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Idiom formation

The combination of an article and a noun may have a fixed, possibly idiosyncratic, meaning when it is combined with a light verb, that is, a verb with a meaning that is not very specific. An example in point is de ôfwask dwaan do the dishes, where the light verb dwaan do does not contribute much semantic information to the idiom.


The idiom de ôfwask dwaan do the dishes as a whole is synonymous to the intransitive verb ôfwaskje do the dishes. However, when the nominal constituent is modified, it starts acting as an independently referring expression, as is the case in the following example:

Example 1

Wy moatte dy grutte ôfwask noch dwaan
we must that big pile.of.dishes still do
We must still wash that big pile of dishes

Transportation provides another source of idioms consisting of the definite article followed by a noun of transport. An example is given below:

Example 2

Ik doch alles op 'e fyts
I do everything on the bicycle
I do all my errands on my bike