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Case in the tot-INFINITIVE-s toe construction
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The old genitive suffix -s is used in combination with the infinitive in sentences like the following:

Example 1

a. tot sterven-s toe
until die-INF-s to
to such an extent that it may lead to dying
b. tot braken-s toe
until vomit-INF-s to
to such an extent that it may lead to vomiting
c. tot schreeuwen-s toe
until shout-INF-s to
to such an extent that it may lead to shouting

These are prepositional phrases of the form [tot INFINITIVE-s toe]. The adpositiontoe is an allomorph of tot used when this word is used postpositionally.

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This construction is an instantiation of the type of prepositional phrase of Dutch in which a PP is followed by a postposition (Van Riemsdijk 1978), that is, [PP P](PP). The adpositions involved denote particular forms of motion, either in the spatial or in the temporal sense. The following examples illustrate this use of motional adpositions:

Example 2

a. van het dak af
from the roof down
down the roof
b. met de muziek mee
with the music with
along with the music
c. tot het kerkhof toe
to the churchyard to
until the churchyard

Infinitives, being verbal nouns (of neuter gender) with the infinitival suffix -en, can be used in this construction, either without morphological marker, or marked with the suffix -s (the latter variety appears to have the higher token frequency in a Google search); an additional postposition aan is also possible:

Example 3

a. tot sterven(s) (aan) toe
to such an extent that it may lead to dying
b. tot braken(s) (aan) toe
to such an extent that it may lead to vomiting
c. tot schreeuwen(s) (aan) toe
to such an extent that it may lead to shouting
d. tot vervelen(s) (aan) toe
to such an extent that it may lead to being bored

Historically, the -s is the genitive marker of singular masculine and neuter nouns (cf. Scott (2014) and references given there), and infinitives are singular neuter nouns. In modern Dutch, adpositions do not assign morphological case to their nominal complements. Hence, the occurrence of the -s is linked to this specific instantiation of the [PP P](PP) construction.

The infinitive, being simultaneously a verb and a noun, has the external valency of a noun, and the internal valency of a verb. As a noun, it can occur in a PP, and as a verb, it allows for preverbal complements, and thus combines with resultative APs. For instance, verbal projections of the type [AP worden] occur in this construction:

Example 4

a. tot gek word-en-s toe
until mad become-INF-s to
to such an extent that one might become mad
b. tot misselijk word-en-s toe
until sick become-INF-s to
to such an extent that one might become sick

In this construction, infinitives cannot be preceded by a definite determiner, even though infinitives are neuter nouns. Marking with -s is moreover unique for the infinitive, and does not occur with deverbal nouns such as -ing-nouns:

Example 5

a. *tot het walg-en-s toe
until the nauseate-INF-s to
to such an extent that one might nauseate
b. *tot walg-ing-s toe
until nauseate-ing-s to
to such an extent that one might nauseate

Both the lexical and the formal constraints on this type of PP, and its specific semantic interpretation make clear that it has to be considered a constructional idiom, an instantiation of the more abstract construction [PP P](PP) with certain positions lexically or morphologically fixed (Booij 2010).

References:
  • Booij, Geert2010Construction morphologyOxford/New YorkOxford University Press
  • Riemsdijk, Henk C. van1978A case study in syntactic markedness: the binding nature of prepositional phrasesPeter de Ridder Press
  • Scott, Alan2014The Genitive Case in Dutch and German. A Study of Morphosyntactic Change in Codified LanguagesLeidenBrill
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