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Inflection and derivation

In this section, with its focus on a formal description of the morphology of the verbal system, the inflectional and derivational verbal types to be distinguished will serve as the basis of a description of their syntactic and other functions, and usage. As the borderline between inflection and derivation is far from clear (cf. Van Huyssteen 2017:190), no theoretical distinction will be made here.


Also see the discussion on inflection in the morphology section on Taalportaal.

The development of Afrikaans from 17th century Dutch in the context of intense language contact, gave rise to a number of far-reaching changes in the verbal system, more so than in any other area of grammar. This includes the loss of inflection for person and number, the loss of the distinction between “strong” and “weak” verbs, the loss of the distinction between finite and non-finite form (infinitive) form, the loss of the verbal preterite (imperfect or past tense form), and the regularisation of the past participle. However, important traces of almost all of these remain, some of which still play an important part in the verbal system.

It is important to realise that while the remnants of infinitive inflection in Afrikaans still correlate with syntactic functions of the infinitive, such as the copula and auxiliary wees be in om te wees to be, the syntactic infinitive is generally expressed by the uninflected base form of the verb, as in 1a and 1b.

a. Hulle probeer sing.
they try.PRS sing.INF
They are trying to sing.
b. Hulle probeer om te sing.
they try.PRS for.COMP PTCL.INF sing.INF
They are trying to sing

As a transitive lexical verb, het has/have has as inflected infinitive as in 2a, but as an auxiliary only the form het in all finite and infinitive functions, cf. 2b.

a. Om iets te , moet jy werk.
for.COMP something PTCL.INF have.INF must.AUX.MOD you.2SG work.INF
To have something, you must work.
b. Dit is belangrik om iets aan die saak te gedoen het.
it is important for.COMP something on the matter PTCL.INF do.PST.PTCP have.AUX
It is important to have done something about the matter.

The following is a brief characterisation of the morphology of the Afrikaans verbal system in particular, followed by a more general inventory of the verbal morphology of Afrikaans. In other sections, phonological alternation in verbs (cf. Phonological stem alternation) as it relates to morphological alternation is briefly discussed, and the functions and usage of verbal types described in more detail, viz. the verbal base form, the preterite, inflected infinitives, past participles, derivations from past participles (cf. departicipial derivations) and present participles

In general, the morphology of the Afrikaans verbal system is characterised by the following:

  • The Afrikaans finite verb does not inflect for number or person and functions morphologically as an independent verbal base. This is also the form of the verb used as an imperative. A verb stem may be assumed to exist in a number of instances of allomorphy (e.g. skryw- for skryf/skrywe write and in the formation of participles (e.g. geskryf written, skrywende writing) and their further adjectival, nominal and other derivations (cf. phonological stem alternation).
  • The preterite, also known as the imperfect or past tense is no longer a verbal category in which all verbs of the language are represented, though a small set of highly frequent modal verbs and was was/were for the verb wees be still have preterite forms.
  • The terms infinitive (cf. Inflected infinitives (INFL-INF)) or non-finite form as such are inappropriate for Afrikaans as there are few marked or inflected forms that correspond to the syntactic functions of the infinitive in languages such as Dutch and German, while deflected verbal base forms may occur in traditionally infinitive contexts in Afrikaans. A distinction is called for between (i) a syntactic or phrasal infinitive, viz. the full infinitive, as in Om briewe te skryf, is maklik  To write letters is easy, and the bare infinitive, as in Briewe skryf, is maklik Writing letters is easy(cf. Ponelis 1979:430-431) who refers to these as “long” and “short” infinitives, respectively), and (ii) formal or inflected infinitives, such as the suppletive form wees be, have, and a restricted set of expressions where the verb has -e inflection, as in te wete to wit, te doene kry to have to deal with and aan 't werke wees to be working for the verbs weet, doen and werk, respectively.
  • The past participle is formed by prefixing ge- to the verbal base under certain conditions, e.g. breek break > gebreek
  • In adjectival (cf. Departicipial derivations) and certain other functions the past participle of a number of verbs may assume an irregular form, e.g. breek break > gebroke or take an -s suffix, e.g. waag dare > gewaagd.
  • A present participle is derived from the verbal base by suffixing -end(e), e.g. breek break > brekend(e). It is used as an adjective or adverb rather than being part of the verbal system proper.

