) and (20), but the examples in (21) show that it is nonetheless impossible to use the pre-determiner al in such cases; Section, sub I, will show that in contexts like these, the pre-determiner heel'all/whole' is used.

Example 21
a. (*Al) het begin van de film was erg saai.
  all the beginning of the movie  was very boring
b. (*Al) het einde van de film was erg saai.
  all the end of the movie  was very boring
[+]  II.  Restrictions on accompanying determiners and quantificational elements

This subsection investigates the restrictions that the pre-determiner al poses on the presence of determiners and quantificational elements. As an initial observation, note that the syntax of the constituents following al largely mirrors that of the same constituents lacking al: (22), for instance, shows that adjectival modification of the noun is not affected by the presence of al. The examples in (23) show that al does not affect the behavior of attributive modifiers with regard to inflection either.

Example 22
a. (al) de/deze/die eenzame mensen
  all  the/these/those  lonely  people
b. (al) het/dit/dat heerlijke water
  all  the/this/that  delicious  water
Example 23
a. (al) dat/dit soort groot/*grote verdriet
  all  that/this sort  big  sadness
b. (al) dat grote/*groot verdriet
  all  that big  sadness
[+]  A.  Determiners

Table 2 in Subsection I has shown that pre-determiner bare al can precede all definite determiners with equal ease. We illustrate this again in (24).

Example 24
a. al de mannen
  all  the  men
b. al die/deze mannen
demonstrative pronoun
  all  those/these  men
c. al mijn boeken
possessive pronoun
  all  my  books

The (a)-examples in (25) and (26) show that the demonstrative and possessive pronouns can be assigned contrastive accent, and the (b)-examples that the acceptability of examples of this type is preserved under backward conjunction reduction. NP-ellipsis in the second conjunct, as in the (c)-examples, is at least degraded in comparison with the cases involving backward conjunction reduction. In this regard, pre-determiner bare al differs markedly from other quantificational pre-determiner elements like alle + Num, allebei and heel; see Section, sub IB, and Section, sub II, for illustration.

Example 25
a. Ik ken wel al deze mannen, maar niet al die mannen.
b. Ik ken wel al deze ∅, maar niet al die mannen.
c. ? Ik ken wel al deze mannen, maar niet al die ∅.
  know  aff  all these men  but  not  all those [men]
Example 26
a. Ik ken wel al zijn vrienden, maar niet al haar vrienden.
b. Ik ken wel al zijn ∅, maar niet al haar vrienden.
c. * Ik ken wel al zijn vrienden, maar niet al haar ∅.
  know  aff  all his friends,  but  not  all her [friends]

For completeness’ sake, it can be noted that pre-determiner bare al can also be inserted to the left of possessive noun phrases, as in (27), although the semi-genitival construction is perhaps somewhat marked, which may be due to the heaviness of the overall construction. According to Van der Lubbe (1978: 133), pre-determiner bare al sometimes also occurs between the noun phrase and the functional possessive pronoun, as in %vader al zʼn sigaren (lit.: father all his cigars), but he adds immediately that this will probably not be approved by many speakers; we have not been able to find similar examples. The examples in (27b) show that pre-determiner bare al can also precede nominalized possessive pronouns.

Example 27
a. al mijn mans/?al mijn man zʼn boeken
  all  my husbandʼs/all my husband his  books
b. al de/het mijne/jouwe/zijne/hare/onze/hunne
  all  the  mine/yourssg/his/hers/ours/theirs

      Pre-determiner bare al cannot be construed with noun phrases like (28a&b) containing the indefinite article een. This is not even possible in the exclamative construction in (28c), where we are dealing with the spurious article een and a plural noun; cf. Pre-determiner bare al cannot combine with bare noun phrases either, which is illustrated in the primed examples for, respectively, bare non-count nouns and bare plurals.

Example 28
a. (*al) een ellende
  all  a misery
a'. (*al) ∅ ellende/wijn
  all  misery/wine
b. (*al) een gedoe
  all  a fuss
b'. (*al) ∅ verdriet/water
  all  sorrow/water
c. (*al) een boeken dat hij heeft!
  all  a books  that he has
c'. (*al) ∅ steden/huizen
  all  towns/houses

An example such as één en al ellende'nothing but misery' may look deceptively similar to the non-count singular in (28a), but the complex modifier één en al (lit.: one and all) differs from the pre-determiner al in that the noun is always singular. Eén en al also differs from al in making an entirely different semantic contribution, which is comparable to that of modifiers like volledig'complete(ly)', alleen maar'only' or niets dan'nothing but', not to that of a universal quantifier like al.

[+]  B.  Indefinite determiner-like elements

The indefinite determiner-like elements dat/dit soort'such' (lit.: that/this kind), which were discussed in Section 4.1.2, are compatible with al to their left. The demonstrative modifiers zulk/dergelijk'such' exhibit essentially the same behavior as dat/dit soort, but because most speakers find constructions of the type ?al zulke/dergelijke boeken'all such books' somewhat archaic, we will not illustrate such examples in the remainder of this subsection.

Example 29
a. (al) dat/dit soort ellende
  all  that/this sort  misery
a'. (al) dat/dit soort verdriet
  all  that/this sort  sorrow
b. (al) dat/dit soort wijn
  all  that/this sort  wine
b'. (al) dat/dit soort fruit
  all  that/this sort  fruit
c. (al) dat/dit soort boeken
  all  that/this sort books

It is likely that in constructions of the type in (29), al is not construed with the larger noun phrase directly, but forms a constituent with dat/dit soort. Pre-determiner bare al phrases generally pattern with strong noun phrases, which was supported in Section 7.1.1, sub IV, by showing that these noun phrases cannot occur as the associate of er'there' in expletive constructions such as (30a). Adding al to dat/dit soort N, which is itself a weak noun phrase, does not result in a strong noun phrase, however, which leads to the conclusion that al is only construed with the smaller definite noun phrase dat/dit soort.

