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Perception verbs like zien'to see' and horen'to hear' can select a finite or a bare infinitival complement clause. Examples showing this are given in (667), in which the complement clauses are in italics, subsection I starts by pointing out some differences in meaning between the two types of construction.

a. Jan zag dat Marie/zij aan haar dissertatie werkte.
  Jan saw  that  Marie/she  on her dissertation  worked
  'Jan saw that Marie/she was working on her PhD thesis.'
a'. Jan zag Marie/haar aan haar dissertatie werken.
bare infinitival
  Jan saw  Marie/her  on her dissertation  work
  'Jan saw Marie/her working on her PhD thesis.'
b. Marie hoorde dat Peter/hij in de keuken werkte.
  Marie heard  that  Peter/he  in the kitchen  worked
  'Marie heard that Peter/he was working in the kitchen.'
b'. Marie hoorde Peter/hem in de keuken werken.
bare infinitival
  Marie heard  Peter/him  in the kitchen  work
  'Marie heard Peter/him working in the kitchen.'

In some grammars, the perception verbs are taken to be non-main verbs when they select a bare infinitival clause; Subsection II will discuss our reasons for assuming that they are main verbs, just like when they take a finite clause. The primed examples in (667) are different from most other cases in which a main verb takes a bare infinitival clause in that the subject of the infinitival clause appears as the accusative object of the construction as a whole, which is known as the accusativus-cum-infinitivo (AcI) effect, subsection III will show that this fact makes an analysis of the phrases headed by the bare infinitive as bare-inf nominalizations very unlikely since the subjects of the input verb of such nominalizations are normally left implicit or expressed by means of a van- or a door-PP; they are never expressed by means of a noun phrase. However, since example (668) shows that the subject of the bare infinitival clause can be omitted under certain conditions as well, we still have to appeal to the tests in Table (599) from Section 5.2.3 in order to establish whether we are dealing with verbal or nominal complements in cases like these.

Ik hoorde (de kinderen) een liedje zingen.
  heard   the children  a song  sing
'I heard (the children) sing a song.'

The discussion continues in Subsection IV with a more detailed discussion of the behavior and distribution of the subject of the bare infinitival verb as well as the AcI-effect, subsection V concludes the discussion with a number of smaller remarks.

[+]  I.  Meaning: direct involuntary sensory perception

Example (667) above shows that perception verbs like zien'to see' and horen'to hear' can select finite or bare infinitival complement clauses. This subsection discusses an important semantic difference between the two types of clauses: whereas constructions with a bare infinitival complement clause normally imply that the subject of the perception verb is a witness of the eventuality denoted by the infinitival clause, constructions with a finite complement clause leave this issue open.
      Section, sub II, has shown that we should distinguish two groups of perception verbs: verbs of involuntary and verbs of voluntary perception. The difference is especially clear in the domain of vision and hearing: zien'to see' and horen'to hear' are used for involuntary perception, whereas kijken'to look' and luisteren'to listen' are used for the active use of vision and hearing. The two verb types differ markedly in how they handle complementation by means of a finite clause; whereas verbs of involuntary perception normally take declarative finite clauses as their complement, verbs of voluntary perception normally take interrogative clauses. Since Section, sub II, has also shown that the verbs proeven'to taste', ruiken'to smell' and voelen'to feel' can be used in both contexts, we may conclude that these verbs are homophonous.

a. Marie zag/*keek [dat de zon opkwam].
  Marie saw/looked   that  the sun  prt.-rose
  'Marie saw that the sun was rising.'
a'. Marie keek/*zag [of de zon opkwam].
  Marie looked/saw  whether  the sun  prt.-rose
  'Marie looked whether the sun was rising.'
b. Jan hoorde/*luisterde [dat de deur klapperde].
  Jan heard/listened   that  the door  rattle
  'Jan heard that the door was rattling.'
b'. Jan luisterde/*hoorde [of de deur klapperde].
  Jan listened/heard  whether  the door  rattle
  'Jan listened whether the door was rattling.'