As the following morphological processes relating to Afrikaans verbs are on the fuzzy borderline between inflection and derivation, no distinction will be made. The syntactic context or usage of these different forms are described below as part of the exposition of each formal category.

  • Suffixation of -e in lexical pairs (restricted set) of verbal bases, e.g. berg: bêre, laaf: lawe, leef: lewe, skryf: skrywe, sorg: sôre, terg: têre;
  • suffixation of -e  to form inflected infinitives after the particle te (restricted set) as in Dit is te begrype This is understandable, (lit.) to understand, e.g. doen: doene, hoop: hope, maak: make, sien: siene, verstaan: verstane, vertel: vertelle, vind: vinde, weet: wete, wens: wense. Note that the –e suffix in Afrikaans is analagous to the –en  suffix in Dutch, and that –e is affixed in addition to –n in the small set of so-called Dutch monosyllabic verbs such as doen, staan and -n reflecting non-standard historical and dialectal developments in Dutch.
  • suppletive stem replacement employed as expressive variant in the standard variety and as preferred base form in other varieties as in Daar gaat hy! There he goes! e.g. gaan: gaat, staan: staat, slaan: slaat;
  • suffixation of –end(e) to form present participles (cf. Section Present participle (1))  as in skreeuende menigtes shouting masses, e.g. baklei: bakleiende, draai: draaiende; gaan: gaande, leef: lewende, loop: lopende, skryf: skrywende, staan: staande, vertrou: vertrouende, lê: lêende/liggende (irregular);
  • prefixation of ge- to form past participles, e.g. werk: gewerk, breek: gebreek, bring: gebring (cf. Section Past participle);
  • suffixation of -d  to past participles to form predicative adjectives (restricted set) as in Daardie toertjie is baie gewaagd That trick is very risky, e.g. beroer: beroerd, seën: geseënd, ontstel: ontsteld, plus suffixation of –e to form attributive adjectives, e.g. gewaagde, beroerde, etc. (cf. Section Departicipial derivations);
  • suffixation of –te/-de to regular past participles to form attributive adjectives, as in gelapte klere patched clothes e.g. (with -te): gelas: gelaste, gestop: gestopte, gelok: gelokte, gewreek: gewreekte, gestraf: gestrafte, geëet: geëte, gegroet: gegroete; (with –de):  gelaaf: gelaafde, verloof: verloofde; opgelig: opgeligde; gemaal: gemaalde, gestem: gestemde; gesing: gesingde, vermaan: vermaande, gelaai: gelaaide, geplooi: geplooide, beweer: beweerde, verloor: verloorde, voortgestu: voortgestude; geabba: geabbade (cf. Section Departicipial derivations);
  • suppletive stem replacement in past participles to form attributive and/or predicative adjectives (restricted set derived from Dutch strong or irregular past participles) as in gebonde boeke bound books(frombind bind)’, e.g. agtergebly: agtergeblewe, bedink: bedagte, bedrieg: bedroë, gedoen: gedane, gelees: gelese, verkry: verkreë (cf. Section Departicipial derivations);
  • suffixation of –e to past participles to form attributive adjectives (restricted set derived from Dutch past participles), as in hersiene uitgawe revised edition, e.g. gesien: gesiene, verstaan: verstane (cf. Section Departicipial derivations).
[+]Phonological stem alternation

As a rule, the verb stem is identical with the verbal base. However, a number of verbs do have non-functional stem alternations, e.g.

Hy skrywe vir haar en sy skryf terug.
he write for her and she write back
He writes to her and she writes back.

