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2.2.1.Tests for distinguishing PP-complements from PP-adjuncts

Subsection I starts by showing that PP-complements and PP-adjuncts of nouns are sometimes difficult to distinguish, due to the fact that they can have identical forms. Subsections II to V will therefore discuss four tests that have been suggested to tell them apart; these are listed in Table (54). Since these tests are not watertight, the description of each test will be followed by a discussion of exceptions to the general rules.

Example 54
Tests for distinguishing complements from adjuncts
number name subsection
Test 1 Obligatoriness of the PP II
Test 2 Occurrence of the van-PP in postcopular predicative position III
Test 3 R-pronominalization of the PP IV
Test 4 Extraction of the PP V

[+]  I.  Difficulties in distinguishing PP-complements from PP-adjuncts

As with verbs, complements of nouns are (in principle at least) obligatory elements: they fill the argument slots in the argument structure of the noun and are therefore needed to complete the denotation of the noun. Modifiers, on the other hand, are optionally adjoined at a higher level within the noun phrase. Schematically, the difference can be represented as follows: [NP [N complement(s)] modifier(s)]. In many cases, however, complements and adjuncts are hard to distinguish: they have the same form and generally follow the head noun. Thus, the most common PP within the noun phrase, the van-PP, can be either a complement or an adjunct. The same thing may hold for PPs with other prepositions. Some examples will be given in the following subsections.

[+]  A.  van-PPs

Van-PPs are probably the most common PPs within a noun phrase, and can function either as a complement or an adjunct. In (55) the van-PPs express the theme arguments of the deverbal nouns kopen'buying' and maker'maker'. The PPs clearly function as complements: their (implicit or explicit) presence is required by the semantics of the derived nominal head, and the semantic relation between these arguments and the noun is identical to that between these arguments and the input verbs. The preposition van functions as a functional preposition: it does not have lexical content but merely expresses the relation between the head and the complement.

Example 55
PP-complements (functional van)
a. het kopen van een krantTheme
  the buy  of a newspaper
  'the buying of a newspaper'
b. de maker van de filmTheme
  the maker  of the film

In (56), on the other hand, the van-PPs function as adjuncts: although the information provided by the PPs is needed to identify the paper or book referred to, there is nothing in the semantics of these nouns that requires their presence: whereas it is quite acceptable to simply talk about een fiets'a bike' or een krant'a newspaper', mention of een maker'a maker' will inevitably invoke the idea of an object that has been created, and if the context does not supply any information about that object, the result will be distinctly odd. Moreover, van functions here as a lexical preposition: in (56a) it expresses a possession relation, while in (56b), the relation may be regarded as one of time.

Example 56
PP-adjuncts (lexical van)
a. de fiets van JanPoss
  the bike  of Jan
  'Janʼs bike'
b. de krant van gisterenTime
  the newspaper  of yesterday
  'yesterdayʼs newspaper'

The examples above suggest that a van-PP only functions as a complement of the head noun if the latter is derived and inherits the arguments of the base. This is indeed the normal rule although there are two exceptional classes: The first class is formed by the relational nouns, first introduced in Section 1.2.3, and the second by the so-called picture/story nouns, which could in a sense be said to have an agent and a theme argument. Some examples are given in (57) and (58).

Example 57
Relational nouns
a. Ik heb de moeder van Els gezien.
  have  the mother  of Els  seen
  'Iʼve seen the mother of Els.'
b. De kaft van mijn boek is gescheurd.
  the cover  of my book  is torn
Example 58
Picture/story nouns
a. RembrandtsAgent schilderijen van TitusTheme
  Rembrandtʼs  paintings  of Titus
b. MultatuliʼsAgent verhaal over Woutertje PieterseTheme
  Multatuliʼs  story  about Woutertje Pieterse
[+]  B.  PPs with prepositions other than van

PP constituents within the noun phrase can be introduced by other prepositions as well. The PPs in the primeless examples in (59) clearly function as adjuncts, given that the nouns in question can also occur without them, as illustrated by the primed examples. Moreover, all the head nouns in (59) are non-derived, so that there is no question of inherited arguments. Adjunct PPs like these may display a variety of semantic roles (location, direction, means, property, etc.).

