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Show full table of contents laten'to make/let' and doen'to make'

The verbs laten'to make/let' and doen'to make' resemble perception verbs like zien'to see' and horen'to hear' in that they may occur in AcI-constructions: they take a bare infinitival complement, the subject of which can be realized as an accusative noun phrase. In the examples in (715) the bare infinitival clauses are given in square brackets, and their subjects in italics.

Example 715
a. Ik laat [Marie/haar je auto repareren].
  make/let   Marie/her  your car  repair
  'I make/let Marie/her repair your car.'
b. Haar antwoord deed [Peter/hem alle hoop verliezen].
  her reply  made   Peter/him  all hope  lose
  'Her reply made Peter/him lose all hope.'

This section is organized as follows, subsection I starts with a brief discussion of the meaning contribution of the two verbs in question. After that, Subsection II argues that these verbs are main verbs as defined earlier and Subsection III shows that they form a verbal complex with their bare infinitival complement in the sense that the resulting structure exhibits monoclausal behavior, subsections IV and V will discuss, respectively, case assignment to the subject of the infinitival clause and the option of leaving the subject implicit, subsection VI, finally, discusses a number of special constructions with the verb laten that seem related to the AcI-construction.

[+]  I.  The meaning contribution of laten and doen

The verb laten is ambiguous in the sense that it can be causative "to make" or permissive "to let". If the subject of laten refers to a person, as in (716), we are normally concerned with a causer, that is, an agent able to perform some unspecified action with a specific effect. Under the causative interpretation of the examples in (716), the action performed by the causer causes the eventuality referred to by the infinitival clause to come about. Under the permissive reading, the causer refrains from performing some action that might have prevented the eventuality referred to by the infinitival clause to take place. Following Haeseryn et al. (1997:1015ff.) we refer to cases such as (716) by means of the notion indirect causation.

Example 716
a. JanCauser liet [Marie vertrekken].
  Jan  made/let   Marie  leave
b. JanCauser liet [de luchtballon stijgen].
  Jan  made/let   the air.balloon  rise

If the subject of laten is inanimate, as in (717), we are normally concerned with a cause: such subjects do not perform some unspecified action but have as an immediate effect that the eventuality referred to by the bare infinitival clause arises; we are dealing with direct causation.

Example 717
a. Het geluidCause liet [Jan schrikken].
  the sound  made   Jan  be.startled
  'The sound made Jan jump.'
b. De zonCause liet [de temperatuur snel oplopen].
  the sun  made   the temperature  quickly  up-go
  'The sun made the temperature rise quickly.'

Causer and cause subjects differ in that the permissive reading is generally only possible with the former. The contrast can be illustrated by means of the examples in (718); whereas (718a) normally has a permissive reading, example (718b) can only be interpreted as causative.

Example 718
a. JanCauser laat [Marie van haar eten genieten].
  Jan  lets   Marie  of her food  enjoy
  'Jan is letting Marie enjoy her food.'
b. De juiste omgevingCause laat [Marie van haar eten genieten].
  the right environment  makes   Marie  of her food  enjoy
  'The proper ambience makes Marie enjoy her food.'

Having a causer subject normally implies that the subject is able to consciously affect the eventuality expressed by the bare infinitival clause. This may account for the contrast between the examples in (719). Under normal circumstances, the psychological state of longing for holidays cannot easily be induced deliberately in a person. However, it is quite normal that such a state is simply triggered by something. Note that it is easy to remove the markedness of (719a) by adding an adverbial cause-PP: in Jan laat Marie met zijn verhalen naar vakantie verlangen'Jan makes Marie long for holidays with his stories' it is Jan's stories that trigger the rise of the psychological state of yearning for holidays in Marie.

Example 719
a. $ JanCauser laat [MarieExp naar vakantie verlangen].
  Jan  makes   Marie  for a.holiday  long
b. De drukte op haar werkCause laat [MarieExp naar vakantie verlangen].
  the busyness at her work   makes   Marie for a.holiday  long
  'The pressure in her job makes Marie long for a holiday.'