Phonological alternations implying underlying verb stems are found between

  • verbal bases, e.g.leew- [le:v] for leef/lewe, laaw- [la:v] for laaf/lawe, sorg- [sɔrg] for sorg [sɔrx] / sôre [sɔ:rǝ], terg- [tɛrg] for terg [tɛrx] / têre [tɛ:rǝ] (and cf. berg/bêre);
  • verbal base and inflected infinitive, e.g. vind- [fǝnd] for vind [f ǝ nt] / [fǝndǝ];
  • verbal base and derived present participle, e.g. leew- [le:v] for leef/lewend(e), blyw- [blǝiv] for bly/blywend(e),leid- [lǝid] for lei/leidend(e), stryd- [strǝid] for stry/strydend(e), liefheb-(?) for liefhê [lifhɛ:] / liefhebbende [lifhɛbǝndǝ] and cf. sê/ (veel)seggende, lê/liggende. Note that no underlying stem need usually be assumed for verbal bases ending in a vowel/diphthong, e.g. baklei/bakleiende, vertrou/vertrouende, draai/draaiende.
  • verbal base and departicipial adjective, e.g. geew-(?) for gee [xe:] / gegewe [xǝxe:vǝ].
[+]Verbal base

The verbal base – or a concatenation of base forms – is an unmarked verb form occurring in various contexts or associated with various functions (cf. Ponelis 1979:261), e.g. Sy sing / kan sing / bly probeer sing She sings / can sing / keeps trying to sing.

The verbal base or string of base forms expresses the present tense, as in (4a), but may in certain contexts also convey a future tense meaning, as in (4b), or a past tense meaning, particularly as a so-called historical present in narrative context, as in (4c).

  1. As a tense form, the verbal base may express present tense(4a), future tense(4b),  and – as historical presentpast tense (4c).

    a. Dit reën hard – kyk net daar!
    it   rain.PRS   heavily    look.IMP just there
    It is raining heavily – just have a look there!
    b. Volgens die weervoorspelling reën dit môre hard.
    according.to the weather.forecast rain.PRS it tomorrow heavily
    According to the weather forecast it will be raining heavily tomorrow.
    c. Dit reën hard, maar kaptein Griesel het 'n plan.
    it rain.PRS hard but.CNJ Captain Griesel have.PRS a plan
    It was raining heavily, but Captain Griesel had a plan.
  2. Timeless or habitual action: Verbal base forms are also employed in referring to recurring actions or processes, either stemming from human habit or the laws of nature (cf. De Villiers 1971:20-22).

    Dit reën elke somer hier.
    it rain.PRS every summer here
    It rains here every summer.
  3. Progressive aspect: As the Afrikaans verb is not inflected or otherwise marked for expressing a continued action in the present (cf. English She is working vs She works from home) this may be made explicit by means of a construction such as be + aan die V.INF, in which the infinitive undergoes nominalisation ( NMLZ) (cf. Breed and Van Huyssteen 2014)

    Hulle is hard aan die werk.
    they be.PRS hard on the work.NMLZ
    They are working hard.
  4. Nominalisation: Verb phrases may be used as sentential subjects or objects or prepositional objects, i.e. with a nominal function. In Dutch this is expressed by the bare infinitive with or without the neuter definite article het, as in zingen singing or het zingen the singing. In Afrikaans the base form of the verb is used, without the definite article die, as in (7a), or with die, as in (7b); in the case of the transitive verb have and copula wees be, the infinitive is used, as in (7c).

    a. Sy hou van ballades sing.
    she love of ballads sing.NMLZ
    She loves singing ballads.
    b. By die sing van daardie lied het sy uitgeloop.
    at the sing.NMLZ of that song have.AUX she out.walk.PST.PTCP
    When that song was being sung, she left.
    c. Aan sy siek wees en probleme kom daar nie 'n einde nie.
    on his ill be.NMLZ and problems have.NMLZ come there no end PTCL.NEG 
    There is no end to his illnesses and problems.
  5. The imperative is generally expressed by the verbal base in sentence initial position, followed optionally by the sentential subject. This may be a 2nd person personal pronoun or a title used as indirect form of address:

    Bring (jy, julle, u, Tannie) asseblief nou die borde!
    bring  you.2SG you.2PL you.HON Aunt please now the plates
    Please bring the plates now.’ or ‘Will you/Aunt please bring the plates now?

