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The suffix -s occurs with adverbs. Usually, it does not have a semantic contribution whatsoever; its main function seems to be to mark the adverbial status of the derivation. An example is dalik immediately next to daliks immediately. As can also be seen from this example, a striking feature is the fact that the addition of -s is often optional. Besides adverbial bases, phrasal bases are possible, often consisting of a preposition plus noun, as in ûnderweis [[ûnder](P)[wei](N)]s under-way-s on the way. Addition of this adverbial -s is fairly unproductive, especially with phrasal bases.

[+]General properties

Historically, the suffix -s has a genitival origin; for the genitive in present-day Frisian, see case. Bases can both be words and phrases. These phrases can be prepositional or nominal. If the base is a word, then this is an adverb or an adjective which might also be analyzed as in adverbial use. It is hard to decide what the real base is in such cases.

The function of the adverbial -s, as it is sometimes called, is to mark the adverbial status of the relevant word. If the base is a true adverb, then -s can be seen as a strengthening of the adverbial status. If it should be considered an adjective, then one must conclude that -s also marks the transposition to another word-class. With phrasal bases, the suffix additionally marks the transition of phrase to word. This is usually reflected in the orthography, as such derivations are spelled as one word, i.e. without spaces, for example ûnderweis on the road.

Nouns can also take a suffix -s, specifically to derive temporal expressions. This subject is dealt with in the topic on -s with noun as base.

Frisian also possesses another suffix with a similar function, viz. -en.

[+]Adverb as base

An adverbial base can be assumed in, for example, the following cases:

Table 1
Base Derivation
faak often faaks often; perhaps
dalik immediately daliks immediately
einlik finally einliks finally
fierder for the rest fierders for the rest
drekt right away drekts right away
As can be seen, addition of -s can be considered optional if the meaning is not altered, which is mostly the case. However, in a word like faaks perhaps we do see a change of meaning, as this is clearly different from the meaning often of the base faak.

Perhaps, we see more semantic idiosyncrasies with adverbs that could also function as adjectives. Here are some examples :

Table 2
Base Derivation
rjocht right rjochts to the right
sacht soft sachts at least
ûnferwachte unexpected ûnferwachts unexpectedly
koart short koarts shortly, by accident, almost

The ending -s is also obligatory in these examples.

[+]Phrase as base

Possibly, the most common phrasal base is an Adposition Phrase (PP). We then have a combination of preposition and noun, as in ûnderweis [[ûnder](P)[wei](N)]s under-way-s on the way. Articles are omitted, i.e. we do not encounter *ûnderdeweis or something like that. Some more examples can be found below (where the translation is related to the derivation, and the gloss to the phrasal base):

Table 3
Derivation Translation Phrase Gloss
binnenmûls inarticulately [[binnen](P) [mûle](N)](NP) inside mouth
yntiids in good time [[yn](P) [tiid](N)](NP) in time
bûtendyks outside the dike [[bûten](P) [dyk](N)](NP) outside dike
omskiks reasonably [[om](P) [skik](N)](NP) for fit
Occasionally, we see an inflected adjective, as in op komm-end-e weis on come-PRESP-INFL way-SUFF forthcoming. In such cases we see a spelling with spaces.

There are also cases that rather look like a combination of a preposition with an adjective, for instance in fannijs of-new-SUFF anew or bygelyks by-right-SUFF for example. If one really were to fit such combinations in the normal pattern in which a preposition governs a noun phrase, then it should be assumed that the adjectives nij and gelyk have been converted to nouns.

Another phrasal base may consist of a Noun Phrase (NP) alone. Here are a few examples:

Table 4
Derivation Translation Phrase Gloss
healstoks at half-mast [[heal-INFL](A) [stôk](N)](NP) half stick
bleatfoets barefoot [[bleat-INFL](A) [foet](N)](NP) naked foot
somtiids sometimes [[sommige](Q) [tiid](N)](NP) some time
The noun of the NP is mostly preceded by an adjective, but a quantifier is also possible, as in the case of somtiids, in which we can recognize a (truncated) form of sommige some. The adjectives are not inflected. That is, in a full-fledged NP one should for example expect bleate foet bare foot. Instead, the word bleatfoets barefoot even has a variant bleatsfoets, with an -s after the adjective. This may be a remnant of an older genitive construction.

The suffix -s is mostly not optional if positioned after a phrase, in contrast to many derivations with an adverbial base.

[+]Origin and productivity

The suffix probably has an origin as a genitive suffix, which later acquired a different function.

The suffix is hardly productive, although the impression exists that it is more widespread than the same suffix -s in Dutch. This especially applies to derivations with an adverbial base. Those with a phrasal base all seem frozen expressions, possibly originating as univerbations of frequent combinations. New expressions of this sort are not easily expected .


We find a rare case of allomorphy in the word stilmes which is applied to a standing jump. For more information, see the topic -mes, especially the sections on the allomorph -mis and literature.


As stated above, the adverbial suffix -en has a similar function. Occasionally, we find stacking, which in some cases is even obligatory. An example is the expression om ut-en-s around out-SUFF-SUFF abroad, i.e. outside Friesland. Neither *om uten nor *om úts exists.

In stacking, both orders may be found. The order -en-s, for example, exists in ûnderwil-en-s meanwhile, omheg-en-s upward, út 'en read-en-s reddish, and probably also in mei gauw-en-s soon, although Veen (1984-2011) analyzes this as a single attachment of the nominalizing suffix -ens). The other order, i.e. -s-en, is really rare. We find it in ein-s-en actually, (net) ien-s-en (not) only, and also in jin-s-en over there, with a historical stem jin.

[+]Morphological potential

These adverbials ending in -s cannot form a base for further composition or derivation. Somewhat special is ûnferwachts unexpected, which can be converted (or better: reconverted) to an adjective. Thus in Frisian one both can have ûnferwachte besite unexpected visit as well as ûnferwachtse besite, both with a regular inflectional -e. The development is then something like (verb) ferwachtsje to expect > (past participle) ferwachte > (adjective) ferwachte > (negation) ûnferwachte > (adverb) ûnferwachts > (adjective) ûnferwachts. Note that in the step towards an adverb there has been truncation of the final schwa of ûnferwachte.

[hide extra information]

Although this "adverbial -s" is sometimes mentioned in grammars, the subject is hardly studied in any detail. The longest passage can be found in Hoekstra (1989:30-31). He also mentions the genitival origin of the suffix. Synchronically, he considers -s to be an extension of the stem rather than a suffix on its own.

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1989Bywurden fan tiid op -sTydskrift foar Fryske Taalkunde51-32
  • Veen, Klaas F. van der et al1984-2011Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal - Woordenboek der Friese taalFryske Akademy