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Persons and things

The indefinite article in a provides the prototypical instance of existential quantification. Likewise, the closely related numeral ien one provides an instance of existential quantification. An example is given below:

Example 1

In / Ien man
a one man
A / One man

The indefinite article in a cannot be nominalised and used as a floating quantifier:

Example 2

*Boeken ha ik in / ien kocht
books have I a one bought
Books, I bought one

The numeral can be nominalised and used in argument position, in case there is an antecedent in the context:

Example 3

(Boeken?) Ik ha ien kocht
books I have one bought
(Books?) I bought one

In case there is no antecedent in the context, it is interpreted as having human reference:

Example 4

a. Der is ien yn 'e tún
there is one in the garden
There's someone in the garden
b. *Der is ien yn 'e tún
there is one in the garden
There's something in the garden

In order to express the meaning something, the existential quantifier wat must be used, as shown below. This existential quantifier is homophonous with the question word:

Example 5

Der is wat yn 'e tún
there is what in the garden
There's something in the garden

The pronominal quantifier immen someone is used for existential quantification referring to humans. By and large its use is restricted to written language. Existential quantifying determiners may also have the plural meaning some. Examples are: guon some, inkelde, somlike some, a few and sommige some. These plural existential quantifiers may also consist of the indefinite article followed by a noun denoting a pair, such as the following example:

Example 6

In pear
a pair
A few