    In the negative, i.e. as prohibition, etc., the verbal base is not employed as imperative, but is extended by the modal verb moet must, which is syntactically adapted to the imperative function. If moet is juxtaposed to nie not as first negative, moet and nie are typically contracted to moenie

    En moenie jy dit drink nie, sê hy.
    and must=not you it drink PTC.NEG say he
    And you mustn’t drink it, he says.
    C. Marnewick: Van Buuren, 2012, 26

    An alternative imperative construction, with sentence-final verbal base,  is also used, though perhaps more frequently in Dutch than in Afrikaans. For ‘be’ and ‘have’ the inflected forms are used (wees and , respectively), as in (10f) and (10g); depending on the context (initial or final), these forms may be looked upon as imperatives and infinitives, respectively. The sentence-final type is in essence an elliptical construction with mitigating illocutional force, in contrast to the standard verb first imperative which may introduce a proposition of any length. In each example verb-initial and verb-final directives are compared.

    a. Ruim alles op! – Alles opruim, hoor!
    clear.IMP everything up  everything up.clear.INF hear.IMP
    Clear away everything, hey!
    b. Staan vroeg op! – Vroeg opstaan, nè!
    stand.IMP early up     early  up.stand.INF PTCL
    Rise early (hey)!’    ‘Rise early, OK?!
    c. Kom môre weer! – ? Môre weer kom, hoor!
    come.IMP tomorrow again   tomorrow again come.INF hear.IMP
    Come again tomorrow (hey)!
    d. Bring jou rekenaar saam! – ? Jou rekenaar saambring, nè!
    bring.IMP your computer with   your computer with.bring.INF PTCL
    Bring along your computer!’ ‘Bring along your computer, OK?
    e. Wys die mense die huis! – *Die mense die huis wys!
    show.IMP the people the house the people the house show.INF
    Show the people the house!
    f. Wees versigtig! – Versigtig wees, hoor!
    be.IMP careful     careful   be.INF hear.IMP
    Be careful!’  ‘Be careful, hey!
    g. ? pret! – Pret , nè!
    have.IMP fun – fun have.INF PTCL
    Have fun! – Have fun, hey!

    Exclamations may be verb-initial or verb-final, e.g.

    a. Slaap / werk / sing, etc. lekker!
    sleep.IMP work.IMP sing.IMP nicely
    Sleep / work / sing well!’
    b. Lekker slaap / sing /werk
    well  sleep.INF   sing.INF  work.INF
    Sleep / work / sing well!

    The set phrases Mooi loop! Go well! and Mooi bly! Keep well! are usually verb-final:

    Mooi loop! Mooi bly!
    well go.INF well stay.INF
    Go well! Keep well!
[+]The preterite

For a small group of verbs – mainly modal verbs – preterite variants are used. Thus was was/were is frequently employed for the verb ‘be’, as is sou  for sal shall,will, wou for wil want to, moes for moet must, have to and kon for kan can, be able to’. Less frequent is dog/dag for dink ‘think’ (often in the meaning ‘think mistakenly’), while wis for weet know and mog for mag may are becoming obsolete, and had for (het have, has) as transitive verb is restricted to literary usage (and not used as auxiliary) (cf. Ponelis 1979:191), e.g.

