• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
6.2.2. Passive auxiliaries
quickinfo

Since passive constructions are extensively discussed in Section 3.2.1, this section on passive auxiliaries can be relatively short. After a brief review of the types of passive constructions that can be found in Dutch in Subsection I, Subsection II will show that there is some discussion on the precise extent of the set of passive auxiliaries, subsection III continues with a discussion of the form of verbs governed by passive auxiliaries as well as their placement in the clause-final verb cluster, subsection IV demonstrates the monoclausal behavior of passive constructions by showing that they allow clause splitting: the passivized main verb can be separated by the passive auxiliary from constituents that are normally assumed to originate within its lexical projection, like internal arguments, complementives and VP-adverbs, subsection V summarizes the discussion by formulating a number of descriptive generalizations that capture the facts discussed in Subsections I through IV, subsection VI concludes the discussion of passive auxiliaries by showing that the passive auxiliaries can sometimes be confused with copulas, and discusses ways in which they can be recognized.

readmore
[+]  I.  Types of passive constructions

Dutch differs from English in that it allows passivization of constructions without a nominal object; this gives rise to the so-called impersonal passive, which is illustrated in (70) by means of the intransitive verb huilen'to cry' and the prepositional object verb wachten (op)'to wait (for)'.

Example 70
Impersonal passive
a. Jan huilt.
  Jan cries
a'. Er wordt gehuild.
  there  is  cried
b. Peter wacht op een brief.
  Peter waits  for a letter
b'. Er wordt op een brief gewacht.
  there  is  for a letter  waited

The examples in (71) show that, like in English, passivization of transitive and ditransitive verbs is easily possible, but that Dutch differs from English in that it promotes the direct, and not the indirect, object to subject when the verb is ditransitive.

Example 71
Regular passive
a. Jan beoordeelt het boek.
  Jan evaluates  the book
a'. Het boek wordt beoordeeld.
  the book  is   evaluated
b. Jan stuurt ons het boek toe.
  Jan  sends  us  the book  prt.
b'. Het boek wordt ons toegestuurd.
  the book  is us  prt.-sent

Promotion of the indirect object to subject is possible, however, in the so-called krijgen-passive. This form of passivization is only possible with ditransitive verbs and does not use the auxiliary worden, which was used in the examples above, but the auxiliary krijgen'to get'. The contrast between the regular passive and the krijgen-passive is illustrated in (72).

Example 72
a. Het boek wordt/*krijgt ons toegestuurd.
regular passive
  the book  is/gets  us  prt.-sent
b. Wij krijgen/*worden het boek toegestuurd.
krijgen-passive
  we  get/are  the book  prt.-sent

For a detailed discussion of the types of verbs that do or do not undergo the three types of passivization distinguished above, we refer the reader to Section 3.2.1.

[+]  II.  Passive auxiliaries

At first sight, there are two auxiliaries that can be used in impersonal and regular passive constructions, worden'to be' and zijn'to have been'. The choice between the two auxiliaries is determined by the temporal/aspectual properties of the construction as a whole: worden is used in imperfective and zijn in perfective passive constructions. This is illustrated in (73).

Example 73
a. Jan wordt (door de dokter) onderzocht.
imperfect
  Jan is   by the doctor  examined
  'Jan is examined by the doctor.'
b. Jan is (door de dokter) onderzocht.
perfect
  Jan has.been   by the doctor  examined
  'Jan has been examined by the doctor.'

It is sometimes suggested, however, that of the two auxiliaries worden and zijn, only the former is a "true" passive auxiliary. Van Bart et al. (1998:49-50), for example, take the auxiliary zijn in (73b) to be a perfect auxiliary that is combined with a phonetically empty counterpart of the passive auxiliary worden. This claim is supported by examples such as (74a), in which the postulated empty passive auxiliary of (73b) is replaced by the overt form geworden. Sentences of this kind are considered marked or archaic in Standard Dutch (see Haeseryn et al. 1997:959-60), but are easily possible in, especially, the southern and eastern varieties of Dutch; see Van der Horst (2008:1735) and Barbiers et al. (2008: Section 3.3.1.3). It should be noted, however, that Barbiers et al. also found that in the vast majority of cases, speakers who accept the passive auxiliary in the perfect-tense construction in (74b) prefer the participle form of zijn'to be', geweest.

Example 74
a. % Jan is (door de dokter) onderzocht geworden.
  Jan has   by the doctor  examined  been
  'Jan has been examined by the doctor.'
b. % Het huis is verkocht geworden/geweest.
  the house  is sold  been/been
  'The house has been sold.'

This finding unambiguously shows that zijn can be used as a passive auxiliary after all. It does not imply, of course that claiming that the auxiliary is in (73b) is a perfect auxiliary is wrong; if there is indeed an empty verb present in this example, it does not matter much whether it should be seen as the counterpart of geworden or of geweest.
       Krijgen-passives differ from the impersonal/regular passives in that all varieties of Dutch require the auxiliary krijgen to be overtly expressed in perfect-tense constructions such as (75b); in this example hebben is therefore unmistakably a perfect auxiliary.

Example 75
a. Jan krijgt het boek toegestuurd.
imperfect
  Jan gets  the book  prt.-sent
b. Jan heeft het boek toegestuurd gekregen.
perfect
  Jan has  the book  prt-sent  gotten
[+]  III.  Form of the passivized verb and its placement in the clause-final verb cluster

This subsection discusses the form of passivized main verbs as well as their placement in clause-final verb clusters consisting of two and three verbs.