Example 59
Adjunct PPs with prepositions other than van
a. het kantoor op de hoekLocation
  the office.building  on the corner
a'. Er wordt een kantoor gebouwd op de hoek.
  there  is  an office.building  built  on the corner
  'Theyʼre building an office building on the corner.'
b. de trein naar AmsterdamDirection/uit AmsterdamSource
  the train  to Amsterdam/from Amsterdam
b'. Ik reis graag met de trein.
  travel  prt  with the train
  'I like traveling by train.'
c. een meisje met rood haarProperty
  a girl  with red hair
c'. Ik heb gisteren een meisje ontmoet.
  have  yesterday  a girl  met
  'I met a girl yesterday.'

Some researchers have argued that PP-adjuncts are easily recognizable: whenever the PP is headed by a preposition other than van, the PP is not a complement but an adjunct (cf. Booij & Van Haaften 1987; Hoekstra 1986): they maintain that the PPs aan pleinvrees'from agoraphobia' and naar Amsterdam'to Amsterdam' in the primeless sentences in (60) are adjuncts of the derived nouns lijder'sufferer' and reiziger'traveler', despite the fact that the preposition is identical to that selected by the input verb lijden'to suffer' and reizen'to travel'. Others, however, claim that the PPs are complements, inherited from the input verb. One reason to do this is that the PPs in (60a&b) differ in the same way as the PPs in the corresponding verbal constructions in (60a'&b'): in the (a)-examples the selected preposition is functional in the sense that it does not have any lexical content but simply serves to express the relation between the head and its theme argument, whereas in the (b)-examples the preposition is lexical in the sense that it has retained its original directional meaning and introduces a predicative complement.

Example 60
a. lijders aan pleinvrees
functional preposition
  sufferers  from agoraphobia
a'. Els lijdt aan pleinvrees.
  Els suffers  from agoraphobia
b. reizigers naar Amsterdam
lexical preposition
  travelers  to Amsterdam
b'. Jan reist naar Amsterdam.
  Jan travels  to Amsterdam
[+]  II.  Test 1: Obligatoriness of the PP

Generally speaking, complements must be realized because they provide indispensable information for establishing the denotation of the noun. Adjuncts, on the other hand, are optional and provide additional information which is not required for establishing the denotation of the noun, although, of course, the information may be needed to properly identify the intended referent of the full noun phrase. We will start with a general discussion of this obligatoriness of complements, which is followed by a discussion of some systematic exceptions to the general rule.

[+]  A.  General description

Complements are obligatory elements, whereas adjuncts are optional, where obligatoriness is to be interpreted as semantic obligatoriness, which is independent of the linguistic or extra-linguistic context. Thus, many derived nouns require the presence of an argument, just like the verbs from which they are derived. Normally the examples in (61) are only acceptable if the theme argument is explicitly expressed; see also Section 2.2.3.

Example 61
PP-complements (derived nouns)
a. Ik heb de maker #(van dit kunstwerk) ontmoet.
  have  the maker     of this work.of.art  met
  'Iʼve met the maker of this work of art.'
b. Ik heb de vernietiging #(van deze stad) meegemaakt.
  have  the destruction     of this city  prt.-experienced
  'I have witnessed the destruction of this city.'

The same thing holds for relational nouns like moeder'mother' or zoon'son' in (62). Since they imply some relation between two entities, they require the presence of an argument expressing the second entity; see Section 2.2.2 for more detailed discussion. This is clear from the fact that the examples in (62) are distinctly odd without the PP, if the information expressed by the complement PP is not recoverable from the context.

