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Strong agreement on quantifiers

The definite and demonstrative articles, while triggering weak agreement, themselves exhibit irregular strong agreement. Other singular quantifiers exhibit regular strong agreement, except for the indefinite article, the negative article and numerals. The latter do not display strong agreement. For singular quantifiers ending in schwa it cannot be ascertained whether they display strong agreement or not. This is the case with the negative polarity element folle many, much.


Singular quantifiers displaying strong agreement include hok which, sok such, elk each. The quantifier elk each is inherently singular. Hence a minimal pair for gender can be construed, but not for number, which is shown in the examples below:

Example 1

a. Elke tûk-e feint
each smart.CG young.man
Each smart young man
b. Elk tûk feintsje
each smart.NG young.man
Each smart young man

Interrogative hok which' itself also displays strong agreement as well as triggering strong agreement on the following adjective(s). The possibilities are sketched in the examples (2) and (3).

Minimal pair for the feature number, given a neuter noun:

Example 2

a. Hok grut grien hûs?
which.SG big green house.SG
Which big green house?
b. Hokke grutte griene huzen?
which.PL big green houses.PL
Which big green houses?

Minimal pair for the feature gender:

Example 3

a. Hok grut moai hûs?
which.NG big nice house.NG
Which big nice house?
b. Hokke grutte moaie taal?
which.CG big nice language.CG
Which big nice language?

There also exists a synonymous form hokker which, which does not exhibit any agreement. Exclamative hok in the expression hok in what a does not exhibit any attributive agreement, which may be related to the presence of the following indefinite article:

Example 4

a. Hok in nocht
what a pleasure.CG
What a pleasure
b. *Hokke in nocht
what a pleasure.CG
What a pleasure

The indefinite article lacks the feature singular in the phrase hok in what a, seeing that it co-occurs with a plural noun:

Example 5

a. Hok in grut grien hûs
what a big green house.SG
What a big green house
b. Hok in grutte griene huzen
what a big green houses.PL
What big green houses

The quantifier sok such also displays strong agreement, various possibilities are provided below.

Minimal pair for the feature gender, given a singular noun:

Example 6

a. Sokke bûter
such.CG butter.CG
such butterS
b. Sok bier
such.NG beer.NG
Such beer

Minimal pair for the feature number, given a neuter noun:

Example 7

a. *Sok man-tsje
such.NG man.DIM.NG
Such a man
b. Sokke man-tsje-s
such.PL man.DIM.PL
Such men

For count nouns, the combination with the indefinite article must be used, but in this case sok such does not exhibit any agreement, due to the presence of the indefinite article:

Example 8

a. *Sok tebeksetter
such disappointment.CG
Such a disappointment
b. Sok in tebeksetter
such a disappointment.CG
Such a disappointment

The quantifiers somlike some, ûnderskate various, ferskillende several are inherently plural. The quantifier alle all may occur with singular mass nouns, but not with singular count nouns, as shown in the examples below.

Minimal pair mass noun versus count noun:

Example 9

a. Alle bier
all beer.NG
All the beer
b. *Alle boek
all book.NG
Lit: All books

The quantifier alle all does not lose its schwa in the presence of a neuter singular, that is, it does not undergo strong agreement like elk each.

Minimal pair absence versus presence of strong agreement:

Example 10

a. Alle bier
all beer.NG
All the beer
b. *Al bier
all beer.NG
All the beer

The form al all may show up before any definite article or demonstrative:

Example 11

a. Al it bier
all the beer
All the beer
b. Al de bûter
all the butter
All the butter
c. Al de jonges
all the boys
All the boys

When they follow quantifiers triggering strong agreement, all adjectives display strong agreement, regardless of whether the quantifier itself conforms to it. The following examples involve a quantifier with attributive agreement:

Example 12

a. Sok smoarch útlânsk bier
such dirty foreign beer
Such dirty foreign beer
b. Sokke lekkere útlânske tee
such delicious foreign tea
Such delicious foreign tea

The following examples involve a quantifier without attributive agreement:

Example 13

a. In protte smoarch útlânsk bier
a lot dirty foreign beer
A lot of dirty foreign beer
b. In protte lekkere útlânske tee
a lot delicious foreign tea
A lot of delicious foreign tea

Although adjectives may bear strong agreement, they do not themselves trigger strong agreement on following adjectives, as quantifiers do.

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More details can be found in Hoekstra (2005).

  • Hoekstra, Eric2005Hokker?Friesch Dagblad12-11Taalgenoat en taalgeniet 67