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9.2.1.Past and present participles

Section 9.1 has shown that participles can be divided into two groups: present participles like vechtend'fighting' and past/passive participles like gekust'kissed'. Both types can be used as attributive adjectives, which is clear from the fact that they are inflected in prenominal position; see Table 1 and Table 3 in Section 9.1, subsection I starts with a discussion of the verb types of the participles that can be attributively used. Since attributively used participles often exhibit verbal behavior, subsection II continues with an investigation of the categorial status of attributively used participles, subsection III concludes with a brief discussion of the temporal and aspectual properties of noun phrases with an attributively used participle.

[+]  I.  Verb types

Whether a certain past/passive or present participle can be used attributively depends on the verb type involved; we will see that this is related to the fact that attributively used present and past/passive participles must enter into a well-defined logical relation with the noun they modify; cf. Koster (1978) and Hoekstra (1984a).

[+]  A.  Transitive verbs

That attributively used present and past/passive participles enter into different logical relations with the nouns they modify can be illustrated by means of the transitive sentence in (18a) and the corresponding attributive constructions. If we use the present participle of the verb slachten'to butcher' attributively, the modified noun corresponds to the subject of the sentence; (18b) expresses that it is the butcher that slaughters the lambs. If we use the past/passive participle, however, the head noun corresponds to the direct object of the sentence, as shown in (18c).

Example 18
Participles of transitive verbs
a. De slager slacht de lammeren.
  the butcher  slaughters  the lambs
b. de (de lammeren) slachtende slager
  the   the lambs  slaughtering  butcher
  'the butcher that is slaughtering (the lambs)'
c. de (door de slager) geslachte lammeren
  the    by the butcher  slaughtered  lambs
  'the lambs that are slaughtered (by the butcher)'

The examples in (18) therefore show that the attributively used present and past/passive participle enter into different logical relations with the noun they modify. This is confirmed by the fact that the examples in (19) are only compatible with the less common readings on which the butcher functions as a theme and the lambs as the agent.

Example 19
a. # de geslachte slager
  the  slaughtered  butcher
  Not: 'the butcher that is slaughtering (the lambs)'
b. # de slachtende lammeren
  the  slaughtering  lambs
  Not: 'the lambs that are slaughtered (by the butcher)'

      The noun phrase de lammeren in (18b) and the agentive door-phrase in (18c), which correspond to, respectively, the direct object and the subject of the sentence in (18a), can be omitted. This seems to be related to the fact that the noun phrase de lammeren can in principle also be dropped in (18a), and that the door-phrase is optional in the corresponding passive construction. If an argument is obligatory in a transitive construction, as in (20a), it must normally also be realized in the attributive construction. The number signs in (20) indicate that the examples are acceptable without the noun phrase de vazen. but only if the nominative argument is interpreted as theme (“the boy is breaking down"), which is of course not relevant here.

Example 20
a. De jongen breekt #(de vazen).
  the boy  breaks     the vases
  'The boy is breaking the vases.'
b. de #(de vazen) brekende jongen
  the     the vases  breaking  boy
  'the boy who is breaking the vases'

      Not all transitive verbs that have a participle can be used attributively. The (a)-examples in (21) show, for instance, that the present and past/passive participle of main verb hebben'to have' cannot be used attributively, and the (b)-examples show that the same thing holds for the present (but not the past/passive) participle of the verb krijgen'to get'.

Example 21
a. Jan heeft nog een platenspeler.
  Jan has  still  a record player
  'Jan still has a record player.'
b. Peter kreeg een CD-speler.
   Peter got  a CD-player
  'Peter was given a CD-player.'
a'. * de een platenspeler hebbende man
  the  a record player  having  man
b'. ?? de een CD-speler krijgende man
   the  a CD player  getting  man
a''. * de gehadde platenspeler
  the  had  record player
b''. de gekregen CD-speler
   the  gotten  CD player

Note in passing that the idiomatic combinations gelijk hebben'to be right' and gelijk krijgen'to be backed up' can be used attributively with the present participle hebbende. Attributive use of the past/passive participles is categorically excluded, however.

