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Show all krijgen-passive

This section discusses a second type of personal passive construction, the so-called krijgen-passive. The name of this passive construction is due to the fact that it involves the auxiliary krijgen'to get' instead of worden/zijn. It is further characterized by the fact that it is not the direct object that is promoted to subject but the indirect object. Example (114) provides some examples of this construction.

a. MarieSubject biedt hunIO het boekDO aan.
  Marie  offers  them  the book  prt.
a'. ZijSubject krijgen het boekDO aangeboden.
  they  get  the book  prt.-offered
  'They are offered the book.'
b. JanSubject schonk hemIO een glas bierDO in.
  Jan  poured  him  a glass beer  prt.
  'Jan gave (poured) him a glass of beer.'
b'. HijSubject kreeg (door Jan) een glas bierDO ingeschonken.
  he  got   by Jan  a glass beer  prt.-poured
  'He was given (poured) a glass of beer.'

In the literature the krijgen-passive is also called the semi-passive. The reason is that it is often claimed that the krijgen-passive is not a syntactic but a lexical rule because it is idiosyncratically constrained in several respects. The prototypical ditransitive verb geven'to give', for example, can undergo regular passivization but not krijgen-passivization. For completeness' sake, note that derived indefinite subjects like een cadeautje'a present' in (115b) normally remain in their original base position and need not be moved into the regular subject position right-adjacent to the finite verb in second position.

a. JanSubject geeft de kinderendat een cadeautjeDO.
  Jan  gives  the children  a present
b. Er werd de kinderenIO een cadeautjeSubject gegeven.
  there  was  the children  a present  given
b'. * De kinderenSubject kregen een cadeautjeDO gegeven.
  the children  got  a present  given

      Section has shown, however, that regular passivization is also subject to various kinds of idiosyncratic constraints, so that it is not at all clear whether the difference in grammaticality between the two (b)-examples in (115) can be used to support the presumed difference in status between the two types of passivization.
      This section is organized as follows, subsection I discusses the verb types that can undergo krijgen-passivization and shows that, contrary to what is sometimes assumed in the literature, the krijgen-passive is fairly productive; for this reason, we will assume that krijgen-passivization is a syntactic rule, subsection II discusses the role of the passive auxiliary krijgen, subsection III concludes with a brief discussion of the adjunct-PP expressing the demoted subject of the corresponding active construction.

[+]  I.  The verb

Krijgen-passivization is less common than regular passivization. In our view, the reason for this is not that this process is idiosyncratically constrained but simply that the set of verbs that are eligible to this process is a relatively small subset of the verbs that are eligible for regular passivization. While regular passivization is possible with intransitive, transitive and ditransitive verbs, krijgen-passivization requires the presence of an indirect object and is thus possible with ditransitive verbs only.

a. Er werd (door de jongens) gelachen.
regular passive
  there  was    by the boys  laughed
  '(translation unavailable in English)'
b. De hondTheme werd (door de jongens) geknuffeld.
regular passive
  the dog  was   by the boys  cuddled
  'The dog was cuddled (by the boys).'
c. De prijsTheme werd de meisjesgoal (door Jan) overhandigd.
regular passive
  the reward  was  the girls   by Jan  prt.-handed
  'The reward was handed to the girls (by Jan).'
c'. De meisjesgoal kregen de prijsTheme (door Jan) overhandigd.
  the girls  got  the reward   by Jan  prt.-handed
  'The girls were handed the reward (by Jan).'

The following subsections will show that, in other respects, krijgen-passivization is fairly productive and that the occurring restrictions on it are not as random as the literature normally suggests. In order to do this, we will divide the ditransitive verbs into four semantic subclasses on the basis of the semantic role of the indirect object: recipient/goal, source, benefactive and possessor, and we will see that, with the exception of sources, they all allow krijgen-passivization. After the discussion of these four subclasses, we will discuss a rather special case of the krijgen-passive that does not seem to have an active counterpart. We conclude the discussion with an apparent case of krijgen-passivization.

