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2.1.2.Intransitive, transitive and monadic unaccusative verbs

The distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs is taken from traditional grammar, where the defining distinction between these two classes is taken to be the number of nominal arguments they take: intransitive verbs take one argument that appears as a subject, whereas transitive verbs take two arguments which appear as, respectively, a subject and a direct object. The contrast between subjects and objects is made visible by case. The subject de man'the man' in (15a) and (16a) is assigned nominative case, which is clear from the fact that it can be replaced by the nominative pronoun hij'he'. The object de jongen'the boy' in (16a), on the other hand, is assigned accusative case, which is clear from the fact that it can be replaced by the object pronoun hem'him'.

Example 15
Intransitive verbs
a. De man/Hijnom huilt.
  the man/he  cries
b. Het meisje/Zijnom lacht.
  the girl/she  laughs
Example 16
Transitive verbs
a. De man/Hijnom achtervolgt de jongen/hemacc.
  the man  chases  the boy/him
b. Het meisje/Zijnom leest de krant/hemacc.
  the girl/she  reads  the newspaper
c. Jan/Hijnom brak de vaas/hemacc.
  Jan/he  broke  the vase/hemacc

Although the traditional distinction between intransitive and transitive verbs is intuitively clear-cut, it seems too course-grained given that there is a class of verbs exhibiting properties of both transitive and intransitive verbs. Some typical examples of such verbs, which will be called unaccusative for reasons that will become clear shortly, are given in (17). This section will argue that the verbs in (17) cannot be considered intransitive on a par with those in (15) by showing on the basis of several tests that the subjects in (17) are not external but internal arguments.

Example 17
Unaccusative verbs (verbs with an internal argument only)
a. Jan/Hijnom arriveert op tijd.
  Jan/he  arrives  in time
b. De vaas/Hijnom brak.
  the vase/he  broke

      Preliminary evidence in favor of the claim that unaccusative verbs take an internal argument is that the semantic relation between the subject noun phrase de vaas'the vase' and the monadic verb breken'to break' in (17b) is similar to that between the object noun phrase de vaas and the dyadic verb breken in the transitive construction in (16c). By saying that the noun phrase de vaas is an internal (theme) argument of breken in both cases, this semantic intuition is formally accounted for.
      The term unaccusative verb derives from the fact that, in contrast to (in)transitive verbs, verbs like arriveren and monadic breken are assumed to be unable to assign accusative case to their internal argument, which must therefore be assigned nominative case. In this respect, unaccusative verbs are similar to passive participles; in the passive counterparts of the transitive constructions in (16), which are given in (18), the internal argument of the transitive verbs achtervolgen'to chase', lezen'to read' and breken'to break' cannot be assigned accusative case and they therefore also appear as nominative phrases, that is, as subjects of the passive constructions.

Example 18
a. De jongens worden achtervolgd (door de man).
  the boys  are  chased   by the man
b. De krant wordt gelezen (door het meisje).
  the newspaper  is  read   by the girl
c. Het glas wordt gebroken (door Jan).
  the glass  is  broken   by Jan

We will see in Subsection II that there are more similarities between subjects of passive constructions and subjects of unaccusative verbs, which can be explained if we assume that the latter occupy a similar base position as the former; we are dealing in both cases with internal theme arguments that surface as derived subjects of the constructions. To emphasize the similarity of the internal argument (direct object) of a transitive verb and the internal argument (subject) of an unaccusative verb, we will often use the term DO-subject for the latter.
      The discussion is organized as follows, subsection I starts by giving a general characterization of the intransitive, transitive and monadic unaccusative verbs. Since the intransitive and unaccusative verbs share by which the property of taking a single argument, they can readily be confused; the means to distinguish these two classes will be discussed in Subsection II, subsection III concludes with a brief discussion of a number of verbs that meet some but not all criteria for assuming unaccusative status, and raises the question as to whether these verbs can be considered a special class of unaccusatives.