Example 62
PP-complements (relational nouns)
a. Ik heb de moeder #(van Els) gezien.
  have  the mother     of Els  seen
  'Iʼve seen the mother of Els.'
b. Ik heb gisteren een zoon #(van Jan) ontmoet.
  have  yesterday  a son     of Jan  met
  'I met a son of Janʼs yesterday.'
[+]  B.  Exceptions

Although complement PPs are normally obligatory, there are circumstances in which the argument can be left out. The most common of these are listed in the following subsections.

[+]  1.  Contextual recoverability

The most common case in which the complement is not syntactically expressed is when the referent of the argument is recoverable from the context. In (63a) the required information is provided by the extra-linguistic, and in (63b) by the linguistic context.

Example 63
a. Ken jij de maker?
speaker is pointing at a work of art
  know  you  the maker
  'Do you know the maker?'
b. Een jongetje liep met zijn ouders in het park. De moeder gaf het kind een snoepje.
  a boydim  walked  with his parents  in the park  the mother  gave  the child  a sweet
  'A boy walked with his parents in the park. The mother gave the child a sweet.'

With relational nouns referring to body parts, the latter option is even grammaticalized: not mentioning the internal argument within the noun phrase leads to a default interpretation in which some other argument in the clause is interpreted as the possessor; in (64a&b) the required information is proved by the subject ik'I', and in (64c) by an indirect object hem'him'. In these inalienable possession constructions, the article can of course also be replaced by a possessive pronoun explicitly expressing the related argument; cf. Section V3.3.1.4 for a more extensive discussion of these constructions.

Example 64
a. Ik heb een/mijn been gebroken.
  have  a/my leg  broken
  'Iʼve broken a leg.'
b. Ik heb pijn in het/mijn hoofd.
  have  pain  in the/my head
  'I have a headache.'
c. Dat felle licht geeft hem pijn in het/zijn hoofd.
  that glaring light  gives  him  pain  in the/his head
  'That glaring light gives him a headache.'

Note that the choice between an indefinite and definite article in (64) depends on whether or not the relevant body part is unique for each individual. If an indefinite article is used with a unique body part, the inalienable possession reading will not be available: an example such as (65a) will be interpreted in such a way that Peter has broken some other personʼs nose. A similar effect arises if a definite article is used with a non-unique body part: (65b) will be interpreted that Peter broke some bone or, less favorably, somebodyʼs leg. Note that modification of the non-unique body part may make the referent unique again and the example acceptable, cf. (65c).

Example 65
a. Jan heeft een neus gebroken.
cf. *een neus van Jan 'a nose of Jan’
  Jan  has  a nose  broken
  'Jan has broken some oneʼs nose.'
b. Jan heeft het been gebroken.
cf. #het been van Jan 'Janʼs leg’
  Jan has the bone/leg  broken
  'Jan has broken some bone.'
c. Jan heeft het linkerbeen gebroken.
cf. het linkerbeen van Jan 'Janʼs left leg’
  Jan has  the left leg  broken
  'Jan has broken some bone/somebodyʼs leg.'

If the possessor is an indirect object, as in (65b), using an indefinite noun phrase with a unique body part even renders the sentence infelicitous. The same thing holds to a somewhat lesser extent if we use a definite noun phrase with a non-unique body part.

Example 66
a. Dat felle licht geeft hem pijn in het/*een hoofd.
  that glaring light  gives  him  pain  in the/a head
  Intended meaning: 'That glaring light makes his head hurt.'
b. Peter schopte mij tegen het ??been.
  Peter  kicked  me  against the leg
  Intended meaning: 'Peter kicked against my leg.'
[+]  2.  Generic, predicative and habitual uses

The examples in (67) show that the internal arguments of a noun cannot be expressed in generic contexts. Example (67c) shows that these contexts also allow the use of an indefinite noun phrase for inalienable possessed unique body parts, which is impossible in the case of specific reference (cf. (65a)).

