• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
2.3.4. Special and problematic cases
quickinfo

The previous sections discussed the main types of PO-verbs. The PO-verbs discussed in 2.3.2 seem to involve intransitive, transitive and monadic unaccusative verbs, to which an additional PP-complement is added. The PO-verbs discussed in 2.3.3 seem related to regular transitive or ditransitive verbs, the direct object of which is replaced by a PP-complement. This section will briefly discuss some more special and potentially problematic cases.

readmore
[+]  I.  Double prepositional complement verbs?

It has been claimed that PO-verbs select at most one PP-complement; see, e.g., Haeseryn et al. (1997:1179) and Neeleman & Weerman (1999: Section 5.5). Yet, there are many cases that might plausibly be analyzed as PO-verbs with two or more PP-complements. One potential case has already been discussed, namely, the verbs of exchange in (291), repeated here as (384), which also constitute a potential counterexample to the hypothesis put forth in the introduction to this section on PP-complements, according to which a verb can take at most two complements.

Example 384
a. Jan verkocht het boek voor tien euro aan Marie.
  Jan sold  the book  for ten euros  to Marie
b. Marie kocht het boek voor tien euro van Jan.
  Marie bought  the book  for ten euros  from Jan
c. Marie betaalde Jan tien euro voor het boek.
  Marie paid  Jan  ten euros  for the book

We have seen, however, that there are reasons for assuming that the voor-PPs are adverbial phrases and not complements of the verbs. First, as was also noted in the introduction to Section 2.3, it is possible to paraphrase the examples in (384) by means of an en pronoun doet dat XP clause, in which XP is generally assumed to be an adjunct (the adverb test): if this test is indeed conclusive, the examples in (292), repeated het as (385), show that the voor-PPs are adverbial phrases.

Example 385
a. Jan verkocht het boek aan Marie en hij deed dat voor tien euro.
  Jan sold  the book  to Marie  and  he  did  that  for ten euros
b. Marie kocht het boek van Jan en ze deed dat voor tien euro.
  Marie bought  the book  from Jan  and  she  did  that  for ten euros
c. Marie betaalde Jan tien euro en ze deed dat voor het boek.
  Marie paid  Jan  ten euros  and  she  did  that  for the book

Second, we have seen in Section 2.3.2, sub IE, that PP-complements in the middle field of the clause normally cannot precede the direct object. This is shown again in (386).

Example 386
dat Jan <*tegen inbraak> het huis <tegen inbraak> beveiligde.
  that  Jan  against burglary  the house  protected

The fact that the voor-PPs in (384) can precede the direct objects in (387) therefore suggests again that they are not PP-complements but adverbial phrases.

Example 387
a. Jan heeft voor tien euro dat boek aan Marie verkocht.
  Jan has  for ten euros  that book  to Marie  sold
  'Jan has sold that book for ten euros to Marie.'
b. Marie heeft voor tien euro dat boek van Jan gekocht.
  Marie has  for ten euros  that book  from Jan  bought
  'Marie has bought that book from Jan for ten euros.'
c. Marie betaalde Jan voor het boek tien euro.
  Marie paid  Jan for the book  ten euros

      Many examples with potentially two complement-PPs contain a so-called comitative met-PP, which typically refers to a "co-agent" of the activity denoted by the verb. At first sight, the examples in (388a&b) may be plausibly analyzed as cases involving the PO-verbs praten over'to talk about' and praten met'to talk with'. If these analyses are correct, we should probably conclude that example (388c) is a case in which praten'to talk' takes two PP-complements.

Example 388
a. dat Jan over zijn werk praatte.
  that  Jan about his work  talked
b. dat Jan met Els praatte.
  that  Jan with Els  talked
c. dat Jan met Els over zijn werk praatte.
  that  Jan with Els  about his work  talked

The en pronoun doet dat XP-test suggests, however, that the comitative met-PP is not a PP-complement, as is clear from the acceptability contrast between the two examples in (389).

