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-baar (ADJZ)
Table 1
Formal category Suffix
Functional category Adjectiviser (ADJZ)
Orthographic form -baar (e.g. lees·baar readable; vloei·baar fluid, liquid)
Phonological form /bar/
Phonological properties
  • Non-cohering
  • Stress-shifting (fixing)
Allomorphs None
Semantic properties (meaning)
  • Where base is a transitive verb: [possible to be SEM(V.TR.PASS)] (lees·baar readable)
  • Where base is an intransitive verb: [possible to SEM(V.INTR)] (vloei·baar fluid, liquid)
Input restrictions: categories
  • Verb (V)
  • In a few cases it is arguable whether the input is a verb or noun, e.g. dank·baar thankful
  • In a handful of exceptions the base is a noun, e.g. vrug·baar fruit·ADJZ fertile
  • A number of cases should be considered lexicalised and unanalysable, e.g. dier·baar dear
Input restrictions: stratum Germanic, although words (not roots) from the Classic stratum could also serve as bases (registreer·baar register·ADJZ registrable)
Output: categories Adjectives (ADJ)
Output: morphological potential
  • Available for suffixation with -heid (dank·baar·heid thank·ADJZ·NMLZ thankfulness)
  • Available for negative prefixes (e.g. on- or nie-)
  • Available for attributive -e
  • Depending on the semantics, it is also available for degrees of comparison with -er (always with the interfix -d-) and -ste
  • [[x](V)[baar](ADJZ)](A) (lees·baar readable)
  • Sub-schema: [[x...eer](V)[baar](ADJZ)](ADJ) (registreer·baar registrable)
  • Fully productive
  • Competes with -lik (e.g. aan+skou·lik worth seeing)
Etymology (stratum) Germanic
English equivalent -able
Dutch equivalent -baar

Afrikaans -baar behaves the same as Dutch -baar.

This description of -baar is based by and large on Kempen (1969:431-434), and De Haas and Trommelen (1993:291-294).

[+]Phonological and orthographic properties

The suffix -baar is a non-cohering suffix as it behaves as a phonological word on its own (e.g. eet·baar eat·ADJZ edible).

It is stress fixing, implying that the last syllable before the suffix is usually stressed. Polysyllabic bases with initial stress are usually assigned a new stress pattern (e.g. toe·laat /ˈtu.lat/ permit > toe·laat·baar /tuˈlat.bar/ permissible). This regularity holds for all particle verbs (e.g. in·lê /ˈən.lɛ/ preserve > in·lê·baar /ənˈlɛ.bar/ preservable), as opposed to prefixed verbs which keep their stress pattern (e.g. weer·lê /verˈlɛ/ disprove > weer·lê·baar /verˈlɛ.bar/ disprovable). We find exceptions in compounds such as onder·ver·huur·baar /ˈɔn.dər.fər.ɦyr.bar/ sublettable, which retain their stress pattern even after addition of -baar.

[+]Semantic properties

The relation between the base and the resulting adjective is consistent: -baar always expresses some kind of possibility. Some -baar-adjectives have a slightly idiosyncratic meaning, e.g. betaal·baar payable, affordable whose literal meaning payable is superseded by the conventionalised meaning affordable(Hüning and Van Santen 1994; Kempen 1969; Van Marle 1984).

The following meanings can be observed, depending on the nature of the base:

  • Transitive verb: [possible to be SEM(V.TR.PASS)], e.g. eet·baar eat·ADJZ edible; smeer·baar spread·ADJZ spreadable
    • With ditransitive verb: adress·eer·baar address·VBZ·ADJZ addressable
    • With verb with prepositional object: luister·baar listen·ADJZ listenable
  • Intransitive (unaccusative) verb: [possible to SEM(V.INTR)], e.g. vloei·baar flow·ADJZ fluid, liquid; leef·baar live·ADJZ liveable; ont·vlam·baar VBZ·flame·ADJZ inflammable

Kempen (1969:432-433) makes some finer, additional distinctions between the meanings for -baar derivations:

  • Transitive verb: [which become(AUX.PASS.PRS) SEM(V.TR.PASS)] (e.g. aanbeveel·baar [which become recommended] recommend·ADJZ recommendable); [which deserves to be SEM(V.TR.PASS)] (e.g. aanbid·baar [which deserves to be adored] adore·ADJZ adorable)
  • Intransitive verb: [which SEM(V.INTR)] (e.g. blyk·baar [which appears] appear·ADJZ apparent)
  • Noun: [suitable for SEM(N)] (e.g. diens·baar [suitable for service] service·ADJZ subservient); [which produces SEM(N)] (e.g. vrug·baar [which produces fruit] fruit·ADJZ fertile)

Kempen (1969:433) also classifies the verb bases of -baar derivations in the following categories:

  • Spiritual/cognitive and bodily activities: aflei·baar derive·ADJZ derivable
  • Movement or non-movement: beskik·baar dispose·ADJZ disposable
  • Scientific processes: fermenteer·baar ferment·ADJZ fermentable
  • Language-related activities: lees·baar read·ADJZ readable
  • Legal concepts: toereken·baar impute·ADJZ imputable

Negated forms inherit the particular semantics of their base: drink·baar drinkable often means pleasant to drink rather than possible to drink; consequently, on·drink·baar undrinkable usually means unpleasant to drink rather than unsafe to drink.