[+]  I.  General introduction

This subsection provides a general characterization of the intransitive, transitive and monadic unaccusative verbs, as well as a small representative sample of each verb class. This subsection further focuses on the fact that the distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs is not always clear-cut, given that transitive verbs can occur without an object in some cases and that intransitive verbs can sometimes occur with an object.

[+]  A.  Transitive verbs

Transitive verbs like kopen'to buy' or lezen'to read' in (19) select two nominal arguments, one external and one internal. The external argument is realized as the subject and normally refers to an agent or a cause of the event, whereas the internal argument is realized as the direct object of the clause and normally refers to the theme of the event.

Example 19
a. JanAgent kocht een leuke romanTheme.
  Jan  bought  a nice novel
b. MarieAgent leest de krantTheme.
  Marie  reads  the newspaper
c. JanAgent rookt een sigaarTheme.
  Jan  smokes  a cigar
d. MarieAgent schildert de stoelTheme.
  Marie  paints  the chair

Generally speaking, the two arguments must be overtly expressed, as is clear from the fact that example (20a) is severely degraded. There are, however, many exceptions to this rule; example (20b), for instance, is fully acceptable despite the fact that there is no direct object. It should be noted, however, that the theme argument is semantically implied in such cases, and interpreted as a canonical object of the verb lezen'to read'; Marie is reading a text of some sort. That the theme argument is semantically implied is also clear from the fact that the pronoun het in the clause within parentheses can refer to the thing that Marie is reading. See Levin (1993: Section 1.2) and Van Hout (1993: Section 2.5) for more discussion.

Example 20
a. * Jan kocht (maar ik kon niet zien wat het was).
  Jan bought   but  could  not  see  what  it  was
b. Marie leest (maar ik kan niet zien wat het is).
  Marie reads   but  can  not  see  what  it  is
  'Marie is reading, but I canʼt see what it is.'

Dropping the direct object is also possible in examples like (19c&d), but this gives rise to an habitual or an occupational reading; example (21a) expresses that Jan is an habitual smoker, and (21b) expresses that Marie has an occupation as a painter or is painting pictures as a hobby. We will refer to the verbs in (20b) and (21) as pseudo-intransitive verbs.

Example 21
Pseudo-intransitive verbs
a. Jan rookt.
  Jan smokes
b. Marie schildert.
  Marie paints

The properties of transitive verbs will be illustrated by means of a very small sample of verbs. Example (22) therefore gives a somewhat larger sample of verbs behaving in the same way. This sample is of course not exhaustive; the set of transitive verbs is an open class that consists of numerous lexical items, and which can readily be extended by adding borrowings or new coinages.

Example 22
Transitive verbs: aaien'to stroke/pet', bewonderen'to admire', blussen'to extinguish', eten'to eat', groeten'to greet', kopen'to buy', kopiëren'to copy', kussen'to kiss', knippen'to cut', legen'to empty', onderzoeken'to investigate', roken'to smoke', schilderen'to paint', schillen'to peel', slaan'to beat', zien'to see', etc.
[+]  B.  Intransitive verbs

The defining property of intransitive verbs like huilen'to cry' and slapen'to sleep' is that they select an external nominal argument only. This argument is normally an agent or a cause, and is realized as the subject of the clause. Intransitive verbs are normally not accompanied by a direct object, as is clear from the fact that (23a') is degraded. Occasionally, however, intransitive verbs can be accompanied by a so-called cognate object. Consider the verb slapen'to sleep' in (23b), which implies that Marie is having a sleep. This information can at least marginally be made explicit by adding a direct object, as in (23b'), provided that the object expresses some information that is not already implied by the verb; a modifier is obligatorily present. Something similar is illustrated by the (c)-examples; the cognate object is acceptable given that it has a negative connotation that is not part of the meaning of the verb.