      The examples in (720) show that AcI-constructions with doen are mostly used to express direct causation, although Haeseryn et al. (1997) note that speakers from Belgium are often more permissive here than speakers from the Netherlands.

Example 720
a. * Jan deed [Marie vertrekken].
  Jan made   Marie leave
a'. * Jan deed [de luchtballon stijgen].
  Jan made   the air.balloon  rise
b. Het geluid deed Jan schrikken.
  the sound  made  Jan  be.startled
b'. De zon deed de temperatuur snel oplopen.
  the sun  made  the temperature  quickly  up-go

Doen as a direct causation verb normally has a cause and not a causer subject. This is illustrated by the following pair from Haeseryn et al. (1997:1017); example (721a) expresses that the subject of the sentence triggers certain memories of the speaker's brother, whereas (721b) expresses that the psychiatrist consciously tries to make the speaker think of his brother (e.g., as part of a therapy).

Example 721
a. Die man doet me denken aan mijn oudste broer.
  that man  makes  me  think  of my eldest brother
  'that man reminds me of my eldest brother.'
b. De psychiater laat me denken aan mijn oudste broer.
  the psychiatrist  makes  me think  of my eldest brother
  'The psychiatrist makes me think of my eldest brother.'

As a result of this semantic difference between AcI-constructions with laten and doen, we need not be surprised that the frequency of causative doen is much lower than that of causative laten. However, it may also be due to the fact that doen is mainly found in more or less fixed expressions and in the more formal register; the idiomatic examples in (722) are selected from the list given in the digital Van Dale dictionary Dutch-English; for cases from the formal register, we refer the reader to the discussion in Haeseryn et al. (1997:1015ff).

Example 722
a. Dat bericht heeft de gezichten doen betrekken.
  that message  has  the faces  made  become.cloudy
  'That news clouded a few faces/caused some long faces.'
b. zich doen gelden
  refl  make  count
  'to assert oneself, make oneself felt'
c. oud zeer doen herleven
  old pain  make  revive
  'to reopen old sores/wounds'
d. Hij deed van zich spreken.
  he  made  of refl  speak
  'He made his mark/a great stir.'
e. iemand paf doen staan
  someone  flabbergasted  make  stand
  'to stagger someone, take someoneʼs breath away, knock someone out'
f. een herinnering doen vervagen
  a memory  make  fade
  'to blur a memory'

      It is not a priori clear whether the ambiguity between the causative and the permissive reading of laten justifies the postulation of two different verbs laten, which we will indicate in the glosses by using to make and to let (despite that these verbs in fact allow more interpretations), or whether we are simply dealing with a single verb with different context-dependent readings. The first option seems hard to substantiate as the behavior of laten does not seem to be affected by the specific reading associated with it. One possible difference is related to the fact illustrated in (723) that the subject of transitive bare infinitivals can normally be left implicit. At first sight, it seems that this greatly favors the causative reading.

Example 723
a. Jan liet Marie de muren schilderen.
  Jan made/let  Marie  the walls  paint
  'Jan made/let Marie paint the walls'
b. Jan liet de muren schilderen.
  Jan made  the walls  paint
  'Jan made someone paint the walls/had the walls painted.'

It is, however, not clear what this proves. For one thing, it might simply be the case that this preference for the causative reading in (723b) is a by-product of the fact that the causative reading focuses more on the actualization of the eventuality denoted by the bare infinitival verb (here: the walls being painted) than on the question who is performing this eventuality, while the permissive reading by its very nature (granting permission to/not hampering someone) is focused on the agent(s) involved in this eventuality. Furthermore, since the speaker will normally not make someone steal his favorite book, examples such as (724b) show that subjects of bare infinitivals can sometimes be left implicit in permissive constructions as well; the effect of leaving the subject implicit is again that the focus of the construction is on the actualization of a specific state of affairs: the speaker's favorite book being stolen.

