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Show full table of contents The use of allemaal as an independent constituent

This section discusses the use of allemaal external to the noun phrase. We consider allemaal used as an independent syntactic constituent (argument, predicate and adjunct) as well as its prototypical use as a floating quantifier.

[+]  I.  Distribution as argument and predicate

Allemaal cannot readily appear as an argument on its own. It is unacceptable as an argument of the verb, although it can marginally be used as the complement of a preposition provided that its implicit antecedent is animate (preferably human); see the contrast between (136d) and (137d).

Example 136
Discourse Topic: a number of friends
a. * Allemaal zijn uitgenodigd.
  altogether  are  invited
b. * Hij heeft allemaal uitgenodigd.
  he  has  altogether  invited
c. * Hij heeft allemaal een uitnodiging gestuurd.
  he  has  altogether  an invitation  sent
d. ? Hij heeft een uitnodiging aan allemaal gestuurd.
  he  has  an invitation  to altogether  sent
Example 137
Discourse Topic: a number of research proposals
a. * Allemaal zijn gefiatteerd.
  altogether  are  okayed
b. * Hij heeft allemaal gefiatteerd.
  he  has  altogether  okayed
c. * Hij heeft allemaal zijn fiat gegeven.
  he  has  altogether  his okay  given
d. * Hij heeft zijn fiat aan allemaal gegeven.
  he  has his okay  to altogether  given

The animacy contrast between (136d) and (137d) is perhaps somewhat delicate, but seems real; further illustration is offered by the minimal pair in (138). We are not aware of specific proposals in the literature that seek to accommodate the restricted behavior of allemaal in comparison with the al-quantifiers that can be used as independent arguments.

Example 138
a. ?? Wat die mensen betreft, ik heb over allemaal gesproken.
  what those people concerns  have  about altogether  spoken
b. * Wat die voorstellen betreft, ik heb over allemaal nagedacht.
  what those proposals concerns  have  about altogether  thought

The form allemaal cannot be used as a predicate either, regardless of the properties of the putative subject. The deviance of the examples in (139) bears this out.

Example 139
a. * Dat is allemaal.
  that  is  altogether
b. * Dat/Zij zijn allemaal.
  that/they  are  altogether
[+]  II.  Distribution as modifier and floating quantifier

This subsection shows that allemaal can readily be used a floating quantifier, but only marginally as a modifier. We will divide this subsection into three parts: Subsection A starts with cases in which the modified phrase/associate is a subject or an object, Subsection B discusses cases in which it is the complement of a PP, and Subsection C concludes with cases in which it is a predicate.

[+]  A.  Subject and object

The ungrammatical examples in (136a-c) and (137a-c) become grammatical if an associate for the quantifier is added in the form of a complex noun phrase or a pronoun.

Example 140
a. Die mensen/Zij zijn gisteren allemaal uitgenodigd.
  these people/they  are  yesterday  altogether  invited
b. Hij heeft die mensen/hen/ze gisteren allemaal uitgenodigd.
  he  has  those people/them  yesterday  altogether  invited
c. Hij heeft die mensen/hun/ze gisteren allemaal een uitnodiging gestuurd.
  he  has  those people/them  yesterday  altogether  an invitation  sent
Example 141
a. Die boeken/Ze zijn gisteren allemaal verkocht.
  those books/they  are  yesterday  altogether  sold
b. Hij heeft die boeken/ze gisteren allemaal verkocht.
  he  has  those books/them  yesterday  altogether  sold
c. Hij heeft die boeken/ze gisteren allemaal zijn fiat gegeven.
  he  has  those books/them  yesterday  altogether  his okay  given

As with the other floating quantifiers, allemaal must follow its associate, unless it is placed in sentence-initial position and its associate is a weak pronoun; the examples in (142) and (143) are all degraded with the noun phrase die mensen/boeken'these people/books'.

