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Word order in the clause: position of the finite Verb

The finite verb in Afrikaans clauses is found in one of the positions: the second position (V2), following a single constituent that could be the subject or one other element placed in the initial position as a result of topicalisation, or else in the final position (VF). The final position is not absolute, as there may be constituents that follow the final position, but there are constraints on which constituents may follow the final verb(s). In declarative main clauses, one finite verb has to fill the second position, and all the other verbs cluster together in the final position. In dependent clauses, the verbs all cluster in the final position and no verb is found in the second position, irrespective of whether the verbs are finite or not. These two positions for the finite verb are illustrated in example (1) and (2), with the finite verb emphasised in each case.

a. Hy lees graag nie-fiksie oor die sakewêreld.
[(CI) hy] [(V2)] lees] [(MF) graag nie-fiksie oor die sakewêreld]
he read.PRS eagerly non-fiction about the business.world
He reads non-fiction about the business world eagerly.
b. Later het hy saam met my gedigte gelees.
[(CI) later] [(V2) het] [(MF) hy saam met my gedigte] [(VF) gelees]
later have.AUX he together with me poems read.PST
Later he read poems with me.
a. Asof Emmie sy gedagtes lees...
[(SUBORD) asof] [(MF) Emmie sy gedagtes] [(VF) lees]
as.if Emmy his thoughts read.PRS
As if Emmy reads his thoughts...
b. Nadat Boet die brief gelees het...
[(SUBORD) nadat] [(MF) Boet die brief] [(VF) gelees het]
after Boet the letter read.PST have.AUX
After Boet read the letter...

A number of complications and potential exceptions to these two basic patterns can be noted. Imperatives and YES/NO interrogatives have the verb in first position, with no elements preceding them, as shown in example (3).

a. Lees die name vir hulle.
[(V1) lees] [(MF) die name vir hulle]
read.IMP the names for them
Read them the names.
b. Lees jy nog koerant?
[(V1) lees] [(MF) jy nog koerant]
read.PRS you still newspaper
Do you still read newspapers?

Afrikaans has many particle verbs, where the verbs form productive collocations with other word-like particles that approach the status of new lexical units, with the terminal point of these developments a new compound verb. In most cases, the particles behave as separate words, but can fuse with the verb when used in the infinitive or past participle forms, as illustrated by the examples in (4). When the particle is separated from the verb, the particle occupies the verb-final cluster on its own, but when the main verb also slots into the verb-final position because an auxiliary verb occupies the verb-second position, the main verb and its particle usually fuse into a single word, with some exceptions for particles derived from nouns, that remain separate words at least insofar as the orthographic representation is concerned.

a. Naas Botha skop die bal af.
Naas Botha kick.PRS the ball off
Naas Botha kicks off the ball.
[(CI) Naas Botha] [(V2) skop] [(MF) die bal] [(VF) af]
a.' Naas Botha het die bal afgeskop.
Naas Botha have.AUX the ball off.kick.PST
Naas Botha kicked off the ball.
[(CI) Naas Botha] [(V2) het] [(MF) die bal] [(VF) afgeskop]
a.'' Naas Botha sal die bal afskop.
Naas Botha will.AUX.MOD the ball off.kick.INF
Naas Botha will kick off the ball.
[(CI) Naas Botha] [(V2) sal] [(MF) die bal] [(VF) afskop]
b. Sy ry vanjaar voltyds fiets.
she ride.PRS this.year full.time bicycle
She cycles full-time this year.
[(CI) sy] [(V2) ry] [(MF) vanjaar voltyds] [(VF) fiets]
b.' Sy het verlede jaar voltyds fietsgery.
she have.AUX last year full.time bicycle.ride.PST
She cycled full-time last year.
[(CI) sy] [(V2) het] [(MF) verlede jaar voltyds] [(VF) fietsgery]
b.'' Sy sal volgende jaar voltyds fietsry.
she will.AUX.MOD next year full.time bicycle.ride.INF
She will cycle full-time next year.
[(CI) sy] [(V2) sal] [(MF) volgende jaar voltyds] [(VF) fietsry]

A number of possible exceptions are found with certain subordinate clauses that seem to adopt a verb-second or even verb-initial word order, despite being subordinate clauses. Some adverbial clauses can be formulated as verb-first or verb-second clauses, as illustrated by (5). The fact that the main clause following the adverbial clause in brackets has its verb before its subject, indicates the embedded status of the initial adverbial clause relative to the main clause.

a. [Al wil jy dalk voortgaan], moet jy net daar stop.
[(CI) [(CNJ) al] [(V2) wil] [(MF jy dalk] [(VF) voortgaan]] [(V2) moet] [(MF) jy net daar] [(VF) stop]
[even want.to.AUX.MOD you perhaps continue] must.AUX.MOD you just there stop.INF
Even if you perhaps want to continue, you have to stop just there.
[Concessive clause with V2]
b. [Wil jy self iets van die sjarme van die outydse rose in jou tuin hê], kan jy nog vanjaar jou rose van Ludwigs bestel.
[(CI) [(V1) wil] [(MF jy self iets van die sjarme van die outydse rose in jou tuin] [(VF) hê]] [(V2) kan] [(MF) jy nog vanjaar jou rose van Ludwigs] [(VF) bestel]
[want.to.AUX.MOD you self something of the charm of the old-fashioned roses in your garden have.INF] can.AUX.MOD you still this-year your roses from Ludwigs order.INF
If you want to experience something of the charm of the old-fashioned roses in your garden, you can still order your roses from Ludwigs this year.
[Conditional clause with V1]

In addition, Afrikaans allows declarative complement clauses without a subordinator, which will retain the verb-second order in the complement clause, and even allows interrogative WH-complement clauses with verb-second, after the clause-initial WH-element. These options are illustrated in (6) and discussed in depth in the section on complement clauses.

a. Sy kollegas sê [hy was 'n streng bevelvoerder].
… [(CI) hy] [(V2) was] [(MF) 'n streng bevelvoerder]
his colleagues say.PRS [he be.PST a strict commander]
His colleagues say he was a strict commanding officer.
[Declarative complement clause with V2 and no complementiser]
b. Ek wonder [wat gaan regtig in sy gemoed aan].
…[(CI) wat] [(V2) gaan] [(MF) regtig in sy gemoed] [(VF) aan]
I wonder.PST what go.PRS really in his mind on
I wonder what really goes on in his mind.
TK, adjusted
[Interrogative complement clause with V2 after WH]
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