Example 724
a. Ik heb Marie mijn lievelingsboek laten stelen.
  have  Marie  my favorite.book  let  steal
  'Iʼve let (made?) Marie steal my favorite book.'
b. Ik heb mijn lievelingsboek laten stelen.
  have  my favorite.book  let  steal
  'Iʼve let (someone) steal my favorite book.'
[+]  II.  Laten and doen are main verbs

The causative/permissive verbs laten'to make/let' and doen'to make' behave like the perception verbs in that they are able to occur in AcI-constructions. As the examples in (725) show, this means that laten and doen are argument taking verbs; they are able to add a causer/cause argument to those selected by the embedded main verb, viz. the subject of the main clause (here Marie and de zon'the sun'). This shows that we are dealing with a main verb by our definition.

Example 725
a. Jan leest het boek.
  Jan reads  the book
a'. Marie/ZijCauser laat [Jan het boek lezen].
  Marie/she  makes/lets   Jan  the book  read
b. De temperatuur stijgt.
  the temperature  rises
b'. De zonCause doet [de temperatuur stijgen].
  the sun  makes   the temperature  rise

The examples in (726) show, however, that laten and doen differ from the perception verbs in that they do not satisfy one of the core tests for distinguishing main verbs; the bare infinitival complement cannot be pronominalized. In this respect laten and doen rather behave like typical non-main verbs such as the aspectual verb gaan: cf. Jan gaat wandelen versus *Jan gaat dat. The number sign "#" in (726b) indicates that this example is fully acceptable in contexts where the verb doen can be rendered by English to do.

Example 726
a. * Marie/zij laat het/dat.
  Marie/she  makes  it/that
b. # De zon doet dat.
  the sun  does  that

Note in passing that Dutch has the imperative form Laat dat!'Stop that/Do not do that!'. The verb laten in this idiomatic form is not causative/permissive but rather obstructive, does not syntactically select an obstructor (the speaker is contextually defined as such) and does not allow a bare infinitival complement; cf. *Laat dat liedje zingen! (intended meaning: "Do not sing that song!").

[+]  III.  Laten and doen take a bare infinitival complement clause

The examples in (727) show that laten- and doen-constructions exhibit monoclausal behavior: the primeless examples show that the bare infinitives are part of the verbal complex and can be separated from their arguments, and the primed examples show that these constructions exhibit the IPP-effect in the perfect tense.

Example 727
a. dat Marie/zij Peter het boek laat lezen.
  that  Marie/she  Peter the book  makes  read
  'that Marie/she makes/lets Peter read the book.'
a'. Marie/Zij heeft Peter het boek laten/*gelaten lezen.
  Marie/she  has  Peter the book  make/made  read
  'Marie/she has made/let Peter read the book.'
b. dat de zon de temperatuur doet stijgen.
  that  the sun  the temperature  make  rise
  'that the sun makes the temperature rise.'
b'. dat de zon de temperatuur heeft doen/*gedaan stijgen.
  that  the sun  the temperature  has  make/made  rise
  'that the sun has made the temperature rise.'

The question remains as to whether causative/permissive laten'to make/let' and causative doen'to make' can take a bare-inf nominalization as their complement. Section, sub III, has shown that a phrase headed by a bare infinitive with an overt subject cannot be analyzed as a bare-inf nominalization, for the simple reason that the subject of the input verbs of such nominalizations is normally left implicit or expressed by means of a van- or a door-PP. This leaves us with those constructions in which the subject is left implicit. Analyzing such constructions as involving bare-inf nominalizations seems a priori implausible, given that laten and doen normally do not allow nominal complements at all, which was in fact already shown in Subsection II by the unacceptability of pronominalization in the examples in (726). That we are not dealing with bare-inf nominalizations in such cases is also clear from the fact that the bare infinitives cannot precede the clause-final verbal sequences in examples such as (728), regardless of whether the subject is overtly realized or left implicit.