The examples in (670) show that the two types of perception verb differ in yet another way: whereas the verbs of involuntary perception may occur in AcI-constructions, the verbs of voluntary perception cannot. For convenience, the bare infinitival clauses are given in straight brackets and their subjects in italics; in order to avoid confusion it should be noted that the brackets are used here to indicate that the strings form semantic units and are not intended to imply that these strings are also syntactic units: we will see in Subsection III that these strings may be discontinuous if the finite verb is in clause-final position.

a. Marie zag/*keek [de zon opkomen].
  Marie saw/looked   the sun  prt.-rise
  'Marie saw the sun rise.'
b. Jan hoorde/*luisterde [de deur klapperen].
  Jan heard/listened   the door  rattle
  'Jan heard the door rattle.'

      The primeless acceptable examples in (669) differ semantically from the acceptable ones in (670) in that only the latter imply that the subject of the perception verb actually witnessed the eventuality expressed by the infinitival clause. This can be demonstrated by means of the contrast in (671): (671b) is awkward as it is incompatible with our knowledge of the world, since we know that the rising of the sun cannot be perceived auditorily; (671a), on the other hand, is perfectly acceptable because Marie may have had some indirect auditory evidence for assuming that the sun was rising—she may have been told so or she may have heard that the birds started singing.

a. Marie hoorde [dat de zon opkwam].
  Marie heard   that  the sun  prt.-rose
  'Marie heard that the sun was rising.'
b. $ Marie hoorde [de zon opkomen].
  Marie heard   the sun  prt.-rise

Since the AcI-constructions express that the subjects of the perception verbs have direct sensory evidence for assuming that the proposition expressed by the bare infinitival clause is true, it is tempting to interpret AcI-constructions of this type as evidential sensory modal constructions in the sense of Palmer's (2001) classification of modal constructions, which was introduced in Section, sub III. A semantic argument in favor of this might be built on Palmer's claim that cross-linguistically there are normally no more than three different markers for expressing sensory evidentiality: one for seeing, one for hearing, and one functioning as a multi-purpose marker. This seems consistent with the fact that especially the verbs proeven'to taste' and ruiken'to smell' are rare in Dutch AcI-constructions; although the primeless examples in (672) are perfectly acceptable, their AcI-counterparts are marked and certainly not very frequent; see Haeseryn et al. (1997: 1014) for the same observation.

a. Ik proef [dat het snoepje van smaak verandert].
  taste   that  the candy  of flavor  changes
  'Iʼm tasting that the candy is changing its flavor.'
a'. ?? Ik proef [het snoepje van smaak veranderen].
  taste   the candy  of flavor  change
b. Ik ruik [dat de aardappelen aanbranden].
  smell   that  the potatoes  prt-burn
  'I smell that the potatoes are getting burnt.'
b'. ?? Ik ruik [de aardappelen aanbranden].
  smell   the potatoes  prt-burn

AcI-constructions with the perception voelen'to feel' seem to have an intermediate status; although they are not very frequent, examples such as (673) are impeccable and are easy to find on the internet.

a. Ik voel [mijn vingers tintelen].
  feel   my fingers  tingle
b. Ik voelde [het glas uit mijn vingers glijden].
  felt   the glass  from my fingers  slip
  'I felt the glass slip from my fingers.'

While examples with verbs proeven'to taste', ruiken'to smell' and voelen'to feel' are not common, Dutch seems to have a multi-purpose verb that may be found in AcI-constructions to express sensory perception, namely the verb vinden'to think/consider'. The examples in (674) show that this verb can be used in the context of all types of sensory stimuli. Observe that vinden differs from the perception verbs in that it normally also expresses some sort of subjective evaluation by the subject of vinden; Marie has a high opinion of Jan's dancing skills, she likes the taste/smell of the soup, but dislikes the feel of the sweater on her skin.

a. Marie vindt [Jan goed dansen en zingen].
  Marie thinks  Jan well  dance and sing
  'Marie thinks that Jan is dancing and singing well.'
b. Marie vindt [die soep lekker ruiken/smaken].
  Marie thinks  that soup  nice  smell/taste
  'Marie thinks that the soup smells/taste nice.'
c. Marie vindt [die trui naar prikken].
  Marie thinks  that sweater  unpleasantly  prickle
  'Marie thinks that that sweater is unpleasantly itchy.'

