• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Saterfrisian
  • Afrikaans
Show all
Indirect linking verbs

Three postural verbs, sit to sit, to lie and staan to stand, and a verb of motion, loop to go, walk,

Note that, unlike in Dutch, the verb hang to hang is not employed in this construction: *Die wasgoed hang en droogword. To mean: The washing is hung (on the line) to dry.
referred to as indirect linking verbs (indirekte skakelwerkwoorde) in the Afrikaans grammar tradition, are linked by the particle en and to the main verb in what is known as the verbal hendiadys (verbale hendiadis) construction (V-en-V in short). Indirect linking verbs contribute to the expression of durative or progressive aspect in the clause as a whole rather than contributing their own meaning. The postural/motion verb and main verb share the same subject and the posture or movement in question is usually compatible with the meaning of the main verb, as in (1a). The construction often lends emotive connotations, even slightly derogatory, to the clause, as in (1b).

a. Karen sit en werk aan haar verhandeling.
Karen sit.LINK and work.INF on her dissertation
Karen sits working on her dissertation.
b. Die Opposisie staan en praat nou mos onsin.
the Opposition stand.LINK and talk.INF now surely nonsense
The Opposition is talking pure nonsense now.

The fact that a postural construction, as in (2a), and a progressive construction, as in (2b), do not combine well, cf. (2c), is an indication that the former has a durative value in itself:

a. Sy sit en werk.
she sit.LINK and work.INF
She is sitting working.
b. Sy is aan die werk.
she is on the work.NMLZ
She is busy working.
c. *Sy is aan die sit en werk.
she is on the sit.LINK and work.INF
To mean: She is busy working.

The V-en-V construction is related to coordinate constructions with en as coordinator, from which it is sometimes indistinguishable, as in:

By die ontvangs staan hulle rond en drankies drink.
at the reception stand.LINK they around and drinks drink.INF
At the reception they stand around drinking drinks.

In the perfect tense the postural/motion verb is often marked as a past participle through the addition of the prefix ge-:

Die kinders het (ge)loop  en liedjies sing.
the children have.AUX walk.LINK and songs.DIM sing.INF
The children sang songs while walking.

As an uninterrupted complex the V-en-V construction is used in various positions in the clausal sequence, e.g. as first or second constituent or clause-finally:

a. Sit en doen julle nog sulke mooi weefwerk?
sit.LINK and do.INF you.2PL still such beautiful weave.work
Do you still sit doing such beautiful weaving?
b. Hy het sy sleutels staan en verloor.
he have.AUX his keys stand.LINK and lose.INF
He went and lost his keys.

When the complex is permeated by other constituents, such as a subject/object or an adverbial, their position relative to members of the construction is determined by whether the postural/motion verb is positioned in the verb first or second position (V1/2) or not. If in V1/2, various constituents, such as the subject or adverbials, may be inserted between the postural/motion verb and en, but only generic nominals or verbal particles betweenen and the main verb:

Môre loop hulle weer en krygsliedere sing.
tomorrow walk.LINK they again and battle songs sing.INF
Tomorrow they will be walking about again singing battle songs.

If the postural/motion verb is not in V1/2 then all permeations are between en and the main verb, and none between the postural/motion verb and en:

Hulle sê dat hy staan en groot visse vang.
they say that.COMP he stand..LINK and big fish.PL catch.INF
They say that he is busy catching big fish.

Verbal particles are positioned before the main verb as in (8a) or may be stranded clause-finally when the postural/motion verb is in V1/2, as in (8b):

a. Die duiwe loop die pitte en oppik.
the doves walk.LINK the pips and up.peck.INF
The doves walk about pecking up the pips.
b. Die duiwe loop en pik die pitte op.
the doves walk.LINK and peck.INF the pips up
The doves walk about pecking up the pips.
[+]Postural and motion verbs

Three verbs referring to the posture or position of the subject of a clause, namely sit to sit, to lie and staan to stand, and a verb of motion, loop to walk, which can function as main verbs in their own right, are linked in a process of auxiliation to the main verb in that they share a subject with the main verb and consistently precede the main verb. They have also undergone semantic bleaching allowing them to strengthen the durative or progressive aspect of the clause as a whole rather than describing specific postures.

The evolution of postural verbs from a locative function to a construction indicating that the subject is in the process of performing a certain action is described by Breed and Brisard(2015). Broekhuis et al. (2015) suggest that the bleaching of the postural verb in the course of its becoming aspectual may be related to the fact that the action in question is not always visible to the speaker, e.g.