Example 728
a. dat Jan (Marie) het hek <*schilderen> zal laten <schilderen>.
  that  Jan   Marie  the gate       paint  will  let
  'that Jan will let (Marie) paint the gate.'
b. dat deze slagzin (ons) aan het verleden <*denken> moet doen <denken>.
  that this slogan   us  of the past    think  must  do
  'that this slogan is supposed to make us think of the past.'
[+]  IV.  The subject of the bare infinitival clause

Given that the verbs laten and doen are not able to take a nominal complement, it seems that we can a priori exclude the option that the direct object Jan/hem in (729a) is an internal argument of the verb; we can therefore safely conclude that it functions as the subject of the bare infinitival. The subject of the bare infinitival complement clause is generally taken to be marked with accusative case by the causative verb. That the case in question is accusative is difficult to establish on the basis of the Dutch example in (729a), but might be supported by the fact that this case shows up overtly in its German translation in (729b), taken from Drosdowski (1995:739).

Example 729
a. Zij lieten [Peter/hem vertrekken].
  they  let   Peter/him  leave
b. Sie ließen [Peter/ihnacc gehen].
  they  let   Peter/him  go

As there is no case assigner in the embedded infinitival clause, it seems plausible to attribute case assignment to the verb laten, but there is again little independent evidence for this. One way of establishing this would be by means of passivization: the fact that the accusative subject of the infinitival clause in the English example in (730a) is promoted to subject of the matrix clause in the corresponding passive construction in (730b) can be seen as evidence in favor of "exceptional case marking" of the subject of the infinitival clause by the matrix verb to expect.

Example 730
a. John expects [Bill/him to read the book].
b. Bill/Hei was expected [ti to read the book].

This kind of evidence is, however, not available in Dutch AcI-constructions: passivization of such examples is always impossible. The (a)-examples in (731) show this for a construction in which the infinitive is monadic (that is, intransitive or unaccusative), and the (b)-examples for a construction in which the infinitive is transitive; see Section, sub IVB, for a more extensive discussion of the impossibility of passivization in AcI-constructions.

Example 731
a. Jan liet [Marie/haar slapen/vertrekken].
  Jan let   Marie/her   sleep/leave
a'. * Marie/Zij werd gelaten slapen/vertrekken.
  Marie/she  was  let  sleep/leave
b. Jan liet [Marie/haar het hek schilderen].
  Jan made/let   Marie/her   the gate  paint
b'. * Marie/Zij werd het hek gelaten schilderen.
  Marie/she  was  the gate  let  paint

Given that the examples in (732) show that the verb laten can be passivized when it takes a complementive, the unacceptability of the primed examples in (731) remain somewhat mysterious: see Bennis & Hoekstra (1989b) for an attempt to account for the unacceptability of the primed examples in (731), and Petter (1998:ch.4) for an alternative proposal.

Example 732
a. Marie liet het touw los.
  Marie let  the rope  loose
  'Marie let go of the rope.'
b. Het touw werd los gelaten.
  the  rope  was  loose  let

For completeness' sake, note that Coopmans (1985) mentions that some (dialect?) speakers do allow constructions of the type Het hek is laten schilderen; examples like these are not relevant in the present context because that it is not the presumed subject of the infinitival clause (which is assumed to be assigned accusative case by the verb laten) that is promoted to the subject of the matrix clause, but the object (which, under standard assumptions, receives case from the infinitive). This construction is not widespread: a Google search on the string [ is laten V] for the transitive verbs wassen'to wash', strijken'to iron' and verven'to paint' did not yield any result, so we will not discuss it here.
      The discussion above thus shows that there is no clear-cut evidence that the subject of the bare infinitival clause is assigned case by the verb laten; the main reason for assuming this is that subjects of infinitival clauses normally cannot be assigned case by some element internal to infinitival clauses.