Example 22
a. (?) een altijd gelijk hebbende jongen
  an  always  right  having  boy
  'a boy who is always right'
a'. * het (door de jongen) gehadde gelijk
b. (?) een altijd gelijk krijgende jongen
  an always right  getting  boy
  'a boy with whom everybody always agrees in the end'
b'. * het (door de jongen) gekregen gelijk

      The examples in (23) show that the attributive use of participles of stative verbs like weten'to know' and kennen'to be familiar with' often give rise to a degraded result as well.

Example 23
a. Jan weet het antwoord.
  Jan  knows  the answer
b. Jan kent dat restaurant
   Jan   knows  that restaurant
a'. ? de het antwoord wetende man
  the  the answer  knowing man
b'. ? de dat restaurant kennende man
   the  that restaurant  knowing  man
a''. ? het geweten antwoord
  the  known  answer
b''. * het gekende restaurant
   the  known  restaurant

The degraded status of the primed and doubly-primed examples in (21) and (23) may be related to the fact that these transitive verbs cannot be used in the passive voice either. We leave it to future research to establish whether this is the proper generalization.

[+]  B.  Ditransitive verbs

The examples in (24) show that the participles of ditransitive verbs essentially behave like transitive verbs. The only thing that needs mentioning here is that the indirect object can be expressed overtly in the attributive construction. The question mark in (24b) intends to express that many speakers prefer to realize the indirect object by means of an aan-PP if it is a full noun phrase.

Example 24
a. Jan geeft de jongen/hem een boek.
  Jan gives  the boy/him  a book
b. het ?(aan) de jongen gegeven boek
b'. het (aan) hem gegeven boek
  the    to  the boy/him  given  book

We will see in Subsection I1, however, that there is more to say about ditransitive verbs, but in order not to complicate matters unnecessarily we will confine ourselves here to the examples in (24).

[+]  C.  Intransitive verbs and verbs that take a PP-complement

Since past/passive participles of transitive verbs cannot be used attributively if the head of the noun phrase corresponds to the subject, we expect that in the case of intransitive verbs only present participles can be used attributively. This expectation is indeed borne out, as is illustrated in (25) by means of the intransitive verbs huilen'to weep' and dromen'to dream'.

Example 25
Participles of intransitive verbs
a. De jongen huilt.
  the boy  weeps
b. het meisje droomt.
   the girl  dreams
a'. de huilende jongen
  the  weeping  boy
b'. het dromende meisje
   the dreaming  girl
a''. * de gehuilde jongen
  the  wept  boy
b''. # het gedroomde meisje
  the  dreamt  girl

The examples in (26) show that verbs with a PP-complement essentially behave like intransitive verbs. Given that examples of the type in (26c) do occur in English (the looked-at portrait), the ungrammaticality of (26c) seems to be related to the fact that Dutch does not allow pseudo-passives; see the contrast between English The portrait was stared at and Dutch *Het portret werd naar gestaard.

Example 26
a. De jongen staarde naar het portret.
  the boy  stared  at the portrait
b. de naar het portret starende jongen
  the  at the portrait  staring  boy
c. * het door de jongen (naar) gestaarde portret
  the  by the boy   at  looked  portrait
[+]  D.  Monadic unaccusative verbs

Subjects of unaccusative verbs are referred to in this work as DO-subjects, since they are assumed to originate in a similar position and stand in a similar logical relation to the verb as direct objects of transitive verbs; subjects of unaccusative verbs and objects of transitive verbs are both themes. Given this, it will not come as a surprise that past/passive participles of unaccusative like verbs sterven ‘to die’ or struikelen'to stumble' in the doubly-primed examples of (27) differ from past/passive participles of intransitive verbs like huilen'to weep' or dromen'to dream' in (25) in that they can modify nouns that correspond to their subject; as expected, the former behave just like the past/passive participles of transitive verb slachten'to butcher' in (18) towards their objects. The primed examples in (27) show, however, that present participles of unaccusative verbs are unlike present participles of transitive verbs in that they can modify nouns that correspond to their theme argument.