[+]  A.  Clause-final verb sequences of two verbs

The examples in (76) show that in passive clauses with two verbs (the auxiliary and the passivized main verb), the main verb always has the form of a passive participle; using an infinitival main verb leads to ungrammaticality.

Example 76
a. Er wordt buiten gevochten/*vechten.
impersonal passive
  there  is  outside  foughtpart/fightinf
  'People are fighting outside.'
b. De man/Hij wordt door de politie gevolgd/*volgen.
regular passive
  the man/he  is  by the police  followedpart/followinf
  'The man/He is followed by the police.'
c. Marie/Ze kreeg een baan aangeboden/*aanbieden.
krijgen-passive
  Marie/she  got  a job  prt-offeredpart/prt.-offerinf
  'Marie/she was offered a job.'

In embedded clauses, the auxiliary and the passive participle are both in clause-final position, and, as might be expected on the basis of our discussion of perfect-tense constructions in Section 6.2.1, sub III, the passive participle may either precede or follow the passive auxiliary in the northern varieties of Standard Dutch, although it should be noted that the order aux-part is less frequent in passive constructions than in perfect-tense constructions; see the studies reviewed in Haeseryn (1990: Section 2.2) and De Sutter (2005/2007). The percentage signs indicate that the southern varieties allow the part-aux order only.

Example 77
a. dat er buiten <gevochten> wordt <%gevochten>.
impersonal passive
  that  there  outside    fought  is
  'that people are fighting outside.'
b. dat hij door de politie <gevolgd> wordt <%gevolgd>.
regular passive
  that  he  by the police    followed   is
  'that heʼs followed by the police.'
c. dat ze een baan <aangeboden> kreeg <%aangeboden>.
krijgen-passive
  that  she  a job    prt-offered  got
  'that she was offered a job.'
[+]  B.  Clause-final verb sequences of three verbs

In sequences of three verbs, passive auxiliaries never appear as finite verbs, and we will not be surprised to see that the passivized main verb always surfaces as a passive participle. The examples in (78) show that, as might be expected on the basis of our discussion of perfect-tense constructions in Section 6.2.1, sub IVA, the passive participle may occupy any position in the clause-final verb cluster in the northern varieties of Dutch, although it should be noted that placement of the participle in final position is again less frequent than in perfect-tense constructions, and that intermediate placement is relatively rare.

Example 78
a. dat er buiten <gevochten> zal <gevochten> worden <%gevochten>.
  that  there  outside    fought  will  be
  'that people will be fighting outside.'
b. dat hij door de politie <gevolgd> moet <gevolgd> worden <%gevolgd>.
  that  he  by the police   followed  must. be
  'that he must be followed by the police.'
c. dat ze een baan <aangeboden> zal <aangeboden> krijgen <%aangeboden>.
  that  she  a job    prt-offered  will  get
  'that sheʼll be offered a job.'

The percentage signs again indicate that the southern varieties do not allow the participle in final position. They further seem to differ from the northern varieties in exhibiting a preference for placing the participle in the intermediate position of the verb cluster; see table (24) for a similar finding for perfect-tense constructions. However, for the discussion in Subsection IV it is important to add that not all speakers of the southern varieties allow the passive participle in intermediate position; some of our Flemish informants require it to be the first verb in the verb cluster. We refer the reader to Haeseryn (1990: Section 2.3.2) for more detailed discussion of these differences in frequency.
      Passive constructions in the perfect tense have a number of surprising properties. In accordance with the generalization above that passive auxiliaries never appear as finite verbs in sequences of three verbs, such constructions require the perfect auxiliary to surface as the finite and the passive auxiliary as a non-finite verb. Section 6.2.1, sub IVA, has shown that such perfect-tense constructions normally exhibit the infinitivus-pro-participio (IPP) effect: the verb governed by the perfect auxiliary does not appear as a participle, but as an infinitive. This is illustrated again in (79).

Example 79
Jan heeft moeten/*gemoeten werken.
  Jan has  mustinf/mustpart  work
'Jan has had to work.'

Surprisingly, however, the IPP-effect does not arise in passive constructions. Since Subsection II has shown that the perfect-tense version of the regular passive may be special in (perhaps) having a covert passive auxiliary in the northern varieties of Dutch, we will start illustrating this for the krijgen-passive.

Example 80
a. dat Jan/hij het boek toegestuurd krijgt.
  that  Jan/he the book  prt.-sent  gets
  'that Jan/he is sent the book.'
b. dat Jan/hij het boek toegestuurd heeft gekregen/*krijgen.
  that  Jan/he the book  prt.-sent  has  gottenpart/getinf
  'that Jan/he has been sent the book.'

The lack of the IPP-effect in (80b) is not the only remarkable property of passive constructions in the perfect tense; the placement options for the passivized main verbs are also special. The examples in (81) show that whereas the main verb may either precede or follow the auxiliary krijgen in imperfect-tense constructions, at least in the northern varieties of Dutch, the main verb must precede the auxiliary in the corresponding perfect-tense constructions; cf. Den Besten (1985).