[+]  V.  Suppression of the embedded subject

The verb laten is like the perception verb horen'to hear' in that it allows the subject of the bare infinitival to remain implicit. The examples in (733) show that, in order for this to be possible, the bare infinitival clause must be sufficiently "heavy" in the sense that the bare infinitival must have at least one argument that is overtly expressed; this means that while monadic (intransitive and unaccusative) verbs normally do not easily allow non-realization of their subjects, transitive and PO-verbs do. Non-realization of the subject of the infinitival clause is often easier with causative than with permissive laten for reasons indicated in Subsection I.

Example 733
a. Jan liet [*?(Marie) hard lachen].
  Jan made      Marie  loud  laugh
b. Jan liet [*?(Marie) snel vertrekken].
  Jan made Marie  quickly  leave
c. Jan liet [(de kinderen) het liedje zingen].
  Jan made    the children  the song  sing
d. Jan liet [(de fietsenmaker) naar zijn fiets kijken].
  Jan made    the bike.mender  at his bicycle  look
  'Jan made the bicycle repairman look at his bicycle.'

As in the case of horen'to hear', it is sometimes possible to realize the subject of the bare infinitival by means of an agentive door-phrase. The examples in (734) show that this option is restricted to constructions allowing non-realization of the subject.

Example 734
a. * Jan liet [(door Marie) hard lachen].
  Jan made     by Marie  loudly  laugh
b. * Jan liet [(door Marie) snel vertrekken].
  Jan made     by Marie  quickly  leave
c. Jan liet [(door de kinderen) het liedje zingen].
  Jan made    by the children  the song  sing
d. Jan liet [(door de fietsenmaker) naar zijn fiets kijken].
  Jan made     by the bike.mender  at his bicycle  look

Note, for completeness' sake, that, contrary to what we see in AcI-constructions with zien'to see', passivization of the infinitival clause is never possible. We did not show this for the unaccusative verb vertrekken'to leave' given that it can never be passivized.

Example 735
a. Er werd (door Marie) hard gelachen.
  there  was   by Marie  loudly  laughed
a'. * Jan liet [(door Marie) gelachen worden].
  Jan made     by Marie  laughed  be
b. Het liedje werd door de kinderen gezongen.
  the song  was  by the children  sung
b'. * Jan liet [(door de kinderen) het liedje gezongen worden].
  Jan made    by the children  the song  sung be
c. Er werd (door de fietsenmaker) naar zijn fiets gekeken.
  there  was   by the bike.mender  at his bicycle  looked
c'. * Jan liet [(door de fietsenmaker) naar zijn fiets gekeken worden].
  Jan made     by the bike.mender  at his bicycle  looked  be

      As in the case of the perception verb horen'to hear' the possibility of expressing the agent by means of a door-phrase may give rise to the idea that non-realization of the subject is the result of a passive-like process; cf. Section, sub IVC. Petter (1998:ch.4) objects to such an analysis in view of the fact that examples such as (736a) allow non-realization of the noun phrase despite the fact that the verb weten normally resists passivization: cf. Marie weet het antwoord'Marie knows the answer' versus *Het antwoord wordt geweten. She further notices that the omitted noun phrase cannot be replaced by an agentive door-PP but can be replaced by an aan-PP; this is shown by (736b). We refer the reader to Petter (1998:141-2) for the discussion of additional cross-linguistic evidence against the idea that we are dealing with a passive-like process.

Example 736
a. Jan laat (Marie) het antwoord morgen weten.
  Jan makes   Marie  the answer  tomorrow  know
  'Jan will let (Marie) know the answer tomorrow.'
b. Jan laat het antwoord morgen aan/*door Marie weten.
  Jan makes  the answer  tomorrow  to/by Marie  know
  'Jan will let his answer know to Marie tomorrow.'