When the semantics allows it, -baar adjectives can appear in the comparative and the superlative: hierdie klere is betaal·baar·d·er these clothes are more affordable.


The suffix -baar productively forms adjectives out of transitive verbs (including ditransitive verbs, and verbs with prepositional objects), and intransitive (unaccusative) verbs.

In a few cases it is arguable whether the input is a verb or noun: dank·baar thankful; diens·baar serviceable; eer·baar honourable; kos·baar valuable; skyn·baar apparent; stryd·baar militant; and wonder·baar miraculous.

In a handful of exceptions the base is a noun: aksyns·baar excise·ADJZ excisable; middel·baar middle·ADJZ secondary, average, medium; sig·baar sight·ADJZ visible; and vrug·baar fruit·ADJZ fertile. In the latter case we note something of the etymology of -baar: Its original meaning was to bear; bearing; hence, vrug·baar literally means to bear fruit; fruit-bearing.

A number of cases should be considered lexicalised and unanalisable: bruik·baar usable (where bruik- is a dependent stem); dier·baar dear; op·en·baar public; rug·baar known; and sonder·baar eccentric, strange.

The bases that -baar attaches to are mostly Germanic (e.g. brand·baar burn·ADJZ flammable). It also attaches to words (but not roots) from the Classic stratum (e.g. reduseer·baar reduce·ADJZ reducible). Bases can be simplexes (e.g. aai·baar pet·ADJZ pettable), or complexes (e.g. aan·raak·baar [[[aan](PREP.PTCL)[raak](V)](V)[baar](ADJZ)](ADJ) at·touch·ADJZ touchable; analis·eer·baar [[[analis](root)[eer](VBZ)](V)[baar](ADJZ)](ADJ) analys·VBZ·ADJZ analysable).


-baar is an adjectiviser. Words ending in -baar can usually not function as adverbs.

Adjectives in -baar are available for further derivation by means of -heid (e.g. lees·baar·heid [[[lees](V)[baar](ADJZ)](ADJ)[heid](NMLZ)](N) readability).

Derived forms with negative prefixes occur regularly, such as on- (e.g. on·lees·baar unreadable); and nie- (e.g. nie·-·oor·draag·baar non-transferable). Some -baar adjectives beginning with the negative prefix on- lack a positive form without this prefix (on·ontkom·baar CN·escape·ADJZ inescapable vs. ?ontkom·baar escapable).

Prenominal attributive adjectives in -baar are always inflected with the attributive -e (e.g. lees·bar·e boek readable book).

Depending on the semantics, it is also available for degrees of comparison with -er (always with the interfix -d-, e.g. betroubaar·d·er reliable·LK·CMPR more reliable), and -ste, e.g. betroubaar·ste reliable·SUPL most reliable.

[+]Schema(ta) and/or paradigm(s)
  1. [[x](V)baar](A)

    -baar combines with transitive verbs and intransitive verbs:

  2. [[x...eer](V)[baar](ADJZ)](ADJ)

    Since -baar often attaches to verbs from the Classic stratum, we could also identify a productive subschema for verbs ending in -eer. Note that, unlike in English, -baar attaches to the word (stem) and not to the Classic root.


The suffix -baar is fully productive (Kempen 1969:431).

-baar often competes with -lik, sometimes with the same meaning, sometimes with subtle differences in meaning, and sometimes not interchangeable.

Johanna was om begryp·lik·e redes versigtig in haar verslaghouding in haar dagboek.
Johanna was for understand·ADJZ·ATTR reasons careful in her reporting in her diary
For understandable reasons, Johanna was careful in her reporting in her diary.
[The words begryp·lik and begryp·baar are fully synonymous and interchangeable; see for instance HAT]
... dat die kontrak met die inwoners so gewysig sal word dat dit vir 'n moontlike koper uitvoer·baar en aanneem·lik sal wees.
... that the contract with the occupants so changed shall become.AUX.PASS.PRS that it for a potential buyer execute·ADJZ and accept·ADJZ shall be
... that the contract with the occupants shall be changed so that it shall be executable and reasonable for a potential buyer.
[In the case of uitvoer·baar executable a competing form *uitvoer·lik does not exist. With regard to aanneem·lik vs. aanneem·baar, we notice an overlap between the meanings plausible and acceptable, but only aanneem·lik has the meanings reasonable; credible; viable,  feasible; admissible, while only aanneem·baar means adoptable; assumable; see for example PAEEA]

Afrikaans -baar relates to Dutch -baar, and can be traced back via the Middle Dutch adjective bare, and Old High German bâri, belonging to the Old Germanic beran, which meant (suitable for) bearing (WNT). In as such it relates to the verbs baar (Afrikaans), baren (Dutch), and bear (English).

  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Hüning, Matthias & Santen, Ariane van1994Produktiviteitsveranderingen, de adjectieven op -lijk en -baarLeuvense Bijdragen831-29
  • Marle, Jaap van1984A Case of Morphological Elaboration: the History of Dutch -baarFolia Linguistica Historica9213-34
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