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Participles and infinitives as adjectives

The verbal paradigm has three forms which may be used in positions in which adjectives appear:

  • Past participles such as geteken signed in getekende vorm signed form
  • Present participles such as gietend pouring in gietende reën pouring rain
  • Infinitives preceded by te to or om + te for.COMP + PTCL.INF in die te stigte organisasie the organisation to be formed

Depending on the verbal base form, these forms may or may not appear in the following four constructions, which are referred to as the four adjectival key constructions:

  • Attributive construction, as in 'n sprankelende persoonlikheid a sparkling personality
  • Complementive predicative construction, as in Sy lyk sprankelend in geel. She looks sparkling in yellow.
  • Adverbial construction, as in Hy vertolk sy rol sprankelend. he interpret his role scintillating He gives a scintillating interpretation of his role.
  • Partitive construction, as in Hy gewaar iets verbasends. He detects something amazing.

In comparison to Dutch, participles in Afrikaans have a relatively restricted use as part of transitive and intransitive verb phrases. While both present and past participles have a comparable structure, use of the participles, both verbal and adjectival, differs in important respects.

Firstly, the past tense of essentially all main verbs is composed of an auxiliary plus a weak verb version of the past participle, according to the structure het plus ge- plus stem, such as het gekoop have.AUX bought has/have bought. However, for many verbs in Afrikaans there exist both a "weak" participle and a "strong" participle, in the sense that the past participle of the corresponding strong verb in Dutch has been retained for adjectival use. Such participles have also been orthographically adapted to the pronunciation of Afrikaans, such as 'n geskrewe brief a written letter, in comparison to Sy het 'n brief geskryf. she has a letter written She wrote / has written a letter.

Secondly, the present participle follows the pattern encountered in Dutch, namely the infinitive plus -d, and is predominantly used adjectivally in the attributive position, in which case the flection suffix -e is added, as in 'n skreiende onreg a crying injustice.

Thirdly, the infinitival form with te to is used in the predicative position in certain constructions, followed by the verb stem plus -e, or om + te for.COMP + PTCL.INF in other, in which case only the verb stem follows, as in Dit is aan hom te danke. it is, and Dit is moeilik om te glo. it is difficult for.COMP PTCL.INF believe.INF It is difficult to believe..

Regarding the use of participles (and infinitives), then, four forms of the verbal paradigm can be identified:

  • Weak past participles, such as gestamp crushed, in gestampte mielies samp, crushed maize.
  • Strong past participles, such as gedaan done, ’ in gedane sake done matters.
  • Present participles, such as laggend laughing, in laggende kinders laughing children.
  • Infinitives, such as te begrype to understand, as in Sy frustrasie is te begrype. his frustration is to understand His frustration is understandable.
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