[+]  A.  Indirect object is the recipient/goal argument

Krijgen-passivization typically occurs with ditransitive verbs with a recipient/goal argument, that is, verbs denoting an event that involves or aims at the transmission of the referent of the theme argument to the referent of the indirect object. Two examples are given in (117).

a. Marie biedt hemgoal die boekenTheme aan.
  Marie  offers  him  those books  prt.
  'Marie is offering him those books.'
a'. Hij krijgt die boeken aangeboden.
  he  gets  those books  prt.-offered
  'He is offered those books.'
b. Jan overhandigde haargoal de prijsTheme.
  Jan handed  her  the reward
  'Jan handed her the reward.'
b'. Zij kreeg de prijs overhandigd.
  she  got  the reward  handed
  'She was handed the reward.'

We can include examples such as (118), which involve verbs of communication, by construing the term transmission in a broad sense, including transmission of information. An example such as (118b') is less common/frequent than its regular passive counterpart with a subject clause Er werd ons meegedeeld dat ...'It was communicated to us that ...', but it is certainly acceptable.

a. Jan las de kinderengoal een leuk verhaalTheme voor.
  Jan read  the children  a nice story  prt.
  'Jan read a nice story to the children.'
a'. De kinderen kregen een leuk verhaal voorgelezen.
  the children  got  a nice story  prt.-read
  'The children were read a nice story.'
b. Peter deelde onsgoal gisteren mee [dat hij ontslag neemt]Theme.
  Peter  informed  us  yesterday  prt.   that  he  resignation  takes
  'Peter told us yesterday that heʼll leave his job.'
b'. Wij kregen gisteren meegedeeld [dat hij ontslag neemt].
  we  got  yesterday  prt.-informed   that  he  resignation  takes
  'We were told yesterday that heʼll leave his job.'

All in all, it seems that the majority of ditransitive verbs with a recipient/goal argument can undergo krijgen-passivization. Example (119) provides a small sample of such verbs; see Van Leeuwen (2006: Table 2) for a more extensive list of verbs based on extensive corpus research.

Ditransitive verbs with a goal object allowing krijgen-passivization
a. Transmission verbs: aanbieden'to offer', aanreiken'to hand', betalen'to pay', bezorgen'to deliver', doneren'to donate', nabrengen'to deliver subsequently', opdragen'to dedicate', opleggen'to impose', opspelden'to pin on', overdragen'to hand over', overhandigen'to pass over', presenteren'to present', retourneren'to return', toedienen'to administer', toekennen'to assign', toemeten'to allot', toestoppen'to slip', toewijzen'to assign', uitbetalen'to pay out', uitreiken'to hand', vergoeden'to reimburse', voorschrijven'to prescribe', voorzetten'to serve', etc.Transmission verbs: aanbieden'to offer', aanreiken'to hand', betalen'to pay', bezorgen'to deliver', doneren'to donate', nabrengen'to deliver subsequently', opdragen'to dedicate', opleggen'to impose', opspelden'to pin on', overdragen'to hand over', overhandigen'to pass over', presenteren'to present', retourneren'to return', toedienen'to administer', toekennen'to assign', toemeten'to allot', toestoppen'to slip', toewijzen'to assign', uitbetalen'to pay out', uitreiken'to hand', vergoeden'to reimburse', voorschrijven'to prescribe', voorzetten'to serve', etc.
b. Communication verbs: bijbrengen'to teach', meedelen'to announce', onderwijzen'to teach', toewensen'to wish', uitleggen'to explain', vertellen'to tell', voorlezen'to read aloud'Communication verbs: bijbrengen'to teach', meedelen'to announce', onderwijzen'to teach', toewensen'to wish', uitleggen'to explain', vertellen'to tell', voorlezen'to read aloud'

It should be noted, however, that the verbs in (119a) must denote actual transmission of the theme argument in order to be able to undergo krijgen-passivization. This will become clear from the examples in (120): (120a) implies actual transmission of the package to Marie, and krijgen-passivization is possible; example (120b), on the other hand, is idiomatic and does not imply transmission of de rillingen, and krijgen-passivization is excluded.

a. Jan bezorgde Marie/haar het pakje.
  Jan delivered  Marie/her  the package
  'Jan brought Marie the package.'
a'. Marie/Zij kreeg het pakje bezorgd.
  Marie/she  got  the package  delivered
  'Marie was brought the package.'
b. De heks bezorgde Marie/haar de koude rillingen.
  the witch  delivered  Marie/her  the cold shivers
  'The witch gave Marie the creeps.'
b'. * Marie/Zij kreeg de koude rillingen bezorgd.
  Marie/she  got  the cold shivers  delivered

      Although the two lists in (119) show that krijgen-passivization is quite productive with ditransitive verbs with a recipient/goal argument, it is still true that a small subset of such verbs does not allow it. Example (121) provides a sample, which includes the proto-typical ditransitive verb geven'to give'.

Ditransitive verbs with a goal object not allowing krijgen-passivization
a. Transmission verbs: geven'to give', schenken'to offer', sturen'to send', verschaffen'to provide', zenden'to send'
b. Communication verbs: schrijven'to write', vertellen'to tell/narrate', zeggen'to say'

The first question that we want to raise is: Why is it precisely the prototypical ditransitive verb geven'to give' that resists krijgen-passivization? When we compare geven to the verbs in (119a), we see that this verb is special in that it is neutral with respect to the mode of transmission; whereas all verbs in (119a) make to a certain extent explicit how the transmission is brought about, geven does not. As a result, the krijgen-passive in (122b) may be blocked by the simpler construction in (122c), which is also neutral with respect to the mode of transmission.

a. Jan geeft de kinderengoal een cadeautjeTheme.
  Jan gives  the children  a present
  'Jan is giving the children a present.'
b. * De kinderengoal kregen een cadeautjeTheme gegeven.
  the children  got  a present  given
c. De kinderen kregen een cadeautje.
  the children  got  a present
  'The children were given/got a present.'

In this context, it is interesting to observe that adding meaning to the verb geven by combining it with a verbal particle improves the acceptability of examples such as (122b). Apparently, the particle adds sufficient information about the mode of transmission to license krijgen-passivization.

a. Marie gaf hemgoal het zoutTheme door/aan.
  Marie  gave  him  the salt  prt./prt.
  'Marie passed/handed him the salt.'
b. Hijgoal kreeg het zoutTheme door/?aan gegeven.
  he  got  the salt  prt./prt.  given
  'He was handed the salt.'

Although this may be less conspicuous than in the case with geven, the other transmission verbs in (121a) also seem more or less neutral with respect to the mode of transmission. And, like geven, the verbs sturen'to send' and zenden'to send' do allow krijgen-passivization if a particle is added. This is shown for sturen in (124); see also Colleman (2006:264).

a. Els stuurde Mariegoal een mooie briefTheme (toe).
  Els sent  Marie  a beautiful letter   prt.
  'Els sent Marie a beautiful letter.'
b. Mariegoal kreeg een mooie briefTheme *(toe) gestuurd.
  Marie  got  a beautiful letter     prt.  sent
  'Marie was sent a beautiful letter.'

We therefore conclude that krijgen-passivization is fully productive with verbs of transmission and communication provided that they specify the mode of transmission.

[+]  B.  Indirect object is the source

The examples in (125) show that krijgen-passivization contrasts sharply with regular passivization if the indirect object is a source, that is, the argument where the transmitted theme originates. Whereas regular passivization is fully acceptable, krijgen-passivization gives rise to an unacceptable result (although it is possible in certain regional varieties of Dutch; see Broekhuis & Cornips (2012).

a. Jan pakte Marie/haarSource het boekTheme af.
  Jan took  Marie/her  het book  prt.
  'Jan took the book from Marie.'
b. * Marie/zijSource kreeg het boekTheme afgepakt.
  Marie/she  got  the book  prt.-taken
c. Het boekTheme werd Marie/haarSource afgepakt.
regular passive
  the book  was  Marie/her  prt.-take
  'The book was taken from Marie.'