The choice between the door- and aan-PP seems to be determined by the embedded infinitive: verbs like zingen'to sing' in (737a) are only compatible with door-PPs, verbs like zien'to see' in (737b) are only compatible with aan-PPs, and verbs like lezen'to read' in (737c) have both options. To our knowledge, the properties that determine which verbs go with which PP-type have not yet been investigated, so we will leave this to future research. Example (737c'') show that the door- and aan-PPs are mutually exclusive, even with verbs allowing both types; changing the word order does not improve the result.

Example 737
a. Jan laat Marie een liedje zingen.
  Jan makes  Marie a song  sing
  'Jan makes/has Marie sing a song.'
a'. Jan laat een liedje zingen <door/*aan Marie>
  Jan lets  a song  sing    by/to Marie
b. Jan laat Marie de brief zien.
  Jan lets Marie the letter  see
  'Jan is showing Marie the letter.'
b'. Jan laat de brief zien aan/*door Marie.
  Jan lets the letter  see  to/by Marie
c. Jan laat Marie de brief lezen.
  Jan makes  Marie the letter  read
  'Jan makes/lets Marie read the letter.'
c'. Jan laat de brief lezen door/aan Marie.
  Jan makes  the letter  read  by/to Marie
c''. Jan laat de brief door Marie lezen aan Peter.
  Jan makes  the letter  by Marie  read  to Peter

      The data above suggest that there are at least two types of causative/permissive constructions. The first type is similar to the perception verbs: it takes a bare infinitival complement with an overt subject which can be replaced by a door-phrase. The nature of the second type is less clear but may involve a dative noun phrase which can be replaced by a periphrastic noun phrase. Petter suggests that the dative phrase does not originate as the subject of the bare infinitival complement (which should therefore be analyzed with a PRO-subject) but as an internal (goal) argument of laten. We leave this topic to future research while noting that Dutch is not the only language with options—French faire, for example is compatible both with a par- and with an à-PP (although it does not allow for an accusative noun phrase); see Broekhuis & Gronemeyer (1997) for data and references.
      It is sometimes also possible to find constructions with doen'to make', in which the subject is left implicit. However, it does not really make sense to discuss the question as to whether this is a productive process, given the idiomatic nature of many causative doen-constructions. That example (738) is idiomatic is clear from the fact that the subject of the infinitival clause must be left implicit.

Example 738
Hij deed (*Marie/*iedereen) van zich spreken.
  he  made     Marie/everyone  of refl  speak
'He made his mark/a great stir.'
[+]  VI.  Some additional remarks on the verb laten

The previous subsections discussed AcI-constructions with causative/permissive laten. The discussion suggests that laten behaves in most respects like the perception verbs in AcI-constructions. This subsection discusses a number of additional facts concerning the behavior of laten, and investigates to what extent we find similar facts with the perception verbs.

[+]  A.  Reflexive middle construction

AcI-constructions with a transitive bare infinitival complement such as (739a) often alternate with so-called reflexive middle constructions such as (739b), in which the subjects of both laten and the bare infinitive are suppressed and the object of the bare infinitival becomes the subject of the construction as a whole. The reflexive middle construction denotes a typical property of the subject of the construction as a whole.

Example 739
a. Jan laat Marie het hout bewerken.
  Jan makes/lets  Marie the wood  work
  'Jan makes/lets Marie work the wood.'
b. Dit soort hout laat zich gemakkelijk bewerken.
  this kind.of  wood  lets  refl  easily  work
  'This kind of wood works easily.'

This alternation, which is discussed extensively in Section, is typical of laten; it cannot occur with perception verb like horen'to hear' or zien'to see'.

Example 740
a. Jan laat/hoort de kinderen een liedje zingen.
  Jan lets/hears  the children  a song  sing
  'Jan hears the children sing a song.'
a'. Dit liedje laat/*hoort zich gemakkelijk zingen.
  this song  lets/hears  refl  easily  sing
  'This song sings easily.'
b. Marie laat/ziet haar studenten dat boek lezen.
  Marie lets/sees  her students  that book  read
  'Marie lets/sees her students read that book.'
b'. Dat boek laat/*ziet zich gemakkelijk lezen.
  that book lets/sees  refl  easily  sing
  'That book reads easily.'
[+]  B.  Quasi-imperative laten-constructions

The examples in (741) show that permissive/causative laten can unproblematically be used in imperative constructions; the speaker requests the addressee to stop certain activities distracting Marie/the children from her/their work.

