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-ing is an unstressed, productive, Germanic cohering suffix that derives nouns from verbs. In a few cases, nouns can also function as base. Adjectives are even rarer (a possible case is festing fortress from fêst fixed), and there is only one example with an adverbial base. Verbal bases create action nouns, but some -ing formations (only or also) acquire a more concrete meaning as a result of a secondary shift. A few examples are lêze to read > lêzing lecture, feroarje to change > feroaring change and oersette to translate > oersetting translation. The derived nouns have common gender. Other nominalizations may block derivation with -ing, for example *komming due to the existence of komst coming. Derivations with -ing are special in that they are wavering in their choice of the plural suffix -en or -s.

[+]General properties

The suffix -ing is pronounced as [Iŋ], but sometimes also weakened to [əŋ]. The suffix does not bear stress. All -ing derivations have common gender, and hence take the definite article de.

[+]Verb as base

Derivation of nouns with a verbal base is productive. Examples are given in the table below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
boarje to bore boarring boring
driigje to threaten driging threat
fiele to feel fieling feeling
mislearje to fail mislearring failure
betiizje to confuse betizing confusion
ûntheisterje to upset ûntheistering desperation
oanbiede to offer oanbieding special offer
ôfwike to deviate (from) ôfwiking deviation
útwreidzje to expand útwreiding expansion
[+]Semantic properties

With respect to verbal bases, derivations in -ing may often be strict action nouns, just like the nominal infinitives in -en. However, in order to derive action nouns Frisian has a very strong preference for the nominal infinitive. This is in contrast to Dutch, in which this preference is much weaker, if it exists at all. Compare the following sentences in which Dutch and Frisian examples are given:

Example 1

a. het veranderen / de verandering van het klimaat
the changing / the changement of the climate
climate change
a.' it feroarjen / *?de feroaring fan it klimaat
the changing / the changement of the climate
the change of the climate
b. de bespreking / het bespreken van de problemen
the discussion / the discussing of the problems
the discussion of the problems
b.' it besprekken / *?de besprekking fan 'e swierrichheden
the discussing / the discussion of the problems
the discussion of the problems
c. het verbreken / de verbreking van de diplomatieke betrekkingen
the break.up / the breaking of the diplomatic relations
the breaking up of the diplomatic relations
c.' it ferbrekken / *?de ferbrekking fan 'e diplomatike ferbiningen
the break.up / the breaking of the diplomatic relations
the breaking up of the diplomatic relations
d. het vertalen / de vertaling van kinderboeken
the translating / the translation of children.books
the translation of children's books
d.' it oersetten / *?de oersetting fan berneboeken
the translating / the translation of children.books
the translation of children's books

In contrast to nominal infinitives in -en, derivations in -ing undergo semantic specialisation on a large scale. In Frisian this is even clearer than in Dutch, due to the fact that the portion of Frisian -ing-derivations that is used as absolute action nouns is limited. So, next to the -ing-derivations which express an action noun proper, one can find derivations which denote the agent of the action, for example as in beweging movement, betsjinning service or feriening society. Examples of derivations denoting the patient an action are utering utterance, oersetting translation and útstalling exhibition. Instrument names are freding fence, fuorring lining or ferwaarming heater.

[+]Noun as base

In a few cases, the suffix -ing can derive nouns on the basis of other nouns. The most important examples are the following:

Table 2
Base Derivation
hûs house huzing housing
hiem yard hieming yard
lûd sound lûding sound
tiid time tiding message
bêd bed bêding bed(ding)
keat link keatting chain
ies bait iezing school (of fishes)

Although this is not quite clear in all the existing cases, the semantic contribution seems to be something like collectiveness. The words huzing housing and hieming yard are used especially in a legal context.

[+]Adjective as base

Derivation of -ing from an adjectival base is even rarer. The clearest example is fêst fixed > fêsting fortress, although it is questionable whether this derivation is transparant for all speakers. An example in the same semantic vein is feiliging protection from feilich save. Alternatively, it could also be argued that such formations are derived from the verbs fêstje to fix and feiligje to protect. Such verbs could have been derived by way of conversion from the adjectives fêst fixed and feilich save, respectively.

[+]Adverb as base

There is only one example in which we see an adverb functioning as base: del down > delling valley.

[+]Opaque bases

In a number of cases, the base form of the derivation is opaque. Examples are huning honey, kening king, hjerring herring, gading taste and felling rim.


The suffix -ing has a variant -inge, which, however, will now be obsolete in the spoken language. In the written language the variant -inge belongs to the elevated style. Next to for example wijing consecration (< wije to consecrate), haaiïng haymaking (< haaie to make hay) and huzing housing (< hûs house) one can find the forms wijinge consecration, haaiïnge haymaking and huzinge housing. In a few cases, the variant -inge is lexicalized and therefore has survived, for example rispinge harvest, from rispje to harvest (but also risping harvest exists) and printinge printing, from the verb printsje to print. The noun tynge news is a shortening (with deletion of medial /d/) of tidinge news.

In some derivations in which the base form ends in /k/ or /g/, the suffix -ing is replaced by, or possibly reanalyzed as -en, possibly as a result of dissimilation. Thus next to bokking kipper we can find bokken kipper, next to siging breeze we have sigen breeze (< siigje to breeze) and instead of *hantrekking we find hantrekken helping hand.


It seems that derivations in -ing can be blocked by other action nouns. One could argue that words like *komming, *dwaning and *farring are unacceptable because of the existence of formations like komst arrival, died action and feart speed, respectively.

The fact that -ing derivations undergo competition from such lexicalized action nouns might be a consequence of their inherent tendency towards lexicalization. If contrastive pairs of -ing derivations with a different lexicalized action noun are found, then there is often a semantic or stylistic difference. Compare for example rop call with ropping vocation, brek break with brekking breaking, winst profit with winning extraction and ferjeffenis forgiveness with ferjouwing forgiveness.

[+]Morphological properties

Nouns ending in -ing regularly take the allomorph -kje as their diminutive suffix, e.g. hjerring herring > hjerrinkje. As to pluralization, both plural suffixes, i.e. -en and -s, are possible. More information on this issue, with additional literature, can be found variation of -en and -s.

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This topic is mainly based on Hoekstra (1998:117-118).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy