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The suffix -en occurs with adverbs. Its main function seems to be to mark the adverbial status of the derivation. An example is dalik immediately next to daliken immediately. Besides adverbial bases, phrasal bases are possible as well, often consisting of a preposition plus noun, as in fanneden [[fan](P)[need](N)]]en of-need-en necessarily. The suffix is unproductive and infrequent when compared to its cognate -s. Nevertheless, one can find some cases of stacking of these two adverbial suffixes.

[+]General properties

Bases can be adverbs, but also phrases. This is more or less parallel to the suffix -s. In addition, -en also seems to have the same function, which is to mark or strengthen the adverbial status of the word. With phrasal bases, the suffix also marks the transition of phrase to word. The latter is often reflected in the orthography, which is without spaces.

The suffix is not productive, and often there is not a transparent base available. The existence of the suffix can then be shown on historical and/or comparative grounds. An example is harren hither, related to hjir here and the German cognate her.

[+]Adverb as base

If the base is an adverb, the addition of the suffix is basically optional. There is no semantic effect. Here are some examples:

Table 1
Base Derivation
altyd always altiten always
dalik immedialtely daliken immediately
einlik actually einliken actually
faak often faken often
obsternaat obstinately obsternaten obstinately
omraak heavily omraken heavily
It appears that the suffix is relatively easily attached to bases ending in the suffix -lik; other examples are feitliken in fact or winliken actually.

[+]Phrase as base

There are also bases that can be considered phrases. This is mostly an adposition phrase (PP), mainly a rudimentac one in that it only consists of a preposition and a noun. Articles or adjectives do not occur, although we do sometimes find an adjective instead of a noun, as in ynkoarten, with the adjective koart short. If the phrase is a noun phrase (NP), than the noun is usually preceded by a quantifier, as in iderkearen every time. Here are some examples:

Table 2
Derivation Phrase Gloss
binnendoarren inside (the house) [[binnen](P) [doar](N)](PP) inside door
fanneden necessarily [[fan](P) [need](N)](PP) of need
iderkearen every time [[idere](Q) [kear](N)](NP) every time
ynkoarten soon [[yn](P) [koart](A)](PP) in short
ûnderwilen meanwhile [[ûnder](P) [wyl](N)](PP) under while
Mostly, the attachment of -en to phrases is obligatory, but this is not always the case. For example, next to binnendoarren inside (the house), also binnendoar exists. It is not a priori excluded that in such a case -en could also represent theregular plural morpheme.

It should be noted that Dutch lacks this suffix -en. Dutch, on the other hand, often shows an ending -e in similar phrasal expressions. Examples are fan fierren from afar, where Dutch has van verre, and fan herten heartily which is Dutch van harte. However, we see a suffix -en in Dutch after cardinal numbers in some prepositional constructions. The Frisian counterparts are dealt with in the topic on cardinal numbers, to be precise in the sections on cardinals as clocktimes, cardinals as persons and cardinals as parts.


When compared to non-derived variants, the formations ending in -en are often infrequent. Those after the suffix -lik, like daliken soon or winliken actually, seem to have a bias in the northeast of the language area. In the written language, variants with -en are often used in an elevated style. An example is faken often next to common faak.

[+]The suffix -s and stacking

As stated above, the adverbial suffix -s has mainly the same function as -en. The impression exists that -s is more widespread, i.e. it is attached to far more bases. Where we do find -en, -s is often also available, and if the two are competing then -s is mostly more common. For example, the form daliks immediately is more frequent than daliken.

Even rarer is the phenomenon that the two suffixes are stacked, although it must be said that there are cases in which the stacked variant is the only one possible. An example of the latter is the expression om ut-en-s around out-SUFF-SUFF abroad, i.e. outside Friesland. Neither *om uten nor *om úts exists.

In stacking, both orders may be found. The order -en-s, for example, can be seen in ûnderwil-en-s meanwhile, omheg-en-s upward, út 'en read-en-s reddish, and probably also in mei gauw-en-s soon, although Veen (1984-2011) analyzes this as a single attachment of the nominalizing suffix -ens. The other order, i.e. -s-en, is really rare. We find it in ein-s-en actually, (net) ien-s-en (not) only, and also in jin-s-en over there, with a historical demonstrative stem jin (cf. German jen-).

[+]Phonological properties

The suffix is pronounced as [ən], with all its inherent possibilities, as for instance sonantization. The suffix is cohering, with a possible exception in altiten always and hyltiten always, which is formed from tiid time. This might lead one to expect an intermediate /d/. However, the base has probably become opaque, since the long /i:/ of tiid has also become shortened in the base altyd and hyltyd (also reflected in the spelling y). As a result, the surface final segment [t], a result of final devoicing, will also have become voiceless inherently.

[hide extra information]

The existence of this ending has briefly been noticed in Hoekstra (1990). The possibility of stacking is pointed out in Hoekstra (1993).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1990Fan hertenFriesch Dagblad04-08Taalsnipels 194
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1993Om utensFriesch Dagblad06-02Taalsnipels 248
  • Veen, Klaas F. van der et al1984-2011Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal - Woordenboek der Friese taalFryske Akademy