Example 81
a. dat Jan het boek toe <gestuurd> krijgt <%gestuurd>.
  that  Jan the book  prt.    sent  gets
  'that Jan was sent the book.'
b. dat Jan het boek toe <gestuurd> heeft <gestuurd> gekregen <*gestuurd>.
  that  Jan the book  prt.     sent  has  gotten
  'that Jan has been sent the book.'

The examples in (82) show that larger verb clusters in which the passive auxiliary appears as a past participle exhibit more or lesss the same behavior: the participial main verb gestuurd may in principle be placed in all positions indicated by "✓", but not in the position following the participial passive auxiliary gekregen marked by "<*>".

Example 82
a. dat Jan het boek toegestuurd moet ✓ hebben ✓ gekregen <*>.
  that  Jan the book  prt.-sent  must  have  gotten
  'that Jan must have been sent the book.'
b. dat Jan het boek toegestuurd zou ✓ moeten ✓ hebben ✓ gekregen <*>.
  that  Jan the book  prt.-sent  would  must  have  gotten
  'that Jan should have been sent the book.'

Whether we find the same effect in regular passive examples like the ones in (83) is difficult to answer: judgments of speakers of the southern variety of Dutch are not helpful given that such speakers do not readily allow the aux-part order in (83a) anyway, and speakers of the northern varieties consider the overt expression of the perfect auxiliary geworden in (83b) as marked or archaic at best. However, insofar as (83b) is accepted by the latter group of speakers, they agree that the passive participle geslagen must precede the passive auxiliary geworden; placing the passive participle behind the auxiliary leads to a completely unacceptable result.

Example 83
a. dat de hond <geslagen> wordt <%geslagen>.
  that  the dog     beaten  is
  'that the dog is beaten.'
b. dat de hond <??geslagen> is <??geslagen> geworden <*geslagen>.
  that  the dog       hit  has  been
  'that the dog has been beaten.'

Many speakers of the southern varieties do accept the orders in (83b) marked by two question marks, possibly with the passive auxiliary geweest instead of geworden; see Subsection II. As in the case of the krijgen-passive, it should be added that not all speakers of the southern varieties allow the passive participle in intermediate position; some of our Flemish informants require it to be the first verb in the verb cluster.

[+]  IV.  Clause splitting and permeation of the clause-final verb cluster

Although Subsection III has shown that passive constructions do not exhibit the IPP-effect, we must nevertheless conclude that they involve verb clusters since they do exhibit clause splitting. We will illustrate this in the following subsections for both the impersonal/regular and the krijgen-passive in clauses with, respectively, two and three verbs. This subsection will also discuss to what extent the clause-final verb cluster can be permeated by dependents of the passivized main verb (that is, internal arguments, complementives and VP-modifiers).

[+]  A.  Impersonal/regular passives with clause-final sequences of two verbs

Clause splitting in regular passive clauses is difficult to illustrate by means of the internal argument of a passivized transitive verb because the internal argument surfaces as the derived DO-subject of the clause and may therefore be expected in examples such as (84a) not to occupy its underlying object but its derived subject position. Section N8.1.4 has shown, however, that subjects that present new information need not be moved into the regular subject position but can remain in their underlying position in the lexical domain of the verb. With this in mind, it is interesting to note that indefinite subjects in presentational er-constructions, which always present new information, cannot be adjacent to the main verb either in passive constructions such as (84b). If we assume that such subjects occupy their underlying object position, the fact that they must precede the passive auxiliary can be used to argue that regular passive constructions exhibit clause splitting.

Example 84
a. dat <de hond> werd <*de hond> verkocht.
  that     the dog  was  sold
  'that the dog was sold.'
b. dat er <een hond> werd <*een hond> verkocht.
  that  there    a dog  was  sold
  'that a dog was sold.'

The same thing can be shown even more clearly by means of nominative-dative inversion in passive constructions with ditransitive verbs, which is discussed more extensively in Section 3.2.1.3, sub IIB; the fact that the DO-subject het/een boek'the/a book' follows the indirect object Jan/hem in (85a&b) clearly shows that it need not occupy the regular subject position; the fact that it nevertheless cannot permeate the verb cluster shows again that regular passive constructions exhibit clause splitting. Note in passing that the unacceptability of the nominative-dative order in (85b) supports our earlier claim that the indefinite subject in (84b) does not occupy the regular subject position

Example 85
a. dat <het boek> Jan/hem <het boek> werd <*het boek> overhandigd.
  that    the book  Jan/him  was  handed.over
  'that the book was presented to Jan/him.'
b. dat er <*een boek> Jan/hem <een boek> werd <*een boek> overhandigd.
  that  there   a book  Jan/him  was  handed.over
  'that a book was presented to Jan/him.'

Clause splitting in impersonal/regular passives can also be illustrated by means of the examples in (86); there is no reason for assuming that the placement of the prepositional object op een brief, the complementive oranje or the manner adverb grondig is affected by passivization, but nevertheless these elements cannot occur left-adjacent to the main verb when the latter follows the passive auxiliary; the italicized phrases may be placed in positions indicated by "✓", but not in positions marked by an asterisk.

Example 86
a. dat er op een brief wordt <*> gewacht ✓.
PP-complement
  that  there  for a letter  is  waited
  'that someone is waiting for a letter.'
b. dat het hek oranje wordt <*> geschilderd <*>.
complementive
  that  the gate  orange  is  painted
  'that the gate is being painted orange.'
c. dat de auto grondig wordt <*> gecontroleerd <*>.
manner adverb
  that  the car  thoroughly  is  checked
  'that the car is being checked thoroughly.'