It is important in this connection to stress that eventualities that cannot be directly perceived by means of the senses cannot be used in AcI-constructions with vinden. This is illustrated in the examples in (675); since the truth of the states of Peter knowing a great deal and Jan being a nice person cannot be directly perceived by the senses, the examples in (675) are unsuitable. We added example (675b') to show that the requirement that the eventuality be directly perceived by the senses holds for bare infinitival constructions only; if vinden takes a complementive, the resulting construction simply expresses a subjective evaluation.

a. * Marie vindt [Peter veel weten].
  Marie thinks   Peter much  know
  'Intended reading 'Marie thinks that Peter knows much.'
b. * Marie vindt [Peter aardig zijn].
  Marie thinks   Peter  kind  be
  Intended reading: 'Marie considers Peter to be kind.'
b'. Marie vindt [Peter intelligent/aardig].
  Marie considers   Peter intelligent/kind

      Section, sub III, has shown that many modal verbs selecting a bare infinitival complement clause can be used in several modal functions. If verbs of involuntary perception are indeed modal in nature, we expect to see something similar with these verbs; this seems to be confirmed by the perception verb zien'to see'. A special interpretation of the infinitival construction containing zien'to see' is what Van der Leek (1988) refers to as the illusory reading: example (676a) does not express that Jan is observing some eventuality but that he surmises that Peter will go to London soon; along the same lines, example (676b) expresses that Jan does not expect that Els will leave soon. It thus seems that in these uses the verb zien'to see' expresses some kind of epistemic modality.

a. Jan ziet Peter binnenkort naar Londen gaan.
  Jan sees  Peter soon  to London  go
  'Jan envisages that Peter will go to London soon.'
b. Jan ziet Els niet snel vertrekken.
  Jan sees  Els  not  soon  leave
  'Jan canʼt quite see Els leaving soon.'

Note in passing that it is not clear whether the negation in (676b) is part of the infinitival or the matrix clause given that subject of the embedded infinitival clause, the noun phrase Els, may have been scrambled across it. In principle, pronominalization should be able to clarify whether negation can be construed with the perception verb, but unfortunately it seems that (for some as yet unknown reason) pronominalization does not yield a satisfactory result: the example #Jan ziet dat (niet) does not readily allow the intended epistemic reading.

[+]  II.  Perception verbs are main verbs

Based on the assumption that clauses can have at most one main verb, Haeseryn et al. (1997:946-7) claim that perception verbs function as non-main verbs in AcI-constructions. This leads to the conclusion that perception verbs are homophonous: they are main verbs if they take a noun phrase or a finite clause as their object, but non-main verbs if they take a bare infinitival clause. Given that the core meaning of the perception verbs is similar in all these cases, this conclusion is a little suspicious. Our definition that main verbs are verbs with an argument structure, on the other hand, treats all cases in a uniform way.
      First, the examples in (677) show that bare infinitival complement clauses selected by perception verbs can be pronominalized. The standard assumption that (pronominal) noun phrases must be assigned a thematic role (that is, be semantically licensed) by the verb, in tandem with our claim that non-main verbs are incapable of doing this, leads to the conclusion that perception verbs are also main verbs in AcI-constructions. The coindexing indicates that the pronoun dat has the same interpretation as the infinitival clause within brackets.

a. Marie/zij zag [de zon opkomen]i en Jan/hij zag dati ook.
  Marie/she  saw   the sun  prt.-rise  and  Jan/he  saw  that  too
  'Marie/she saw the sun rise, and Jan/he saw that too.'
b. Jan/hij hoorde [de deur klapperen]i en Els/zij hoorde dati ook.
  Jan/he heard   the door  rattle  and  Els/she  heard  that  too
  'Jan/he heard the door rattle and Els/she heard that too.'

On top of this, it is clear that the nominative subjects of the constructions in (677) are not introduced as arguments of the bare infinitives but of the perception verbs. This again shows that perception verbs take arguments, and are therefore main verbs by definition.

[+]  III.  Perception verbs take bare infinitival complement clauses

Bare infinitives can be used as heads of both bare infinitival clauses and bare-inf nominalizations. As a result, it is not always possible to tell immediately whether constructions in which a main verb takes a bare infinitival involve nominal or clausal complementation. This subsection argues on the basis of the tests developed in Section, repeated here as (678), that perception verbs can actually take bare infinitival complement clauses.

