Subjunctive in Dutch

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The subjunctive mood in Dutch is a verb mood typically used in dependent clauses to express a wish, command, emotion, possibility, uncertainty, doubt, judgment, opinion, necessity, or action that has not yet occurred.

It is also referred to as the conjunctive mood (Dutch: aanvoegende wijs) as it often follows a conjunction. As in English, the subjunctive mood in Dutch has gradually been replaced by modal auxiliary verbs. As a consequence, contemporary use is mostly, but not completely, confined to set phrases and semi-fixed expressions. In older Dutch texts, the use of the subjunctive is frequently encountered.

Formation[edit]

Present subjunctive[edit]

    • O.T.T. :
      • First Person: present root + e (ik kome) or if the root ends on a vowel: root (ik ga)
      • Second Person: present root +et or root +e: gij nemet', zij je, u lette
      • Third Person: present root +e: hij spele
      • Plural: present infinitive: wij mogen
    • V.T.T.: O.T.T. of hebben or zijn + Past Participle: ik hebbe gespeeld, u zij gegaan.

Past subjunctive[edit]

    • O.V.T.:
      • First Person: past root + e: Ik kwame.
      • Second Person: past root + e: Hij speelde.
      • Plural: past infinitive: Wij mochten.
      • One exception: the past subjunctive of the Dutch verb worden (to become) is wierde(n), not werde(n).
    • V.V.T.: O.V.T. of hebben (to have) or zijn (to be) + Past Participle: Ik hadde gespeeld, gij waret gegaan.

Future subjunctive[edit]

The future subjunctive is mostly a theoretical construct, which has almost never been used.

    • O.Tk.T.: O.T.T. of zullen + Present Infinitive: ik zulle spelen.
    • O.V.Tk.T.: O.V.T. of zullen + Present Infinitive: ik zoude spelen.
    • V.Tk.T.: O.Tk.T. of hebben or zijn + Past Participle: Ik zulle gespeeld hebben, gij zullet gegaan zijn.
    • V.V.Tk.T.: O.V.Tk.T. of hebben or zijn + Past Participle: Ik zoude gespeeld hebben, gij zoudet gegaan zijn.

Usage[edit]

In Dutch, the conjunctive mood can express a

  • wish: hence, it fulfills the function of the optative mood (wensende wijs) in other languages.
  • command
  • condition: hence, it fulfills the function of the conditional mood (voorwaardelijke wijs) in other languages.
  • irreality: hence, it fulfills the function of the irrealis mood in other languages.
  • possibility: potentialis
  • doubt
  • uncertainty
  • concession
  • purpose
  • exhortation: it fulfills the function of the hortative mood in other languages.

The subjunctive was quite common in the past and is often encountered in older Dutch texts. It underwent a slow but steady decline in use, first in the spoken language and later in the written language. It was already noted by linguists in the early 20th century that the use of the subjunctive in oral language was rare.[1] By that time, the use of the subjunctive in writing was also dwindling—a process that continued throughout the 20th century.

If the subjunctive is used in accordance with the rules mentioned in this article, it is still considered grammatically correct, but often sounds archaic or formal. In contemporary Dutch, the subjunctive is no longer actively used, save for a few exceptions and a large range of set phrases. Instead the function of the subjunctive has been replaced by a range of auxiliary verbs, the most important of which is "zullen" (will), especially its past tense: "zouden" (would).

Command or wish[edit]

The subjunctive can express a wish or command.[2] As such the subjunctive fulfills the function of what is known as the optative mood in some other languages. The main verb expresses a wish, demand or desire, such as willen (to want), begeren and verlangen (to desire), hopen (to hope), bidden (to pray), smeken (to beg) and waken and zorgen (to take care). Example sentences:

  • Ik hoop dat hij op tijd kome. (I hope he will come on time - In English the dependent clause that follows the verb "to hope" is always in an indicative mood.)
  • Hij wenst dat er eendracht tussen ons zij. (He wishes that there be unity among us.)
  • Zorg dat dit geschiede. (Make sure that this gets done.)
  • Hij smeekte dat de misdadiger gestraft wierde. (He pleaded that the criminal be punished.)