Maar niemand had die verbondenheid aan dié stukkie Oos-Kaapse  kuswêreld wat ons twee had nie.
but.CNJ no.one have.PRT the bond to this piece.DIM Eastern-Cape coast.world that.REL we two have.PRT PTCL.NEG
But no one had the connection with this little piece of the Eastern Cape coastal area the two of us had.
M. Bakkes: Littekens, 2005, 7

Modal preterites may express past tense or have modal functions, and are employed in finite as well as in non-finite syntactic contexts. The preterite form of modals may alternate with periphrastic constructions (cf. (14a) and (14b)), particularly is certain varieties of the language. (Cf. section on subjunctive.)

a. Sy kon vroeër sing. – Sy kan vroeër gesing het.
she can.AUX.MOD.PRT earlier sing.INF – she can.AUX.MOD.PRS earlier sing.PST.PTCP have.AUX
She was able to sing before.
b. Hy moes die skottelgoed was. – Hy moet die skottelgoed gewas het.
he must.AUX.MOD.PRT the dishes wash.INF – he must.AUX.MOD.PRS the dishes wash.PST.PTCP have.AUX
‘He had to wash the dishes. – He had to/must have wash(ed) the dishes.’

Modal preterites are also employed in functions reserved for infinitives in equivalent Dutch constructions,  e.g. (i) as  preterite infinitives, (ii) in preterite agreement (creating cohesion between verbs), and (iii) in realis constructions.The use of modal preterites in a variety of constructions is subsumed by Ponelis (1979:250-272) under the term preteritale assimilasie preterital assimilation.

  1. Preterite infinitives are constructions such as to have sung (vs to sing) in English, te hebben gezongen (vs te zingen) in Dutch and om te gesing het (vs om te sing) in Afrikaans. While these are periphrastic constructions, the past reference may also be achieved by means of inflection. Thus in Old Norse skyldu is the preterite infinitive corresponding to the infinitive skulu shall(cf. Faarlund 2004:51). In Afrikaans, modal preterites may form part of preterite infinitives, as in om te kon sing to have been able to sing as against om te kan sing to be able to sing for the full infinitive.  Cf. examples (15a) and (15b).
  2. When a modal preterite is followed by another modal preterite instead of the verbal base, the preterite that follows may be considered to have undergone preterite agreement, cf. examples (15a), (15c), (15d) and (15e). This process may involve more than one modal verb (cf. example (15c)) and is particularly frequent when the modals are followed by a perfect, as in (15d). Preterite agreement may serve to create functional cohesion in verbal strings expressing past tense or an irrealis.
  3. In marked realis constructions consisting of ‘have’ + modal verb + lexical verb (cf. section on Subjunctive), the modal verb is preferably but not exclusively a preterite (cf. examples (15b), (15f) and (15g)).  
    a. Om dit te (i) kon doen, sou ek my werk (ii) moes bedank en vryskut gaan.
    for.COMP this PTCL.INF can.AUX.MOD.PRT do.INF  will.AUX.MOD.PRT I my work must.AUX.MOD.PRT resign.INF and free.lance go.INF
    To be able to do that, I would have had to resign from my work and start freelanceing.
    D. van Zyl: Slagoffers, 2001, 8
    b. Ons het 'n bietjie van jou hare moes wegskeer (iii) om die snye op jou kop te kon dokter (i)
    we have.AUX a little of your hair must.AUX.MOD.PRT away.shave.INF for.COMP the cuts on your head PTCL.INF can.AUX.MOD.PRT treat
    We had to shave away some of your hair to be able to treat the cuts on your head.
    J. Botha: Miskruier, 2005, 194
    c. Hy is my pa, hy sou iets moes kon (ii) doen. Ek sou by hom kon (ii) gaan bly.
    he is my dad he will.AUX.MOD.PRT something must.AUX.MOD.PRT can.AUX.MOD.PRT do.INF I shall.AUX.MOD.PRT by him can.AUX.MOD.PRT go.LINK stay.INF
    He is my dad, he would have had to do something. I might go and stay with him.
    E. Lötter: Anna, 2004, 49
    d. Hy sou meer aan die saak moes kon (ii) gedoen het.
    he shall.AUX.MOD.PRT more on the matter must.AUX.MOD.PRT can.AUX.MOD.PRT do.PST.PTCP have.AUX
    He should have been able to do more about the matter.
    e. Jy sou wou (ii) matroos gewees het as jy kon, dink ek.
    you will.AUX.MOD.PRT want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT sailor be.PST.PTCP have.AUX if.CNJ you.2SG can.AUX.MOD.PRT think I
    You would have wanted to be a sailor if you could, I think.
    D. Sleigh: Eilande, 2002, 527
    f. Hier het hy van voor af moes (iii) begin.
    here have.AUX he from front off.POSTP must.AUX.MOD.PRT begin.INF
    Here he has had to start from the beginning.
    J. Miles: Buiteveld, 2003, 217
    g. Ek het min boeke by hom kon (iii) bekostig.
    I  have.AUX few books by him can.AUX.MOD.PRT afford.INF
    I could afford few of his books.
    H. Aucamp: In die vroegte, 2003, 114