Example (87a) shows that, as in active perfect-tense constructions, the preverbal position marked by an asterisk in (86b) becomes available if we replace the complementive oranje by a monosyllabic adjective. In this respect, monosyllabic complementives again behave in the same way as verbal particles like op in (87b), which likewise may permeate verb clusters.

Example 87
a. dat het hek <rood> wordt <rood> geschilderd.
monosyll. complementive
  that  the gate    red  is  painted
  'that the gate is being painted red.'
b. dat Peter steeds <op> wordt <op> gebeld.
verbal particle
  that  Peter all.the.time    up  is  called
  'that Peter is being called all the time.'

Note that evidence of the type in examples (84) to (87) is not available for those varieties of Dutch that do not allow the aux-part order, that is, the southern varieties of Standard Dutch as well as the regional varieties spoken in the northern part of the Netherlands.
      Clause splitting may also arise when the passive participle precedes the auxiliary. This is illustrated in (88) for the verbs wachten'to wait' and zeggen'to say', which take, respectively, a prepositional and a clausal complement. The primeless examples first show that PP-complements may either precede or follow their main verb, whereas clausal complements must follow their main verb. The primed examples show that, as in perfect-tense constructions, the complement-PP/clause cannot permeate the verb cluster, that is, it cannot be placed between the participle and the passive auxiliary. For completeness' sake, we also indicated that the PP-complement in (88a') may precede the verb cluster as a whole, whereas this is excluded for the complement clause in (88b').

Example 88
a. dat Marie <op een brief> wacht <op een brief>.
PP-complement
  that  Marie    for a letter  waits
  'that Marie is waiting for a letter.'
a'. dat er ✓ gewacht <*> wordt op een brief.
  that  there  waited  is  for a letter
  'that a letter is awaited.'
b. dat Els <*dat hij ziek is> zegt <dat hij ziek is>.
complement clause
  that  Els     that he ill is  says
  'that Els says that heʼs ill.'
b'. dat er <*> gezegd <*> wordt dat hij ziek is.
  that  there      said  is  that he ill is
  'that it is said that heʼs ill.'
[+]  B.  Impersonal/regular passives with clause-final sequences of three verbs

For the varieties of Dutch that do not allow permeation of the clause-final verb cluster, the word order facts in clauses with three verbs are basically the same as in clauses with two verbs. The examples in (89) show that the derived DO-subject must precede the clause-final sequence, regardless of whether it is definite or indefinite. Since we have seen in the previous subsection that (at least) the indefinite subjects in presentational er-constructions may occupy their underlying base position, the possibility of clause splitting in the (b)-examples in (89) again supports the claim that passive constructions involve a verb cluster. The subject de/een hond may not be placed in positions marked by an asterisk or a percentage sign.

Example 89
a. dat de hond zou <*> worden <*> verkocht.
  that  the dog  would  be  sold
  'that the dog would be sold.'
a'. dat de hond zou <*> verkocht worden.
  that  the dog  would  sold  be
b. dat er een hond zou <*> worden <*> verkocht.
  that  there  a dog would  be  sold
  'that a dog would be sold.'
b'. dat er een hond zou <%> verkocht worden.
  that  there  a dog  would  sold  be

Since speakers of the southern varieties of Dutch do not accept the order modal- aux-part, we expect them to reject any order in the primeless examples in (89). It also seems that these varieties mutually differ as to whether they take the modal-part-aux or the part-modal-aux order. The crucial point here is that our informants who normally have the modal-part-aux order also allow the indefinite (but not the definite) subject to permeate the clause-final verb cluster; placement of the subject in the position marked by a percentage sign in (89b') is acceptable for such speakers, albeit that it is considered somewhat marked compared to the alternative placement in the position preceding the auxiliary.
      Clause splitting can, of course, not be demonstrated for Standard Dutch on the basis of passive perfect-tense constructions given that they normally require omission of the participle form of the passive auxiliary (see Subsection II), but it is possible for some of the southern varieties that do allow overt expression of the passive auxiliary—those southern varieties that allow the auxperfect-partmain-auxpassive order of the verb cluster also allow permeation by indefinite (but not definite) subjects.

Example 90
a. dat <%de hond> is <*de hond> geschopt geweest.
  that     the dog  isperfect  kicked  beenpassive
  'that the dog has been kicked.'
b. dat er <%een hond> is <%een hond> geschopt geweest.
  that  there       a dog  isperfect kicked  beenpassive
  'that a dog has been kicked.'

      The examples in (91) provide the judgments on passivized ditransitive constructions in which the derived DO-subject follows the indirect object and thus clearly does not occupy the regular subject position. First, speakers of the northern varieties of Standard Dutch require the DO-subject to precede the complete verb cluster, regardless of the latter's word order; the fact that placement of the subject in the positions marked by an asterisk or a percentage sign is impossible shows again that passive constructions allow clause splitting. Second, speakers of the southern varieties who allow the modal-part-aux order also allow the indefinite DO-subject to permeate the verb cluster, that is, to occur in the position marked with a percentage sign in (91b).