Example 389
a. ?? Jan sprak met Els en hij deed dat over zijn werk.
  Jan talked  with Els  and  he  did  that  about his work
b. Jan praatte over zijn werk en hij deed dat met Els.
  Jan talked  about his word  and  he  did  that  with Els

However, since the examples in (388) do not contain a direct object, nothing can be concluded on the basis of the word order of these examples. In order to apply this test, we have to construct examples that contain both a direct object and a comitative met-PP, and see whether the PP can precede the direct object. Now, consider the examples in (390).

Example 390
a. dat Jan <met Peter> de problemen <met Peter> besprak.
  that  Jan   with Peter  the problems  discussed
  'that Jan discussed the problems with Peter.'
b. dat Jan <met Peter> het huis <met Peter> tegen inbraak beveiligde.
  that  Jan   with Peter  the house  against burglary  protected
  'that Jan took measures to protect the house against burglary with Peter.'

Since the met-PP can precede the direct object in these examples, it seems plausible to conclude that comitative met-PPs should never be considered complements, and hence that examples like (388c) and (390b) do not constitute counterexamples to the claim that PO-verbs take at most one PP-complement. Note further that the hypothesis according to which a verb can take at most two complements would also dictate that the comitative met-PP is an adjunct; if the met-PP is a complement of the verb, an example such as (390b) would contain three complements.
      The claim that a PO-verb can take at most one PP-complement is not generally accepted (cf. De Schutter 1974: 227-8), and has recently been challenged in a series of papers by Vandeweghe & Devos (2003), Vandeweghe (2007/2011), Colleman & Delorge (2010), and Vandeweghe & Colleman (2011). These papers argue that examples such as (388c) do contain two PP-complements; this double PP-complement construction is claimed to typically occur with verbs of human interaction (communication, negotiation, etc); the comitative met-PP in (388c) is assumed to be selected by the verb bespreken'to discuss' given that it denotes an activity that requires at least two +human participants (in the prototypical case). The more recent papers further argue that the word order test used in (390) just reflects a tendency and is not generally valid. Vandeweghe & Colleman (2011) investigated the behavior of the 11 PO-verbs with a direct object in the Twents Nieuws Corpus, and found that 70 (11.9%) out of the 585 attestations appeared in the PP-NP order in the middle field of the clause. We have omitted two of their cases from our Table 11: bespreken met'to discuss with' given that it is this case for which we want to establish whether or not it takes a PP-complement (the results for this verb will be given later), and veranderen (in) because we would analyze this as a verb with a complementive; cf. note 12 in Vandeweghe & Colleman (2011). This resulted in a slightly lower rate of PP-NP orders (7%), which is completely due to the omission of bespreken met because no PP-NP orders were found for veranderen (in).

Table 11: Word order of the NP and PP-complement in the middle field of the clause after Vandeweghe & Colleman ( 2011)
example translation NP-PP-order PP-NP order
baseren op to base on 54 13
beschermen tegen to protect against 92 0
beschuldigen van to accuse of 64 0
danken aan to owe to 47 3
herinneren aan to remind of 50 0
herkennen aan to recognize by 37 15
verdenken van to suspect of 50 0
vergelijken met to compare with 73 0
vervaardigen uit to create out of 5 5
Total: 508 472 36

The results indeed suggest that the test is not absolute, and that specific factors may affect the order of the nominal and the prepositional object. This does not come as a surprise given that De Schutter (1976) and Broekhuis (2004) already noted that the preferred NP-PP order can be overridden by information-structural considerations. Example (391a), for instance, shows that PP-complements may precede a direct object if the latter introduces new information into the domain of discourse, in which case it is typically realized as an indefinite noun phrase or as a noun phrase preceded by a demonstrative pronoun. Example (391b) shows that the same thing holds for cases in which the direct object is a negative phrase; furthermore the use of zulke seems to favor a contrastive focus interpretation of the PP in this example, especially if it is stressed. Crucially, however, it is not possible, to place the PP-complement in front of a direct object with a definite article, as shown in (391c); such examples are at best marginally possible provided that the PP-complement is assigned contrastive accent: ?dat Peter op deze feiten de nieuwe theorie baseerde.