[+]Inflected infinitives

In this section wees be and have will be regarded as infinitives, even though they also function as imperatives (cf. examples (21), (23) and (24) below) and exhortatives (cf. example (25)), and  possibly as underlying verbal stem (cf. examples (28) and (29)). They will be glossed as inflected infinitives (INFL.INF) to distinguish them from syntactic infinitives.

In certain varieties of Afrikaans ‘have’ is generally rendered as het, and ‘be’ is often rendered as is, to the exclusion of the forms and wees. Stell (2010:427) mentions a tendency amongst “Southwestern coloureds” to use het in all infinitive contexts. The prevalence of het instead of as infinitive amongst the Griqua was already noted by Rademeyer (1938:64). In what follows, the usage of the forms have and wees be will be described as they occur in the standard or written variety of Afrikaans.

  • Infinitive function: The only formally marked infinitive used in contexts in which an infinitive would be used in Dutch (cf.), is wees be (Dutch zijn/wezen) – wees being the infinitive of the copula as well as the auxiliary. In contrast, have (Dutch hebben) is only the infinitive of the transitive verb het have, possess, in Afrikaans, not of the auxiliary – which is also het. As infinitives, the transitive verb and the auxiliary het are differentiated as follows:

    Om die werk te gedoen het, is nie dieselfde as om dit gedoen te hê nie.
    for.COMP the work PTCL.INF do.PST.PTCP have.AUX is not the.same as for.COMP it do.ADJ PTCL.INF have.INF PTCL.NEG
    To have done the work is not the same as having the work done.

    In the following, functions as transitive verb and wees as copula:

    a. Hy wil die werk môre klaar ; dit moet môre klaar wees.
    he want.to.AUX.MOD the work tomorrow finished.ADJ have.INF it must.AUX.MOD tomorrow finished.ADJ be.INF
    He wants to have the job finished by tomorrow; it must be finished by tomorrow.
    b. Kind wees en kind hê is twee verskillende dinge.
    child be.NMLZ and child have.NMLZ be.PRS two different things
    Being a child and having a child are two different matters.
    c. Beeldlesers wil rassisme strafbaar hê.
    Beeld.readers want.to.AUX.MOD racism punishable have.INF
    Readers of Beeld want racism to be punishable.
    Caption in Beeld

    In the context of the modal verb wil, wees alternates with word‘become’ as a less dynamic passive auxiliary:

    a. Ek glo nie hulle wil nou gewaarsku wees nie.
    I believe not they want.to.AUX.MOD now warn.PST.PTCP be.INF PTCL.NEG
    I don’t think they want to be warned now.
    P.J. Haasbroek: Vennoot, 2009, 53
    b. ... dat hier ook mense woon wat van geweet wil wees
      that.COMP here also people live who.REL from know.PST.PTCP want.to.AUX.MOD be.INF
    ... that there are also people here who want to be known
    P. Pieterse: Manaka, 2005, 17

    Wees and are used in the context of the full infinitiveom ... te for todeur ... te by to, as in

    a. Deur fluks te wees, het hy daarin geslaag om suksesvol te wees.
    by hard.working PTCL.INF be.INF have.AUX he PN.in succeed.PST.PTCP for.COMP        successful PTCL.INF be.INF
    By being hard-working he succeeded in being successful.
    b. Hulle gaan kunstefeeste toe om pret te hê.
    they  go.PRS  art.festivals to.POSTP for.COMP fun PTCL.INF have.INF
    They attend art festivals to have fun.