Example 91
a. dat er hem <een boek> zou <*> worden <*> overhandigd.
  that  there  him     a book  would  be handed.over
  'that a book would be presented to him.'
b. dat er hem <een boek> zou <%> overhandigd worden.
  that  there  him     a book  would  handed.over  be
c. dat er hem een boek overhandigd zou worden.
  that  there  him  a book  handed.over  would  be

The examples in (92) illustrate the same thing for the passive constructions in the perfect tense for those speakers of the southern varieties that prefer the verb order in (92a) to the one in (92b): such speakers also allow permeation of the verb cluster by the indefinite DO-subject. The percentage signs preceding these examples again indicate that this construction type is not available for speakers of the northern varieties of Dutch, because they require omission of the passive auxiliary geweest.

Example 92
a. % dat (er) Peter <een boek> is <een boek> overhandigd geweest.
  that  there  Peter     a book  is  handed.over  been
  'that a book has been handed over to Peter.'
b. % dat er Peter een boek overhandigd is geweest.
  that  there  Peter a book  handed.over  is been

      Clause splitting may also arise with PP-complements, complementives and manner adverbs. The judgments of northern speakers on the examples in (93) are essentially the same as the ones we found for the examples in (86): PP-complements, (polysyllabic) complementives and manner adverbs cannot permeate the verb cluster; the italicized phrases may be placed in all positions indicated by "✓", but not in positions marked by an asterisk or a percentage sign. Note that we did not mark the positions following the main verb for the complementive oranje and the manner adverb grondig, given that these elements never follow the main verb in clause-final position.

Example 93
a. dat er op een brief zou <* > worden <*> gewacht ✓.
  that  there  for a letter  would  be  waited
  'that someone would be waiting for a letter.'
a'. dat er op een brief zou <%> gewacht <*> worden gewacht ✓.
a''. dat er op een brief gewacht zou worden.
b. dat het hek oranje zou <* > worden <*> geschilderd.
  that  the gate  orange  would  be  painted
  'that the gate would be painted orange.'
b'. dat het hek oranje zou <%> geschilderd worden.
b''. dat het hek oranje geschilderd <*> zou worden.
c. dat de auto grondig zou <*> worden <*> gecontroleerd.
  that  the car  thoroughly  would  be  checked
  'that the car would be checked thoroughly.'
c'. dat de auto grondig zou <%> gecontroleerd worden.
c''. dat de auto grondig gecontroleerd zou worden.

Moreover, we expect that speakers of the southern varieties of Dutch who accept the auxperfect-part-auxpassive order in the singly-primed examples will also accept permeation of the verb cluster. In point of fact, our informants allowing this order report that the orders marked with a percentage sign are acceptable (albeit that this order is judged as marked in the case of the prepositional object op een brief).
      The (a)-examples in (94) show that monosyllabic adjectival complementives again differ from polysyllabic ones in that they behave like verbal particles in the sense that they may at least marginally permeate the verb cluster in the northern varieties of Standard Dutch, provided they precede the main verb.

Example 94
a. dat het hek <rood> zou <?rood> worden <rood> geschilderd.
  that  the gate    red  would  be  painted
  'that the gate would be painted red.'
b'. dat het hek <rood> zou <rood> geschilderd worden.
b''. dat het hek rood geschilderd zou worden.
c'. dat Peter <op> zou <op> worden <op> gebeld.
  that  Peter    up  would  be  called
  'that Peter would be called.'
c'. dat Peter <op> zou <op> gebeld worden.
c''. dat Peter <op> gebeld zou worden.

      The examples in (95) show that clause splitting may also arise in perfective passive constructions for speakers of the southern varieties who accept the auxperfect-part-auxpassive order of the verb cluster. The question mark in (95a) is added to indicate that such speakers consider this order acceptable but marked.

Example 95
a. % dat er <op een brief> is <?op een brief> gewacht geweest.
  that  there     for a letter  is  waited  been
  'that someone has been waiting for a letter.'
b. % dat het hek door Marie <oranje> is <oranje> geverfd geweest.
  that  the gate  by Marie    orange  is  painted  been
  'that the gate has been painted orange by Marie.'
c. % dat Peter <op> is <op> gebeld geweest.
  that  Peter up  is  called  been
  'that Peter has been called up.'
d. % dat de auto <grondig> is <grondig> gecontroleerd geweest.
  that  the car  thoroughly  is  checked  been
  'that the car has been checked thoroughly.'

      The examples in (96), finally, show that clause splitting may also arise when the passive participle precedes the passive auxiliary. This holds especially for constructions with prepositional and clausal complements, which, respectively, may or must follow the main verb in clause verbal position but cannot permeate verb clusters. For completeness' sake, we marked all (im)possible placements of the complement PP/clause with respect to the verbs in the cluster, but the ones we are especially interested in here are those following the main verb gewacht/gezegd.