Example 391
a. dat Peter op deze feiten een/die geheel nieuwe theorie baseerde.
  that Peter  on these facts  a/that completely new theory  based
  'that Peter based an/that entirely new theory on these facts.'
b. dat je op zulke feiten geen theorie kan baseren.
  that   one  on such facts  no theory  can  base
  'that one cannot base a theory on such facts.'
c. * dat Peter op deze feiten de nieuwe theorie baseerde.
  that Peter  on these facts  the new theory  based

In order to conclude that the word order test is invalid, it is necessary to show that the verbs allowing the inverted order also allow this order if the direct object is definite and the PP-complement is not given special emphasis. Vandeweghe & Colleman fail to indicate whether they have found such examples; all their examples are of type (391a&b), and the same holds for the constructed examples in Colleman & Delorge (2010), which are all of type (391a).
      Furthermore, it is not always clear what the results indicate: it might be the case that the PPs that we find with herkennen'to recognize' and vervaardigen'to create' are simply misanalyzed as PP-complements. This is hard to establish given that Vandeweghe & Colleman do not give a sample of these cases, but that this may well be the case is suggested by the fact that the aan-PP is neither obligatory nor semantically implied by the verb. An example such as (392a), for instance, does not necessarily imply that Marie/the problem has a specific feature by which Jan could recognize her/it. This contrasts sharply with an example such as (392b), which does imply that there is something that Jan could have waited for.

Example 392
a. Jan herkende Marie/het probleem niet.
  Jan recognized  Marie/the problem  not
  'Jan didnʼt recognize Marie/the problem.'
b. Jan wachtte niet.
  Jan waited  not
  'Jan didnʼt wait.'

Similarly, an example such as (393a) does not imply that Peter transformed something into piano sonatas; it is even the case that the uit-PP can be used in very special circumstances only, e.g., if the sonatas contain recycled musical material. This again contrasts sharply with an example such as (393b), which does imply that there are potential threats that the population must be protected against.

Example 393
a. Peter vervaardigde veel pianosonates ($uit zijn eerste probeersels).
  Peter  created  many piano sonatas   from his first roughs
b. De politie beschermt de bevolking.
  the police  protects  the inhabitants

      Recall that we manipulated the figures given by Vandeweghe & Colleman by excluding the attestations of bespreken met'to discuss with'. This verb appears in the PP-NP order in 35% of the attestations found by Vandeweghe & Colleman (34 out of 96). Again, we tend to interpret this as evidence in favor of adjunct status of the met-PP. Vandeweghe (2011) in fact provides independent evidence in favor of this conclusion. He notices that met-PPs can sometimes be modified by the element samen'together', and claims that this element can only be added if the met-PP functions as an adverbial phrase; he concludes from this that the met-PP in (394a) is an adverbial phrase, whereas the met-PP in (394b) is a PP-complement. We added the primed (a)-example to show that the phrase samen met Marie can be placed in clause-initial position and should therefore indeed be considered a single constituent; cf. the constituency test. Given that Section 2.3.1, sub IV, has shown that modification is excluded in the case of PP-complements, we can accept the conclusion that we are dealing with an adverbial PP in (394a), although it remains to be shown that the met-PP in (394b) must be analyzed as a PP-complement.

Example 394
a. Jan wandelde (samen) met Marie naar de dierentuin.
  Jan walked  together with Marie  to the zoo
  'Jan is walking to the zoo with Marie.'
a'. Samen met Marie wandelde Jan naar de dierentuin.
  together with Marie  walked  Jan to the zoo
b. Jan trouwt morgen (*samen) met Marie.
  Jan marries  tomorrow    together  with Marie
  'Jan will marry Marie tomorrow.'