    Wees and are employed in bare infinitives serving as nominalisations:

    a. Vlieënier wees is sy passie.
    pilot be.NMLZ is his passion
    Being a pilot is his passion.
    b. Vriende hê maak hom gelukkig.
    friends have.NMLZ make him happy
    Having friends makes him happy.

    and the imperative, with wees – though seldom – predominantly in initial position, and the final position preferred for exclamations.

  • Imperative function: The inflected infinitive wees is used as imperative of the verb ‘be’, both in sentence-initial and sentence-final position. (never het) is used as the imperative of 'have' in combination with the modal verb moet  must and sentence-finally (often to express wishes), but rarely sentence-initially, as in

    Maak vrede daarmee. jouself lief.
    make.IMP peace PN.with   have.IMP yourself dearly
    Make peace with it. Love yourself.
    R. Nagtegaal: Abra K'Dabra, 2007, 199

    The customary rendering, as a command and wish, respectively, would be:

    a. Jy moet jouself liefhê.
    you must.AUX.MOD yourself.REFL love.have.INF
    You must love yourself.
    b. Julle moet baie pret môre!
    you must.AUX.MOD much fun have.INF tomorrow         
    Have lots of fun tomorrow!

    Wees is used as sentence-initial directive:

    Wees tevrede met jou lot.
    be.IMP satisfied with your fate
    Be satisfied with your fate.

    Both wees and are used sentence-finally:

    Pret , maar soet wees!  
    fun have.INF but.CNJ  good be.INF
    Have fun, but be good!
  • Exhortative function: Both wees and are employed in first person exhortatives, i.e. commands or suggestions also directed at the speaker him-/herself.

    a. Kom ons leef, kom ons lief.
    come.IMP we live.INF  come.IMP we have.INF dear
    Let us live, let us love.
    Speaker on TV
    b. Swaer, kom ons wees nou redelik.
    brother.in.law come.IMP we be.INF now reasonable
    Brother-in-law, let us be reasonable now.
    D. Meyer: Onsigbaar, 2007, 153
    c. Maar kom ons wees nou nie morbied nie.
    but.CNJ come.IMP we be.INF now not morbid PTCL.NEG
    But let’s not be morbid now.
    R. Greeff: Hanna, 2002, 319
    d. Lara, kom ek wees reguit.
    Lara come.IMP I  be.INF straight
    Lara, let me come to the point.
    J. Kirsten: Wit plafon, 2009, 21
  • In the following examples, the function of wees resembles that of a subjunctive in other languages:

    a. ... asseblief, moenie dat ek later spyt wees nie
    please  must=not that.COMP I later.on sorry be.INF PTCL.NEG
    Please, don’t let me regret it later on.
    H. Kalmer: Lekkerste deel, 2007, 135
    b. “Annelize, dis tog duidelik jou pa sal nie toelaat dat ons vriende wees nie.”
    Annelize it=is quite clear your father will.AUX.MOD not allow that.COMP we friends be.INF PTCL.NEG
    Annelize, it is quite clear that your father will not allow us to be friends.
    J. Vermeulen, 2000, 125
  • as underlying stem form: Finally, there are indications that is the underlying stem of the transitive verb ‘have’. The transitive verb liefhet / liefhê love, (lit.) dear have, is unique in being a “separable” compound with ‘have’ as final stem, and is also often used in the passive voice.  The functional distribution of the ‘have’ stem in this verb could be expected to resemble that of the transitive  verb hê/ het, e.g. het in finite contexts, in infinitive contexts (cf. om te , moet )  and that it would share the irregular past participle gehad with hê/ het, viz. liefgehad. This is indeed the case with het as auxiliary, as in

    Hulle het mekaar liefgehad.
    they have.AUX each.other dear.have.PST.PTCP
    They loved each other.

