• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
3.1.3.Modification by a complex intensifying phrase

This section discusses modification of scalar adjectives by means of complex (and sometimes discontinuous) intensifying phrases. We will discuss intensifying phrases headed by zo'so/as' (Subsection I), te'too' (Subsection II), ( on) voldoende'(in)sufficiently' (Subsection III), and genoeg'enough' (Subsection IV). Some preliminary examples are given in (114), subsection II also includes a discussion of the modification of measure adjectives like hoog'high' and lang'long'.

Example 114
a. zo: zo snel dat ...'so fast that ...'; zo snel mogelijk'as fast as possible'
b. te: te mooi om ...'too pretty to ...'
c. ( on)voldoende: (on)voldoende hersteld om ...'(in)sufficiently recovered to ...'
d. genoeg: mooi genoeg om...'pretty enough to ...'

Before we discuss these complex phrases in more detail, it should be noted that they cannot be inherently considered amplifiers or downtoners. Section 3.1.2 has argued that amplifiers and downtoners can be distinguished by placing them in the frames in (115): intensifiers that can occur in the context of (115a) must be considered amplifiers, and intensifiers that can occur in (115b) must be considered downtoners.

Example 115
a. NPi is A; Pronouni is zelfs MODIFIER A.
  NP is A  is even
b. NPi is A; Pronouni is in ieder geval MODIFIER A.
  NP is A  is in any case

Now, consider the examples in (116): the two (b)-examples show that the complex phrases zo ziek dat ...'so ill that ...' and te ziek om ...'too ill to ...' can occur in both frames in (115).

Example 116
a. Jan is ziek.
  Jan is ill
b. Hij is zelfs/in ieder geval zo ziek dat hij thuis moet blijven.
  he  is even/in any case  so ill  comp  he home must stay
  'Heʼs even/in any case so ill that he must stay home.'
b'. Hij is zelfs/in ieder geval te ziek om te kunnen komen.
  he  is even/in any case  too ill  comp  to be.able  come
  'Heʼs even/in any case too Ill to be able to come.'

The examples in (117) show that the same thing holds for the complex phrases voldoende aangesterkt om ...'sufficiently recuperated to ...' and sterk genoeg om ...'strong enough to ...'.

Example 117
a. Marie is aangesterkt.
  Marie is recuperated
a'. Ze is zelfs/in ieder geval voldoende aangesterkt om weer te trainen.
  she  is even/in any case   sufficiently  recuperated  comp  again  to train
  'Sheʼs even/in any case sufficiently recuperated to train again.'
b. Marie is sterk.
  Marie is strong
b'. Ze is zelfs/in ieder geval sterk genoeg om die tafel op te tillen.
  she  is even/in any case  strong enough  comp  that table  prt.  to lift
  'Sheʼs even/in any case strong enough to lift that table.'

The fact that the complex modifiers under discussion can be used in both frames shows that it largely depends on the extra-linguistic context whether the complex intensifier in question functions as an amplifier or a downtoner.

[+]  I.  Intensifying phrases headed by zo

The intensifier zo can occur with or without a complement. In the former case, the complement can be a finite or infinitival clause, the element mogelijk, or an als-phrase. The different options will be discussed in separate subsections.

[+]  A.  Zo without a complement

Generally speaking, the modifier zo must be combined with a complement; if the examples in (118) are pronounced with a neutral intonation pattern, the result is not very felicitous.

Example 118
a. # Zijn computer is zo klein.
  his computer  is that small
b. # Hij knipte haar haar zo kort.
  he  cut  her hair  that short

If these examples are pronounced with accent on the element zo, the result improves considerably, but it is disputable whether zo acts as an intensifier in such cases. It instead seems to function as a deictic element: sentences such as (118) are normally accompanied by a manual gesture that specifies the size or length of the object under discussion, and stressed zo refers to this gesture. Observe this deictic element zo may also occur in isolation as in zijn computer is zò [gesture: thumb up], which means “His computer is terrific".