One can also express a wish without using a dependent clause. Example sentences:

  • Lang leve de koningin! (Long live the queen!)
  • Mogen zij in vrede rusten. (May they rest in peace.)
  • Het ga je goed! (May things go well for you!)
  • God zegene en beware je. (May God bless and save you.)
  • Het geluk zij met u! (May luck be with you!)
  • Hiermede moge ik u berichten dat wij uw brief goed hebben ontvangen. (I may inform you that we have received your letter.)
  • Ware hij toch verstandiger geweest! (I wish he had been wiser!)
  • U gelieve gepast te betalen. (Please pay me what I am due.)

In contemporary Dutch, the optative function of the subjunctive has to a large extent been replaced by the auxiliary verb "zullen" (will) and to a much lesser extent by "laten" (to let). Example sentences: Ik hoop dat hij op tijd zal komen. (I hope he will come on time) and "Laat Uw Naam geheiligd worden." (Let Thy Name be hallowed, instead of "Geheiligd zij Uw Naam" or "Hallowed be Thy Name)." Many religious texts and official government or business letters still make use of the optative subjunctive.

Exhortation[edit]

The subjunctive can express an exhortation. Normally the third person is used.

  • U neme drie eieren. (You should take three eggs.)
  • De lezer bedenke wel dat dit boek vijftig jaar geleden geschreven is. (The reader should keep in mind that this book was written fifty years ago.)
  • Men zegge het voort. (One should tell others.)
  • Men herleze mijn brief. (One should reread my letter.)
  • De gebruiker lette hierop. (The user should take note of this.)

Condition or possibility[edit]

The subjunctive can be used to imply a condition or possibility.[3] The former is also called the conditional mood or conditionality; the latter potentialis. Example sentences:

  • Ware hij koning... (If he were king...)
  • Hadde hij de kracht gehad... (If he had had the strength...)
  • Vinde ik hem, ik zou... (If I found him, I would...)
  • Ware de hulp op tijd gekomen, dan was de ramp niet geschied. (If help had arrived in time, the disaster would not have occurred.)
  • Leefde hij nog, ik zou... (If he were still alive, I would...)
  • Hij ware een rijk man geworden, hadde hij langer geleefd. (He would have become a rich man if he had lived longer - the first sentence contains a subjunctive that expresses a doubt, see below.)
  • Sloege ik hem dood, ik dede een zonde. (If I had hit him to death, I would have committed a sin.)

In contemporary Dutch, the conditional function of the subjunctive has almost been completely replaced by the combination of "als" (if) or "indien" (if) and the modal auxiliary verb "zouden" (would). For example: Als hij koning zou zijn... (If he "would be" (were) king...) and Indien hij nog zou leven... (If he were still alive...).

Several conjunctions were often accompagnied with a subjunctive, because these conjunctions always express a condition.[4] Some examples:

  • Mits: Ik wil haar graag in mijn huis ontvangen mits ze niet voor morgen kome.
  • Tenzij: Als je niet tevreden bent, tenzij ik je vraag beantwoorde, weet dan nu al dat ik dat niet doen zal.

In contemporary usage, these conjunctions are normally always followed by an auxiliary verb and an indicative mood.

Uncertainty or doubt[edit]

The subjunctive can be used to express an uncertainty or doubt.[5] Example sentences:

  • Al kwame hij nu, het zou reeds te laat zijn. (Even if he came now, it would be too late.)
  • Ik vrees dat hij reeds overleden zij. (I fear that he would already have died.)
  • Ik twijfel of u daaraan wel voldoende moeite besteed hebbe. (I doubt that you have spent enough effort.)
  • Hij ware een rijk man geworden, hadde hij langer geleefd. (He would have become a rich man if he had lived longer - the second sentence contains a subjunctive that expresses a condition, see above.)

Several conjunctions were often accompagnied with a subjunctive, because these conjunctions always express a uncertainty or doubt.[6]

  • Of: Ik twijfel of hij mijn vriend wel zij.
  • Alsof: Het leek alsof hij op nieuw jong geworden ware.

In contemporary Dutch, uncertainty is expressed by the modal auxiliary verb "zullen" (will) and its past tense "zouden" (would).

Irreality[edit]

The subjunctive can be used to express an irrealis situation. Example sentences:

  • De man sprak over de bankoverval als ware het een zondaguitstapje. (The man spoke about the bank robbery as if it were a Sunday trip.)

