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8.3.1. Temporal phrases
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This section is divided into four parts. Subsection I focuses on adverbially used definite noun phrases, and also discusses certain more general properties of adverbially used noun phrases. Subsections II and III continue with a discussion of indefinite and quantified noun phrases, respectively. Subsection IV will specifically consider noun phrases whose nominal head is a name for a conventional unit of time, like a day of the week, a month of the year, etc.

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[+]  I.  Definite noun phrases

In order for a noun phrase to be usable as an adverbial phrase of time, it must be possible to construe the nominal head as denoting a certain time interval or a certain point on the time axis. This is, of course, typically the case with nouns denoting certain conventional time spans, like dag'day', ochtend'morning', maand'month', etc. However, nouns denoting certain durative events, like wedstrijd'match' or lezing'lecture', can also be used in this way. We will start by discussing examples in which the adverbially used noun phrase refers to a certain time interval, followed by a discussion of examples in which it refers to a specific point in time. This subsection is concluded with a discussion of some differences between noun phrases used as time adjuncts and noun phrases used as arguments.

[+]  A.  Adverbially used noun phrases referring to a time interval

In (140), we give some examples in which the adverbially used noun phrase refers to a certain time interval. It should be noted that all noun phrases are obligatorily modified by a quantifier-like element like heel'whole', half'half' and godganse'whole blessed'; dropping these modifiers results in unacceptability.

Example 140
a. Jan bleef de ??(hele) morgen thuis.
  Jan  stayed  the whole morning  home
  'Jan stayed home the whole morning.'
b. Marie zat de *(halve) lezing te gapen.
  Marie  sat  the half lecture  to yawn
  'Mary was yawning during large parts of the lecture.'
c. Jan zit de *(godganse) dag te kletsen.
  Jan  sits  the whole blessed day  to chatter
  'Jan is chattering during the whole blessed day.'
d. Hij heeft zijn *(hele) leven in Amsterdam gewoond.
  he  has  his whole life  in Amsterdam lived
  'He has always lived in Amsterdam.'
[+]  B.  Adverbially used noun phrases referring to a certain point on the time axis

In (141), we give some examples in which the adverbially used noun phrase refers to a specific point in time. These noun phrases typically contain a modifier which clarifies the position of the referent of the noun phrase on the time axis.

Example 141
a. Marie kwam de volgende ochtend/dag weer thuis.
  Marie came  the next morning/day  again  home
  'Marie came home again the next morning.'
b. Marie was de week voor Pasen nog in Frankrijk.
  Marie  was  the day before Easter  still  in France
  'Marie was the week before Easter still in France.'
c. Ik ben de volgende les weer aanwezig.
  am  the next lesson  again  present
  'Iʼll be present again for the next lesson.'

Unlike in adverbially used noun phrases referring to a time interval, the modifiers in noun phrases referring to specific point in time can be dropped provided that there is some other means to take over their function, e.g., by using a demonstrative pronoun instead of a definite article. Using a demonstrative may also save the ungrammatical examples in (140a&b), but at the expense of the durative reading: in an example such as Jan bleef die morgen thuis'Jan stayed home that morning', the adverbial phrase refers to a certain point on time axis, not to a time interval.

Example 142
a. Marie kwam die/*de ochtend weer thuis.
  Marie came  that/the morning  again  home
b. Marie was die/*de week nog in Frankrijk.
  Marie  was  that/the week  still  in France
c. Ik ben ?die/*de les weer aanwezig.
  am   that/the lesson  again  present
[+]  C.  Differences between nominal time adjuncts and the direct object

Since the adverbial phrase has the form of a regular noun phrase, it can easily be confused with a direct object. In example (143a), the noun phrase can only be used as an adverbial phrase since it does not satisfy the selectional properties of the main verb: de hele dag does not refer to a danceable entity. Nevertheless, at first sight this example closely resembles example (143b), in which the noun phrase de hele dag does function as the direct object of the main verb verprutsen'to botch/spoil'.