Example 119
a. Zijn computer is zo klein.
  his computer  is that small
b. Hij knipte haar haar zo kort.
  he  cut  her hair  that short

Another way of making the examples in (118) acceptable is by lengthening the vowel of the element zo; cases like these are also characterized by an intonational “hat" contour, that is, with a rising accent on zóóó and a falling accent on the following adjective, and do exhibit an amplifying effect. This use of zóóó is especially possible when the speaker intends to give special emphasis or to express feelings of sympathy, endearment, etc. Some typical examples are given in (120).

Example 120
a. Dat boek is zóóó geinig.
  that book  is so.very  funny
b. Haar dochter is zóóó lief.
  her daughter  is so.very  sweet

      The element zo can be also used in isolation in a number of very specific syntactic contexts. In (121), some examples are given of negative imperatives. In this construction, zo may be added to the predicate of a copular construction with zijn'to be', as in (121a), to supplementives predicated of the object of the clause, as in (121b), and to manner adverbs, as in (121c).

Example 121
a. Wees niet zo dom!
  be not  that  stupid
  'Donʼt be so stupid!'
b. Eet je soep niet zo heet!
  eat  your soup  not  that  hot
  'Donʼt eat your soup so hot!'
c. Loop niet zo snel!
  walk  not  that  fast
  'Donʼt walk so fast!'

In these cases, the interpretation of zo is evoked by the non-linguistic context: in (121a) the speaker expresses that the addressee must not be as stupid as he apparently is at the time of utterance, in (121b) the addressee is advised to not eat the soup as hot as it is at that very moment, and in (121c) the addressee is requested to not walk as fast as he is doing at that time.
      If zo is preceded by the negative adverb niet in a declarative clause, as in (122a), a downtoning effect arises. This downtoning effect is lost as soon as an als-phrase of comparison is added: (122a) implies that the bag is not very heavy, but this implication is entirely absent in (122b), which just expresses that the bag is less heavy than the suitcase.

Example 122
a. Die tas is niet zo zwaar.
  that bag  is not  so heavy
b. Die tas is niet zo zwaar als die koffer.
  that bag  is not  as heavy  as that suitcase

      The examples in (123a) and (123b) show that z o can also be used in contrastive or concessive constructions. In these examples, an amplifying effect arises: it is implied that Jan is quite young/smart. For completeness’ sake, observe that the examples in (123) do not allow the addition of the als-phrase of comparison.

Example 123
a. Jan wil op kamers gaan wonen, maar hij is nog zo jong (*als Peter).
  Jan wants  on rooms  go  live but  he  is  still  so young    as Peter
  'Jan wants to move into lodgings, but heʼs still so young.'
b. Al is Jan nog zo slim (*als Peter), hij kan niet voor zichzelf zorgen.
  even  is Jan prt  so smart      as Peter  he  can  not  for himself  take.care
  'Although admittedly Jan is quite smart, heʼs unable to look after himself.'

      If deictic or emphatic zo is combined with an attributively used adjective, it must precede the indefinite determiner een. The combination zo + een is generally phonetically reduced to zoʼn. This is illustrated for (118a) and (120b) in (124).

Example 124
a. Jan heeft zoʼn kleine computer.
  Jan has  that.a  small  computer
b. Marie heeft zóóóʼn lieve dochter.
  Marie has  such.a  sweet  daughter

Example (124a) (but not example (124b)) is actually ambiguous: either the element zo may function as a modifier of the adjective, in which case the sentence may be combined with a gesture that indicates the size of the computer, or zoʼn may act as a complex demonstrative, in which case the sentence may be combined with a pointing gesture to a computer of a comparable size or type; the latter, demonstrative use of zoʼn is discussed in Section N.5.2.3. Observe that the modified adjective must follow the indefinite article een, that is, constructions of the English type that/so big a computer, in which the adjective precedes the article, are not acceptable in Dutch.

Example 125
a. Jan heeft zoʼn grote computer gekocht.
  Jan has  that.a  big  computer  bought
b. * Jan heeft zo groot een computer gekocht.
  Jan has  so/that  big  a computer  bought

Note, finally, that zoʼn cannot be used if the head noun is plural; Dutch employs the determiner zulk'such' in such cases. Like zoʼn, the determiner zulke can be used both as a modifier of the adjective and as a demonstrative.

