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Complementation of APs

Complementation in the context of adjectives is understood as an obligatory component of an adjective phrase, necessary to complete the meaning represented by such a phrase. Adjectives as heads combine with various types of complements, such as

  • Prepositional phrases, e.g. tevrede met satisfied with, gewoond aan accustomed to, onbewus van unaware of, and
  • Noun phrases, e.g. dalk sy pos kwyt wees maybe his position minus be possibly be without his postiemand 'n antwoord skuldig wees someone an answer indebted be owe someone an answer,

Furthermore, adjective phrases themselves, in addition to being autonomous as a word class, can be classified according to their relation to other parts of speech, such as verbs. With reference to verbs, two types of APs with PP complements can be distinguished:

  • Pseudo-participles ingenome met fascinated withgeskik vir suitable forgemoeid met involved with (where there is only an ostensible correlation with a verb), and
  • Deverbal adjectives vergelykbaar met comparable withafhanklik van dependent on (where such a correlation does indeed exist).

In the following sections, these various types of complements will be discussed and exemplified.


As an extention of the aforegoing discussion on the nature of complementation as it pertains to adjectives, in which two complement types are distinguished, namely prepositional phrases (PP) and noun phrases (NP), examples of these two types are provided. In the first, the PP is indispensable for the meaning conveyed by the adjective phrase as a whole.

Martie is dol oor haar geskenk.
Martie be.PRS crazy over her gift
Martie is crazy about her gift.

If used without the PP, the adjective dol denotes a serious medical condition, such as being distraught or mad, whereas the PP modifies the denotation to an informal expression, emphasising affection or attachment. In this case, the omission of the PP argument radically changes the meaning of the adjective.

The PP may also be an optional component of the construction, as in the following sentence:

Sy voel skaam [oor haar antwoord].
she feels ashamed [over her answer]
She feels ashamed [about her answer].

In other cases, the PP argument is a complement (i.e. compulsory component) of the adjective, as in:

Sy borgtog is onderhewig aan sekere voorwaardes.
his bail be.PRS subject to certain conditions
His bail is subject to certain contitions.

Secondly, adjectives may also take a complement of the category NP, as shown in the examples below:

Flip is Frans magtig.
Flip be.PRS French mastered
Flip has mastered French.
Hy is nie die titel (van) president waardig nie.
he be.PRS not the title president worthy PTCL.NEG
He is not worthy of the title president.

Adjectives which only appear to be derived from past participles are called pseudo-participles. One example of such an AP with a PP complement is the the construction ingenome met fascinated with, which bears a resemblance with the phrasal verb inneem take in (hence 'taken in with'):

Sy is ingenome met haar span se prestasie.
she be.PRS delighted with her team PTCL.GEN performance
She is delighted with her team's performance.

Some adjectives, called deverbal adjectives, could, however, be shown to be semantically derived from verbs. One example of such an AP with a PP complement is the construction geheg aan attached to, which derives from the verb heg attach:

Sy is geheg aan die diere.
she be.PRS attached to the animals
She is attached to the animals.
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