Example 143
a. Jan danste de *(hele/halve/godganse) avond.
adjunct
  Jan danced  the whole/half/god.blessed night
b. Jan verprutste de *(hele/halve/godganse) avond.
argument
  Jan spoiled  the whole/half/god.blessed night

There are, however, several differences between these examples, all related to the fact that de hele avond functions as an adjunct in (143a), but as an object in (143b). A first difference, illustrated in (144), is that the noun phrase is optional in (143a), whereas it must be realized in (143b). A second difference, also illustrated by these examples, is that (143a) can be paraphrased by means of the en doet dat-test, whereas (145a) cannot; cf. adverb tests in the glossary.

Example 144
a. Jan danste (en hij deed dat de hele/halve/godganse avond).
  Jan danced  and  he  did  that  the whole/half/god.blessed night
b. * Jan verprutste (en hij deed dat de hele/halve/godganse avond).
  Jan spoiled  and  he  did  that  the whole/half/god.blessed night

Finally, the examples in (145) show that passivization of (143a) gives rise to an impersonal passive, whereas passivization of (143b) results in promotion of the noun phrase to subject.

Example 145
a. Er werd de hele/halve/godganse avond gedanst.
  there  was  the whole/half/god.blessed night  danced
b. De hele/halve/godganse avond werd verprutst.
  the whole/half/god.blessed night  was  spoiled

      An example such as (146a) is genuinely ambiguous between the two readings. The verb spelen'to play' can be used transitively as in een etude spelen'to play/perform an etude' or as an intransitive verb like in (met poppen) spelen'to play (with dolls)'. In the active construction in (146a), the verb can be construed in both ways. If the noun phrase is dropped or the sentence is paraphrased by means of the en doet dat-test, as in (146b), only the intransitive reading survives. The passive construction can be also used to disambiguate the sentence: if the passive construction is impersonal, as in (146c), we are dealing with intransitive spelen; if the noun phrase is promoted to subject, as in (146c'), we are dealing with transitive spelen.

Example 146
a. Jan speelde het hele concert.
  Jan played  the whole concerto/concert
  'Jan played the whole concertoor 'Jan played during the whole concert'
b. Jan speelde (en hij deed dat het hele concert).
  Jan  played  and he did that the whole concert
c. Er werd het hele concert gespeeld.
  there  was  the whole concert  played
c'. Het hele concert werd gespeeld.
  the whole concerto  was  played

In this specific case, the addition of an instrumental PP can also have a disambiguating effect since the referent of the complement of the preposition met may make clear which use of spelen is intended: in Jan speelde het hele concert met zijn poppen'Jan played with his dolls during the whole concert', the verb is clearly used intransitively. Verbs that yield an ambiguity similar to spelen are zingen'sing' and fluiten'to whistle/to play the flute'.

[+]  II.  Indefinite noun phrases

Indefinite noun phrases normally refer to a certain time interval, as in (147). In these cases, the noun typically denotes a conventional time unit like uur'hour', dag'day', maand'month', etc. Often these nouns surface in their diminutive form.

Example 147
a. Hij komt een uurtje/?uur op visite.
  he  comes  an hourdim/hour  on visit
b. Hij is een jaartje/jaar in Frankrijk geweest.
  he  is a yeardim/year  in France  been
[+]  III.  Quantified noun phrases

Indefinite noun phrases containing a numeral or a quantifier like enkele'some/several' may also be used to refer to a time interval. In such cases the noun normally denotes a conventional time unit. Some examples are given in (148). Note that the noun sometimes appears in its singular form if preceded by a cardinal numeral; see Section 6.1.1.3, sub B2, for discussion.

Example 148
a. Hij is drie weken op vakantie geweest.
  he  is three weeks  on holiday  been
  'He has been on holiday for three weeks.'
b. Hij heeft drie uur/?uren liggen slapen.
  he  has  three hours  lie  sleep
  'He has been sleeping for three hours.'
c. Hij heeft enkele uren vastgezeten in de lift.
  he  has  some hours  sat.stuck  in the elevator
  'He has been stuck in the elevator for some hours.'