Example 126
a. Jan heeft zulke/*zoʼn kleine computers.
  Jan has  such/such.a  small  computers
b. Marie heeft zulke/*zoʼn lieve dochters.
  Marie has  such  sweet  daughters
[+]  B.  Zo + finite clause

The modifier zo is normally accompanied by some other element and we will argue that it can be considered the head of a complex intensifying phrase. This subsection discusses cases such as (127), in which zo is combined with a finite clause, which we will from now on call degree clauses.

Example 127
a. Die lezing was zo saai [dat ik ervan in slaap viel].
  that talk  was so  boring   that  thereof  in sleep  fell
  'That talk was so boring that I fell asleep.'
b. De taart was zo lekker [dat iedereen nog een stuk wilde].
  the cake  was so tasty   that  everyone  yet  a piece  wanted
  'The cake was so tasty that everyone wanted to have another piece.'

The string zo A dat ... forms a constituent, which is clear from the fact illustrated in (128) that it can be placed in clause-initial position; cf. the constituency test.

Example 128
a. Zo saai [dat ik ervan in slaap viel] was die lezing niet.
  so boring   that I thereof in sleep fell  was that talk  not
b. Zo lekker [dat iedereen nog een stuk wilde] was die taart ongetwijfeld.
  so tasty  that everyone yet a piece wanted  was that cake  undoubtedly

There is at least one reason for assuming that it is the element zo, and not the adjective, that selects the degree clause. The availability of the clause depends on the presence of the element zo; if the latter is dropped, the result is completely ungrammatical. This is shown in (129).

Example 129
a. * Die lezing was saai dat ik ervan in slaap viel.
b. * De taart was lekker dat iedereen nog een stuk wilde.

      Since the phrase zo A dat ... must be considered a constituent, and the presence of the degree clause depends on the presence of zo, we may conclude that the degree clause is selected by (that is, is a complement of) zo. If the clauses in (127) are embedded, as in (130), the degree clause must be in extraposed position, that is, follow the finite verb in clause-final position. The fact that extraposition is obligatory is a hallmark of a larger set of dependent clauses.

Example 130
a. dat die lezing zo saai was [dat ik ervan in slaap viel].
b. dat de taart zo lekker was [dat iedereen nog een stuk wilde].

Given that the adjective and its complement clause must occur discontinuously in (130), it does not really come as a surprise that the modified adjective can be topicalized in isolation, as illustrated by the primeless examples in (131). The primed examples show, however, that the degree clause cannot be topicalized, that is, it cannot be placed in a position preceding the AP.

Example 131
a. Zo saai was die lezing niet [dat ik ervan in slaap viel].
a'. * [dat ik ervan in slaap viel] was die lezing zo saai.
b. Zo lekker was die taart [dat iedereen nog een stuk wilde].
b'. * [dat iedereen nog een stuk wilde] was de taart zo lekker.

      A pattern similar to that of the predicatively used adjectives in (130) emerges when the adjective is used attributively; as is shown in (132), the degree clause cannot be adjacent to the prenominal adjective, but must be placed in postnominal position; see Section 6.4, sub II, for cases in which the complete AP occurs postnominally.

Example 132
a. Het was een zo saaie lezing [dat ik ervan in slaap viel].
  it  was  so boring  talk   that I thereof in sleep fell
b. Het was een zo lekkere taart [dat iedereen nog een stuk wilde].
  it was  so tasty  cake   that everyone yet a piece wanted

The fact that the finite clause cannot be adjacent to the adjective reflects a general property of attributive adjectives, which can be expressed by means of the Head-final Filter on attributive adjectives in (133), which requires that adjectives carrying the attributive - e/-∅ ending be adjacent to the noun they modify; see Section 5.3, sub IB, for a more thorough discussion of this filter.

Example 133
Head-Final Filter on attributive adjectives: The structure [NP .. [AP ADJ XP] N#] is unacceptable, if XP is phonetically non-null and N# is a bare head noun or a noun preceded by an adjective phrase: [(AP) N].

