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Semantic classification of adjectives

Adjectives can be classified in four groups on the basis of their meaning.


Adjectives can be semantically classified in the following four groups, which all share the property that they can occur in the attributive construction. The attributive construction can therefore be viewed as the canonical construction for adjectives.

  1. Set-denoting adjectives assign a property to the argument with which they are construed. In de lange jacht the long chase, the property of being long is claimed to hold of the chase.
  2. Relational adjectives do not express a property so much as a kind of relation between two entities. In de Jouster fammen the Jouster girls, a relation is established between girls and the town of Joure. The phrase can be paraphrased as "girls from Joure". Geographical adjectives are almost always relational. Other examples include it morfologysk hânboek the morphological handbook enús deistich brea our daily bread.
  3. Subjectively evaluating adjectives express a negative judgment with an emotional connotation, as in dy dealske feint that damned boy. Adjectival curses characteristically belong here.
  4. Residual adjectives form a residual category. Intensifiers belong here, as in absolute ûnsin absolute nonsense, and quantifying adjectives like in potinsjeel tsjinfoarbyld a potential counterexample.