Colleman (2006:265) suggests that the impossibility of examples such as (125b) is due to the fact that the intended interpretation is incompatible with the meaning of the main verb krijgen'to receive', and he suggests that this also accounts for the fact that verbs expressing a denial of transmission like onthouden'to withhold', ontzeggen'to refuse' and weigeren'to refuse' resist krijgen-passivization as well; cf. (126b). Note that regular passivization is again acceptable.

a. Jan weigerde haar het boek.
  Jan refused  her  the book
  'Jan denied her the book.'
b. * Zij kreeg het boek geweigerd.
  she got  the book  refused
c. Het boek werd haar geweigerd.
regular passive
  the book  was  her  refused
  'She was denied the book.'

It is not clear, however, whether Colleman's claim can be fully maintained given that it is not hard to find examples with weigeren/ontzeggen'to refuse' on the internet that are also accepted by our Standard Dutch informants; some adapted/simplified examples are given in (127).

a. dat hij een levensverzekering geweigerd kreeg.
  that  he  a life insurance  refused  got
  'that he was refused life insurance.'
b. [een kliniek] waar een kankerpatiënt een abortus geweigerd kreeg
  a clinic  where  a cancer.patient  an abortion  refused  got
  '[a clinic] where a cancer patient was refused an abortion'
c. dat hij de toegang ontzegd kreeg.
  that  he  the entrance  denied  got
  'that he was denied entrance.'
d. Zulke ouders mogen de voogdij ontzegd krijgen.
  such parents  may  the guardianship  deprived  got
  'Such parents may be deprived of guardianship.'
[+]  C.  Indirect object is a benefactive

There is an extremely small set of verbs in Standard Dutch that take a benefactive indirect object. The prototypical example is inschenken'to pour in' in (128a). As can be seen in (128a'), this verb allows krijgen-passivization. The benefactive is normally optional in Dutch, although the verb kwijtschelden'to remit' in (128b) seems to be an exception to this rule. Note that these examples do not necessarily involve a goal argument given that the pronoun in the (b)-examples is not the recipient of the direct object.

a. Jan schenkt Elsbenefactive een kop koffieTheme in.
  Jan  pours  Els  a cup coffee  prt.
  'Jan pours Els a cup of coffee.'
a'. Elsbenefactive krijgt een kop koffieTheme ingeschonken.
  Els  gets  a cup coffee  prt.-poured
  'Els was poured a cup of coffee (by Jan).'
b. De gemeente schold hem de belasting kwijt.
  the municipality  remitted  him  the taxes  prt.
  'The municipality remitted his taxes.'
b'. Hij kreeg de belasting kwijtgescholden.
  he  got  the taxes  prt.-remitted
  'His taxes were remitted.'
[+]  D.  Indirect object is a possessor

The examples in (129) show that krijgen-passivization is also allowed with inalienable possession constructions, that is, with constructions in which the indirect object acts as an inalienable possessor of the complement of a locational PP; See Section for more extensive discussion.

a. Marie zet hempossessor het kind op de knie.
  Marie puts  him  the child  on the knee
  'Marie is putting the child on his knee.'
b. Hijpossessor krijgt het kind op de knie gezet.
  he  gets  the child  on the knee  put
  'The child was put on his knee.'