Example 23
a. Jan huilt.
  Jan cries
a'. * Jan huilt een traan.
  Jan cries  a tear
b. Marie slaapt.
  Marie sleeps
b'. Marie sliep een *(verkwikkende) slaap.
  Marie slept  a refreshing sleep
c. Jan praat.
  Jan talks
c'. Jan praat onzin.
  Jan talks  nonsense

Example (24) gives a small sample of typical intransitive verbs. In the discussion below, we will illustrate the properties of the intransitive verbs only by means of a small subset of these examples. Note that many of these verbs involve voluntary or involuntary bodily functions, which shows that the notion of agent does not imply that the activity can be controlled by the external argument.

Example 24
Intransitive verbs: ademen'to breathe', boeren'to belch', blozen'to blush', dansen'to dance', dromen'to dream', falen'to fail', gapen'to yawn', hoesten'to cough', huilen'to cry', ijlen'to be delirious', lachen'to laugh', morren'to grumble', plassen'to pee', skiën'to ski', slapen'to sleep', werken'to work', zwemmen'to swim', zweten'to sweat', etc.
[+]  C.  Unaccusative verbs

Contrary to what traditional grammar assumes, the set of monadic verbs is not a uniform category; Subsection II will show that the intransitive verbs in (24) should be distinguished from the so-called unaccusative verbs in (25).

Example 25
a. Jan arriveert.
  Jan arrives
b. Het glas breekt.
  the glass  breaks

Example (26) gives a small sample of such verbs. Unaccusative verbs normally denote some process and the subject is normally not presented as an agent but as a theme, that is, an entity that undergoes the process.

Example 26
Unaccusative verbs: arriveren'to arrive', barsten'to burst', gebeuren'to occur', groeien'to grow', kapseizen'to capsize', ontstaan'to arise', ontwaken'to wake up', rimpelen'to wrinkle', sneuvelen'to fall', stagneren'to stagnate', sterven'to die', struikelen'to stumble', vallen'to fall', verdwijnen'to disappear', verlopen'to pass/to elapse', verschijnen'to appear', verwelken'to wither', voorkomen'to happen', zinken'to sink', zwellen'to swell', etc.
[+]  D.  The gradual nature of the distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs

The previous subsections have shown that certain transitive verbs can be used as pseudo-intransitive verbs, that is, as intransitive verbs with an implied canonical object, and that certain intransitive verbs can be used transitively, that is, with a cognate object. These two facts show that the distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs is not absolute but gradual. It is therefore not surprising that some researchers (such as Hale and Keyser 1993) have argued that the two verb classes must actually be considered one single class. If so, whether a direct object is overtly expressed may depend on whether a canonical object is semantically implied by the semantics of the verb; a direct object can only be used if it adds something to the meaning inherently expressed by the verb.
      This can be clarified by means of a verb like dansen'to dance', which can readily be used both as an intransitive and as a transitive verb, as shown by the examples in (27). The reason why (27a) is marked with the direct object present is that the latter is redundant: the verb dansen already semantically implies that some sort of dance is performed. Example (27b), on the other hand, is acceptable with the direct object present since the direct object conveys information that is not implicitly present in the verb: it provides more information about the type of dance that is involved.

Example 27
a. Jan danste (*?een dans).
  Jan danced      a dance
b. Jan danste de tango.
  Jan danced  the tango

Perhaps something similar occurs with intransitive motion verbs like schaatsen'to skate' and lopen'to walk'. The primed examples in (28) show that cognate objects are particularly common with these verbs, where they trigger a reading according to which the subject partakes in some sporting activity; the cognate object then refers to some conventional unit that must be covered or to some specific sports event. For example, sentence (28a') expresses that Jan is involved in a 5-kilometer long skating race/participates in the famous Frisian skating marathon that goes through 11 Frisian cities. Example (28b') provides similar examples with the verb lopen'to walk'.

