• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Saterfrisian
  • Afrikaans
Show all
7.1 The indefinite nominal quantifier in the partitive adjective construction

The nominal quantifier does not exhibit any agreement with the partitive adjective. The partitive adjective has a special form in –es, which only shows up in the partitive adjective construction. For example, the partitive of goud ‘good’ is ‘Goudes’. The quantifiers appearing in the indefinite partitive adjective construction have the following properties: they are indefinite or they are non-count, and the inflection is nominal (-e). Numerals are excluded from the partive adjective construction, which bears out its noun-count character. The indefiniteness of the quantifiers is clear from the fact that they can also appear in existential constructions.


The following indefinite quantifiers characteristically occur in the indefinite partitive adjective construction.

1. The quantifier wät ‘something’, as in the example below:

An wät Jures duren wie goar nit toanke.
of something expensive.PA dare we at.all not think
We dare not think of something expensive at all.
Iek häbe silläärge nit wät Oaines heeuwed.
I have never not something own.PA had
I have never had something of my own.

This quantifier is homophonous to the interrogative pronoun wät ‘what’, which is also the case in Dutch and West Frisian. In its interrogative use, the quantifier also combines with adjectives, provided that the preposition foar precedes the adjective:

Wät is dät foar Flugges?
what is that for nice.PA
What kind of nice thing is that?

Semantically, this construction gives rise to a kind interpretation. In this latter construction, the interrogative may be separated from the PP introducing the adjective. The construction is normally found with indefinite nouns, as in the example below:

Wät is dät foar ‘n Mon?
what is that for a man
What kind of man is he?

So, in its interrogative use, wät requires the preposition foar ‘for’ to precede the partitive adjective. Otherwise, the indefinite quantifier directly preceded the partitive adjective.

2. Another indefinite quantifier which partitive adjectives often combine with, is fuul ‘much, many’. An example has been given below:

Uus Möie häd fuul Goudes in hiere Lieuwend däin.
our aunt has much good.PA in her life done
Our aunt has done a lot of good things in her life.

Complex phrases based on fuul ‘much, many’ may also be followed by partitive adjectives, such as: wo fuul ‘how much’, so fuul ‘so much’, and so on.

3. The negative nominal quantifier niks ‘nothing’ may combine with partitive adjectives, as shown below:

Dät sowät apstuuns niks Besunneres moor is.
that such.a.thing nowadays nothing special.PA anymore is
That such a thing is nowadays nothing special anymore.
Dät Oaler brangt niks Goudes mee.
the old.age brings nothing good.PA along
Old age brings along nothing good.


The partitive adjective may also be found without any overt indefinite quantifier. Some examples are given below:

Die uut sin rieke Grieuw Näies un Ooldes foar dän Dai hoalt.
who out his rich stock new.PA and old.PA for the day gets
Who gets out from his stock things old and new.
Läipes ferjält hie mäd Goudes.
bad.PA repay he with good.PA
He repays evil with good.

Nevertheless, such cases are rare in the everyday languages. They seem to be archaic or characteristic of formal written language.

5. Other indefinite quantifiers which may be found in the partitive adjective construction include: genouch ‘enough’, minner ‘less’, moor ‘more’. An example is given below:

Dwoot moor Goudes foar de Äärme.
do more good.PA for the poor
Do moor good things for the poor.

To sum up, the nominal element in the partitive construction is systematically indefinite in all the cases discussed here. Furthermore, none of the indefinite quantifiers refers to humans.

    printreport errorcite