    However, with word or wees as passive auxiliary, the past participle is consistently found to be liefgehê  rather than liefgehad, e.g.

    a. Sy was 'n vrou wat sou kon liefhê en liefgehê word.
    she was a woman who.REL will.AUX.MOD.PRT can.AUX.MOD.PRT love.INF and love.have.PST.PTCP be.AUX.PASS.PRS
    She was a woman who would be able to love and be loved.
    P.G. du Plessis: Fees, 2008, 350
    b. ...Waar twee kinders versorg en liefgehê moet word.
    where  two children  care.for.PST.PTCP and love.have.PST.PTCP must.AUX.MOD be.AUX.PASS.PRS
    Where two children need to be cared for and loved.
    H. Gunter: Plaas in Afrika, 2007, 146
    c. Wat hy soek, is om liefgehê te word.
    that.REL he look.for is for.COMP love.have.PST.PTCP PTCL.INF be.AUX.PASS.PRS
    What he is looking for, is to be loved.
    E. Venter: Santa Gamka, 2009, 225
    d. Jy wou liefgehê wees op jou voorwaardes
    you want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT love.have.PST.PTCP be.AUX.PASS.INF on your terms
    You wanted to be loved on your terms.
    L. van Nierop, 2013, 198

    As liefgehê – but not liefgehad – is moreover able to scramble or move leftwards like other past participles, viz.

    a. Dat sy <liefgehê> sou <liefgehê> kon <liefgehê> word, is waar
    that.COMP she <love.PST.PTCP> shall.AUX.MOD.PRT <love.PST.PTCP> can.AUX.MOD.PRT <love.PST.PTCP> be.AUX.PASS.PRS is true
    That it was possible for her to be loved is true.
    b. Dat hy haar *<liefgehad> sou *<liefgehad> kon <liefgehad het, is waar.
    that.COMP he her <love.PST.PTCP> will.AUX.MOD.PRT <love.PST.PTCP> can.AUX.MOD.PRT <love.PST.PTCP> have.AUX is true
    That he would have been able to love her, is true.

    it seems likely that liefhê is the underlying form of this verb, and may indeed be the underlying stem form of the transitive verb het have in Afrikaans.

As an alternative to the more usual expression of progressive aspect (cf. Breed and Van Huyssteen 2015) with non-stative verbs, as in:

Hulle is hard aan die werk.
they be.PRS hard on the work.NMLZ
They are working hard.

a construction with the Dutch definite article (neutral) and inflected infinitive (aan 't + VB) is sometimes used. Breed and Van Huyssteen (2015:258-259) indicate that the construction in this form is used mainly for stylistic reasons and becoming antiquated.  An -e is affixed to the Afrikaans verbal base to resemble the Dutch infinitive ending in -en.

a. ... terwyl hy vrolik aan’t drinke was
while  he  merrily  on=the drink.NMLZ was
while he was drinking merrily
C. Karsten: Man van min belang, 2013, 7
b. Sy pa se liggaam is leeg en vinnig kouer aan’t worde
his father POSS body is empty and fast colder on=the become.NMLZ
His father’s body is empty and getting colder quickly
E. Venter: Wolf, wolf, 2013, 203
c. Aan 't tjanke oor die ballon ...
on=the squeal.NMLZ over the balloon
Squealing about the balloon ....
A.H. de Vries: Wye oop Karoo, 2002, 14

A small set of inflected infinitives (cf. Ponelis 1979:247, 432) occur mainly (though with low productivity) in a number of fixed expressions with the verbal particle te to (rather than om ... te),  e.g. te wet-e kom (weet know), te kenn-e gee (ken know ), <