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Modification of numerals

The numeral has three possibilities of modification: it may not be modified by adjectives, it may be modified by some quantifiers and it may be modified by a demonstrative.


The numeral can be modified in different ways.

i. Modification of the numeral partitives by adjectives

Numerals may not be modified by adjectives, as illustrated by the following example:

Example 1

*groot drie van die meisies
big three PTCL.PTV the girls
Three big ones of the girls

Numerals may only be pre-modified by adjectives and adverbs of which the meaning is compatible with numerals, although in that case it seems to be the construction as a whole that is pre-modified:

Example 2

a. Skaars twintig van die meisies
barely twenty PTCL.PTV the girls
Barely twenty of the girls
b. Byna twintig van die meisies
almost twenty PTCL.PTV the girls
Almost twenty of the girls

ii. Modification of numeral partitives by quantifiers

Numerals may be pre-modified, as is illustrated below in the case of a pre-modifying universal quantifier. The universal quantifier can be used with a prepositional partitive:

Example 3

a. Al drie meisies
all three girls
All three girls
b. Al drie van die meisies
Al three PTCL.PTV the girls
All three of the girls

The negative quantifier can only be used with a prepositional partitive, and can thus only be pre-modified if used with a prepositional partitive. Also note that sentinal negation is obligatory when a numeral is modified with a negative quantifier:

Example 4

a. *Nog geen twintig meisies nie
yet no twenty girls PTCL.NEG
Not yet twenty girls
b. Nog niks van die twintig meisies nie
yet nothing PTCL.PTV the twenty girls PTCL.NEG
Still none of the twenty girls

iii. Modification of numeral partitives by demonstratives

The following sentences show that numerals may be pre-modified by a demonstrative pronoun in both the bare numeral partitive and the prepositional numeral partitive:

Example 5

a. Ons het hierdie drie toestande van materie sorgvuldig ondersoek
we have.AUX these three states of matter carefully investigate.PST
We examined these three states of matter carefully
b. Die aanwesigheid van hierdie drie van die 7 spesies, alles op dieselfde tyd, was glorieryk!
the presence of these three PTCL.PTV the 7 species all on same time be.PRT glorious
The presence of these three of the 7 species, all at the same time, was glorious!
Anon: firstfoundationministries.co.za, 2019/11/30

However, the demonstrative pre-modifies the construction as a whole, not just the numeral.

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