The above means that we now have a new test that may help us to determine the syntactic status of the met-PPs in (388) and (390): if the met-PPs can be modified by samen, we are dealing with adverbial phrases; if this is impossible, we may be dealing with PP-complements. Our judgments on the examples in (395) clearly point in the direction of adjunct status for the met-PPs. If this is indeed the correct conclusion, we can safely conclude that the hypothesis that PO-verbs take at most one PP-complement can also be maintained.

Example 395
a. dat Jan samen met Els over zijn werk praatte.
  that  Jan together with Els  about his work  talked
  'that Jan talked with Els about his work.'
b. dat Jan samen met Peter de problemen besprak.
  that  Jan together with Peter  the problems  discussed
  'that Jan discussed the problems with Peter.'

This subsection has also shown, however, that there are still many cases in which it is not immediately evident whether or not we are dealing with a complement-PP; see the discussion of the examples in (392) to (394). This clearly indicates that more research is needed to refine the tools that are currently at our disposal.

[+]  II.  Modal verbs selecting a prepositional complement

The examples in (396) show that, in contrast to English, modal verbs can be used as main verbs in Dutch; cf. Section 5.2.3.2. They also show that modal verbs may sometimes select a PP-complement. The modal kunnen'can' is in fact even able to select prepositional phrases headed by different prepositions; the PP-complement in (396a) is headed by buiten'without' while the one in (396b) by tegen'against'; the difference in meaning suggests that these V + PP collocations are listed in the lexicon.

Example 396
a. Jan kan niet buiten zijn sigaretten.
  Jan can  not  without  his cigarettes
  'Jan canʼt do without his cigarette.'
b. Els kan niet tegen wijn.
  Els  can  not  against  wine
  'Els canʼt stand wine.'

There are also cases in which the modal verb takes a particle and a PP-complement. An example is opkunnen tegen'to be up to' in (397); it is not clear whether we are still dealing with genuine modal verbs in such cases. Examples like these have hardly been studied, and, for the moment, we have little to say about them either.

Example 397
Peter kan niet tegen Jan op.
  Peter can  not  against  Jan  op
'Peter is no match for Jan.'
[+]  III.  Verbal expressions with a prepositional complement

There is a large set of fixed and idiomatic verbal expressions that include PP-complements. Some examples are given in (398). A larger sample of these expressions is given in Table 12.

Example 398
a. De boeren hebben een groot aandeel aan het oproer.
verbal expression
  the farmers  have  a big share  in the riot
  'The farmers played an important role in the riot.'
b. Jan heeft de draak gestoken met Peters voorstel.
idiomatic expression
  Jan  has  the dragon  stung  with Peterʼs proposal
  'Jan has made fun of Peterʼs proposal.'
Table 12: Verbal expressions with a prepositional complement
preposition verbal expression translation
aan aandacht besteden aan
deelnemen aan
gebrek hebben aan
grenzen stellen aan
to pay attention to
to participate in
to lack
to limit
achter haast/spoed/vaart zetten achter to speed up
bij baat hebben/vinden bij
belang hebben bij
to profit from
to have an interest in
in belang stellen in
trek hebben in
troost zoeken in
to be interested in
to feel an appetite for
to find solace in
met akkoord gaan met
de draak steken met
contact opnemen met
to agree with
to make fun of
to contact
naar oren hebben naar
navraag doen naar
to rather like
to inquire about
op acht geven/slaan op
invloed uitoefenen op
vat krijgen op
to pay attention to
to influence
to get a hold of
over de baas spelen over
uitsluitsel geven over
een vonnis vellen over
to play the boss over
to give a decisive answer about
to pass judgment on
tegen wrok koesteren tegen
een aanklacht indienen tegen
represailles nemen tegen
rancune hebben tegen
van leer trekken tegen
to bear a grudge against
to lodge a complaint against
to take reprisals against
to bear a grudge against
to pitch out into
tot aanleiding geven tot
toenadering zoeken tot
zijn toevlucht nemen tot
to give cause for
to try to approach
to resort to
tussen het midden houden tussen
een wig drijven tussen
een onderscheid maken tussen
to stand between
to drive a wedge between
to distinguish
uit troost putten uit
conclusies trekken uit
to find solace in
to conclude from
van een afkeer hebben van
afstand doen van
last hebben van
werk maken van
to have an aversion to
to renounce
to suffer from
to take up
voor partij trekken voor
de tijd nemen voor
het veld ruimen voor
to take sides with
to take oneʼs time about
to leave the field to
zonder het stellen zonder (buiten) to have to do without