On the frequency reading, the noun must denote a time unit that is relatively short. Some nouns that typically appear as the head of a noun phrase used as a frequency adverb are ochtend'morning', middag'afternoon', avond'night', but not week'week' or maand'month'. Consider the examples in (149). In an example such as (149a), the noun phrase drie avonden'three nights' refers to three separate points in time, whereas twee weken'two weeks' in (149b) is instead interpreted as referring to a certain time interval.

Example 149
a. Ik heb deze week drie avonden gedanst.
  have  this week  three nights  danced
  'This week, Iʼve danced on three nights.'
b. Ik heb deze maand twee weken gewandeld.
  have  this month  two weeks  walked
  'This month, Iʼve walked for two weeks.'

In addition to the nouns denoting a conventional time unit, nouns like keer or maal'time' in (150a) are typically used in these contexts: note that these nouns normally take the singular form if preceded by a numeral, but the plural form if preceded by a quantifier like enkele'several'. Occasionally, examples such as (150b) can also be found, where the noun denotes a set of durative events.

Example 150
a. Ik heb deze maand twee keer/enkele keren gewandeld.
  have  this month  two time/several times  walked
  'This month, Iʼve walked two/several times.'
b. Jan is drie lessen afwezig geweest.
  Jan is three lessons  absent  been
  'Jan has been absent at three lessons.'

      On the frequency reading, there seems to be no restriction on the quantifier in the noun phrase; whereas the universal quantifiers alle'all' and elke'every' and the quantifier sommige'some' are not possible in noun phrases referring to a time interval, they can appear in noun phrases used as adverbial phrases of frequency.

Example 151
a. Ik heb deze week alle avonden gedanst.
  have  this week  all nights  danced
  'This week Iʼve danced all nights.'
b. Ik heb deze week elke avond gedanst.
  have  this week  all nights  danced
  'This week Iʼve danced every night.'
c. Ik heb deze week sommige avonden gedanst.
  have  this week  some nights  danced
  'This week Iʼve danced some nights.'
[+]  IV.  Names of days, months, seasons, etc.

Subsection III has shown that noun phrases headed by names of days, months, seasons, and other conventionally distinguished time units can be used as adverbial phrases. There is, however, a rather complicated system that determines whether these nouns can or must be accompanied by a determiner. Further, the names of some of these time units may feature in noun phrases exhibiting genitive case; some examples are given in (152).

Example 152
a. names of days: ’s maandags'on Monday(s)', dinsdags'on Tuesday(s)', ’s woensdags, donderdags, vrijdags, ’s zaterdags, ’s zondags
b. seasons: ’s zomers'in the summer', s winters'in the winter', * ’s herfts, * ’s lentes
c. other conventional time units: ’s morgens'in the morning', s middags'in the afternoon', ’s avonds'in the evening', s nachts'at night', etc.

Note that the nouns in these genitive phrases are generally preceded by the reduced form of the genitive article des'the' and inflected with the genitive ending-s. Since modern Dutch does not make use of the case-inflected forms of the noun and the determiner, the forms in (152) must be considered lexicalized, which is also supported by the fact that the genitive article is missing in the case of dinsdags, donderdags and vrijdags, and the fact that the nouns herfst'fall' and lente'spring' do not have these genitive counterparts.

[+]  A.  Names of days

Noun phrases headed by the name of a day can readily be used as adverbial phrases. If preceded by a determiner, they refer to a time interval, and are then preferably modified by a quantifier like heel'whole', as in (153a). If they are not preceded by a determiner, they refer to a specific point of time, which may either precede or follow the speech time: a noun phrase like maandag'Monday' in (153b&b') can either refer to a time before or after the speech time; the actual reading depends on the tense of the modified clause and can be made explicit by adding a modifier like afgelopen'last' or komende'next'. Note that when a PP-modifier is used, as in (153c), a determiner must also be used.

