• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents

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

This chapter discusses the postverbal field, that is, the clause-internal constituents that follow the verb(s) in clause-final position. The postverbal field differs in various ways from the clause-initial position. For example, while the clause-initial position can be filled by a single constituent only, the postverbal field can contain more than one constituent.

Example 3
a. Jan zal na zijn vakantie graag op Marie dʼr kat passen.
  Jan will  after his vacation  gladly  after Marie her cat  look
  'Jan will be only too glad to look after Marieʼs cat after his vacation.'
b. Jan zal na zijn vakantie graag passen op Marie dʼr kat.
c. Jan zal op Marie dʼr kat graag passen na zijn vakantie.
d. Jan zal graag passen op Marie dʼr kat na zijn vakantie.

Example (3a) shows that the postverbal field may remain empty; the PPs either occupy a position in the middle field of the clause or a position in the postverbal field. It seems that the question as to whether a clausal constituent can occur in the postverbal field is related to its categorial status. This is illustrated in (4) for direct objects: while nominal direct objects must precede the verb(s) in clause-final position, clausal direct objects normally follow them. The examples in (3) have already shown that. e.g., PP-complements like op Marie dʼr kat can occur in both positions.

Example 4
a. Jan heeft me zijn boek beloofd.
nominal direct object
  Jan has  me  his book  promised
  'Jan has promised me his book.'
a'. * Jan heeft me beloofd zijn boek.
  Jan has  me  promised  his book
b. Jan heeft me beloofd [dat hij morgen komt].
direct object clause
  Jan has  me promised  that  he  tomorrow  comes
  'Jan has promised me that he will come tomorrow.'
b'. * Jan heeft me [dat hij morgen komt] beloofd.
  Jan has  me  that  he  tomorrow  comes  promised

The question as to whether or not a clausal constituent may/must occur in the postverbal field is also related to its syntactic function, as is clear from the fact that adverbial clauses differ from object clauses in that they may also occur in the middle field of the clause.

Example 5
a. Jan zal [nadat hij uit Venetië terugkomt] op Marie dʼr kat passen.
  Jan will   after  he  from Venice  prt.-returns  after Marieʼs cat  look
  'Jan will look after Marieʼs cat after he returns from Venice.'
b. Jan zal op Marie dʼr kat passen [nadat hij uit Venetië terugkomt].
  Jan will  after Marieʼs cat  look   after  he  from Venice  prt.-returns

The examples in (6) show that the postverbal field is also accessible to specific subparts of clausal constituents. This holds, for instance, for postnominal modifiers of noun phrases; the associate noun phrase may function as an argument of the main verb but also as a subpart of an argument of the main verb. The discontinuous noun phrases are given in italics.

Example 6
a. Jan heeft gisteren een boek gekocht met prachtige foto’s.
  Jan has  yesterday  a book  bought  with beautiful pictures
  'Jan bought a book with beautiful pictures yesterday.'
b. Jan heeft naar een boek gezocht met foto’s van katten.
  Jan has  for a book  looked  with pictures of cats
  'Jan has looked for a book with pictures of cats.'

The organization of this chapter is as follow. Section 12.1 starts with a discussion of some general properties of (elements occupying) the postverbal field. Section 12.2 discusses the restrictions on the placement of arguments and complementives in postverbal position; Section 12.3 does the same for adjuncts and Section 12.4 for subparts of clausal constituents. Section 12.5 concludes with a number of remarks on word order.