The verbal and nominal use of bare infinitives
infinitival clause nominalization
I is part of the verbal complex +
II precedes/follows the governing verb normally follows precedes
III triggers IPP-effect +
IV allows focus movement +
V may follow negative adverb niet'not' +
Vi can be preceded by the article geen'no' +

We can distinguish two different cases, which will be discussed in two separate subsections: cases such as (679a) in which the subject of the bare infinitival is expressed by means of an accusative noun phrase and cases such as (679b) in which the subject is left implicit.

a. Ik hoorde de kinderen een liedje zingen.
  heard  the children  a song  sing
  'I heard the children sing a song.'
b. Ik hoorde een liedje zingen.
  heard  a song  sing
[+]  A.  Phrases in which the subject of the bare infinitival is expressed

An overtly expressed subject of the bare infinitive makes it very unlikely that we are dealing with a bare-inf nominalization. The reason is that in nominalizations the subject of the input verb is never expressed by means of a prenominal noun phrase: it is either left implicit or it is expressed by a postnominal van- or door-PP. We illustrate this in (680) by means of nominalizations of an intransitive, a transitive and an unaccusative verb. Note that we used det-inf nominalizations in the primeless examples because bare-inf nominalizations greatly favor their nominal argument in prenominal position; we refer the reader to section N1.3.1.2, sub III for a detailed discussion of the position and form of the arguments of the two types of nominalization.

a. [Het lachen (van kinderen)] klinkt vrolijk.
  the  laughing   of children  sounds  merrily
  'The laughing of children sounds merry.'
a'. * [(Het) kinderen lachen] klinkt vrolijk.
  the  children  laugh  sounds  merry
b. [Het dieren verzorgen (door kinderen)] is erg educatief.
  the  animals  look.after    by children  is quite educational
  'Caring for animals by children is highly educational.'
b'. * [(Het) kinderen dieren verzorgen] is erg educatief.
  the  children  animals  look.after  is quite educational
c. [Het vallen (van bladeren)] gebeurt in de herfst.
  the fall   of leaves  happens  in the autumn
  'The falling of leaves happens in autumn.'
c'. * [(Het) bladeren vallen] gebeurt in de herfst.
  the  leaves  fall  happens  in the autumn

The crucial thing for our present purpose is that the primed examples in (680) are unacceptable, regardless of whether or not the determiner het'the' is present, whereas the AcI-constructions in (681) are fully acceptable.

a. Jan zag [de kinderen lachen].
  Jan saw   the children  laugh
b. Jan zag [de kinderen de dieren verzorgen].
  Jan saw   the children  the animals  look.after
  'Jan saw the children care for the animals.'
c. Jan zag [de bladeren vallen].
  Jan saw the leaves  fall

The fact that the subject of the input verbs of the nominalizations in (680) cannot be expressed by means of a noun phrase in prenominal position makes it very unlikely that the bracketed phrases in (681) are bare-inf nominalizations; we can safely conclude that we are dealing with bare infinitival complement clauses. That this is the correct analysis is also clear from the fact that the bare infinitivals allow splitting: the bare infinitives preferably follow the perception verbs in clause-final position and are thus normally separated from their nominal arguments, which must precede the clause-final verb cluster as a whole (test I and II in Table (678)).

a. dat Jan de kinderen zag lachen.
  that  Jan the children  saw  laugh
  'that Jan saw the children laugh.'
b. dat Jan de kinderen de dieren zag verzorgen.
  that  Jan  the children  the animals  saw  look.after
  'that Jan saw the children looking after the animals.'
c. dat Jan de bladeren zag vallen.
  that  Jan the leaves  saw  fall
  'that Jan saw the leaves fall.'