This is not all, however, given that the examples in (134) show that the degree clause is not only postnominal, but must also follow the finite verb in clause-final position in the embedded counterparts of the main clauses in (132); the degree clauses are in extraposed position, just as in the examples in (130).

Example 134
a. dat het een zo saaie lezing was [dat ik ervan in slaap viel].
b. dat het een zo lekkere taart was [dat iedereen nog een stuk wilde].

      In (132) and (134), the indefinite article precedes the element zo. Although this gives rise to an acceptable result, this order sounds somewhat marked; the element zo is preferably placed in front of the article, which is illustrated in (135) for the examples in (132). Observe that, in contrast to the cases we discussed in Subsection A, these examples are not ambiguous; the reading in which zoʼn acts as a complex demonstrative is not available.

Example 135
a. Het was zoʼn saaie lezing [dat ik ervan in slaap viel].
b. Het was zoʼn lekkere taart [dat iedereen nog een stuk wilde].

Note that the construction in which zo follows the indefinite determiner een'a' differs from the construction in which it precedes it in that only in the former case can zo be replaced by the (somewhat formal) demonstrative dusdanig'such'.

Example 136
a. Het was een dusdanig saaie lezing [dat ik ervan in slaap viel].
  it  was a  such  boring talk    that I thereof in sleep fell
a'. * Het was dusdanig een saaie lezing [dat ik ervan in slaap viel].
b. Het was een dusdanig lekkere taart [dat iedereen nog een stuk wilde].
  it was a such  tasty cake    that everyone yet a piece wanted
b'. * Het was dusdanig een lekkere taart [dat iedereen nog een stuk wilde].
[+]  C.  Zo + infinitival clause

The element zo can also be combined with an infinitival degree clause. The examples in (137) show that infinitival degree clauses differ from finite ones in that they must precede the element zo. Furthermore, the primeless examples show that they must be strictly adjacent to zo: separating the degree clause and zo by, e.g., an adverbial phrase like weer'again' leads to ungrammaticality. Note that (137a') is fully acceptable under the irrelevant reading “Jan is so kind to kiss someone".

Example 137
a. Jan is <weer> [om PRO te zoenen] <*weer> zo lief.
  Jan is   again comp  to kiss  so sweet
  'Jan is again so sweet that one would like to kiss him.'
a'. # Jan is weer zo lief [om PRO te zoenen].
b. De lezing was <weer> [om PRO bij in slaap te vallen] <*weer> zo saai.
  the talk  was  again  comp  at  in sleep  to fall  so boring
  'The talk was again so boring that one would fall asleep during it.'
b'. * De lezing was weer zo saai [om PRO bij in slaap te vallen].

      The examples in (138) show that the infinitival and finite degree clauses are mutually exclusive, which indicates that the two have a similar or identical function.

Example 138
a. * Jan is [om PRO te zoenen] zo lief [dat iedereen hem wou vasthouden].
  Jan is comp  to kiss  so sweet    that  everyone  him  wanted  prt.-hold
b. * De lezing was [om PRO bij in slaap te vallen] zo saai [dat iedereen vroeg wegging].
  the talk  was comp  with in sleep  to fall  so boring  that  everyone  early  left

      The primeless examples in (139) illustrate that the infinitival degree clause and the adjective can be placed in clause-initial position together, which shows that they make up a constituent; cf. the constituency test. The primed examples show that the infinitival clause cannot be moved into clause-initial position in isolation, which is consistent with the fact illustrated by the primeless examples in (137) that the infinitival clause must be strictly left-adjacent to the adjective.

Example 139
a. [AP [Om PRO te zoenen] zo lief] is Jan.
a'. * [Om PRO te zoenen]i is Jan [APti zo lief].
b. [AP [Om PRO bij in slaap te vallen] zo saai] was die lezing.
b'. * [Om PRO bij in slaap te vallen]i was die lezing [APti zo saai].

For completeness’ sake, note that the primed examples in (139) become fully acceptable if the sequence zo + A functions as an afterthought, in which case it must be preceded by an intonation break, as in (140a&b). In these examples, the infinitival clause does not function as a degree clause but as a complementive of the copular construction; that the AP does not function as the predicate is clear from the fact that it can be dropped and must follow the clause-final verb in the primed examples.