Example 96
a. dat er ✓ gewacht <*> zou <*> worden op een brief.
  that  there  waited  would  be  for a letter
  'that someone would wait for a letter.'
a'. dat er ✓ zou <%> gewacht <*> worden op een brief.
  that  there  would  waited    be  for a letter
  'that someone would wait for a letter.'
b. dat er <*> gezegd <*> zou <*> worden dat hij ziek is.
  that  there  said  would  be  that  he  ill  is
  'that it would be said that heʼs ill.'
b'. dat er <*> zou <*> gezegd <*> worden dat hij ziek is.
  that  there  said  would  be  that  he  ill  is
  'that it would be said say that heʼs ill.'
[+]  C.  Krijgen-passives with clause-final sequences of two or three verbs

Subsection III has shown that in the northern varieties of Standard Dutch passive participles may follow the passive auxiliary krijgen in sequences of two verbs. The primeless examples in (97) show that this may give rise to clause splitting; direct objects and VP-adverbs must precede the verb cluster as a whole, whereas verbal particles may permeate the verb cluster (as long as they precede the main verb). Because the elements involved never follow the main verb clause-final position, we only indicated the placements that are in accordance with this general rule.

Example 97
a. dat Jan <een boek> kreeg <*een boek> toegestuurd.
direct object
  that  Jan    a book  got  prt.-sent
  'that a book was sent to Jan.'
a'. dat Jan een boek toegestuurd kreeg.
b. dat Jan het boek <toe> kreeg <toe> gestuurd.
particle
  that  Jan the book    prt.  got  sent
  'that the book was sent to Jan.'
b'. dat Jan het boek toegestuurd kreeg.
c. dat Jan de kosten <geheel> kreeg <*geheel> vergoed.
VP-adverb
  that  Jan the expenses    fully  got  reimbursed
  'Jan was reimbursed for all his expenses.'
c'. dat Jan de kosten geheel vergoed kreeg.

Note that we cannot illustrate clause splitting with complementives since verbs entering the krijgen-passive are typically particle verbs, which do not allow the addition of a complementive; see Section 2.2.1, sub IV, for discussion. Note further that clause splitting cannot be shown for the southern varieties of Dutch because these do not accept the aux-part order; these varieties only have the orders in the primed examples.
      In imperfective krijgen-passives with three verbs, the participle may occupy any position in the verb cluster in the northern varieties of Dutch. The placement of the dependents of the passivized main verb is, however, far more restricted. The examples in (98) show that the options are more or lesss identical to those in (97); direct objects and VP-adverbs must precede the verb cluster as a whole, whereas verbal particles may permeate it (as long as they precede the main verb).

Example 98
a. dat Jan een boek zal <*> krijgen <*> toegestuurd.
direct object
  that  Jan  a book  will  get  prt.-sent
  'that Jan will be sent a book.'
a'. dat Jan een boek zal <%> toegestuurd krijgen.
a''. dat Jan een boek toegestuurd zal krijgen.
b. dat Jan het boek toe zal ✓ krijgen ✓ gestuurd.
particle
  that  Jan the book  prt.  will  get  sent
  'that Jan will be sent the book.'
b'. dat Jan een boek toe zal ✓gestuurd krijgen.
b''. dat Jan een boek toe gestuurd zal krijgen.
c. dat Jan de kosten geheel zal <*> krijgen <* > vergoed.
VP-adverb
  that  Jan the expenses fully  will  get  reimbursed
  'that Jan will be fully reimbursed for his expenses.'
c'. dat Jan de kosten geheel zal <%> vergoed krijgen.
c''. dat Jan de kosten geheel vergoed zal krijgen.

The southern varieties that allow permeation of the verb cluster do not accept the primeless examples, and may differ in their preference of the singly- or doubly-primed examples. For those varieties that accept the singly-primed examples we expect the orders marked with a percentage sign to be acceptable. Our Flemish informants tell us that this expectation in indeed borne out (albeit that the case with the adverb geheel is judged as marked).
      In perfective krijgen-passives, the participle must precede the passive auxiliary gekregen, as in (99). We expect that speakers of the southern varieties that allow the participle to follow the perfect auxiliary, as in the primeless examples, also allow permeation of the verb cluster. Our informants indicate again that this expectation is borne out; the orders marked with a percentage sign are indeed fully acceptable.

Example 99
a. dat Jan <een boek> heeft <%een boek> toegestuurd gekregen.
  that  Jan     a book  has  prt.-sent  gotten
  'that Jan has been sent a book.'
a'. dat Jan een boek toegestuurd heeft gekregen.
b. dat Jan een boek <toe> heeft <toe> gestuurd gekregen.
  that  Jan a book    prt.  has   sent  gotten
  'that Jan has been sent a book.'
b'. dat Jan een boek toegestuurd heeft gekregen.
c. dat Jan de kosten <geheel> heeft <%geheel> vergoed gekregen.
  that  Jan the expenses    fully  has  reimbursed  gotten
  'Jan Jan has been fully reimbursed for his expenses.'
c'. dat Jan de kosten geheel vergoed heeft gekregen.

      Example (100) shows that clause splitting may also arise with clausal complements if the passive participle precedes the passive auxiliary. Observe that the clause cannot be placed further to the left but must follow the verb cluster as a whole.

Example 100
a. dat Jan <uitgelegd> krijgt <uitgelegd> [wat hij moet doen].
  that  Jan prt.-explained  gets    what  he  must  do
  'that it is explained to Jan what he has to do.'
b. dat Jan uit <gelegd> zal <gelegd> krijgen <gelegd> [wat hij moet doen].
  that  Jan prt.  explained  gets    what he must do
  'that itʼll be explained to Jan what he has to do.'
c. dat Jan uit <gelegd> heeft <gelegd> gekregen [wat hij moet doen].
  that  Jan prt.  explained  has    what he must do
  'that it has been explained to Jan what he has to do.'