The direction of transmission of the theme also plays a role in this case: in (129a), the theme is transmitted to the referent of the indirect object, which therefore also acts as a kind of recipient, and krijgen-passivization is possible; in (130a), on the other hand, the theme is removed from the referent of the indirect object, which therefore also acts as a kind of source, and krijgen-passivization is excluded in Standard (but possible in certain regional varieties of) Dutch.

a. Peter trekt hempossessor een haar uit zijn baard.
  Peter pulls  him  a hair  out.of his beard
  'Peter pulls a hair out of his beard.'
b. * Hij krijgt een haar uit zijn baard getrokken.
  he  gets  a hair  out.of his beard  pulled
  'Someone (Peter) pulls a hair out of his beard.'
[+]  E.  A special case of the krijgen-passive

The previous subsections have discussed the krijgen-passive of several types of ditransitive verbs. This subsection discusses a special case of krijgen-passivization, which is illustrated in the primed examples in (131); cf. Janssen (1976:12). These examples are remarkable given that the corresponding active constructions in the primeless examples do not contain an indirect object.

a. Ik stuur de hond op hem af.
  send  the dog  on him  prt.
  'I set the dog on him.'
a'. Hij kreeg de hond op zich afgestuurd.
  he  got  the dog  on refl  prt.-sent
b. Peter heeft een pakje naar Els toegestuurd.
  Peter has  a package  to Els  prt. sent
  'Peter sent a package to Els.'
b'. Els kreeg een pakje naar zich toegestuurd.
  Els got  a package  to refl  prt.-sent

If the primed examples of (131) were derived by promotion of an indirect object, we would expect the examples in (132) to be acceptable, but they are not.

a. * Ik stuur hem de hond op zich af.
  send  him  the dog  on refl  prt.
b. * Peter heeft Els een pakje naar zich toegestuurd.
  Peter  has  Els a package  to refl  prt.-sent

To our knowledge, the unacceptability of examples such as (132) has not been discussed in the literature. We leave this for future research while suggesting that the ungrammaticality of the examples in (132) may be due to the fact illustrated by (133) that the simplex reflexive zich is normally subject-oriented and therefore cannot be construed with the indirect object in these examples.

a. Jan legt het boek voor zich.
  Jan puts  the book  in.front.of  refl
  'Jan is putting the book in front of himself.'
b. Jan houdt de honden bij zich.
  Jan keeps  the dogs  with refl
  'Jan is keeping the dogs near him.'

The requirement that the subject of the simplex reflexive be a subject is satisfied in the primed examples in (131), but not in the examples in (132).

[+]  F.  An apparent case of krijgen-passivization

It is important to note that not all clauses with krijgen and a participle can mechanically be analyzed as krijgen-passives. Example (134a), for instance, involves the main verb krijgen, discussed in Section 2.1.4, and the optional participle gewassen may function as a supplementive that modifies the direct object de glazen'the glasses'. In fact, example (134a) is ambiguous and can also be construed as a resultative construction with the participle functioning as a complementive that is predicated of the accusative DP de glazen. This reading is less prominent, but can be highlighted by using adverbial phrases like gemakkelijk'easily' or met moeite'with difficulty'; see Section A6.2.1, sub II, for a more extensive discussion of this construction. That the participle gewassen in (134) is not a passive participle is also supported by the fact that it can be replaced by an adjective like schoon'clean'.

a. Jan krijgt de glazenacc (gewassen/schoon).
  Jan  received  the glasses   washed/clean
  'Jan received the glasses while they were washed/clean.'
b. Jan krijgt de glazen gemakkelijk/met moeite gewassen/schoon.
  Jan gets  the glasses  easily/with difficulty  washed/clean
  'Jan is having (no) difficulties in getting the glasses washed/clean.'
[+]  G.  Conclusion

The previous subsections have shown that krijgen-passivization is a fairly productive rule, although there are a number of systematic constraints on its application in Standard Dutch. Verbs of transmission (including those of communication) can normally be passivized with krijgen provided that two conditions are met: (i) the verb indicates what the mode of transmission is, and (ii) the referent of the indirect object is the recipient/goal (and not the source) of transmission. Further, we have seen that krijgen-passivization is possible with more than one type of indirect object: recipients/goals, beneficiaries and possessives can all be promoted to subject under krijgen-passivization; only sources are exempt from this process. This suggests that, contrary to what is normally assumed, krijgen-passivization is a productive syntactic rule, just like the "regular" form of passivization.

[+]  II.  The role of the auxiliary