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ge- /xə/ is an unproductive prefix attaching to verbs without changing their category. An example is geleiden to guide, accompany, conduct, derived from leiden to lead. In many cases, the base verb no longer exists in Dutch. The verb gebruiken to use, for example, lacks the counterpart *bruiken (a word that still exists as brauchen to use, need in closely related German).

The meaning contribution of the prefix to the verb is no longer apparent (compare dragen to carry and gedragen to behave or loven to praise and geloven to believe). Historically, the prefix had an intensifying function. Nowadays, some of the ge-verbs carry a connotation of solemnity, as in getroosten to bear.

Other commonly used ge-verbs are gebeuren to happen, genezen to heal, genieten to enjoy, gedogen to tolerate, gedenken to commemorate, geloven to believe, getuigen to testify, geschieden to happen.

[+]Morphosyntactic properties

ge- is an inseparable verbal prefix.


As far as can be concluded from the few verb pairs with and without the prefix, ge- does not influence the transitivity of the base. Some ge-verbs are obligatorily reflexive, e.g. zich gedragen to behave (oneself).

[+]Stratum, input restrictions and productivity

The verbal roots that ge- attaches to are Germanic. Due to the limited number of ge-verbs and to the unproductivity of the process, further restrictions on the input cannot be ascertained.

[+]Phonological properties

ge- is always unstressed.

[+]Morphological potential

Many ge-verbs form the basis for nominalizations. The commonest pattern is derivation with the suffix -nis: geschiedenis history, gelijkenis resemblance, gebeurtenis event, getuigenis testimony. In other cases, we find suffixless nominalizations such as geloof belief or gebruik use, sometimes with a stem vowel change as in genot pleasure, derived from genieten to enjoy.

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