Adviserend beter: De pragmatiek en syntaxis van een modaal-subjectief bijwoord

Kristel Doreleijers, Norbert Corver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This paper presents a qualitative analysis of a construction that has not been studied extensively yet, namely the Dutch beter-construction, as in Beter ga je bij Starbucks koffie halen, ‘You better get yourself a coffee at Starbucks’. The paper gives a detailed description of the syntactic structure and the pragmatics of the construction. We argue that the sentence-initial adverb beter in the beter-construction differs, in both meaning and distributional characteristics, from the comparative adverb beter. By conducting three tests based on Broekhuis & Corver (2016), we show that it functions as a clause adverb in contrast to comparative beter, which functions as a VP-adverb. Moreover, we show that the adverb beter in the beter-construction shares important properties with modal and subjective adverbs. Adopting the generative-linguistic approach to clausal structure, we further propose that modal beter is a phrase that undergoes movement from a sentence-internal modifier position to the clause-initial position.
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)3-39
Number of pages37
JournalNederlandse taalkunde
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • adverb tests
  • clause adverb
  • comparative adverb
  • modality
  • movement

Cite this