Example 67
a. Moeders (*van Jan en Peter) zijn altijd gauw ongerust.
  mothers    of Jan and Peter  are  always  soon  worried
b. Een vader (*van Jan) dient zijn verantwoordelijkheden te kennen.
  a father      of Jan  ought  his responsibilities  to know
  'A father ought to know his responsibilities.'
c. Een neus (*van Jan) dient recht en slank te zijn.
  a nose      of Jan  must  straight and slim  to be
  'A nose should be straight and slim.'

Replacing the indefinite noun phrases in (67) by specific ones gives rise to unacceptable results. They may become more acceptable, however, if the noun is modified by adjectives like ideale'ideal' or goede'good'. Note that, under the intended generic reading of (68b), the PP indicates that we are dealing with an ideal of Marie; most likely she is not even married.

Example 68
a. Een goede moeder (*van Jan) doet zoiets niet.
  a good mother     of Jan  does  such a thing  not
  'A/*Janʼs good mother doesnʼt do a thing like that.'
b. De ideale echtgenoot (#van Marie) doet zoiets niet.
  the ideal husband     of Marie  does  such a thing  not
  'The/#Marieʼs ideal husband doesnʼt do a thing like that.'

      The predicatively used noun phrases in (69) exhibit a behavior similar to the generic noun phrases in (67) and (68): the complement of the noun cannot be expressed. As in (68b), the PP in (69c) again indicates that we are dealing with an ideal of Marie; this sentence certainly does not imply that Peter is Marieʼs husband.

Example 69
a. Zij is een goede moeder (*van Jan).
  she  is a good mother     of Jan
b. Hij wordt beschouwd als een verantwoordelijke vader (*van Jan).
  he  is  regarded  as a responsible father      of Jan
c. Peter is de ideale echtgenoot (#van Marie).
  Peter is the ideal husband      of Marie

Nouns derived from a pseudo-intransitive verb with an habitual reading inherit the property that mention of the complement is not required. The (a)-examples in (70) illustrate the normal, non-habitual use of the verb roken'to smoke' and the derived noun roker'smoker'; the (b)-examples illustrate their habitual use.

Example 70
a. Piet rookte gisteren deze sigaren.
  Piet smoked  yesterday  these cigars
a'. de roker van deze sigaren
  the smoker  of these cigars
b. Piet rookt.
  Piet smokes
b'. een roker
  a smoker
[+]  3.  Quantified and existential contexts

Complements can be left unexpressed if a noun is quantified, modified or negated. This is illustrated in example (71a) for the quantifier iedere'every' and in (71b) for the negator geen'no'. Such constructions are only fully acceptable if the sentence can be given a generic interpretation, as in (71), or if the implied argument is (con)textually recoverable, as in (72).

Example 71
a. Iedere moeder houdt van haar kind.
  every mother  loves  of her child
  'Every mother loves her child.'
b. Geen vader doet zʼn kind zoiets aan.
  no father  does  his child  such a thing  prt.
  'No father will ever do such a thing to his child.'
Example 72
a. Alle moeders kwamen te laat.
  all mothers  came  too late
  'All the mothers came late.'
b. Sommige vaders wilden graag meedoen.
  some fathers  wanted  eagerly  join.in
  'Some fathers were eager to join in.'

      In contexts where the focus is on the existence of the referent, or on establishing a relation between a noun and some other entity, this other entity typically does not appear in the form of a PP either. In example (73a), for instance, a relationship is established between the noun phrases een koningin'a queen' and dit land'this country'. In such a context, the noun koningin, which normally requires a complement, can appear as an indefinite noun phrase without a complement. The same thing is true of the noun phrase een dampkring'an atmosphere' in (73b).

Example 73
a. Dit land heeft een koningin.
  this country  has  a queen
b. Er ligt een dampkring om de aarde.
  there  lies  an atmosphere  around the earth
  'The earth is surrounded by an atmosphere.'

Where the noun appears in a definite noun phrase, on the other hand, a related argument is always implied and the relation between the noun and implied entity presupposed (e.g., “the queen of this country” and “the atmosphere of the earth” in examples (74a&b)).

