• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
Noun ellipsis

Noun ellipsis is the result of adjective nominalisation, which occurs when the presence of a particular noun category is implied as a lexical feature of the adjective used. Adjectives which have been nominalised are marked by the attributive suffix -e, even if attributive inflection does not apply to that adjective. In the gloss, the nominalisation suffix is abbreviated as noun ellipsis (NE). Compare the two examples:

Example 1

a. 'n pienk bal en 'n bloue
a pink ball and a blue·NE
a pink ball and a blue ball
b. 'n blou bal en 'n pienke
a blue ball and a pink·NE
a blue ball and a pink ball

While the examples above illustrate the occurrence of the nominalised adjectives after an indefinite article, the indefinite plural can likewise be formed by the addition of the plural suffix -s in the case of count nouns, as in the example below:

Example 2

bloues en pienkes
blue·NE·PL and pink·NE.PL
blue ones and pink ones

In the case of adjectives preceding mass nouns, nominalisation rarely occurs, and the adjectival function is retained, as in this example:

Example 3

Verkies jy koue of warm ryswyn? – Warm, asseblief.
prefer you cold or warm rice.wine? warm please
Do you prefer cold or warm rice wine? – Warm, please.

In addition to the examples pertaining to indefinite referents above, the following subtypes of noun ellipsis may be distinguished, depending on the category of the word that is left-adjacent to the position in which the ellipted noun would have occurred:

  • After definite articles
  • After demonstratives
  • After numerals
  • After quantifiers
  • After possessors
  • Nominalisation of ordinary adjectives


Noun ellipsis in conjunction with adjectives may occur in various categories, which can be distinguished on the basis of the syntactic environment of the relevant adjective. Below, three positions in which the adjective is nominalised as a result of noun ellipsis are illustrated, namely after definite articles, demonstratives and numerals. Elsewhere, namely in Ellipsis of nouns after possessors and Nominalisation of ordinary adjectives, adjectives after possessors and the nominalisation of ordinary adjectives are considered.

  • After definite articles
    Example 4

    die luie en die flukse
    the lazy·NE and the hard-working·NE
    the lazy one and the hard-working one
    Wherever applicable, the plural suffix -s may be added to nominalised adjectives, as in this example:
    Example 5

    die langes en die kortes
    the long·NE.PL and the short·NE.PL
    the long ones and the short ones
  • After demonstratives
    Example 6

    Hierdie grote van alle grotes word Saterdag gespeel.
    this big·NE of all big·NE.PL be·PRS.AUX.PASS Saturday played
    This biggest of all big ones will be played on Saturday.
  • After numerals
    Example 7

    een vette en twee maeres
    one fat·NE and two lean·NE.PL
    one fat one and two lean ones

    This is a beta version.