w01a_Indef mass Ns in O position: can be bare

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    Indefinite mass nouns in object position

    To code for all possibilities, and for ease of the task, there are three property definitions for indefinite mass nouns in object position:

    can be 'bare', must have an 'article', can have an 'article'

Indefinite mass nouns in object position can be bare

This property is set to 'yes' if an unmodified, indefinite, mass noun in object position can be 'bare'.

A bare noun phrase, for the purposes of this set of properties,

  1. lacks an article (e.g. an indefinite€™ or a partitive article, i.e. English of+art, French de+art, Italian di+art, etc)
  2. (for languages without articles but with classifiers, noun classes, case, adpositional endings, etc) exhibits no structural alternation with noun phrases containing:
    1. an indefinite singular or plural count noun, or
    2. a definite mass noun

Elicitation context

I drink ______ water every day

[ More contexts]

Additional instructions

  1. This property applies to mass nouns (I drank beer), NOT to mass nouns used as count nouns (I drank a beer/two beers/three beers: this can only mean a glass of beer, a type of beer, a bottle of beer )
  2. The mass noun must be unmodified (no quantifiers, no adjectives, no possessors, no relative clauses, no adpositional complements, etc.
  3. The sentence is affirmative, NOT negative, interrogative, etc. (if you notice any difference between affirmative and negative/interrogative contexts, please comment, or contact us)
  4. The following classes of nouns should NOT be considered when checking this property:
    1. abstract nouns (John finds love everywhere)
    2. collective nouns (Italy changed government last week, I saw people at the party)
    3. singular nouns of chemical elements or other physical entities (I put oxygen in the tank)
    4. singular nouns of arts and sciences (I love chemistry)
    5. home
  5. If there is more than one object position in your language, test this property for each position



English is 'yes' for this property: indefinite mass nouns in object position can be bare.

    1. I bought wine
    2. The wind blew sand on my terrace
    3. John drank milk for breakfast
    1. John produces olive oil on his farm
    2. Mary is eating cheese
    3. John sells beer


    Russian is '€˜yes' for this property: indefinite mass nouns in object position can be bare (i.a). The contrast between (i.a) and (i.b) shows that a mass noun with accusative case is compatible with both an indefinite (i.a) and a definite interpretation (i.b), thus counting as bare€.


    • Ja dostala vino i syr iz xolodil'nika
      I take.out.PST.SG.FEM wine.ACC and cheese from fridge
      " I took wine and cheese from the fridge."


    • Ja doela syr no ne smogla dopit' vino
      I eat.PST cheese.ACC but NEG could drink.up.INF wine.ACC
      " I ate the cheese but I wasn’t able to drink the wine "


    Hebrew is 'yes' for this property: indefinite mass nouns in object position can be bare.

    • axalti basar
      I.ate meat
      " I ate meat"


    Italian is 'yes' for this property: indefinite mass nouns in object position can be bare.


    • Mario ha bevuto birra alla festa
      Mario has drunk beer at.the party
      " Mario drank beer at the party "


    • Gianni sta mangiando formaggio
      Gianni is eating cheese
      " Gianni is eating cheese "


    Basque is 'no' for this property: indefinite mass nouns in object position can never be bare.


    • * ardo edan dut
      wine drink AUX
      " I drank wine "

    An article (a) is obligatory.


    • ardo-a edan dut
      wine-A drink AUX
      " I drank wine " (it can also mean I drank the wine)


    French is 'no' for this property: indefinite mass nouns in object position can never be bare.


    • * Jean buvait bière
      wine drink AUX
      " Jean drank beer "

    The '€˜partitive' article (= the preposition de + the definite article) is obligatory.


