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Verb classifications

The syntactic classification of Afrikaans verbs has to be considered separately for main and non-main verbs. Main verbs are classified in terms of the argument constructions in which they are found. The semantics of individual verbs, the number of semantic type of arguments that they associate with, and the syntactic possibilities for the encoding of verbs and their arguments all require attention.

With the exception of a small class of impersonal verbs, all main verbs take subjects to form clauses. These subjects are typically expressed by a noun phrase. Verbs differ in the number and range of complements they take, yielding a distinction between intransitive, transitive and ditransitive constructions, depending on whether there is no, one or two verb complements. These associations are not arbitrary, but depend on the semantics of the verbs, even though there is a degree of conventionalisation of certain arbitrary patterns that cannot be predicted on the basis of general principles. The classification of main verbs is approached by presenting the syntactic options and the semantic properties separately:

The syntactic and semantic properties and association patterns of copular verbs are different from those of the other main verbs. Copular verb constructions also have subjects, but unlike main verbs, these subjects can potentially be expressed by a clause, and not only a noun phrase. The syntactic options for the predicate in copular verb constructions are even more varied, with noun phrases, adjective phrases, preposition phrases and complement clauses all attested. Copular verbs themselves contribute a limited set of meanings that relate to states of being, as well as modifications of tense, aspect and modality. Copular clause constructions typically ascribe to a subject certain qualities, provide defining or identifying information about the subject, or locate the subject in space or time. A classification of copular verbs is presented in a separate section, since there is limited similarity to main verbs.

Non-main verbs are involved in a range of constructions that are presented as part of the overall classification of verbs, and are presented in terms of those constructions. As far as their syntactic patterns are concerned, the hierarchical and linear aspects of their word order are treated separately, with attention to differences in order between main clauses and dependent clauses.

Some of the most prominent constructions that make use of non-main verbs are:

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