In many cases the PPs feel like modifiers of the nominal part of the expression. That we are not dealing with "true" PP-complements of the verb is clear from the fact that these PPs can often be placed in front of the nominal part of the verbal expression, whereas "true" PP-complements can never precede the nominal complement of the verb.

Example 399
a. dat Marie <van Peter> een grote afkeer <van Peter> heeft <van Peter>.
  that  Marie    of Peter  a big aversion  has
  'that Marie dislikes Peter much.'
b. dat Els <uit zijn hulp> veel troost <uit zijn hulp> putte <uit zijn hulp>.
  that  Els  from his help  much comfort  got
  'that Marie found solace in his help.'

Nevertheless, it seems plausible to assume that the PPs are selected by the verbal expressions as a whole. This is especially clear when the verbal expression can be replaced by a simple verb, as in the cases in (400).

Example 400
a. een conclusie trekken uit
  a conclusion  pull  from
  'to conclude from'
a'. concluderen uit
  to conclude  from
  'to conclude from'
b. een onderscheid maken tussen
  a difference  make  between
  'to distinguish between'
b'. onderscheiden tussen
  to distinguish between
  'to distinguish between'

There are also cases in which the nominal part of the PP-complement is part of the idiomatic expression. Two examples are given in (401).

Example 401
a. Peter gaat over zijn nek.
  Peter goes  over his neck
  'Peter is being sick.'
b. Die winkel is snel over de kop gegaan.
  that shop  is  quickly  over the head  gone
  'That shop went broke quickly.'

      Also noteworthy are the verbal expressions in (402), in which the PP at first sight seems to be selected by a te-infinitive, as in te kampen hebben met'to have to contend with', te lijden hebben van'to suffer severely by' and te maken hebben met'to have to do with'. Note, however, that te-infinitives normally do not precede the verb(s) in clause-final position. The fact that the te-phrases in (402) must precede the verb hebben in clause-final position therefore suggests that we are actually dealing with PPs headed by te.

Example 402
a. dat we met tal van moeilijkheden te kampen hebben.
  that  we with  tal of difficulties  to contend  have
  'that we have to contend with numerous difficulties.'
b. dat veel reizigers weer van de treinstakingen te lijden hadden.
  that  many travelers  again  of the train strikes to suffer  had
  'that many travelers suffered from the train strikes again.'
c. dat Jan niets met deze problemen te maken heeft.
  that  Jan nothing  with these problems  to make  has
  'that Jan has nothing to do with these problems.'

      Finally, there is a set of more or lesss fixed expressions that involve non-referential het as a subject or direct object. That het is non-referential in the examples in (403) is clear from the fact that it cannot be replaced by other (pro)nominal phrases.

