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Participles and infinitives as adjectives


The verbal paradigm has three forms which may be used in positions in which adjectives appear:

  1. Past participles such as getekensigned in getekende vormsigned form
  2. Present participles such as gietendpouring in gietende reënpouring rain
  3. Infinitives preceeded by teto or om + tePTCL.INF + to in die te stigte organisasiethe organisation to be formed

Depending on the verbal base form, these forms may or may not appear in the following four constructions, which are referred to as the four adjectival key constructions:

  • Attributive construction, as in 'n sprankelende persoonlikheida sparkling personality
  • Complementive predicative construction, as in Sy lyk sprankelend in geel.She looks sparkling in yellow.
  • Adverbial construction, as in Hy vertolk sy rol sprankelend.he interprets his role scintillatingHe gives a scintillating interpretation of his role.
  • Partitive construction, as in Hy gewaar iets verbasends.He detects something amazing.

In comparison to Dutch, participles in Afrikaans have a relatively restricted use as part of transitive and intransitive verb phrases. While both present and past participles have a comparable structure, use of the participles, both verbal and adjectival, differs in important respects.

Firstly, the past tense of essentially all main verbs is composed of an auxiliary plus a weak verb version of the past participle, according to the structure het plus ge- plus stem, such as het gekoophas/have bought. However, for many verbs in Afrikaans there exist both a "weak" participle and a "strong" participle, in the sense that the past participle of the corresponding strong verb in Dutch has been retained for adjectival use. Such participles have also been orthographically adapted to the pronunciation of Afrikaans, such as 'n geskrewe briefa written letter, in comparison to Sy het 'n brief geskryf.she has a letter writtenShe wrote / has written a letter.

Secondly, the present participle follows the pattern encountered in Dutch, namely the infinitive plus -d, and is predominantly used adjectivally in the attributive position, in which case the flection suffix -e is added, as in 'n skreiende onrega crying injustice.

Thirdly, the infinitival form with teto is used in the predicative position in certain constructions, followed by the verb stem plus -e, or om + tePTCL.INF + to in other, in which case only the verb stem follows, as in Dit is aan hom te danke.it is, and Dit is moeilik om te glo.it is difficult PTCL.INF to believeIt is difficult to believe..

Regarding the use of participles (and infinitives), then, four forms of the verbal paradigm can be identified:

  1. Weak past partiples, such as gestampcrushed, in gestampte mieliessamp, crushed maize
  2. Strong past participles, such as gedaandone, ’ in gedane sakedone matters
  3. Present participles, such as laggendlaughing, in laggende kinderslaughing children
  4. Infinitives, such as te begrypeto understand, as in Sy frustrasie is te begrype.his frustration is to understandHis frustration is understandable.
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