Example 140
a. [Om PRO te zoenen] is Jan (, zo lief).
a'. dat Jan [om PRO te zoenen] is (, zo lief)
b. [Om PRO bij in slaap te vallen] was die lezing (, zo saai).
b'. dat die lezing [om PRO bij in slaap te vallen] is (, zo saai.)

      The infinitival degree clauses in (137) contain two interpretative gaps. The first one is the implied subject PRO, which is normally found in infinitival clauses and which, in this case, must be construed as disjoint in reference from the logical subject of the AP, Jan. The second interpretative gap, on the other hand, is interpreted as identical to Jan. The second gap can perform several functions in the infinitival clause: it functions as the direct object of the verb zoenen'to kiss' in (137a), and in (137b) it functions as the complement of the preposition bij'at'. The examples in (141) show that these implied arguments cannot be overtly realized.

Example 141
a. * Jan is [om PRO hem te zoenen] zo lief.
  Jan is  comp  him  to kiss  so sweet
b. * De lezing was [om PRO er bij in slaap te vallen] zo saai.
  the talk  was  comp  there  at  in sleep  to fall so boring

There are good reasons for assuming that the second gap is the result of movement. This is clear from the fact that the preposition met surfaces in its stranded form mee in (142); see the contrast between Jan pronkt [met zijn ring]'Jan is showing off his ring' versus de ring waari Jan pronkt [mee ti]'the ring that Jan is showing off'. Therefore, the degree clauses in (137) and (142) probably involve an empty operator OP which has been moved into clause-initial position, and which is construed as co-referential with the subject of the adjective.

Example 142
Die ringi is [OPi om PRO mee/*met ti te pronken] zo mooi.
  that ring is  comp  with  to show.off  so beautiful
'That ring is so beautiful that one should be showing it off.'

      Although we have seen that an empty operator may be present, the construction does not require it; if the infinitival degree clause is in the passive voice or contains an unaccusative verb, only the implied subject PRO is present. In the passive construction in (143a), PRO is interpreted as co-referential with the subject of the adjective (the infinitival is a fixed expression meaning “to look as neat as a new pin"). If we are dealing with an unaccusative verb, such as bevriezen'to freeze' in (143b), PRO will be construed arbitrarily.

Example 143
a. Jan is [om PRO door een ringetje gehaald te worden] zo netjes.
  Jan is comp  through  a ring  gotten  to be  so neat
  'Jan was so cleanly that he looked as neat as a new pin.'
b. Het is hier [om PRO te bevriezen] zo koud.
  it  is here  comp  to freeze  so cold
  'Itʼs so cold here that one may freeze.'

      The infinitival degree clauses in (137) resemble the infinitival clauses that we find in the so-called easy-to-please-construction in (144), which is discussed in Section 6.5, sub IVA. They differ, however, in several respects. First, the presence of an empty operator, that is, the second interpretative gap, is obligatory in the easy-to-please-construction. Second, the infinitival clause of the easy-to-please-construction must follow the adjective, as is shown by the (a)-examples in (144). Finally, example (144b) shows that if the adjective in the easy-to-please-construction is preceded by zo, the AP must contain an additional degree clause.

Example 144
a. De film was leuk [OPi om PRO naar ti te kijken].
  the movie  was nice  comp  at  to look
  'It was nice to watch that movie.'
a'. * De film was [OPi om PRO naar ti te kijken] leuk.
b. De film was zo leuk [OPi om PRO naar ti te kijken]] .. .. *([dat ik er geen genoeg van kon krijgen]).
  the movie  was so nice  comp  at  to look ..        that  there  not enough  of  could  get
  'It was so nice to watch that movie that I could not get enough of it.'

      Because the adjective is leftmost in its phrase, the Head-final Filter in (133) leads us to expect that the complex phrases in (137) can also be used attributively. As can be seen in (145), this expectation is indeed borne out. Observe that zo never precedes the indefinite article in these cases.

