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Verbal compounds

Verbal compounds are compounds which belong to the lexical category of verbs. One of the constituents is always a verb, usually the right-hand member. There is only one exception to this rule: some 25 verbs that are combinations of a verb and a noun, and in which the verb comes first. Otherwise, the first member may be a noun, verb, adjective, adverb and adposition, resulting in the patterns NV, VV, AV, AdvV and PV.

The combinations can almost exclusively be qualified as endocentric compounds. Only in the VV pattern one can find coordinating compounds, but composition of two verbs is rare anyhow.

A special property of many types of verbal compounds is separability. That is, the two members of the compound are not necessarily adjacent; other lexical material can intervene, depending on the syntactic context. We can observe this property in the patterns NV, AV, AdvV and PV. Separable verbs are also called particle verbs. In particular the combination with adpositions is extremely productive. An important part of the verbal compounds therefore belongs to this subtype. Only a minority of PV combinations is inseparable; such compounds invariably have their main stress on the verbal part, in contrast to the separable ones, which have it on the particle.

The other category that contributes to the vast number of verbal compounds is noun incorporation, belonging to the pattern NV. It is a remarkable feature of Frisian, at least if compared to other Germanic languages, that noun incorporation is productive in the language.


The treatment of verbal compounds is organized according to the constituting categories and their order. More details can therefore be found via the following links:

  • NV (noun + verb)
  • VN (verb + noun)
  • VV (verb + verb)
  • AV (adjective + verb)
  • AdvV (adverb + verb)
  • PV (adposition + verb)

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