Example 28
a. Jan schaatst op de vijver.
  Jan skates  on the lake
  'Jan is skating on the lake'
a'. Jan schaatst de vijf kilometer/de Elfstedentocht.
  Jan skates  the five kilometers/the Elfstedentocht
  'Jan is skating the five kilometers/Frisian skating marathon.'
b. Jan loopt buiten.
  Jan walks  outside
  'Jan is walking outside.'
b'. Jan loopt de 100 meter/de Amsterdam marathon.
  Jan runs  the 100 meters/the Amsterdam marathon
  'Jan is running the 100 meters/the annual marathon held in Amsterdam.'

The discussion of the examples above suggests that it may not be necessary to distinguish between intransitive and transitive verbs: the crucial factor is not whether the verb takes a direct object but whether this object can express non-redundant information. Although we do not want to take a stand on the idea that intransitive and transitive verbs constitute a single verb class (and will continue to use these two notions), we believe that the fact that the issue can be raised supports the claim that the classification of verbs should not primarily focus on the adicity of the verb; the basic question is not how many arguments a certain verb takes, but what types of arguments.

[+]  II.  Distinguishing intransitive from unaccusative verbs

Transitive verbs can normally be distinguished easily from intransitive and unaccusative verbs for the simple reason that the former selects two arguments, whereas the latter two select only a single argument. The fact that intransitive and unaccusative verbs are both monadic, on the other hand, makes it harder to distinguish between these two types. This subsection shows, however, that various properties of verbs depend on whether the verb in question takes an external and/or an internal argument. These properties can therefore be used as tests in order to establish whether we are dealing with an intransitive or an unaccusative verb.

[+]  A.  Thematic role of the subject

In the prototypical case, transitive and intransitive verbs denote activities; subjects of such verbs are agents that are performing these activities. For this reason the subject of an intransitive or transitive verb typically refers to a +animate participant (or an instrument that is especially designed to perform a specific task).

Example 29
Intransitive/transitive verbs
a. JanAgent/*het boek lacht.
  Jan/the book  laughs
b. JanAgent/*de kachel rookt een sigaar.
  Jan/the heater  smokes  a cigar

Unaccusative verbs, on the other hand, generally denote processes; subjects of such verbs are themes, that is, participants undergoing these processes. The fact that the subject of an unaccusative verb is not an agent accounts for the fact that, like the direct object of a transitive verb, it can readily refer to a -animate participant in the event. This is shown in (30).

Example 30
Unaccusative verbs
a. De jongensTheme/boekenTheme arriveren morgen.
  the boys/books  arrive  tomorrow
  'The boys will arrive tomorrow.'
b. JanTheme/het boekTheme viel.
  Jan/the book  fell

If we assume that agents are typically external arguments and themes are typically internal arguments, this contrast between intransitive and unaccusative verbs follows from the claim that subjects of the former are external, whereas subjects of the latter are internal arguments. We refer the reader to Subsection III for a discussion of a set of apparently intransitive verbs like branden'to burn' and smeulen'to smolder' that may take inanimate subjects.

[+]  B.  ER-nominalization

Subsection A has shown that intransitive and transitive verbs normally denote activities and that the external arguments of such verbs refer to agents, that is, entities performing those activities. It is therefore not surprising that many of these verbs can be the input of er-nominalization, that is, the morphological process that derives agentive nouns by means of suffixation of the verbal stem with the affix -er (or one of its allomorphs); cf. Sections N1.3.1.5 and N2.2.3.1. The resulting noun refers to an entity performing the action denoted by the input verb. In (31a&b), we give some examples involving transitive verbs. It should be noted, however, that there are also many transitive verbs like groeten'to greet' in (31c) that, for unclear reasons, do not readily allow er-nominalization (although it is possible to find examples of de groeter in humorous contexts; cf. pasopaardig.nl).