Since krijgen-passivization is possible with ditransitive verbs only and since we are not aware of any clear examples of ditransitive verbs taking a prepositional object (cf. Section 2.3), we cannot illustrate clause splitting with this type of complement.

[+]  V.  Some generalizations

The previous subsections have discussed passive constructions, that is, constructions that contain a passive auxiliary (Subsection I). The set of perfect auxiliaries is perhaps exhausted by worden'to be' and krijgen'to get', although there is good reason that at least in the southern varieties of Dutch zijn'to be' is also included (Subsection II). The verb governed by the passive auxiliary always appears as a passive participle; the IPP-effect, which we find in certain perfect-tense constructions, does not arise in passive constructions (Subsection III). The order of the clause-final verb cluster was one of the main topics of Subsection IV. If the passive construction is imperfective and contains more than three verbs, the word order of the verb cluster is normally determined by the two constraints in (101a&b), which apply in the fashion indicated in (101c).

Example 101
Word order in the Dutch clause-final verb cluster:
a. A verb Vn-1 that is governed by a verb Vn follows Vn in the clause-final verb cluster: Vn - Vn-1 ...... V2 - V1.
b. The passive participle precedes at least one verb in the clausal verb cluster.
c. Constraint (101b) obligatorily/optionally overrides constraint (101a).

As in the case of perfect-tense constructions discussed in Section 6.2.1, the statement in (101c) is given in two forms in order to account for the fact that there are at least two varieties of Dutch: one in which the passive participle is never last in the verb cluster and one in which it can be last in the verbal system. The latter is the case in Standard Dutch and accounts for the descriptive generalization in (102).

Example 102
Order of Vn - Aux passive - V main in varieties with the aux - part order
a. dat ..... <Part> auxfinite <Part>
b. dat ..... <Part> Vfinite <Part> auxinf <Part>
c. dat ..... <Part> Vfinite <Part> Vinf <Part> auxinf <Part>
d. dat ..... <Part> Vfinite <Part> Vinf <Part> Vinf <Part> auxinf <Part>
e. etc.

The more restricted varieties of Dutch, which do not allow the aux-part order, take the stricter version of constraint (101c), according to which constraint (101b) must overrule constraint (101a). Note that this may not be sufficient to provide a full account of the variation found in Dutch given that there are also varieties of Dutch that select an even smaller subset of the options in (102). This can be accounted for by assuming that these varieties are subject to yet another constraint, namely, that the participle must (or must not) be adjacent to the passive auxiliary.

Example 103
Order of Vn - Aux passive - V main in varieties without the aux - part order
a. dat ..... Part auxfinite
b. dat ..... <Part> Vfinite <Part> auxinf
c. dat ..... <Part> Vfinite <Part> Vinf <Part> auxinf
d. dat ..... <Part> Vfinite <Part> Vinf <Part> Vinf <Part> auxinf
e. etc.

      Perfective passive constructions are entirely out of line when it comes to the word order in the clause-final verb cluster: in all varieties of Dutch the passivized main verb must precede the passive auxiliary when the latter has the form of a participle. We have also seen that certain varieties may even have stricter order restrictions: certain southern varieties of Dutch require the participle to be placed first in the verb cluster.

Example 104
Order of aux perfect - aux passive - V main
a. dat ..... <Part> auxpassive/fin <Part>
b. dat ..... <Part> auxfinite/perfect <Part> auxpassive/inf <*Part>
c. dat ..... <Part> Vfinite <Part> auxperfect/inf <Part> auxpassive/inf <*Part>
d. dat ..... <Part> Vfinite <Part> Vinf <Part> auxperfect/inf <Part> auxpassive/inf <*Part>
e. etc.

      Subsection IV has also shown that the lexical projection of the passivized main verb can be discontinuous: the passive auxiliary (as well as other verbs in the verb cluster) may separate the main verb from various types of dependent elements: internal arguments, complementives (including particles) and VP-adjuncts. As in the case of the perfect-tense constructions discussed in Section 6.2.1, the precise position of these elements is determined by two parameters. The first parameter can be independently established and relates to whether the constituent in question precedes or follows the main verb in clause-final position. The second parameter involves the question as to whether the constituent can permeate the verb cluster. In tandem, these two parameters determine whether the constituent in question must precede, must follow or may permeate the verb cluster (if the main verb is in such a position that this would not clash with the first parameter). The result for the northern varieties of Dutch is given in Table (105); this table is in fact identical to the one in (65) from Section 6.2.1, sub VI, which was drawn up on the basis of perfect-tense constructions. For the southern varieties of Dutch we can make a similar table, which differs from the one in (105) in that more constituent types can permeate the verb cluster; see Table (66) in Section 6.2.1, sub VI.

Example 105
Clause splitting in the northern varieties of Standard Dutch
  left/rightof V permeation of verb cluster verb cluster
      precedes permeates follows
direct object left +
PP-object left/right + +
clausal object right +
complementive left —/+ + —/+
particle left + + +
VP-adverb left +

Recall that we were not able to demonstrate clause splitting with PP-objects and complementives in the case of the krijgen-passive, for the simple reason that input verbs for krijgen-passivization are always ditransitive and ditransitive verbs do not occur with these elements.