Sy loop al heeldag en tob oor die probleem.
she walk.LINK already all.day and worry.INF about the problem
She has been walking about worrying all day about the problem.
[+]Semantics and function

The postural verb which is selected is usually appropriate to the type of action expressed by the main verb (e.g. sit en eet sitting and eating), unless the speaker intends to express a deviation from the normal practice (e.g. lê en eet lying and eating), as in (10a), or a metaphorical expression is used, as in (10b):

a. In Klassieke tye het mense gelê en eet.
in Classical times have.AUX people lie.LINK and eat.INF
In Classical times people lay eating.
b. Want netnou se groot braai lê mos nou hoeka en loer vir jou
because.CNJ soon POSS big barbecue lie.LINK surely now all.along and peep.INF for you
Because surely the big barbecue coming up soon is lying in waiting for you.

These verbs are also employed to express emotive connotations, somewhat derogatory in some instances, e.g.

a. Hy wil mos net heeldag staan  en 'n mens rondorder.
he want.to.AUX.MOD surely only all.day stand.LINK and a person around.order.INF
He of course keeps trying to order one around all day.
b. Wil jy nou jou bed op 'n ander plek staan en koop?
want.to.AUX.MOD you.2SG now your bed at an other place stand.LINK and buy.INF
Do you actually intend to buy your bed somewhere else?
Ad on RSG, 2012/8/11

According to Van Schoor (1983:173) the V-en-V construction (“verbale hendiadis”) always has an unfavourable implication or emotive value.

Since postural/motion verbs, as in (12a), express durative aspect they do not combine well with progressive constructions, or seem tautological, as in (12c) and (12d):

a. Die gesin sit en eet.
the family sit.LINK and eat.INF
The family is sitting and eating.
b. Die gesin is besig om te eet / aan die eet.
the family is busy for.COMP PTCL.INF eat.INF / at the eat.NMLZ
The family is busy eating.
c. ?Die gesin is besig om te sit en eet.
the family is busy for.COMP PTCL.INF sit.LINK and eat.INF
The family is busy sitting and eating.
d. *Die gesin is aan die sit en eet.
the family is at the sit.and.eat.NMLZ
To mean: The family is busy sitting and eating.

The four postural/motion verbs partake in a construction characterised by the coordinatoren, which according to Ponelis (1979:241) has become a construction specific particle. Though modern Dutch uses the infinitival particle te in a corresponding construction, the usage of en in this function is attested in earlier Dutch. While en is omitted by some speakers in the case of sit to sit, to lie and staan to stand, e.g. sit eet instead of sit en eet, loop en eet to eat while walking should be distinguished from a slightly derogatory loop eet without en, meaning ‘go to eat’, cf. the accusing tone of the following:

Jy moenie so loop en wegraak nie, ou dromer.
you.2SG must.not.AUX.MOD so walk.LINK and lost.get.INF PTCL.NEG old dreamer
You mustn't just get lost like that, old dreamer.
TK, adapted

The usage of loop plus verb without en is described elsewhere and is functionally different from the V-en-V construction described here.

V-en-V constructions are not only related to coordinated en constructions, but sometimes indistinguishable from them. Thus while (14a) and (14b) are fully-fledged co-ordinated constructions where postures are described rather than durative aspect expressed, the verbs sit and staan in (14ai) and (14bi) mainly express durative aspect:

a. Hy sal daar voor die winkels sit en met die mense gesels wat verbykom.
he will.AUX.MOD there in.front.of the shops sit.LINK and with the people chat who.REL past.come.INF
He would sit there in front of the shops and chat with the people who pass by.
TK, adapted
a.' Hy sit en gesels met die mense wat verbykom.
he sit.LINK and chat.INF with the people who.REL past.come
He sits and chats with the people who pass by.
b. Jakadas staan regop en swaai sy arms.
Jakadas stand.LINK upright and wave.INF his arms
Jakadas stands upright and waves his arms.
b.' Jakadas staan en swaai sy arms.
Jakadas stand.LINK and wave.INF his arms
Jakadas stands waving his arms.

Van Schoor (1983:173) describes the first member of the construction, i.e. the postural verb, as used in the perfect, as a past participle: Ek het gesit en slaap I sat sleeping.. A limited search in the Taalkommissiekorpus indicated that the numbers of the entire set of postural verbs in perfect constructions with and without ge are roughly equal, e.g., with and without prefix:

a. so ver sy geloop en moed soek het om huis toe te bel
as far she walk.PST.PTCP and courage seek.INF have.AUX for.COMP home to.POSTP PTCL.INF phone.INF
as far as she walked plucking up courage to phone home
b. Hy het by homself loop en planne maak.
he have.AUX by himself walk.LINK and plans make.INF
He made plans by himself while walking.
[+]Placement of en

The V-en-V complex occurs without interruption in various positions in the clause without stranding of the main verb, e.g. in verb-second position (16a), in verb-first position (16b), clause-finally (16c), and as full infinitive in (16d).

a. Heeldag sit en lees sy die koerant.
all.day sit.LINK and read.INF she the paper
She sits reading the paper all day long.
b. Sit en lees sy heeldag die koerant?
sit.LINK and read.INF she all.day the paper
Does she sit reading the paper all day long?
c. Sy het heeldag die koerant (ge)sit en lees.
she have.AUX all.day the paper sit.LINK and read.INF
She sat reading the paper all day long.
d. Wat besiel die knaap om my taal so te staan en verkrag?
what possess the guy for.COMP my language so PTCL.INF stand.LINK and violate.INF
What has possessed the guy to violate my language in such a way?