Example 153
a. Jan heeft de hele maandag gewandeld.
  Jan has  the whole Monday  walked
  'Jan has walked all Monday.'
b. (Afgelopen) maandag was ik in Antwerpen.
  last Monday  was  in Antwerp
  'Last Monday, I was in Antwerp.'
b'. (Komende) maandag ben ik in Antwerpen.
  next Monday  am  in Antwerp
  'Next Monday, Iʼll be in Antwerp.'
c. We komen *(de) zondag voor/na Pasen bij je op bezoek.
  we  come     the Sunday  before/after Easter  at you  on visit
  'We come to visit you the Sunday after Easter.'

The genitive form can also be used to refer to a certain point in time. The difference between the adverbial phrase maandag in (153b&b') and ’s maandags in (154a) is that the former refers to the Monday immediately preceding or following the speech time, whereas the latter refers to a certain Monday within a contextually determined span of time, e.g., the Monday during the Easter weekend; using this genitive form to refer to the Monday immediately preceding or following the speech time gives rise to an unacceptable result. The genitive form is also very common as a frequency adverb; example (154b) shows that in this use the genitive form alternates with the adverbial PP op maandag.

Example 154
a. ʼs Maandags heb ik lekker gewandeld.
  on Monday  have  nicely  walked
  'On Monday I made a nice walk.'
b. ʼs Maandags/Op maandag ga ik vaak naar de film.
  on Mondays  go  often  to the movies
  'On Mondays, I often go to the movies.'
[+]  B.  Names of months

Noun phrases containing the names of months can also be used adverbially. They then refer to a certain time interval, and are normally modified by a quantifier like heel'whole', as in (155a). Using the modifier half'half', as in (155b), leads to ambiguity: it can express that the proposition holds for a large part of the month, or that it holds around the 15th of that month. In the latter use it has a function similar to that of the numeral in (155c), in which case, however, the adverbial phrase is preferably realized as a PP headed by op'at'.

Example 155
a. Jan is *(heel) april in de Verenigde Staten.
  Jan is whole April  in the United States
  'Jan will be in the US during April.'
b. Jan is half april in de Verenigde Staten.
  Jan is half April  in the United States
  'Jan will be in the US during a large part of April/around April 15th.'
c. Jan is (op) 13 april in de Verenigde Staten.
  Jan is at 13 April  in the United States
  'Jan will be in the US on April 13th.'

Noun phrases headed by the names of months are not used to refer to a certain point in time, nor do the names of months appear in genitive phrases. Instead, a PP is used, headed by the temporal preposition in: in januari'in January'. Note that the names of months are normally not preceded by a determiner.

[+]  C.  Names of seasons

Noun phrases headed by the name of a season can be used adverbially to refer to a certain time interval, as in (156a). Unlike the names of months, names of seasons must then be preceded by a determiner. Normally, a modifier like heel'whole' is present. If used to denote a certain position on the time axis, the noun phrase optionally contains a determiner, as shown in (156b). As is shown in (156c), a modifier like komende is required, unless the determiner is a demonstrative.

Example 156
a. Ik ben *(de) hele lente/zomer/herfst/winter in de Verenigde Staten.
  am    the whole spring/summer /fall/winter  in the United States
b. Ik ga (de) komende lente/zomer/herfst/winter niet op vakantie.
  go  the  next  spring/summer /fall/winter  not  on holiday
  'I wonʼt go on holiday next spring/summer /fall/winter.'
c. Ik ga deze/*de winter niet op vakantie.
  go  this/the winter  not  on holiday
  'I wonʼt go on holiday this (coming) winter.'

The use of the genitive form to refer to a certain season within a contextually determined time is not very natural: using (157a) to refer to, say, the winter of 1981 seems forced. It is very common, however, to use the genitive form as an adverbial phrase of frequency, as in (157b). In this use, the genitive form alternates with the PP in de winter'in winter'; this option is, of course, the only one available for the nouns lente'spring' and herfst'fall', since they do not have a genitive form.