Example 27
Participles of monadic unaccusative verbs
a. De jongen sterft.
  the boy dies
b. De jongen struikelt.
  the boy stumbles
a'. de stervende jongen
  the dying boy
  'the boy that is dying'
b'. de struikelende jongen
  the stumbling boy
  'the boy that is stumbling'
a''. de gestorven jongen
  the died boy
  'the boy that has died'
b''. de gestruikelde jongen
  the stumbled boy
  'the boy that has stumbled'

In short, DO-subjects behave like direct objects if it comes to attributive modification by a past/passive participle but like subjects of (in)transitive verbs when it comes to attributive modification by a present participle. This shows that the attributive use of past/passive participles is related to the thematic function (agent/theme) of the argument that corresponds to the modified noun, whereas the attributive use of present participles is instead related to the syntactic function (subject/object) of the argument related to the modified noun.
      The examples in (28) show that the present and past/passive participles of unaccusatively used motion verbs, like springen'to jump', can also be used in attributive position. Attributive use of the past/passive participle requires that the predicatively used PP be present: omitting the directional postposition PP de sloot in in (28c) results in unacceptability. This is, of course, not surprising given that motion verbs without a complementive PP are always intransitive.

Example 28
a. Jan springt de sloot in.
  Jan jumps  the ditch  into
  'Jan jumps into the ditch.'
b. de de sloot in springende jongen
  the  the ditch  into  jumping  boy
  'the boy that is jumping into the ditch'
c. de *(de sloot in) gesprongen jongen
  the      the ditch  into  jumped  boy
  'The boy that has jumped into the ditch.'

      The English renderings of the attributive examples in (27) and (28) intend to express that the difference between the attractively used past and present participles is aspectual in nature: whereas past participles express perfective aspect in the sense that the process involved is completed, present participles express durative or imperfective aspect in the sense that the process is still ongoing. Observe that the past/passive and present participles in (18) and (25) exhibit the same aspectual difference.

[+]  E.  Dyadic unaccusative verbs

Dyadic unaccusative verbs, which are generally called nom-dat verbs, differ from the monadic unaccusative verbs discussed in the previous subsection in that they take an additional object, which would be assigned dative case in German; cf. Section V2.1.3. The behavior of the participles of these nom-dat verbs seems to depend on auxiliary selection. The examples in (29) show that the present and the past participle can both be used attributively if the nom-dat verb selects the perfect auxiliary zijn.

Example 29
Participles of nom-dat verbs that select the perfect auxiliary zijn
a. De vakantie is ons goed bevallen.
  the holiday  is us  good  pleased
  'The holiday (has) pleased us very much.'
b. de ons goed bevallende vakantie
  the  us  good  pleasing  holiday
  'the holiday that pleases us very much'
c. de ons goed bevallen vakantie
  the  us  good  pleasing  holiday
  'the holiday that has pleased us very much'

The examples in (30), on the other hand, show that attributive use of the past/perfect participle is excluded if the auxiliary hebben is selected; only the present participle gives rise to an acceptable result in this case.

Example 30
Participles of nom-dat verbs that select the perfect auxiliary hebben
a. De moed heeft ons ontbroken.
  the courage  has  us  lacked
  'We lacked the courage.'
b. de ons ontbrekende moed
  the  us  lacking  courage
  'the courage we lack'
c. *? de ons ontbroken moed
  the  us  lacked  courage
[+]  F.  Psychological verbs

Like the nom-dat verbs discussed in the previous subsection, object experiencer psych-verbs like opwinden'to excite' in (31a) arguably have a derived subject; cf. Section V2.5.1.3. With respect to the attributive use of their participles, however, such psych-verbs behave like regular transitive verbs like slachten'to butcher' in (18): the present participle opwindend'exciting' in (31b) modifies a head noun that corresponds to the nominative subject, whereas the past participle opgewonden'excited' in (31c) modifies a head noun that corresponds to the object of the active verb.