Example 403
a. Het/*Dit komt erop aan dat we snel een beslissing nemen.
  it/this  comes  on.it  prt.  that  we quickly  a decision  take
  'It is necessary that we decide quickly.'
b. Jan heeft het/*dat ernaar gemaakt dat hij ontslagen is.
  Jan has  it/that  to.it  made  that  he  fired  is
  'It was Janʼs own fault that he is fired.'
b'. Jan heeft het/*dat gemunt op zijn broertje.
  Jan has  it/*that  gemunt  op his brother
  'Jan has it in for his brother.'
References:
  • Broekhuis, Hans2004Het voorzetselvoorwerpNederlandse Taalkunde997-131
  • Colleman, Timothy & Delorge, Martine2010Inhoudsobjecten, partnerobjecten en de dubbel-voorzetselobject-constructieCaluwe, Johan de & Keymeulen, Jacques van (eds.)Artikelen voor Magda Devos bij haar afscheid van de Universiteit GentGentAcademia Press111-126
  • Colleman, Timothy & Delorge, Martine2010Inhoudsobjecten, partnerobjecten en de dubbel-voorzetselobject-constructieCaluwe, Johan de & Keymeulen, Jacques van (eds.)Artikelen voor Magda Devos bij haar afscheid van de Universiteit GentGentAcademia Press111-126
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
  • Neeleman, Ad & Weerman, Fred1999Flexible syntax. A theory of case and argumentsStudies in Natural Language & Linguistic TheoryDordrecht/Boston/LondonKluwer
  • Schutter, Georges de1974De Nederlandse zin. Poging tot beschrijving van zijn structuur.BruggeDe Tempel
  • Schutter, Georges de1976De bouw van de Nederlandse zin: beschrijving en voorstel tot beregelingVerslagen & Mededelingen van de Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde86165-282
  • Vandeweghe, Willy2007Grammatica van de Nederlandse zinAntwerpen/ApeldoornGarant
  • Vandeweghe, Willy2011Het voorzetselvoorwerp en de hiërarchie der objectenNederlandse Taalkunde1688-101
  • Vandeweghe, Willy2011Het voorzetselvoorwerp en de hiërarchie der objectenNederlandse Taalkunde1688-101
  • Vandeweghe, Willy & Colleman, Timothy2011Drie-argumentstructuurconstructies met een voorzetselobjectVerslagen & Mededelingen van de Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde121205-228
  • Vandeweghe, Willy & Colleman, Timothy2011Drie-argumentstructuurconstructies met een voorzetselobjectVerslagen & Mededelingen van de Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde121205-228
  • Vandeweghe, Willy & Colleman, Timothy2011Drie-argumentstructuurconstructies met een voorzetselobjectVerslagen & Mededelingen van de Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde121205-228
  • Vandeweghe, Willy & Colleman, Timothy2011Drie-argumentstructuurconstructies met een voorzetselobjectVerslagen & Mededelingen van de Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde121205-228
  • Vandeweghe, Willy & Devos, Magda2003Relationele subtypen bij voorzetselobjectenLeuvense Bijdragen92103-114
Suggestions for further reading ▼
phonology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
morphology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
  • In prenominal position
    [88%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Adjectives
  • Ellipsis
    [88%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Adjectives
  • Cardinal numbers
    [88%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Numerals
  • Weak verbs
    [87%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Verbs
  • -s
    [87%] Frisian > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Suffixation > Adverbial suffixes > Noun as base
Show more ▼
syntax
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
  • 2.3.1. General introduction
    [94%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 2 Projection of verb phrases I:Argument structure > 2.3. PP-complements (prepositional objects)
  • 11.3.1.1. Wh-movement in simplex clauses (short wh-movement)
    [94%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 11 Word order in the clause III:Clause-initial position (wh-movement) > 11.3. Clause-initial position is filled > 11.3.1. Wh-questions
  • 11.3.3. Topicalization
    [94%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 11 Word order in the clause III:Clause-initial position (wh-movement) > 11.3. Clause-initial position is filled
  • 3.3.2. Accusative/PP alternations
    [94%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 3 Projection of verb phrases II:Verb frame alternations > 3.3. Alternations of noun phrases and PPs
  • 11.3.4. Wh-exclamatives
    [94%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 11 Word order in the clause III:Clause-initial position (wh-movement) > 11.3. Clause-initial position is filled
Show more ▼
cite
print
This topic is the result of an automatic conversion from Word and may therefore contain errors.
A free Open Access publication of the corresponding volumes of the Syntax of Dutch is available at OAPEN.org.