Example 145
a. een [[om te kussen] zo lieve] jongen
a'. * zoʼn om te kussen lieve jongen
b. een [[om bij in slaap te vallen] zo saaie] lezing
b'. * zoʼn om bij in slaap te vallen saaie lezing

      The infinitival clause can also be preceded by the negative element niet'not'. Despite the fact that niet is external to the infinitival clause (it precedes the complementizer om), it must be assumed to be part of the AP given that it can be pied-piped under topicalization, as is shown in (146b).

Example 146
a. Die pindaʼs zijn niet [om PRO te eten] zo zout.
  those peanuts  are  not  comp  to eat  so salty
  'Those peanuts are so salty that one cannot eat them.'
b. [AP Niet [om PRO te eten zo zout]] zijn die pindaʼs.

Note that the examples in (146) can be readily confused with the near synonymous constructions without the complementizer om in (147).

Example 147
a. Die pindaʼs zijn niet [PRO te eten] zo zout.
  those peanuts  are  not  to eat  so salty
  'Those peanuts are so salty that they are inedible.'
b'. Niet [PRO te eten] zo zout zijn die pindaʼs.

There are several differences between these constructions, though. The first is illustrated in (148) and involves the placement of the AP zo zout: if om is present, it must precede the clause-final verbs, whhile it is possible (and perhaps even preferred) to place it after these verbs if om is absent.

Example 148
a. dat die pindaʼs niet om te eten zo zout zijn.
  that  those peanuts  not  comp  to eat  so salty are
a'. * dat die pindaʼs niet om te eten zijn zo zout.
b. ? dat die pindaʼs niet te eten zo zout zijn.
  that  those peanuts  not  to eat  so salty  are
b'. dat die pindaʼs niet te eten zijn zo zout.

The second difference concerns whether the presence of the AP zo zout is obligatory: only if om is absent can zo zout be dropped. Given that the resulting construction in (149b) clearly involves a modal infinitive (cf. Chapter 9), we want to suggest that the same thing holds for the constructions in (147), but we realize that this may require further research in the future.

Example 149
a. * dat die pindaʼs niet om te eten zijn.
  that  those peanuts  not  comp  to eat  are
b. dat die pindaʼs niet te eten zijn.
  that  those peanuts  not  to eat  are
  'that those peanuts are inedible.'
[+]  D.  Zo + mogelijk'possible'

A special case of intensification with zo is constituted by the discontinuous degree phrase zo A mogelijk'as A as possible'. As with the degree clauses in (127), the presence of the element zo is required for the element mogelijk'possible' to occur. The zo A mogelijk phrase does not readily occur in copula and vinden-constructions for semantic reasons (hence the percentage sign in (150a&b)), but it is possible in resultative constructions and adverbial phrases like (150c&d). The unacceptability of the primed examples in (150) shows that the element mogelijk must be right-adjacent to the adjective and thus cannot undergo extraposition.

Example 150
a. % dat het artikel zo kort mogelijk is.
  that  the article as short as.possible  is
b. % dat ik Jan zo aardig mogelijk vind.
  that  Jan as nice as.possible  consider
c. dat Jan zijn artikel zo kort mogelijk maakte.
  that  Jan his article  as short as.possible  made
  'that Jan made his paper as short as possible.'
c'. * dat Jan zijn artikel zo kort maakte mogelijk.
  that  Jan his article  as short made  as.possible
d. dat Marie zo snel mogelijk rende.
  that  Marie as quickly as.possible  ran
d'. * dat Marie zo snel rende mogelijk.
  that  Marie as quickly  ran  as.possible

      If the adjective takes a prepositional complement, the element mogelijk must be placed between the adjective and the complement, which is unexpected given the general rule that a selecting head is normally closer to its complement than to its modifiers. We will not discuss this problem here but postpone it to Section 4.3.1, where it is argued that the word order results from leftward movement of the adjective across mogelijk: zo bangi mogelijk ti voor honden.