Example 31
Participles of object experiencer psych-verbs
a. Het avontuur wond de jongen op.
  the adventure  excited  the boy  prt.
  'The adventure excited the boy.'
b. het (de jongen) opwindende avontuur
  the   the boy  prt.-exciting  adventure
c. de opgewonden jongen
  the  excited  boy

Note that, although the participles of psych-verbs like opwinden behave on a par with transitive verbs if it comes to attributive use, the present participles of these verbs exhibit different behavior in predicative constructions: the examples in (32) show that present participles of psych-verbs can be used in copular constructions, whereas present participles of transitive verbs cannot; see Section 9.3.1, sub II, for more discussion.

Example 32
a. * De slager is slachtend.
  the butcher  is  slaughtering
b. Het avontuur is erg opwindend.
  the adventure  is very exciting
[+]  G.  Verbs with a resultative complementive

The examples in (33) show that participles of verbs in resultative constructions can be used attributively, provided that the complementive adjective is present as well; see Section 6.2.1, sub II, for a comprehensive discussion of the resultative construction.

Example 33
a. Jan loopt zijn schoenen *(kapot).
  Jan walks  his shoes   worn.out
b. de zijn schoenen *(kapot) lopende jongen
  the  his shoes  worn.out  walking  boy
c. de *(kapot) gelopen schoenen
  the  worn.out  walked  shoes

The fact that the noun phrase zijn schoenen'his shoes' in (33a) is not an argument of the intransitive verb lopen'to walk' but the logical subject of the adjective kapot'worn-out' conclusively shows that nouns modified by an attributively used past/passive participle need not correspond to arguments of the corresponding active verb. The same thing can be argued on the basis of the transitive (b)-examples in (34), given that the noun phrase de kwast clearly does not function as the theme of the transitive verb verven'to paint'.

Example 34
a. Jan verft de muur (geel).
  Jan  paints  the wall  yellow
b. Jan verft de kwast #(kapot).
  Jan  paints  the brush    worn.out
a'. de de muur (geel) vervende man
  the  the wall yellow  painting  man
b'. de de kwast #(kapot) vervende man
  the  the brush worn.out  painting  man
a''. de (geel) geverfde muur
  the yellow painted  wall
b''. de #(kapot) geverfde kwast
  the  worn.out  painted  brush

For completeness’ sake, we give comparable examples with the unaccusative verb slibben in (35).

Example 35
a. De sloot slibt *(dicht).
  the ditch  silts     shut
b. de *(dicht) slibbende sloot
  the      shut  silting  ditch
c. de *(dicht) geslibde sloot
  the      shut  silted  ditch
[+]  H.  Summary

The findings on the attributive use of the past/passive and present participles from the previous subsections are summarized in Table 4. The headers indicate that all present participles express durative aspect, whereas all past/passive participles express perfective aspect. The second and third columns indicate what the syntactic function of the modified noun is in the corresponding active sentence: the present and past/passive participles of a transitive verb, for instance, can be used to modify a noun that corresponds to, respectively, the subject and the direct object of the corresponding active verb. The marking n.a. simply expresses that the past/passive participle in question cannot be used attributively. Table 4 does not include our finding from Subsection G, that participles of verbs occurring in resultative constructions can also be used attributively.