Example 74
a. Ik heb de koningin gezien.
  have  the queen  seen
  'Iʼve seen the queen.'
b. Het ruimteschip keerde terug in de dampkring.
  the spaceship  turned  back  into the atmosphere
  'The spaceship re-entered the atmosphere.'
[+]  4.  Incorporation (compounding)

Incorporation of one of the arguments of a deverbal noun is quite a common process in Dutch, particularly with er- and ing-nominalizations. Examples of incorporation with er-nouns can be found in (75). These examples show that incorporation results in adicity reduction of the derived noun, as the argument slot originally held by the incorporated argument is no longer available. This means that whereas the er-noun normally requires the expression of a particular argument, this is no longer possible if this argument has been incorporated.

Example 75
a. Mijn oom is hondenfokker (*van terriërs).
  my uncle  is dog.breeder      of terriers
b. De krantenverkoper (*van ochtendbladen) deed goede zaken.
  the newspaper.seller      of morning.papers  did  good business
c. De bordenwassers (*van soepborden) staakten voor meer loon.
  the dish.washers      of soup.dishes  went on strike  for higher wages

In the case of ing-nominalizations, theme incorporation also seems to result in adicity reduction, although the effects may not be as strong as with er-nominalization. Section, sub III, has already shown that incorporation is possible both with NP- and PP-themes of the input verb.

Example 76
a. De plotselinge prijsstijging *(van de benzineprijs) veroorzaakte veel paniek.
  the sudden price increase      of the gas.price  caused  much panic
  'The sudden increase in (petrol) prices caused a lot of panic.'
b. De prijsuitreiking (??van de Oscars) is volgende week.
  the prize.presentation      of the Oscars  is next week
  'The (Oscar) presentation will be next week.'
c. De hertenjacht (??op jong wild) zou verboden moeten worden.
  the deer.hunt     on young game  should  prohibited  must  be
  'Deer hunting should be prohibited.'

      Adicity reduction is not restricted to those cases in which an argument is incorporated. In many cases incorporation of some other element (an adjunct) may also block the expression of a theme argument. This is illustrated in (77) for an er-noun with an incorporated purpose adjunct and an incorporated instrument adjunct; see Section, sub IIA5, for more discussion.

Example 77
a. Mijn broer is broodschrijver (*van kinderboeken).
  my brother  is bread.writer     of childrenʼs books
b. Dit is een schilderij van een voetschilder (*van stillevens).
  this  is a painting  of a foot-painter      of still.lives
  'This is a painting by a foot-painter.'

      Example (78a) shows that, after incorporation of the theme argument of an ing-nominalization derived from a ditransitive verb, the resulting compound noun is preferably used without any arguments: expression of the recipient seems possible, but is certainly marked. Example (78b) further shows that, after incorporation of a theme argument, the agent cannot be expressed in the form of an agentive door-PP; using a van-PP is possible, but this may be due to the fact that this PP in fact expresses a possessive relation.

Example 78
a. De prijsuitreiking (?aan de Oscarwinnaars) is volgende week.
  the prize.presentation     to the Oscar.winners  is next week
  'The presentation of prizes to the Oscar winners will be next week.'
b. De patiëntenbehandeling van/*door die arts liet veel te wensen over.
  the patients.treatment  of/by that doctor  left  much  to desire  prt.

      The facts in (77) and (78) suggest that compound ing-nouns are lexicalized as a result of which they do not accept arguments. However, this may not be a general rule given that there are some ing-nominalizations with an incorporated adjunct that do seem to allow the expression of arguments. In example (79), for instance, the incorporated adjunct leeftijd'age', which provides the ground on which discrimination takes place, does not block the presence of the theme argument van oudere werknemers'of older employees'.

Example 79
Het bedrijf was schuldig aan leeftijdsdiscriminatie van oudere werknemers.
  the company  was guilty  of age.discrimination  of older employees
'The company was guilty of age discrimination of older employees.'
[+]  III.  Test 2: Occurrence of the van-PP in postcopular predicative position

The test that will be discussed in this subsection can only be applied to van-PPs within the noun phrase: it is claimed that whereas adjunct van-PPs can occur in postcopular predicative position, complement van-PPs cannot.