Example 30
a. * Er komt daar (al) de ellende voor.
  there  comes  there   all  the misery  prt.
b. Er komt daar (al) dat/dit soort ellende voor.
  there  comes  there  all  that/this sort misery  prt.
  'All such misery is found there.'

      The indefinite determiner-like element van die'such' in pseudo-partitive constructions, which was discussed in Section, sub I, does not allow bare al to its left, which is not really surprising since these spurious PPs actually act as indefinite noun phrases.

Example 31
Hij verkoopt (*al) van die lekkere wijn/koekjes.
  he  sells  all  such those tasty wine/cookies
'He sells such tasty wine/cookies.'
[+]  C.  Quantifiers and numerals

Neither weak quantifiers like enig(e)'some' and enkele'some', nor strong quantifiers like sommige'some', elk'each' and ieder'every' can be preceded by pre-determiner bare al.

Example 32
a. (*al) enige ellende/wijn
  all  some  misery/wine
b. (*al) enig verdriet/fruit
  all  some  sorrow/fruit
c. (*al) enkele/sommige boeken
  all  some  books
Example 33
a. (*al) elke/iedere stad
  all  each/every  town
b. (*al) elk/ieder huis
  all  each/every  house

      The quantifiers veel'much/many' and weinig'little/few' need some more discussion. If they are used in their bare form, they cannot be preceded by al, which is not surprising since in this form they have the same function as the quantifiers in (32).

Example 34
a. (*al) veel ellende
  all  much  misery
b. (*al) veel fruit
  all  much  fruit
c. (*al) veel boeken
  all  many  books

However, pre-determiner bare al can at least marginally precede the inflected quantifiers vele'much/many' or weinige'little/few', provided at least that the construction without al is acceptable as well; examples such as (35) are substantially better than the examples of quantified phrases with alle, alle + Num, allebei, beide and allemaal that will be discussed in Section Note that the PP-modifier must be present in these examples, regardless of whether al is present or absent.

Example 35
a. al de ?vele/??weinige mensen in de zaal
  all  the   many/few  people  in the room
b. al het ?vele/??weinige water in de vijver
  all  the   much/little  water in the pond

Note in passing that the examples in (34) contrast sharply with al te veel N. In this construction al is not a pre-determiner but a modifier of te veel, which is clear from the fact that noun phrases quantified by veel/weinig are indefinites and can accordingly occur in expletive er'there' constructions. Since (36) shows that noun phrases modified by al te veel pattern with noun phrases quantified by te veel in this respect, the assumption that al acts as a modifier of te veel seems reasonable. It is also plausible from a semantic point of view; besides a too-degree interpretation, al te veel can also receive a high degree paraphrase with heel erg veel'very much', where heel erg premodifies veel as well.

Example 36
Er is (al) te veel ellende op de wereld.
  there  is all  too much misery  on the world
'There is too much misery in the world.'

      The pre-determiner al can also be used if the noun phrase contains a numeral, although we find a split in the set of determiners: whereas the demonstratives and possessives in (37b-d) can be preceded by al, the definite article de in (37a) cannot.

Example 37
a. al de (*drie) boeken
  all  the     three  books
b. al deze/die (drie) boeken
  all  these/those   three  books
c. al mijn (drie) boeken
  all  my   three  books
d. al mijn vaders/mijn vader zʼn (drie) boeken
  all  my fatherʼs/my father his  three  books

We have marked example (37a) as unacceptable with a numeral, despite the fact that Haeseryn et al. (1997) mention al de tien leerlingen'all the ten pupils' as a case on which speakers have varying judgments; we have found that speakers as a rule reject noun phrases of this type, although we should add that we did find a small number of examples on the internet. Note that the intended meaning of example (37a) can be expressed by means of alle drie de boeken'all three the books' (similar alternants exist for (37b&c): alle drie die/mijn boeken); see Section, sub I, for discussion and comparison.

[+]  D.  Personal pronouns and proper nouns

It is impossible for pre-determiner bare al to be construed with pronouns. Since al requires a plural noun phrase (if headed by a count noun), this is illustrated in (38) for the plural pronouns only. These examples are all ungrammatical with al added, regardless of the order of al and the pronoun.

Example 38
a. * al wij/ons
  all  we/us
b. * al jullie
  all  youpl
c. * al zij/hen/hun
    all  they/them/them

      The examples in (39) show that pre-determiner bare al cannot occur with proper nouns either, which may be surprising given that English all or French tout can be used in contexts like (39a). Section, sub IID, will show that Dutch uses heel'all/whole' in contexts of this kind.

Example 39
a. * al Europa/Duitsland/Limburg/Amsterdam
  all Europe/Germany/Limburg/Amsterdam
b. * al Jan
  all Jan

      Perhaps it should be mentioned here that al may also directly precede the pronouns wat and wie in free relatives like in (40), but it is not clear whether we are dealing with pre-determiner bare al here; it may also be the case that al acts as the antecedent of the relative clause. Since we have no conclusive evidence in support one of one of the two analyses, we will leave the decision to future research.

Example 40
a. al wat ik hoor
  all  what  hear
b. al wie ik zag, geen Peter
  all  who  saw  no Peter
  'I saw lots of people but not Peter'
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
  • Lubbe, H.F.A. van der1978Woordvolgorde in het NederlandsAssenVan Gorcum
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