Concession[edit]

The subjunctive can express a concession.[7] Example sentences:

  • Hij ga waar hij wil. (He can go wherever he wants)
  • Wie hij ook zij. (Whoever he may be.)
  • Wat hij ook moge doen. (Whatever he may do.)
  • Hoe het ook zij. (However it may be.)
  • Ik ben het met zijn standpunten eens, zij het niet geheel van harte.

Several conjunctions were often accompagnied with a subjunctive, because these conjunctions always express a concession.[8]

  • Hoewel: Hoewel hij een graag gezien figuur ware, besteedde hij niet veel aandacht aan zijn vrienden. (While he was popular, he did not spend a lot of time with his friends.)
  • Ofschoon or schoon: Hij zoude niet genoeg hebben, schoon hij een miljoen frank bezate. (He would not have enough, though he had a million francs.)

Purpose[edit]

Several conjunctions were always accompagnied with a subjunctive in the past, because these conjunctions always express a purpose.[9] Some examples:

  • Opdat: Ik zal hem helpen opdat hij zijn doel bereike.
  • Ten einde: De boer vraagt naar regen ten einde zijn akker besproeid worde.

In contemporary usage, these conjunctions are normally always followed by an auxiliary verb and an indicative mood.

Set phrases[edit]

In contemporary Dutch, a wide range of fixed expressions that make use of the conjunctive exist. Some examples are mentioned here.

Proverbs[edit]

Some examples:

  • Gebeure wat gebeuren zal. (What will be, will be.)
  • Kome wat komen zal. (Come what may...)
  • Koste wat het kost. (Cost what it will...)
  • Redde wie zich redden kan. (We will save what we can save.)

Formal and religious language[edit]

Some examples:[10]

  • Lord's Prayer: Onze Vader Die in de Hemelen zijt, geheiligd zij Uw Naam, Uw Rijk kome, Uw Wil geschiede op aarde als in de Hemel. (Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.)
  • Oath phrase: Zo waarlijk helpe mij God almachtig. ("So help me God," as used in swearing an oath.)

Set words[edit]

In some words, the use of the subjunctive can be seen:

  • Dankzij from "dank zij" (thanks to)
  • Hetzij from "het zij" (either)
  • Tenzij from "ten zij" (unless)
  • Godbetert from "God betere het".
  • Godverdomme from "God verdoeme (het)" (Goddamn(it))
  • Godzijdank from "God zij dank".

The composite words can also be split in their components and form a full-fledged sentence.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • In the past the word Nederduits (Low German) was often used interchangeably with Nederlands (Dutch). The subject of the books listed below is Dutch and not Low German grammar.
  1. ^ Berckenhoff, F. (1909). "De dienstbaarheid van de moedertaal.". De Nieuwe Tallgids (in Dutch) 3: 181–82. 
  2. ^ Brill, W.G. (1871). Nederlandsche Spraakleer (in Dutch). Leiden: E.J. Brill. p. 346. Men bezigt den subjunctief: Wanneer de handeling of de toestand vermeld wordt als bestaande in de bedoeling of den wensch des subjekts 
  3. ^ (Dutch) P. WEILAND, Nederduitsche spraakkunst, p. 147. dbnl.org
  4. ^ (Dutch) P. WEILAND, Nederduitsche spraakkunst ten dienste der scholen, p. 289. google.be
  5. ^ (Dutch) P. WEILAND, Nederduitsche spraakkunst ten dienste der scholen, p. 134. google.be
  6. ^ (Dutch) P. WEILAND, Nederduitsche spraakkunst ten dienste der scholen, p. 289. google.be
  7. ^ (Dutch) P. WEILAND, p. 147 digitalebibliotheek.be
  8. ^ (Dutch) P. WEILAND, Nederduitsche spraakkunst ten dienste der scholen, p. 289. google.be
  9. ^ (Dutch) P. WEILAND, Nederduitsche spraakkunst ten dienste der scholen, p. 289. google.be
  10. ^ (Dutch) Faculteit der Letteren, Radboud Universiteit, Aanvoegende wijs (conjunctief) let.ru.nl

External links[edit]