Example 142
a. Allemaal zijn ze/*die mensen gisteren uitgenodigd.
b. Allemaal heeft hij ze/?hen/*die mensen gisteren uitgenodigd.
c. Allemaal heeft hij ze/?hun/*die mensen gisteren een uitnodiging gestuurd.
Example 143
a. Allemaal zijn ze/*die boeken gisteren verkocht.
b. Allemaal heeft hij ze/*die boeken gisteren verkocht.
c. Allemaal heeft hij ze/*die boeken gisteren zijn fiat gegeven.

That we are dealing with floating quantifiers in (142) and (143) is clear from the fact that the quantifier and its associate are not adjacent. Actually there is not much chance to mistake the floating quantifier allemaal as a modifier, since the latter use is not possible for allemaal if the noun phrase contains a determiner; cf. Table 9. This is demonstrated again by the examples in (144): since the noun phrase and the quantifier cannot simultaneously occupy the clause-initial position, we can safely conclude that they do not form a constituent. This shows again that the “quantifier float” terminology should be interpreted strictly metaphorically.

Example 144
a. * <Allemaal> die mensen <allemaal> zijn gisteren uitgenodigd.
  altogether  those people  are  yesterday  invited
b. * <Allemaal> die boeken <allemaal> zijn gisteren verkocht.
  altogether  those books  are  yesterday  sold

      However, recall from the discussion of the examples in (128) that the data are not so clear for pronouns. Although marked, example (145a) suggests that it is at least marginally possible for allemaal to function as a modifier of a strong pronoun: allemaal and the pronoun can be placed together in clause-initial position (the constituency test). The examples in (145b&c) show the same point as (145a) given that floating quantifiers normally cannot be scrambled across the adverb gisteren; cf. the discussion of the examples in (110) and (111).

Example 145
a. Zij <??allemaal> zijn gisteren <allemaal> uitgenodigd.
  they   all  are  yesterday  prt.-invited
b. Hij heeft hen <??allemaal> gisteren <allemaal> uitgenodigd.
  he  has  them   all  yesterday  prt.-invited
c. Hij heeft hun <??allemaal> gisteren <allemaal> een uitnodiging gestuurd.
  he  has  them    all  yesterday  an invitation  sent

Of course, the quantifier allemaal is not able to form a constituent with a weak pronoun. We have seen in our discussion of alle in Section, sub IIB4, that this requires the pronoun to be strong.

Example 146
a. Ze <*allemaal> zijn gisteren <allemaal> uitgenodigd.
  they   all  are  yesterday  prt.-invited
b. Hij heeft ze <*allemaal> gisteren <allemaal> uitgenodigd.
  he  has  them all  yesterday  prt.-invited
c. Hij heeft ze <*allemaal> gisteren <allemaal> een uitnodiging gestuurd.
  he  has  them all  yesterday  an invitation  sent

      As in the case of all other al-quantifiers, the associate of the floating quantifier allemaal can be independently quantified, although some people may object to the primed examples for pragmatic reasons.

Example 147
a. Ik heb die dertig mensen gisteren allemaal ontmoet.
  have  those thirty people  yesterday  altogether  met
b. % Ik heb die vele mensen gisteren allemaal ontmoet.
  have  those many books  yesterday  altogether  met
Example 148
a. Ik heb die dertig boeken gisteren allemaal afgestoft.
  have  those thirty books  yesterday  altogether  dusted
b. % Ik heb die vele boeken gisteren allemaal afgestoft.
  have  those many books  yesterday  altogether  dusted

In this case, however, this fact cannot be used to argue against the “floating” approach, given that the examples in (149) are unacceptable for independent reasons; cf. the discussion of (144). Note in passing that our judgment of (149b) diverges from the one given in Coppen (1991: 133), who assigns it a mere question mark; our informants, however, rejected the two examples in (149) categorically.