[+]  VI.  How to recognize passive auxiliaries?

It is not always easy to distinguish between passive and copular constructions. Examples such as (106a), for instance, can be interpreted either as a copular or as a (perfect) passive construction. The two interpretations differ semantically in that under the copular interpretation the sentence refers to a state, whereas under the passive interpretation it refers to a completed activity. The sentences can be disambiguated by using an adverbial phrase that indicates a larger time interval, such as al jaren'for years', or an adverbial phrase that refers to a specific point in time, such as gisteren'yesterday'; the first favors the state reading whereas the latter favors the activity reading.

Example 106
a. De muur is versierd.
  the wall  is decorated
  Copular construction: 'The wall is decorated.'
state
  Passive construction: 'The wall has been decorated.'
activity
b. De muur is al jaren versierd.
  the wall  is for years  decorated
  Copular construction only: 'The wall has been in a decorated state for years.'
c. De muur is gisteren versierd.
  the wall  is yesterday  decorated
  Passive construction only: 'The wall was decorated yesterday.'

A similar ambiguity as in (106a) might be expected to arise with the verb worden'to become', which can also be used both as a passive auxiliary and a copular verb. The interpretation of (107a) suggests, however, that this expectation is not borne out: (107a) only has an activity reading (cf. Verrips 1996). Unfortunately, that (107a) is not a copular construction cannot be demonstrated by means of the adverb test used in (106) since this only works for perfect-tense constructions; passive imperfect-tense constructions such as (107a) can be modified by either type of adverbial phrase.

Example 107
a. De muur wordt versierd.
  the wall  is  decorated
  Passive construction only: 'The wall is being decorated.'
b. De muur wordt al jaren versierd.
  Passive construction only: 'The wall has been being decorated for years.'
c. De muur werd gisteren versierd.
  Passive construction only: 'The wall was decorated yesterday.'

A reliable test to show that (107a) cannot be construed as a copular construction is to consider the perfect-tense counterpart of the construction. First, the examples in (108) show that the copular verb worden'to become' surfaces as a past participle in the present (or past) perfect.

Example 108
a. Mijn handen worden vies.
  my hands  become  dirty
  'My hands are becoming dirty.'
b. Mijn handen zijn vies geworden.
  my hands  are  dirty  become
  'My hands have become dirty.'

Subsection II has shown that in the northern varieties of Dutch the passive auxiliary worden does not appear as a past participle in perfective passive constructions; instead, perfect tense is expressed by means of the auxiliary zijn plus the passive participle—overt expression of the past participle form of the passive auxiliary worden is considered very marked. We illustrate this in (109).

Example 109
a. Er wordt verteld dat Jan ziek is.
  there  is told  that  Jan ill  is
  'It is said that Jan is ill.'
b. Er is verteld (%geworden) dat Jan ziek is.
  there  is  told      been  that  Jan ill  is
  'It has been said that Jan is ill.'

This observation can now be used to determine whether example (107a) can also be interpreted as a copular construction; if this were the case, we would expect the use of the participle geworden to give rise to a fully acceptable result for all speakers. Since example (110) shows that this is not the case, we conclude that it is not possible to interpret worden in (107a) as a copular.

Example 110
a. De muur is versierd (%geworden).
passive reading possible
  the wall  is decorated      beenpassive auxiliary
  'The wall has been decorated.'
b. * De muur is versierd geworden.
copular reading not possible
  the wall  is decorated  becomecopular

We conclude this section on passive auxiliaries by referring the reader to Section A9, where the differences between the passive and copular interpretations of examples such as (106a) is discussed in more detail.

References:
  • Barbiers, Sjef, Bennis, Hans, Vogelaer, Gunther de, Devos, Magda & Ham, Margreet van de2008Syntactic atlas of the Dutch dialectsAmsterdamAmsterdam University Press
  • Bart, Peter van, Kerstens, Johan & Sturm, Arie1998Grammatica van het Nederlands. Een InleidingAmsterdamAmsterdam University Press
  • Besten, Hans den1985The ergative hypothesis and free word order in Dutch and GermanToman, Jindřich (ed.)Studies in German GrammarDordrecht/CinnaminsonForis Publications23-65
  • Haeseryn, Walter1990Syntactische normen in het Nederlands. Een empirisch onderzoek naar woordvolgordevariatie in de werkwoordelijke eindgroepUniversity of NijmegenThesis
  • Haeseryn, Walter1990Syntactische normen in het Nederlands. Een empirisch onderzoek naar woordvolgordevariatie in de werkwoordelijke eindgroepUniversity of NijmegenThesis
  • Horst, Joop van der2008Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse syntaxisLeuvenUniversitaire Pers Leuven
  • Sutter, Gert de2005Rood, groen, corpus! Eeen taalgebruikersgebaseerde analyse van woordvolgordevariatie in tweeledige werkwoordelijke eindgroepenUniversity of LeuvenThesis
  • Sutter, Gert de2007Naar een corpusgebaseerde, cognitief-functionele verklaring van de woordvolgordevariatie in tweeledige werkwoordelijke eindgroepenNederlandse Taalkunde12302-330
  • Verrips, Maaike1996Potatoes must peel. The acquisition of the Dutch passiveUniversity of AmsterdamThesis
Suggestions for further reading ▼
phonology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
morphology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
syntax
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
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.