Example 31
Transitive verbs
a. De manAgent achtervolgt de jongensTheme.
  the man  chases  the boys
a'. de achtervolgerAgent van de jongensTheme
  the chaser  of the boys
b. De meisjesAgent lezen de krantTheme.
  the girls  read  the newspaper
b'. de lezersAgent van de krantTheme
  the readers  of the newspapers
c. JanAgent groette de buurmanTheme.
  Jan  greeted  the neighbor
c'. *? de groeter van de buurman
  the greeter  of  the neighbor

Observe that the direct object of the verb can be expressed by means of a post-nominal van-PP. Occasionally, the postnominal van-PP is dropped, in which case the habitual or occupational reading of the pseudo-intransitive verbs in (21) is likely to arise.

Example 32
a. Jan rookt.
  Jan smokes
b. Jan schildert.
  Jan paints
a'. een roker
  a smoker
b'. een schilder
  a painter

The vast majority of intransitive verbs also allow er-nominalization. Some examples are given in (33). The unaccusative verbs, on the other hand, never allow er-nominalization, as is illustrated in the examples in (34). Apparently, having an external (agentive) argument is a necessary condition for er-nominalization, and the unaccusative verbs fail to satisfy this condition.

Example 33
Intransitive verbs
a. JanAgent lacht.
  Jan  laughs
b. JanAgent droomt.
  Jan  dreams
a'. een lacher
  a laugh-er
b'. een dromer
  a dream-er
Example 34
Unaccusative verbs
a. De gastTheme arriveert.
  the guest  arrives
b. De jongenTheme viel.
  the boy  fell
a'. * een arriveerder
  an arrive-er
b'. * een valler
  a fall-er

The conclusion that we can draw from the discussion above is given in (35). Recall from Section 1.2.2, sub IIC, that the term unergative verb is a cover term for all verbs with an external argument, that is, intransitive and (di-)transitive verbs.

Example 35
Generalization I: Er-nominalization is a sufficient (but not a necessary) condition for assuming unergative status for a verb; unaccusative verbs cannot be the input of er-nominalization.

The examples in (36) seem to be exceptions to the generalization in (35): The verbs stijgen'to ascend' and dalen'to descend' in (36a), for example, are unaccusative but still allow er-nominalization. It should be noted, however, that these er-nouns have a lexicalized meaning; they are only used in the context of a listing or a competition (as in sports, charts or financial indexes) and can refer to, e.g., a share that has increased/decreased in value but not to the subject in an example such as Het vliegtuig/De piloot stijgt'the airplane/pilot goes up'. Something similar holds for the noun groeier in (36c), which refers to a plant (and nowadays also companies) that grow fast, not just to anything that grows, or the noun blijvertje in (36b), which refers to something that is of a more lasting nature, not just to any entity that stays in a specific place. It seems that we are dealing with jargon here, or more or less idiomatic expressions.

Example 36
a. de stijgers/dalers van vandaag
  the  ascend-ers/descend-ers  of today
  'the shares that increased/decreased in value today'
b. Loofbomen zijn vaak langzame groeiers.
  deciduous.trees are  often  slow  growers
  'Deciduous trees often grow slowly.'
c. De CD-speler is een blijvertje.
  the CD-player  is a stay-er
  'The CD-player is here to stay.'

For a more extensive discussion of agentive er-nouns, see Section N1.3.1.5, where apparent counterexamples such as (36) are also discussed; for the moment we will ignore such cases and simply assume that generalization I in (35) holds in full.

[+]  C.  Auxiliary selection

Despite the fact that in Dutch the perfect tense can be formed by means of either hebben'to have' or zijn'to be', transitive verbs seem to take hebben only.

Example 37
Transitive verbs
a. De man heeft/*is de jongens achtervolgd.
  the man  has/is  the boys  chased
b. De meisjes hebben/*zijn gisteren de krant gelezen.
  the girls  have/are  yesterday  the newspaper  read

The monadic verbs, on the other hand, differ with respect to the auxiliary verb they take. The intransitive verbs always take hebben, whereas the unaccusative ones instead take zijn.

