• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
5.2.3. Bare infinitivals

This section discusses main verbs that may take bare infinitival clauses as their complement, such as the modal verb moeten'must' or the perception verb zien'to see' in (596); the bare infinitival complements of these verbs are in italics. That the italicized phrases function as complements of the verbs moeten and zien is clear from the fact illustrated in the primed examples that they can be pronominalized.

Example 596
a. Jan moet dat boeklezen.
  Jan must that book read
  'Jan must read that book.'
a'. Jan moet dat.
  Jan must that
  'Jan must do that.'
b. Ik zag Jan dat boek lezen.
  saw Jan  that book  read
  'I saw Jan read that book.'
b'. Ik zag dat.
  saw  that
  'I saw that.'

The constructions given in the primeless examples in (596) exhibit monoclausal behavior. First, the fact illustrated in the primeless examples in (597) that the verbs moeten and zien are able to split their infinitival complement if they are in clause-final position shows that there is verb clustering: the percentage sign indicates that permeation of the clause-final verb cluster is possible in certain southern varieties of Dutch only. Second, the primed examples show that these constructions exhibit the infinitivus-pro-participio (IPP) effect in the perfect tense.

Example 597
a. dat Jan <dat boek> moet <%dat boek> lezen.
  that  Jan    that book  must  read
  'that Jan had to read that book.'
a'. dat Jan dat boek heeft moeten/*gemoeten lezen.
  that  Jan that book  has  mustinf/mustpart  read
  'that Jan has had to read that book.'
b. dat ik Jan <dat boek> zie <%dat boek> lezen.
  that  Jan    that book  see  read
  'that I see Jan read that book.'
b'. dat ik Jan dat boek heb zien/*gezien lezen.
  that  Jan that book  have  see/seen  read
  'that Iʼve seen Jan read that book.'

Although all of this may seem relatively straightforward, it is not always immediately clear whether or not a specific verb actually takes a bare infinitival clause as its complement. The reason is that bare infinitives do not always head an infinitival clause but can also be used as heads of bare-inf nominalizations. The examples in (598) show that this holds especially if the infinitive is monadic or takes an indefinite nominal complement; bare-inf nominalizations with definite nominal complements are normally less felicitous. We refer the reader to Section N1.3.1 and Section N2.2.3 for a detailed discussion of nominalization.

Example 598
a. Praten is vermoeiend.
  talk  is tiring
  'Talking is tiring.'
b. Boeken/Een boek lezen is altijd leuk.
  books/a book  read  is always  nice
  'Reading books/a book is always nice.'
c. ?? De boeken/het boek lezen is altijd leuk.
  the books/the book  read  is always  nice
  'Reading the books/the book is always nice.'

As a result of these two uses of bare infinitives, it may sometimes be impossible to tell at face value whether a certain main verb takes a bare infinitival clause or a bare-inf nominalization as its complement. Section will therefore start by discussing constructions with the verb leren'to learn/teach', which may be ambiguous if they contain a bare infinitive, and argue that verbal and nominal bare infinitives differ systematically as indicated in Table (599); these properties can therefore be used as tests to determine the categorial status of bare infinitives.

Example 599
The verbal and nominal use of bare infinitives
    infinitival clause nominalization
I is part of the verbal complex +
II precedes/follows the governing verb normally follows precedes
III triggers IPP-effect +
IV allows focus movement +
V may follow negative adverb niet'not' +
Vi can be preceded by the article geen'no' +

After having established the characteristic properties of bare infinitival complement clauses, we will continue with the discussion of a number of subclasses of verbs that (potentially) may take a bare infinitival clause as their complement. Apart from leren in (600a), this section will also discuss the verb classes in (600b-e).

Example 600
a. The verb leren'to learn/teach'
b. Modal verbs: moeten'must', kunnen'may', willen'to want', etc.
c. Perception verbs: zien'to see', horen'to hear', voelen'to feel', etc.
d. Verbs of causation/permission: laten'to make/let', doen'to make'
e. The verbs hebben'to have' and krijgen'to get'
    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.