More support for assuming that we are dealing with bare infinitival complement clauses is that the presence of the bare infinitive triggers the IPP-effect (test III); in perfect-tense constructions such as (683), the perception verbs cannot surface as past participles but must occur in their infinitival form instead. The fact that the bare infinitives cannot precede the perception verb also shows that it is impossible to construe a bare infinitives as the head of a bare-inf nominalization (test II); cf. Jan heeft die film gezien'Jan has seen that movie'.

a. Jan heeft de kinderen zien/*gezien lachen.
  Jan has  the children  see/seen  laugh
  'Jan has seen the children laugh.'
a'. * Jan heeft de kinderen lachen zien/gezien.
  Jan has  the children  laugh  see/seen
b. Jan heeft de kinderen de dieren zien/*gezien verzorgen.
  Jan has  the children  the animals  see/seen  look.after
  'Jan has seen the children look after the animals.'
b'. * Jan heeft de kinderen de dieren verzorgen zien/gezien.
  Jan has  the children  the animals  look.after  see/seen
c. Jan heeft de bladeren zien/*gezien vallen.
  Jan has  the leaves  see/seen  fall
  'Jan has seen the leaves fall.'
c'. * Jan heeft de bladeren vallen zien/gezien.
  Jan has  the leaves  fall  see/seen

Although these facts establish fairly firmly that the phrases between brackets in the AcI-constructions in (681) cannot be bare-inf nominalizations, we will nevertheless apply the remaining tests for the sake of completeness. First, the primeless examples in (684) show that the bare infinitives can follow the negative adverb niet but cannot be preceded by the negative article geen'no'; tests V and VI thus confirm that we are dealing with bare infinitivals.

a. dat Jan de kinderen niet/*geen lachen zag.
  that  Jan the children  not/no  laugh  saw
  'that Jan didnʼt see the children laugh.'
b. dat Jan de kinderen de dieren niet/*geen verzorgen zag.
  that  Jan  the children  the animals  not/no  look.after  saw
  'that Jan didnʼt see the children look after the animals.'
c. dat Jan de bladeren niet/*geen vallen zag.
  that  Jan the leaves  not/no  fall  saw
  'that Jan didnʼt see the leaves fall.'

Second, the examples in (685) show that although the bare infinitives may precede the perception verbs in clause-final position, they cannot be moved further leftward by means of focus movement despite the fact that the intended meaning of these examples is completely plausible: "that Jan liked to see ....."; test IV thus confirms again that the bracketed phrases are not nominal but verbal in nature.

a. * dat Jan [de kinderen lachen] graag zag.
  that  Jan   the children  laugh  gladly  saw
b. * dat Jan [de kinderen de dieren verzorgen] graag zag.
  that  Jan   the children  the animals  look.after  gladly  saw
c. * dat Jan [de bladeren vallen] graag zag.
  that  Jan   the leaves  fall  gladly  saw

In short, we have ample evidence for concluding that the presence of a noun phrase corresponding to the subject of the bare infinitival is incompatible with analyses according to which the perception verb zien in (681) is complemented by a bare-inf nominalization—instead we are dealing with bare infinitival object clauses.

[+]  B.  Phrases in which the subject of the bare infinitival is left implicit

The subject of the embedded bare infinitival clause can be left implicit under certain conditions. Examples such as (686) suggest that the bare infinitive must be transitive; omitting the subject of monadic (intransitive and unaccusative) verbs normally gives rise to a marked result.

a. Ik hoorde (de kinderen) liedjes zingen.
  heard   the children  songs  sing
  'I heard the children sing a song/I heard the song being sung.'
b. Ik hoorde ??(Peter) slapen.
  heard      Peter  sleep
  'I heard Peter sleep.'
c. Ik hoorde *(de kinderen) stiekem vertrekken.
  I heard     the children  sneakily  leave
  'I heard the children leave on the quiet.'

The degraded status of the examples in (686b&c) supports the conclusion from the previous subsection that perception verbs are incompatible with nominalizations as bare-inf nominalizations are not sensitive to the adicity of the input verb: the examples in (687) are all fully acceptable.

a. Liedjes zingen is leuk.
  songs  sing  is fun
  'Singing songs is fun.'
b. Slapen is noodzakelijk.
  sleep  is necessary
  'Sleeping is necessary.'
c. Stiekem vertrekken is stout.
  sneakily  leave  is naughty
  'Leaving surreptitiously is naughty.'

The examples in (688) show, however, that there is at least one exception to the general rule that the subject of monadic verbs cannot be left out in AcI-constructions; verbs expressing sound emission normally give rise to fully acceptable results.

a. Ik hoorde Peter snurkenV.
  heard  Peter  snore
  'I heard Peter snore.'
a'. Ik hoorde snurken?.