While the postural/motion verb always precedes the main verb, the placement of en vis-à-vis either of them is dependent on whether the postural/motion verb is situated in V2/1 or not.

[+]Postural/motion verb in V2/1

When the postural/motion verb is in V2/1, various kinds of constituents may be inserted between it and en, cf.:

a. Die kinders sit grootoog daarna en kyk.
the children sit.LINK wide.eye PN.at and look.INF
The children sit wide-eyed looking at it.
b. Die kolonel staan langs die projektor sy onderlip en byt.
the colonel stand.LINK next.to the projector his lower.lip and bite.INF
The colonel stands next to the projector biting his lower lip.
H.Kalmer: Vlieger, 2012, 61
c. jy snags en staar die duister in?
lie.LINK you.2SG at.night and stare.INF the darkness in.POSTP
Do you lie staring into the darkness at night?
d. By 'n reuseswembad sit 'n donker man en speel op 'n sitar.
at a giant.swimming.pool sit.LINK a dark man and play.INF on a sitar
At a giant swimming pool a dark man sits playing on a sitar.
e. Daar staan ons hele gesin Pa en tant Grietjie en inwag.
there stand.LINK our whole family Dad en Aunt Grietjie and await.INF
There our whole family stands awaiting Dad and Aunt Grietjie.

The position between en and the main verb is restricted to generic NPs and verbal particles:

a. Sy staan en koesisters bak.
she stand.LINK and koesisters bake.INF
She stands baking koesisters.
b. *Sy staan en 'n/die koesister bak.
she stand.LINK and a/the koesister bake.INF
To mean: She stands baking a/the koesister.
c. Hulle sit die briewe <*toe> en <toe>vou.
they sit.LINK the letters <up> and <up> fold.INF
They sit folding up the letters.
[+]Postural/motion verb not in V2/1

When the postural/motion verb itself is not in V2/1 and the V-en-V complex is permeated, the interruption is usually between en and the main verb:

Ma kan nie hier lê en grappies maak nie.
Mom can.AUX.MOD not here lie.LINK and jokes make.INF PTCL.NEG
Mom can't lie here and make jokes.

In the following main clause, however, the insertion of the rest of the expression follows rather than precedes the main verb:

Hy hoop nou nie die klong loop staan en raak die kluts kwyt nie.
he hope now not the boy walk.LINK stand.LINK and get.INF the marbles lost PTCP.NEG
He hopes the boy isn't going to lose his marbles now.
K.Brynard: Vaders, 2012, 62, adapted

In subordinate clauses insertion usually occurs between en and the main verb:

a. Hulle kry niks gedoen nie omdat hulle sit en speletjies speel.
they get.PRS nothing do.PST.PTCP PTCL.NEG because.CNJ they sit.LINK and game.DIM.PL play.INF
They don't get anything done because they are playing games all the time.
b. die perd wat oor die werf loop en aan die graspolle pluk
the horse that.REL across the yard walk.LINK and on the grass.tufts pluck.INF
the horse walking across the yard plucking at tufts of grass
TK, adapted
c. toe hy die middag in die winkeldeur staan en oor die baai uitkyk
when.CNJ he the afternoon in the shop.door stand.LINK and across the bay out.look.INF
when he stood in the shop's door that afternoon looking out across the bay

In nominalisations insertions are also made between en and the main verb, e.g.

a. Die geloop en blomme kyk, is nogal vermoeiend.
the walking.NMLZ and flowers.view.NMLZ is rather tiring
Looking at flowers while walking about is rather tiring.
b. seker van lank in die bakkie sit en vir iets wag
perhaps from long in the boat sit.LINK and for something wait.INF
perhaps from sitting in the boat for a long time waiting for something

A verbal particle also precedes the main verb:

Hessie het die man staan en agterna kyk
Hessie have.AUX the man stand.LINK and after gaze.INF
Hessie stood gazing after the man
TK, adapted
  • Broekhuis, Hans, Corver, Norbert & Vos, Riet2015Syntax of Dutch. Verbs and verb phrasesComprehensive grammar resourcesAmsterdam University Press
printreport errorcite