Example 741
a. Laat [Marie/haar rustig doorwerken].
  let   Marie/her  quietly  on-work
  'Let Marie/her work on in peace.'
b. Laat [de leerlingen/hen rustig doorwerken].
  let   the pupilsT/them  quietly  on-work
  'Let the pupils/them work on in peace.'

This subsection discusses the constructions in (742), which at first sight seem very similar to the imperative construction in (741) but should be distinguished carefully, given that the noun phrases following laten do not function as the subject of the infinitival clause but as the nominative subject of the complete construction. This is clear from the fact that the pronouns do not surface with accusative but with nominative case, and from the fact that the plural noun phrase triggers plural agreement on finite laten.

Example 742
a. Laat Marie/zij rustig doorwerken.
  let  Marie/she  quietly  on-work
b. Laten de leerlingen/zij rustig doorwerken.
  let  the pupils/they  quietly  on-work

The construction in (742) is restricted in various respects. First, it normally occurs with first and third person subjects only; second person subjects are often excluded (but see the examples in (745) for exceptions). Whether third person subjects are possible depends on the illocutionary force of the sentence as a whole. If we are concerned with an incentive to do something, the subject is restricted to first person pronouns: the (a)- but not the (c)-examples in (743) can be used as the starting signal for some activity. If the construction expresses, e.g., a wish or a warning, first and third person pronouns are equally acceptable. We refer the reader to Haeseryn et al. (1997:1020) for more discussion.

Example 743
a. Laat ik beginnen.
  let  start
  'Let me start.'
a'. Laten we beginnen.
  let  we  start
  'Let us start.'
b. * Laat jij beginnen.
  let  yousg  start
b'. * Laten jullie beginnen.
  let  youpl  start
c. Laat hij beginnen.
  let  he  start
  'Let him start.'
c'. Laten zij beginnen.
  let  they  start
  'Let them start.'

Secondly, the laten-construction is always a verb-first main clause. The (a)- and (c)-examples in (744) first show that the finite verb cannot be preceded by any other constituent: (here subject of the clause), and the (b)- and (d)-examples show that the laten-construction under discussion is not possible in embedded clauses. The fact that these two restrictions are also typical of imperative constructions is the reason for referring to the laten-construction under consideration as quasi-imperative.

Example 744
a. * Ik laat beginnen.
  let  start
a'. * We laten beginnen.
  we  let  start
b. * dat ik laat beginnen.
  that  let  start
b'. * dat we laten beginnen.
  that  we let  start
c. * Hij laat beginnen.
  he  let  start
c'. * Zij laten beginnen.
  they  let  start
d. * dat hij laat beginnen.
  that  he  lets  begin
d'. * dat zij laten beginnen.
  that  they  let  begin

      Semantically, the laten-construction is of course not like an imperative at all since the construction is not used to persuade the addressee to perform some activity; we have seen in our discussion of (743) that the construction may be directive but then it is the referent of the first person pronoun that is assumed to undertake the action; see also Section 11.2.5. Furthermore, the construction can be used to express a wish, as in (745a), or as an exclamative, as in (745b). It can also be used with a variety of other semantic functions; in (745c) it functions as an adverbial clause that is concessive in nature, and in (745d) it expresses a contrast. Observe that the examples in (745b&c) are special in that they do allow second person pronouns.

Example 745
a. Laten zij/*jullie toch ophouden met dat lawaai.
  let  them/you  prt  prt.-stop  with that sound
  'I wish they would stop that noise.'
b. Laat ik/jij/hij nu uitgekozen zijn!