Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

D. G. Frantz


In his Über das niederländische Adverbialpronomen 'er' Bech argues that the subject expletive of Dutch is inserted when the NP subject has an indefinite article. Bech also claims that the subjective expletive is a local subject and not a logical subject.

This thesis proposes that the use of the subject expletive cannot be based upon a traditional structuralist concept. The author rejects some of Bech's claims and argues for a semantic distinction between definiteness and non-definiteness as a basis for expletive insertion. An attempt is also made to apply the same distinction in accounting for the use of het with object complements.

Working within the framework called Relational Grammar, the author shows that each of the expletives has true grammatical relations of subject, direct object, or location to a verb.

Finally, constraints on combinations of er's in one sentence are shown to be controlled by a hierarchical principle.

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