Table 4: Verb types and attributively used adjectival participles
verb type present participle
durative aspect
past/passive participle
perfective aspect
intransitive verb subject n.a.
(di-)transitive verb subject direct object
unaccusative verb DO-subject DO-subject
nom-dat verbs that select zijn DO-subject DO-subject
nom-dat verbs that select hebben DO-subject n.a.
object experiencer psych-verbs (derived) subject object
[+]  I.  Some special cases

This subsection discusses two special cases. The first involves ditransitive verbs like betalen'to pay' and voeren'to feed'; we will show that the attributively used past/passive participles of these verbs are able to modify not only the theme of the active verb, but also the goal. The second involves contraction verbs like gaan'to go': we will show that the past/passive and present participles of these verbs cannot be used in prenominal attributive position.

[+]  1.  Ditransitive verbs

All of the examples in the previous subsections, with the exception of the resultative constructions discussed in Subsection IG, involve modification of a noun corresponding to the agent (subject) or the theme (direct object/DO-subject) of the relevant verbal construction. At first sight, this seems to exhaust the possibilities; the participles corresponding to the ditransitive verb aanbieden'to offer' in (36a), for instance, cannot modify the noun that corresponds to the goal argument (indirect object) of the verb. The number signs indicate that the noun directeur'the manager' in (36b&c) can be interpreted as corresponding to, respectively, the agent and the theme of the active verb, but this is of course not relevant for our present discussion.

Example 36
a. De man bood de directeur een groot bedrag aan.
  the man  offered  the manager  a large sum  prt.
  'The man offered the manager a large sum.'
b. # de een groot bedrag aanbiedende directeur
  the  a large sum  prt.-offered  manager
  Intended meaning: 'the manager that was (being) offered a large sum'
c. # de aangeboden directeur
  the  prt.-offered  manager
  Intended meaning: 'the manager that has been offered (something)'

Some care must be taken, however, with a small class of ditransitive verbs that are special in that they do not require that the direct object be present. Two examples are the verbs betalen'to pay' and voeren'to feed' in (37).

Example 37
a. De firma betaalt zijn werknemers (een goed loon).
  the firm  pays  his employees   a good wage
  'The firm pays its employees a good wage.'
b. De bezoeker voerde de aap (pindaʼs).
  the visitor  fed  the monkey   peanuts

The number agreement on the finite verb in the primeless examples in (38) shows that, as usual, it is the direct object that is promoted to subject in the passive construction. The primed examples show, however, that if the direct object is absent, it is the goal argument that is instead promoted to subject.

Example 38
a. De werknemers wordtsg/*?wordenpl een goed loon betaald.
  the employees  is/are  a food wage  paid
a'. De werknemers worden betaald.
  the employees  are  paid
b. Er wordenpl/??wordtsg de aap pindaʼs gevoerd.
  there  are/is  the monkey  peanuts  fed
b'. De aap wordt gevoerd.
  the monkey  is  fed

This special behavior in the passive construction is reflected in the corresponding attributive constructions. In the primeless examples in (39) the modified noun corresponds to the theme and in the primed examples it corresponds to the goal of the verb.

Example 39
a. het (aan de werknemers) betaalde loon
  the  to the employees  paid  wage
a'. de betaalde werknemers
  the  paid  employees
b. de (aan de aap) gevoerde pindaʼs
  the to the monkey  fed  peanuts
b'. de gevoerde aap
  the  fed  monkey

One might propose that the availability of the primed examples in (38) and (39) is due to the fact that we are dealing with homophonous verbs: verbs like betalen'to pay' and voeren can be ditransitive verbs with a theme and a goal but they can also be monotransitive verbs that realize their goal argument ( zijn werknemers/de aap) as a direct object. A potential problem for such a proposal would be that the primed examples are marked but acceptable if the direct object is realized, as in (40).

Example 40
a. ? de een goed loon betaalde werknemers
  the  a good wage  paid  employees
b. ? de pindaʼs gevoerde aap
  the  peanuts  fed  monkey

The relative acceptability of the examples in (40) raises some doubt about our earlier conclusion reached on the basis of example (36c) that past/passive participles of ditransitive verbs cannot be used attributively if the noun corresponds to the goal, that is, the indirect object of the active verb. This doubt may even increase once we realize that (36c) considerably improves if the direct object of the corresponding verbal construction is added, as in (41). Note, however, that most (but not all) speakers still consider (41) to be marked.

