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Classification of verb forms

Every verb has a morphological paradigm of slightly differing forms. These mainly differ with respect to the suffix they bear, though the formal difference may in certain cases be realised in a different manner as well, such stem vowel change or the presence of a prefix or the use of a different form alltogether. Each of these forms is associated with a set of features which (may) have a semantic interpretation.


A subset of forms is the set of finite verb forms, in contrast to non-finite verb forms such as the past participle or the infinitive. In addition, specific verb forms are associated with certain compatible neighbouring elements higher up in the structure. Finite verb forms can be subdivided into present and past tense forms, and these, in turn, can be subdivided by person and number features. Finite verb forms agree in person and number with the subject, an interesting phenomenon which does not readily receive a functional explanation and which may indicate the operative presence of a specifically syntactic component.

Non-finite verb forms include the present participle, the past participle and the infinitive. Frisian features four types of infinitives. The bare infinitive is homophonous to the imperative form of the verb, but unlike normal imperatives, it shows up in embedded contexts characteristically featuring infinitival verbs. The construction in which it shows up is referred to as the Imperative-pro-Infinitivo construction (IPI). It is invariably placed at the beginning of the infinitival clause, unlike what is normal for infinitival clauses in Frisian.

The other three infinitives show up at the end of the clause in which they occur. The ordinary infinitive usually ends in schwa, except with a handful of monosyllabic verbs ending in -n. It is, for example, selected by modal verbs and by the causative verb litte let. The gerundial infinitive ends in -en. It is for example selected by perception verbs. The to-infinitive is actually a complex case: it consists of the infinitival marker te to followed by a gerundial infinitive.