Example 38
Intransitive verbs
a. Het kind heeft/*is gehuild.
  the child  has/is  cried
  'The child has cried.'
b. Marie heeft/is geslapen.
  Marie has/is  slept
Example 39
Unaccusative verbs
a. De post is/*heeft gearriveerd.
  the post  is/has  arrived
b. Het glas is/*heeft gebroken.
  the glass  is/has  broken

The conclusion we can draw from the examples in (37) and (38) is that unergative verbs, that is, verbs selecting an external argument, must take the auxiliary hebben in the perfect tense. The data in (39) suggest that unaccusative verbs, that is, verbs that do no select an external argument, must take the auxiliary zijn in the perfect tense. We will see in Subsection III, however, that the latter probably cannot be upheld in full. The correct generalization therefore seems to be as given in (40).

Example 40
Generalization II: Selection of the auxiliary zijn is a sufficient (but not a necessary) condition for assuming unaccusative status for a verb; unergative verbs take the auxiliary hebben.
[+]  D.  Attributive use of the participle

Past/passive and present participles can often be used in prenominal attributive position as modifiers of a noun. This subsection shows that, at least in the case of the past/passive participle, the unergative/unaccusative status of the base verb determines the nature of the modification relation between the participle and the head noun.

[+]  1.  Past/passive participles

Past/passive participles of transitive verbs can be used attributively. The singly-primed examples in (41) show that the noun that is modified by the participle corresponds to the internal argument (direct object) of the verb. The doubly-primed examples show that modification of a noun that corresponds to the external argument (subject) of the verb leads to an unacceptable result or an unintended reading; the noun phrase de achtervolgde man in (41a''), for example, cannot refer to the agent (the person who is doing the chasing), but only to the theme (the person who is being chased).

Example 41
Transitive verbs
a. De manAgent achtervolgt de jongensTheme.
  the man  chases  the boys
a'. de (door de manAgent) achtervolgde jongensTheme
  the   by the man  chased  boys
  'the boys who are chased by the man'
a''. # de achtervolgde manAgent
  the  chased  man
b. De meisjesAgent lezen de krantTheme.
  the girls  read  the newspaper
b'. de (door de meisjesAgent) gelezen krantTheme
  the   by the girls  read  newspaper
  'the newspaper that has been read by the girls'
b''. * de gelezen meisjesAgent
  the  read  girls

The examples in (42) show that nouns that correspond to subjects of intransitive verbs are like nouns that correspond to subjects of transitive verbs in that they cannot be modified by means of a past/passive participle.

Example 42
Intransitive verbs
a. Het kindAgent huilt.
  the child  cries
b. De babyAgent slaapt.
  the baby  sleeps
a'. * het gehuilde kindAgent
  the  cried  child
b'. * de geslapen babyAgent
  the  slept  baby

Nouns that correspond to subjects of unaccusative verbs, on the other hand, can be modified by a past/passive participle, just like nouns that correspond to internal arguments (direct objects) of transitive verbs. This is illustrated in (43).

Example 43
Unaccusative verbs
a. De postTheme arriveert.
  the post  arrives
b. Het glasTheme brak.
  the glass  broke
a'. de gearriveerde postTheme
  the arrived  post
b'. het gebroken glasTheme
  the  broken  glass

From the examples in (41) to (43) we can conclude that only nouns corresponding to an internal argument of a verb can be modified by an attributively used past/passive participle. We will see in Subsection III, however, that not all unaccusative verbs allow attributive use of their past participle. The proper generalization therefore seems to be as given in (44).

Example 44
Generalization III: The possibility of using the perfect/past participle attributively is a sufficient (but not a necessary) condition for assuming unaccusative status for a monadic verb; the perfect/past participle of an intransitive verb cannot be used attributively.

