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Infinitives as adjectives
  1. Infinitives preceeded by teto or om tePTCL.INF tocan be used in positions in which adjectives are found, like present and past participles. They only occur with specific readings in the constructions in which they can occur. Their use is, furthermore, idiomatically restricted.
  2. They assign the same thematic role as that which an active verb assigns to its direct object in a sentence in the active voice.
  3. There are lexical restrictions on the use of past participles in the various key constructions.


    Infinitives in Afrikaans have three possible structures:

    1. Bare infinitive, i.e. without any particles, and corresponding to the indicative form, as in globelieve
    2. The te infinitive, i.e. without the particle omPTCL.INF, corresponding to the Dutch affix -en, as in te gloto believe
    3. Full infinitive, i.e. with both om + tePTCL.INF to, as in om te gloto believe


    A Bare infinitive
    1. Bare infinitives may occur as nominal structures (i.e. not adjectivally), such as Sien is glo.see is believeSeeing is believing., although it is also grammatical to expand it to the full infinitive, preceeded by om + te, as in Om te sien is om te glo.To see is to believe.
    2. As main verbs, bare infinitives co-occur with auxiliaries, such as modal, for example Ek kan dit glo.I can it believeI can bellieve it.

    B The te infinitive

    The te infinitive can be used adjectivally, and particularly in the predicate position. As such, it combines with adjectives, expressing modalities such as

    1. ability
      Example 1

      Dit is te verstane (verstaan·e) dat jy bekommerd is.
      it is to understand·PTCL.INF that you concerned are
      It can be understood that you are concerned.
      It is understandable that you are concerned.

      Note the hypercorrect suffix -e, based on the Dutch infinitive verstaan as indicative form.

    2. expected activity
      Example 2

      die te stigte (stig(t)·e) vereniging
      the to form·INF association
      the association to be formed

      The correspondence to the Dutch infinitive stichtenform, establish should be noted here.

    3. conditionality
      Example 3

      Dit is te sê as jy kom.
      this is to say if you come
      This in on condition that you do come.
    4. deontic modality
      Example 4

      Dit is aan hom te dank·e dat ek hier is.
      it is to him to thank·INF that I here am
      He should be thanked that I am here. It is thanks to him that I am here.

    C The full infinitive

    The full infinitive (with om + te) combines with various adjectives, expressing the modalities illustrated in the examples of the te infinitives, and may project a wide spectrum of verb types, such as transitive, intransitive and copula constructions:

    Example 1

    Die watervlak is besig om te styg.
    the water level is busy PTCL.INF to rise
    The water level is rising.
    Example 2

    Sy is gretig om betrokke te raak.
    she is eager PTCL.INF to involved to become
    She is eager to get involved.
    Example 3

    Hy is huiwerig om die kans te waag.
    he is hesitant PTCL.INF to the chance to venture
    He is hesitant to risk the chance.
    Example 4

    Dis niks om oor huis toe te skryf nie.
    it's nothing PTCL.INF about house to to write NEG
    It's nothing to write home about.
    Example 5

    Dis goed om hier te wees.
    it's good PTCL.INF here to be
    It's good to be here.
    Example 6

    Ons het baie om voor dankbaar te wees.
    we have much PTCL.INF for thankful to be
    We have much to be grateful for.
    Example 7

    Dit is nie om oor te lag nie.
    it is not PTCL.INF over to laugh NEG
    It is not to laugh about. It is no laughing matter.
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