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Intransitive adpositions: without a complement

Intransitive adpositions or bare adpositions are adpositions which do not take a complement. Two types of adpositions can be distinguished. First, there are adpositions with an external argument. They may be predicated of their external argument, as in the example below:

a. Do bist ôf
you are down
You are out of the game
b. It fjoer is út
the fire is out
The fire is out

Second, there are adpositions without an external argument. They are selected by the verb, as exemplified below:

a. Hy lei de hammer del
he lay the hammer down
He laid down the hammer
b. Se laitsje jim út
they laugh you out
They are laughing at you

There are no intransitive adpositions of which the meaning is determined by an adjective, a noun or a preposition.


Bare adpositions without an external argument are usually or always selected by the verb. They are also referred to as verbal particles. Verbal particles may derive from nouns, adjectives and postpositions.

Verbal particles are stranded at the end of the clause in case the verb is subject to Verb-Second, which is mainly the case in main clauses. An example is given below:

Margriet skille him op
Margriet phoned him up
Margriet phoned him up

Verbal particles may have an independent meaning, but their meaning usually depends on the verb which selects them. In such cases, the particle may still contribute to the verbal aspect. The following contrast shows that the particle is incompatible with atelic or non-resultative aspect:

a. Margriet belle oeren lang
Margriet phoned hours long
Margriet phoned for hours
b. *Margriet belle oeren lang op
Margriet phoned hours long
Lit. Margriet phoned up for hours

Bare adpositions with an external argument have meaning on their own. They need not be selected by the verb. The following example involves an adposition with an independent meaning:

De molke is op
the milk is up
The milk is finished

The meaning of this adposition depends in part on whether it is predicated of a person or a non-person. In the example above, it is predicated of a non-person. In the example below, it is predicated of a person:

Rixt is hielendal [op]
Rixt is completely up
Rixt is completely exhausted
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