Example 41
? de een groot bedrag aangeboden directeur
  the  a large sum  prt.-offered  manager
'the manager that has been offered a large sum'

If real, the contrast between (36c) and (41) can perhaps be related to the fact that besides the regular passive in (42a), Dutch has also the so-called krijgen- or semi-passive in (42b), in which it is the indirect object of the ditransitive construction is promoted to subject; cf. V3.2.1. Observe that the direct object must be overtly expressed in (42b), just as in (41). This possibly accounts for the fact that in (36c) the head noun can only be interpreted as corresponding to the theme: after all, the indirect object, but not the direct object, is generally an optionally realized argument; cf. (42a').

Example 42
a. De directeurs werd een groot bedrag aangeboden.
  the managers  gotsg  a large sum  prt.-offered
  'A large sum of money was offered to the managers.'
a'. Er werd (de directeurs) een groot bedrag aangeboden.
  there  was  the managers  a large sum  prt.-offered
  'A large sum was offered (to the managers).'
b. De directeurs kregen *(een groot bedrag) aangeboden.
  the managers  gotpl    a large sum  prt.-offered
  'The managers were offered a large sum of money.'
[+]  2.  Contraction verbs

This subsection concludes our discussion of the restrictions imposed on attributively used participles with a brief discussion of contraction verbs. These verbs have a stem that ends in a long vowel and an infinitive form that involves -n instead of the regular -en ending. The present participle of these verbs is formed by adding -nd to the stem. The past/passive participles end in a low vowel + /n/. Some examples are given in Table (43).

Example 43
Contraction verbs
infinitive stem present participle past participle
doen‘to do’ doe doend gedaan
gaan‘to go’ ga gaand gegaan
slaan‘to hit’ sla slaand geslagen (irregular)
staan‘to stand’ sta staand gestaan
vergaan‘to decay/be wrecked’ verga vergaand vergaan
zien‘to see’ zien ziend gezien

      The examples in (44) show that the present participles of these contraction verbs normally cannot readily be used attributively.

Example 44
a. * de de afwas doende man
  the  the dishes  doing  man
c. * een vergaand lijk
   a  decaying  corpse
b. * de de hond slaande man
  the  the dog  hitting  man
d. * een de kust ziende man
   a  the coast  seeing  man

      The examples in (45) seem to constitute counterexamples to this claim, but it should be noted that these involve more or less fixed combinations.

Example 45
a. een staande lamp
  standing  lamp
  'a floor lamp (on a foot)'
b. een meegaand karakter
  with.going  character
  'a docile character'

This is particularly clear in (46a), in which the modified noun does not have the function of subject of the verb corresponding to the present participle: it is not the reception but the people who are standing. This kind of “metaphoric" use of the present participle is abundantly found in Dutch: another clear example of this use, which involves a regular form of the present participle, is given in (46b): again, it is not the buffet that is walking, but the people who are supposed to collect their food.

Example 46
a. een staande receptie
  standing  reception
  'a reception where people stand'
b. een lopend buffet
  walking  buffet
  'a buffet'

      The attributive use of past participles of contraction verbs generally yields degraded results as well. Possibly this has a phonological/morphological ground: the result is always degraded in contexts that require the attributive -e ending to be present, whereas the result is sometimes much better in singular indefinite noun phrases headed by a neuter noun, where this ending is absent. This is illustrated in (47) by comparing the singular and plural counterparts of noun phrases headed by a neuter noun.

Example 47
a. (?) een naar Rome gegaan echtpaar
  to Rome  gone  couple
a'. * naar Rome gegane echtparen
   to Rome  gone  couples