Example 151
dat ik Jan zo bang <mogelijk> voor honden <*mogelijk> maak.
  that  Jan as afraid  as.possible  of dogs  make

      Since mogelijk must be right-adjacent to the adjective, the Head-final Filter on attributive adjectives in (133) would lead to the prediction that the string zo A mogelijk cannot be used in attributive position. As example (152a) shows, this prediction is clearly false. the acceptability of this example is Probably due to the fact that the attributive -e ending is added to the element mogelijk itself; see Section 5.3, sub IIB, for more discussion. Finally, it can be noted that the element zo preferably follows the indefinite article if it is combined with mogelijk; although the sequence zoʼn A mogelijk(e) N can readily be found on the internet, its frequency is much lower than the competing sequence een zo A mogelijk(e) N.

Example 152
a. Jan maakte een zo kort mogelijke nota.
  Jan made  an  as short as  possible  paper
b. % Jan maakte zoʼn kort mogelijke nota.
[+]  E.  Zo + als phrase

This subsection concludes the discussion of the intensifier zo by discussing its occurrence in the discontinuous phrase zo A als ...'as A as ...'. The als-part of the phrase can entertain two kinds of relationship with the modified noun (phrase), which we will refer to as metaphoric and deictic, respectively.

[+]  1.  The metaphoric use of the zo + als phrase

Some examples in which the complex zo + als phrase creates metaphoric comparison are given in (153): (153a) expresses that Jan is extremely strong (just like a bear), (153b) expresses that Jan is very hungry (just like a horse), and (153c) expresses that Jan is extraordinarily wealthy (just like king Croesus). Often, these cases are fixed expressions, but new combinations are readily created: (153d) gives an example that was quite popular in the seventies, and which was invented by Kees van Kooten and Wim de Bie, two popular Dutch entertainers.

Example 153
a. Jan is zo sterk als een beer.
  Jan is as strong  as a bear
b. Jan is zo hongerig als een paard.
  Jan is as hungry  as horse
c. Jan is zo rijk als Croesus.
  Jan is as wealthy  as Croesus
d. We zijn zo stoned als een garnaal.
  we are  as stoned  as a shrimp

The examples in (154) show that the als-phrase need not necessarily follow the adjective, but can also precede the sequence zo + A, although the result may be judged somewhat marked compared to the examples in (153).

Example 154
a. (?) Jan is als een beer zo sterk.
b. (?) Jan is als een paard zo hongerig.
c. (?) Jan is als Croesus zo rijk.
d. (?) Jan is als een garnaal zo stoned.

The placement of the als-phrase is probably not the result of scrambling, because this generally results in placement of the moved element in front of the clausal adverbs. As can be seen in (155), the als-phrase cannot precede but must follow the clausal adverb zeker'certainly'.

Example 155
a. Jan is <?zeker> als een beer <*zeker> zo sterk.
b. Jan is <?zeker> als een paard <*zeker> zo hongerig.
c. Jan is <?zeker> als Croesus <*zeker> zo rijk.
d. Jan is <?zeker> als een garnaal <*zeker> zo stoned.

The same thing is suggested by the constituency test: the examples in (156) show that the als-phrase can be pied-piped by topicalization of the modified adjective regardless of its position. From this, we may conclude that it occupies an AP-internal position in both (153) and (154).

Example 156
a. Zo sterk als een beer is Jan.
a'. (?) als een beer zo sterk is Jan.
b. Zo hongerig als een paard is Jan.
b'. (?) als een paard zo hongerig is Jan.
c. Zo rijk als Croesus is Jan.
c'. (?) als Croesus zo rijk is Jan.
d. Zo stoned als een garnaal zijn we.
d'. (?) als een garnaal zo stoned zijn we.

      If, as we have implicitly assumed so far, the als-phrase were selected by the element zo, we would expect the latter to be obligatorily present in order to license the former. The examples in (157) show that this is expectation is only partly borne out: zo is only obligatory if the als-phrase precedes the adjective; the postadjectival als-phrase, on the other hand, seems not to depend on the presence of zo.

Example 157
a. Jan is sterk als een beer.
a'. * Jan is als een beer sterk.
b. Jan is hongerig als een paard.
b'. * Jan is als een paard hongerig.
c. ? Jan is rijk als Croesus.