Example 149
a. * allemaal die dertig mensen/boeken
  altogether  those  thirty  people/books
b. * allemaal die vele mensen/boeken
  altogether  those  many  people/books

      As is shown in (150), the floating quantifier allemaal seems freer than the other types of al-quantifiers in being able to take the neuter pronoun het'it', the singular demonstratives dit/dat'this/that', and the interrogative pronoun wat'what' as its associate.

Example 150
a. Het/Dit is allemaal/*alle/*allebei/*beide verkocht.
  it/this  has.been  altogether/all/all-both/both  sold
  'It has all been sold.'
b. Wat heb je allemaal/*alle/*allebei/*beide gelezen?
  what  have  you  altogether/all/all-both/both  read
  'What sort of things did you read?'

Note that, unlike the personal pronouns in (145), these pronouns certainly cannot be combined with the modifier allemaal: *Het allemaal is verkocht; *Wat allemaal heb je gelezen? At first sight this seems to constitute an argument against the “floating” approach, although it must be pointed out that there are reasons for assuming that the function of allemaal in these examples differs from that in the examples discussed earlier. First, it seems that allemaal can be used with an adverbial function: example (151a) seems to favor a reading in which het/dit refers to a set of entities which are all read, but it may also refer to a single entity which is fully read, a reading which is the only possible one for example (151b), featuring the adverbial helemaal.

Example 151
a. Ik heb het/dit gisteren allemaal gelezen.
  have  it/this  yesterday  altogether  read
b. Ik heb het/dit gisteren helemaal gelezen.
  have  it/this  yesterday  completely  read

Second, the semantic contribution made by allemaal in the wh-constructions in (150) differs from ordinary universal quantification, and it can be replaced with preservation of meaning by zoal'(what) for instance/among other things' (lit.: so-all). This suggests that we can classify the use of allemaal in (150) as adverbial. If this is indeed the case, allemaal is the only al form that can be construed both as an adverb and as a floating quantifier.

[+]  B.  Complement of PP

Example (152a) shows that adding an associate to the marginal example (136d) gives rise to a more or lesss acceptable result if the associate is a complex noun phrase or a strong pronoun, but completely unacceptable if it is a weak pronoun. Adding an associate to the ungrammatical example in (137d), on the other hand, does not improve the result.

Example 152
a. Hij heeft een uitnodiging aan ?die mensen/hen/*ze allemaal gestuurd.
  he  has  an invitation  to those people/them/them  altogether  sent
b. * Hij heeft aan die boeken/ze allemaal zijn fiat gegeven.
  he  has  to those books/them  altogether  his okay  given

The examples in (152) show that there exists a contrast between +human and -human associates of allemaal. A similar contrast was observed for al in (97b&b'). There we took the fact that the weak pronoun ze could not be used as evidence for the claim that the pronoun and the quantifier must form a constituent. This claim was also supported by the fact that scrambling and topicalization of the PP required pied piping of the quantifier. The examples in (152) seem to give a similar result with scrambling, as shown in (153a), but not with topicalization, as is shown in (153b); the quantifier allemaal can only be pied-piped in the former case. But, actually, the situation is more complex: (153c) shows that the scrambled PP need not be adjacent to the quantifier, and (153d) shows that the PP can be topicalized provided that the quantifier occupies the same position as in (153c).

Example 153
a. Hij heeft aan ?die mensen/hen <allemaal> een uitnodiging <*allemaal> gestuurd.
b. * Aan die mensen/hen <allemaal> heeft hij een uitnodiging <allemaal> gestuurd.
c. (?) Hij heeft aan ?die mensen/hen gisteren allemaal een uitnodiging gestuurd.
d. (?) Aan die mensen/hen heeft hij gisteren allemaal een uitnodiging gestuurd.

The data in (153) therefore suggest that allemaal can be generated either as part of the noun phrase or independently to the left of the base position of the PP; in the latter case the PP must be moved into some position to the left of the quantifier. Given this we may expect that R-pronominalization will give rise to an acceptable result as well, provided that the R-pronoun is moved into a position to the left of the independent quantifier. Although the examples are marked, the results in (154) seem indeed acceptable.