Recall from Section 2.1.2, sub I, that intransitive verbs may sometimes have a so-called cognate object; the verb dromen'to dream', for example, can be combined with the object een nachtmerrie'a nightmare'. Sometimes intransitive verbs like dromen can also be used in the sense of "creating by means of dreaming". In such cases, the verb of course patterns with the transitive verbs.

Example 45
a. Jan droomt een nachtmerrie/een reis.
  Jan dreams  a nightmare/a journey
  'Jan has a nightmare/Jan creates a journey by means of dreaming.'
b. de gedroomde nachtmerrie/reis
[+]  2.  Present participles

The attributive use of the present participle does not seem to be sensitive to whether the modified noun corresponds to an external or an internal argument of the verb. Rather, it is sensitive to the syntactic function of the phrase that corresponds to the modified noun. The noun modified by the present participle always corresponds to the subject (the nominative argument) of the clause.

Example 46
Transitive verbs
a. De meisjes lezen de krant.
  the girls  read  the newspaper
b. de lezende meisjes
  the  reading  girls
c. * de lezende krant
  the  reading  newspaper
Example 47
Intransitive verbs
a. De baby slaapt.
  the baby  sleeps
b. de slapende baby
  the  sleeping  baby
Example 48
Unaccusative verbs
a. Het glas brak.
  the glass  broke
b. het brekende glas
  the  breaking  glass
[+]  3.  Attributive modification and aspect

The previous subsections have shown that a noun corresponding to the subject of an unaccusative construction can be modified both by a past and by a present participle. Some additional examples are given in (49). The difference between the two forms is aspectual in nature: the past/passive participles in the singly-primed examples present the events as completed (perfective aspect), whereas the present participles in the doubly-primed examples present the events as ongoing (durative or imperfective aspect).

Example 49
a. De gasten arriveren.
  the guests  arrive
b. De bladeren vallen.
  the leaves  fall
a'. de gearriveerde gasten
  the  arrived  guests
  'the guests who have arrived'
b'. de gevallen bladeren
  the  fallen  leaves
  'the leaves that have fallen'
a''. de arriverende gasten
  the  arriving  guests
  'the guests who are arriving'
b''. de vallende bladeren
  the  falling  leaves
  'the leaves that are falling'

The perfective meaning aspect of the past/passive participle is also present if the input verb is transitive, as in de gelezen krant'the newspaper that has been read' in (41b'), and the durative meaning aspect of the present participle is also present if the input verb is transitive or intransitive, as de lezende meisjes'the reading girls' in (46b) and de slapende baby'the sleeping baby' in (47b).

[+]  E.  (Impersonal) passive

Passivization is typically associated with (di-)transitive verbs. Although it is certainly not true that all transitive verbs can be passivized (cf. Section, sub III), many indeed allow this option; some examples are given in (50).

Example 50
Transitive verbs
a. De man achtervolgt de jongens.
  the man chases  the boys
a'. De jongens worden (door de man) achtervolgd.
  the boys are   by the man  chased
  'The boys are chased (by the man).'
b. De meisjes lezen de krant.
  the girls  read  the newspaper
b'. De krant wordt (door de meisjes) gelezen.
  the newspaper  is   by the girls  read
  'The newspaper is read (by the girls).'

It is, however, by no means true that passivization is restricted to (di-)transitive verbs; the examples in (51) show that intransitive verbs can also be passivized. Because the passive constructions in the primed examples do not have a subject (nominative argument), they are normally referred to as impersonal passives. Observe that the regular subject position in these impersonal passives is occupied by the expletive element er'there'.

Example 51
Intransitive verbs
a. Het kind huilt.
  the child  cries
a'. Er wordt gehuild (door het kind).
  there  is  cried   by the child
b. De baby slaapt.
  the baby  sleeps
b'. Er wordt geslapen (door de baby).
  there  is  slept   by the baby