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This chapter takes as its point of departure the discussion in 9.2, which has shown that finite verbs can be found in basically two positions: the clause-final position in embedded clauses and the verb-first/second position in main clauses; the latter position is normally occupied by a complementizer in embedded clauses.

Example 1
a. Marie zegt [dat Jan het boek op dit moment leest].
  Marie says  that  Jan  the book  at this moment  reads
  'Mary says that Jan is reading the book at this moment.'
b. Op dit moment leest Jan het boek.
  at this moment  reads  Jan the book
  'At this moment, Jan is reading the book.'

On the basis of these two positions, the clause can be divided into various "topological" fields: the clause-initial position, the middle field and the postverbal field; cf. representation (2).

Example 2

Like the C(omplementizer) position, T(ense) stands for a functional head that may in principle host the finite verb, and there may be more of such positions in the clause, which we have indicated by X. Section 9.1 has argued that languages may differ in the placement of the finite verb: C, T or some other head X. This is irrelevant for our present discussion but we will see that there are reasons for assuming that in subject-initial main clauses the verb is not situated in C but in T.
      This chapter discusses the clause-initial position, that is, the unique position left-adjacent to the finite verb in main clauses or the complementizer in embedded clauses. The examples in (3) show that this position may be empty, as in the yes/no-questions in the (a)-examples, or be filled by some constituent, like the adverbial phrase hoe laat'at what time' in the wh-questions in the (b)-examples.

Example 3
a. Is Peter morgen hier?
  is Peter tomorrow  here
  'Will Peter be here tomorrow?'
a'. Ik weet niet [of Peter hier is].
  know  not   if  Peter  here  is
  'I donʼt know whether Peter will be here tomorrow.'
b. Hoe laat is Peter hier?
  how late  is Peter here
  'At what time will Peter be here?'
b'. Ik weet niet [hoe laat (of) Peter hier is].
  know  not   how late   if  Peter here  is
  'I donʼt know at what time Peter will be here.'

Verb-first sentences, that is, main clauses with the finite verb in first position, are not always yes/no-questions but come in various types; this will be discussed in Section 11.2. Verb-second sentences, that is, main clauses with the verb in second position, also show up in various types, this will be discussed in Section 11.3. Section 11.1 starts by providing a more general introduction to the movement operations involved in the formation of verb-first and verb-second clauses.