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6.3.Non-main verbs selecting a te-infinitive

This section discusses non-main verbs selecting a te-infinitive. In many grammars, this set of non-main verbs include semi-aspectual verbs like zitten'to sit' in (146a) as well as modal verbs like schijnen'to seem' in (146b).

a. Jan zit dat boek te lezen.
  Jan sits  that book  to read
  'Jan is reading that book.'
b. Jan schijnt dat boek te lezen.
  Jan seems  that book  to read
  'Jan seems to read that book.'

This section does not include the modal verbs given that they exhibit the hallmark of main verbs: they are able to select arguments. This is not only clear from the fact that their infinitival complement can be pronominalized (cf. Dat schijnt), but also from the fact that they are able to select a finite complement clause, and are thus able to head their own clauses. For this reason, examples such as (146b) are discussed in Section 5.2.2 on main verbs selecting a te-infinitive.

Het schijnt [dat Jan dat boek leest].
  it  seems   that  Jan that book  reads
'It seems that Jan is reading that book.'

Our definition of main verbs as n-place predicates makes it relatively simple to determine whether we are dealing with a main or non-main verb in the examples in (146) but there are other cases that are more problematic in this respect; we will discuss these after we have discussed the semi-aspectual verbs in more detail.

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