Example 154
a. (?) de mensen waar hij gisteren allemaal een uitnodiging aan stuurde
  the people  where  he yesterday  altogether  an invitation  to  sent
  'the people to whom he sent an invitation yesterday'
b. ? de voorstellen waar hij gisteren allemaal zijn fiat aan gaf
  the proposal  where  he  yesterday  altogether  his okay  to  gave
  'the proposals to which he gave his okay yesterday'

Given that (154a) with an indirect object sounds relatively marked, we provide two more natural examples in (155) involving PP-complements, which seem to be impeccable.

Example 155
a. de dingen waar een manager allemaal aan moet denken
  the things  where  a manager  altogether  of  must  think
  'all the things that a manager has to think of'
b. de instrumenten waar hij allemaal op kan spelen
  the instruments  where  he  altogether  on  can  play
  'the instruments that he can play (on)'
[+]  C.  Predicate

In examples such as (156a), taken from Perridon (1997: 185), it is not immediately clear whether allemaal is a floating quantifier belonging to the subject wat je over mij vertelt or a modifier belonging to the predicate nominal leugens.

Example 156
Wat je over mij vertelt zijn allemaal leugens.
  what  you  about me  tell  are  altogether  lies

Semantically, (156) is not on a par with (157a), in which the quantifier clearly modifies the noun phrase, and in which allemaal can best be rendered as “all sorts of”. It instead patterns with (157b), in which allemaal has a very high degree reading; it is nothing but lies that you have been telling about me.

Example 157
a. Je vertelt allemaal leugens over mij.
  you  tell  altogether  lies  about me
b. Het/Dit zijn allemaal leugens die je over mij vertelt.
  it/this  are  altogether  lies  that  you  about me  tell

However, as was discussed in Section, sub IIC, it is not clear that the very high degree quantifier is part of the noun phrase. Evidence that allemaal in (156) and (157b) can be construed as a floating quantifier with the pronominal subject as its associate is given in (158), in which the nominal predicate is replaced by an adjectival one, which is, of course, not eligible for modification by allemaal; in these examples, at least, allemaal must be construed as a floating quantifier.

Example 158
a. Wat je over mij vertelt, is allemaal erg raar.
  what  you  about me  tell  is  altogether  very strange
b. Het/Dit is allemaal erg raar.
  it  is  altogether  very strange
[+]  III.  The distribution of allemaal and allerlei contrasted

One last point to add in connection with the independent and floating uses of allemaal is the fact that, in these uses, allemaal does not alternate with allerlei. All of the grammatical examples given in Subsection II with allemaal become unacceptable if allerlei replaces allemaal. In (159), we illustrate this with the aid of a number of concrete examples.

Example 159
a. * Wat die mensen betreft, hij heeft aan allerlei een uitnodiging gestuurd.
  what those people concerns  he  has  to all-sorts  an invitation  sent
b. * Ik heb die boeken gisteren allerlei verkocht.
  have  those books  yesterday  all-sorts  sold
c. * Ik heb het gisteren allerlei gelezen.
  have  it  yesterday  all-sorts  read

In this regard, independent and floating allemaal differ from allemaal in bare plural noun phrases, which can readily be replaced with allerlei, usually with preservation of meaning: allemaal/allerlei boeken'all kinds of books'. See also example (124) in Section, sub IIA.

  • Coppen, Peter-Arno1991Specifying the noun phraseAmsterdamThesis Publishers
  • Perridon, Harry1997Totaliteit. Over het gebruik van de woorden <i>al(le)</i>, <i>heel</i>, <i>ieder</i> en <i>elk</i>Elffers, Els, Horst, Joop van der & Klooster, Wim (eds.)Grammaticaal spektakel. Artikelen aangeboden aan Ina Schermer-Vermeer bij haar afscheid van de Vakgroep Nederlandse Taalkunde aan de Universiteit van AmsterdamDutch department, University of Amsterdam181-190
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