Example 157
a. # Ik heb ʼs winters heerlijk gewandeld.
  have  in winter  nicely  walked
b. ʼs Winters is het hier erg koud.
  in winter  is it  here  very cold
  'In winter, itʼs very cold here.'
c. In de lente is het hier erg mooi.
  in the spring  is it  here  very beautiful
  'In spring, itʼs very beautiful here.'
[+]  D.  Names of other conventional time units

Other conventional time units are expressed by nouns like weekend'weekend', dag'day', week'week', ochtend'morning' or avond'night'. If a noun phrase headed by these nouns refers to a time interval, as in the (a)-examples of (158) and (159), it is preceded by a determiner and a modifier like heel'whole' is required. If the noun phrase is used to refer to a certain point on the time axis, as in the (b)-examples, the determiner can often be left out. The (c)-examples show that the use of a modifier is obligatory unless the determiner is a demonstrative. If the noun phrase contains a PP-modifier, as in the (d)-examples, the determiner is obligatory.

Example 158
a. Ik ben *(het) hele weekend in Antwerpen.
  am    the whole weekend  in Antwerp
b. Ik was het vorige weekend/vorig weekend in Antwerpen.
  was  the last weekend/last weekend  in Antwerp
c. Ik ben dat/?het weekend in Antwerpen.
  am  that/the weekend  in Antwerp
d. Ik kom het weekend voor/na Pasen bij je op bezoek.
  come  the weekend  before/after Easter  at you  on visit
  'I come to visit you the weekend before/after Easter.'
Example 159
a. Ik ben *(de) hele dag/avond thuis.
  am    the whole day/evening  home
b. Hij komt ?(de) komende dag/avond weer thuis.
  he  comes     the next day/evening  again  home
c. Hij komt ?die/*de dag/avond weer thuis.
  he  comes    that/the day/evening  again  home
d. Ik kom de dag voor/na Pasen bij je op bezoek.
  come  the day  before/after Easter  at you  on visit
  'I come to visit you the day before/after Easter.'

Note, however, that dropping the determiner in (159b) is somewhat marginal. It may be the case that the use of the bare noun phrases komende dag and komende avond is blocked by the existence of the lexical forms morgen'tomorrow' and morgenavond'tomorrow night'. This is supported by the fact that noun phrases like vorige/afgelopen week'last/the past week' or volgende maand'next month', for which such lexical items do not exist, are perfectly acceptable without the determiner: actually, in these cases the determiner cannot be used.

Example 160
a. Ik was (*de) vorige/afgelopen week/maand in Amsterdam.
  was    the  last/past  week/month  in Amsterdam
  'I was in Amsterdam last/the past week/month.'
b. Ik ga (*de) volgende week/maand naar Amsterdam.
  go    the  next  week/month  to Amsterdam
  'I go to Amsterdam next week/month.'

      Nouns denoting a certain part of the day also allow a genitive form: ’s morgen'in the mornings', s middags'in the afternoon(s)', ’s avonds'in the evening/night(s)', s nachts'in the night(s)', etc. These genitive phrases can either refer to the morning, afternoon. etc. of a contextually defined day, or be used as an adverbial phrase of frequency.

Example 161
a. Hij kwam ʼs avonds doodmoe thuis.
  he  came  in the evening  dead.tired  home
  'The evening of that day, he came home dead tired.'
b. ʼs Morgens werkt hij thuis.
  in the morning(s)  works  he home
  'In the morning(s), he works at home.'

The genitive form ’s avonds and ’s morgen in (161) cannot refer to the night/morning of the day that includes the speech time: in order to do that, one has to make use of the form vanavond'tonight'/ vanmorgen'this morning'. Other forms featuring the morpheme van that have a similar blocking effect are: vandaag'today', vanmiddag'this afternoon' and vannacht'tonight'. Perhaps these forms are related to the phrases van de week'some time this week', van de maand'some time this month', van de winter'some time last/next winter'.

Example 162
a. Ik ben vanavond thuis.
  am  tonight  home
b. Hij was vanmorgen ziek.
  he  was  this.morning  ill

Finally, note that there are no genitive forms of the nouns dag'day', week'week', maand'month' or jaar'year' that can be used in the contexts in (161). There do exist archaic genitive forms like daags and s jaars that occur in formal language, but these forms do not have the same function as the genitive forms in (161); some examples are daags na die ontmoeting'a day after that meeting' and tweemaal daags/’s jaars'twice a day/year'.

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