[+]  A.  General description

The primeless examples in (80) involve non-relational nouns with adjunct van-PPs, and the primed examples show that the postnominal van-PP can also be used as a predicate in a copular construction. The van-PP stands in a severely restricted semantic relationship with the referent of the subject noun phrase: in (80a) the PP expresses a possessive relationship with the subject, in (80b) it denotes the material that is used to create the subject, and in (80c) it refers to a time that is needed to properly identify the intended referent of the subject.

Example 80
a. het huis van Jan
  the house  of Jan
  'Janʼs house'
a'. Het huis is van Jan.
  the house  is of Jan
  'The house is Janʼs.'
b. een horloge van goud
  a watch  of gold
  'a golden watch'
b'. Dit horloge is van goud.
  this watch  is of gold
  'This watch is made of gold.'
c. de krant van gisteren
  the newspaper  of yesterday
  'yesterdayʼs newspaper'
c'. Deze krant is van gisteren.
  this newspaper  is of yesterday
  'This is yesterdayʼs newspaper.'

The primeless examples in (81) involve relational nouns, so that the PPs must be considered complements, and the primed examples show that the postnominal van-PP cannot be used as a predicate in a copular construction.

Example 81
a. de deur van het gebouw
  the door  of the building
a'. * De deur is van het gebouw.
  the door is of the building
b. de vader van Jan
  the father  of Jan
  'Janʼs father'
b'. * Deze vader is van Jan.
  this father is of Jan
c. de knie van Jan
  the knee  of Jan
  'Janʼs knee'
c'. * De knie is van Jan.
  the knee is of Jan

      This test can only be used for PPs introduced by the preposition van. The examples in (82) show that PPs with prepositions other than van can never be used predicatively in postcopular position.

Example 82
a. een meisje met rood haar
  a girl  with red hair
a'. * Dit meisje is met rood haar.
  this girl  is with red hair
b. een brief met vlekken
  a letter  with stains
b'. *? De brief is met vlekken.
  the letter  is with stains
c. een excursie door Afrika
  a excursion  through Africa
c'. *? Die excursie is door Afrika.
  that excursion is through Africa

Apparent counterexamples involve PPs denoting a location. Example (83b) shows that these PPs are fully acceptable as the predicative complement of be. This is of course related to the fact that in this case be has an additional locational meaning aspect: it is used as a locational verb with the meaning “is situated”, comparable to a verb like staan'to stand'.

Example 83
a. het gebouw op de hoek
  the building  on the corner
b. Het gebouw is/staat op de hoek.
  the building  is/stands  on the corner
  'The building is situated/standing on the corner.'

Another complicating factor may be ellipsis: example (84b) seems to be at least marginally possible, but it may be said to be an elliptic form of the sentence in (84b'), in which the PP met kaas'with cheese' does not function as a predicative PP, but as the complement of the verb beleggen'to put on/to fill'.

Example 84
a. een broodje met kaas
  a roll  with cheese
  'a cheese roll'
a'. een broodje belegd met kaas
  a roll filled  with cheese
  'a roll filled with cheese'
b. ? Dit broodje is met kaas.
  this roll  is with cheese
b'. Dit broodje is belegd met kaas.
  this roll  is filled  with cheese

      So far all examples discussed in this subsection involve non-derived nouns. Applying the test to derived nouns modified by PPs shows that here, too, placement of complements in predicative postcopular position is impossible. This is true both for van-PPs and for PPs headed by other prepositions, as shown by the primed examples in (85) and (86), respectively. These examples further show that this holds regardless of the type of nominalization; cf. also Section 2.2.3.

Example 85
PP-complements ( van-PPs)
a. de maker van het schilderij
  the maker  of the painting
a'. * De maker is niet van het schilderij.
  the maker is not of the painting
b. de vernietiging van de stad
  the destruction of the city