• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
V > A

Of the forms of the verbal paradigm, only the participles (present and past) can be transposed to adjectives. Present participles predicate over canonical subjects, where past participles combine with objects or subjects of ergative verbs. Examples are de stjerrende soldaat the dying soldier and de stoarne soldaat the killed soldier. Among others, these participles can be recognized as adjectives since they show adjectival inflection, i.e. a suffix -e. These converted participles maintain their verbal aspectual properties.

[+]Present participles

In the verbal paradigm of the verbs of class I, present participles are formed by adding the ending -end (also -ende) to the stem. For class II the ending is -jend (or -jende). An illustration of the optionality of the final schwa of the ending is the following example:

Example 1

a. It famke wie rinnend
The girl was walking
b. It famke wie rinnende

This final schwa itself cannot be an instance of inflection, as Frisian adjectives are never inflected in predicative position.

Now, a present participle may also function as an adjective, and in fact this is the common use for this verbal form. If used attributively, present participles are inflected just as other adjectives, i.e. in most contexts they get an inflectional suffix -e (pronounced as a schwa).

Example 2

a. it springend-e skiep
the.N.def.sg jumping-INFL sheep.N.sg
the jumping sheep
b. *it springend skiep

They only remain uninflected in the combination of a neuter noun and an indefinite determiner. That is to say, they occur without a final schwa in that case:

Example 3

a. in springend skiep
a.indef.sg jumping sheep.N.sg
a jumping sheep
b. *in springend-e skiep

In other words, the optional schwa extension of the ending of the present participle is apparently skipped in attributive use. This is not the case in predicative use, in which both variants of the present participle are allowed, although the variant with -ende might be more common. In predicative position, however, present participles are often somewhat awkward, although not ungrammatical: ?it skiep bliuwt springend(e) the sheep keeps jumping. Predicatively, we find present participles mainly in fixed expressions like it wol pratend(e) hâlde kinne it well talking keep can to be involved in a lively conversation or geande bliuwe going keep keep going.

Note that the imperfective aspect inherent in the verbal use of a present participle is carried over to its use as an adjective. So, in springend skiep is a sheep that is jumping around. Furthermore, it is important to note that the present participle always predicates over the argument that has the canonical subject role. Hence, with transitive verbs, the present participle cannot be combined with the object:

Example 4

a. De boer skeart it skiep
The farmer shaves the sheep
b. de skearende boer
the shaving farmer
c. *it skearende skiep
the shaving sheep

More information of converted present participles from a syntactic point of view can be found in the part on Frisian syntax. Note that the ending of the present participle can also be used to derive synthetic compounds, as for example in izerhâldend iron-hold-SUFF ferriferous.

[hide extra information]
Loss of /d/

Historically, final /d/ was deleted after /n/, cf. Frisian lân, which has the form land in the other West-Germanic languages. This change, operating at the end of the Middle Ages, also affected present participles. As a result, one may still encounter forms like opljeppen hot-tempered (from the verb opljeppe to leap up) or razen furious (from raze to rage). The ending -en is treated separately in the part on suffixation.

In the light of this historical development, one may wonder what caused the final /d/ to be restored in the ending. Possibly, we see the influence of the Dutch standard language here.

[+]Past participles

Past participles can easily function as adjectives as well. If the base verb is transitive, then the adjectively used participle is always connected with the object, and not with the subject:

Example 5

a. De boer ferkocht it skiep
The farmer sold the sheep
b. it ferkochte skiep
the sold sheep
c. #de ferkochte boer
the sold farmer

Verbs that have only one argument show a split. With ergative verbs, the transition is fine. So, the past participle of the (strong) ergative verb stjerre to die is stoarn, which can be used in de stoarne soldaat the killed soldier. Intransitive verbs, on the other hand, are excluded, as they have no internal argument over which the participle can be predicated.

As with the present participles above, also past participles inflect like ordinary adjectives, as in it ferkochte skiep. Note that strong participles ending in -enmay participate in adjectival inflection, too, in contrast to what we see in Dutch, where such strong participles remain uninflected. So, in Frisian we may have in fallene frou a fallen-INFL woman a fallen woman, while *een gevallene vrouw is excluded in Dutch.

The semantics of the adjective is parallel to the role of past participles in the verbal paradigm, i.e. they convey perfective aspect. Hence, there is a semantic difference between de fallende blêden the falling leaves and de fallene blêden the fallen leaves. In the first case, the leaves are still on their way between the branch and the earth; in the second case, the leaves have reached the ground.

More information on converted past participles can be found in the part on Frisian syntax.