    • Jean buvait de la bière
      Jean drank of the beer
      " Jean drank beer "
Contributed by: Cristina Guardiano and Hilda Koopman
Language Value Contributor Comments
  Words: Me num –m nsuo.
  Gloss: 1SG drink –Pst water
  Translation: I drank water
  Contributor: AUGUSTINA OWUSU
   Amharic Yes Hilda Koopman
   Ancient Greek Yes Cristina Guardiano
   Armenian (Eastern) Yes Sona Haroutyunian
   Bambara Yes Hilda Koopman
+ Basaa Yes Paul Roger Bassong
  Words: Mɛ ń- njɔ́ málêp híkií kɛ̂l
  Gloss: I PRES-drink 6.water every 9.day
  Translation: I drink water everyday
  Contributor: Paul Roger Bassong
   Basque No Cristina Guardiano and Hilda Koopman
   Calabrian (Northern) Yes Giuseppina Silvestri
+ Cantonese (Guangzhou) Yes Zixian Qiu
  Words: ngo muijat jam seoi
  Gloss: I every-day drink water
  Translation: I drink water every day.
  Contributor: Zixian Qiu
   Catalan Yes Victoria Mateu
   Chickasaw Yes Pam Munro
+ Croatian Yes Daniela Culinovic
  Words: Ivan proizvodi maslinovo ulje na svojoj farmi.
  Gloss: John.NOM produce.PRS.3SG olive oil.ACC at his farm.DAT
  Translation: John produces some/the olive oil at his farm.
  Comment: Accusative object is ambiguous between definite and indefinite interpretation.
  Contributor: Daniela Culinovic
+ Cypriot Greek Yes Marios Andreou
  Words: Pinn-o neron.
  Gloss: drink-1.SG.PRS water.ACC
  Translation: I drink water.
  Contributor: Marios Andreou
   Danish Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Dida Lakota (diéko) Yes Gohon Fabienne Stéphanie Attéby
  Words: dàāɡɔ̄ má nṵ̄
  Gloss: Dago drink alcohol
  Translation: Dago drinks alcohol
  Contributor: Gohon Fabienne Stéphanie Attéby
+ Dutch Yes Hilda Koopman
  Words: Ik heb vandaag kaas en wijn gekocht
  Gloss: I have today cheese and wine bought
  Translation: I bought cheese and wine today
  Contributor: Hilda Koopman
+ English Yes the property authors
  Words: Mary is eating cheese
  Contributor: the property authors
  Words: I bought wine
  Contributor: the property authors
   Faroese Yes Hjalmar Páll Petersen
+ Finnish No Anders Holmberg
  Words: Marja juo maitoa
  Gloss: Marja drink.PRS.3SG milk.PARTITIVE
  Translation:  Marja drinks milk
  Comment: Indefinite mass nouns are marked with partitive case, and contrasts with definite mass nouns, which are marked with accusative. This counts as not bare (must have an article) given the property definition.
  Contributor: Hilda Koopman
   French No Cristina Guardiano and Hilda Koopman
+ French (Ivorian) Yes Akpoué Josué ALS4 SSWL workshop 2016
  Words: Il aime bière façon / facon il aime biere
  Gloss: 3SG like beer way/ way he likes beer
  Translation: He llikes beer very much
  Contributor: Akpoué Josué
   Garifuna Yes Pam Munro
   German Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Gothic Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Greek Yes Giorgos Spathas values of w01 through w06 set twice and verified (Fabricio M. F. Gerardi and Giorgos Spathas)
  Words: Pin-o krasi.
  Gloss: drink-1.SG.PRS wine.ACC
  Translation: I drink wine.
  Contributor: Giorgos Spathas
   Greek (Calabria) Yes Cristina Guardiano
+ Greek (Cappadocian) Yes Petros Karatsareas
  Words: fer lero ce na pçum (Dawkins 1916: 352)
  Gloss: bring.IMP.2SG water.SG.ACC and COMP drink.PNP.1PL
  Translation: bring water and we will drink
  Contributor: Petros Karatsareas
+ Greek (Homer) Yes Cristina Guardiano
  Words:  χερσὶ δ᾽ ἐφ᾽ ὕδωρ χευάντων
  Gloss: hands.DAT.PL CNJ on water pour.IMP.AOR.3PL
  Translation: and let them pour water over (our) hands
  Comment: Hom. Od. 4.213-214. Critical edition and English translation: Homer. The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919.
  Contributor: Cristina Guardiano
   Greek (Pontic) Yes Cristina Guardiano and Dimitris Michelioudakis
   Guébie Yes Hannah Sande
   Hebrew Yes Assif Am-David
+ Hebrew (Biblical) Yes Massimo Gargiulo
  Words: lish'ov maym (Gen 24,13)
  Gloss: to draw.INF water.MASS NOUN
  Translation: to draw water
  Contributor: Massimo Gargiulo
+ Hungarian Yes Anna Szabolcsi
  Words: Minden nap vizet ittam.
  Gloss: every day water-ACC drink-PAST.1SG
  Translation:  I drank water every day.
  Contributor: Anna Szabolcsi
   imbabura quichua Yes Pam Munro
+ Italian Yes Cristina Guardiano
  Words: ho bevuto acqua
  Gloss: have.1S drunk water
  Translation: I drank water
  Contributor: Cristina Guardiano
   Italian (Napoletano Antico) Yes Adam Ledgeway
   Italian (Reggiano) No Giovanni Roversi
+ Kannada (Bengaluru-Mysore) Yes Amrit Amritavalli
  Words: naanu niiru kuDiyuttiini
  Gloss: I water drink.nonpst.agr
  Translation: I drink water
  Comment: absence of accusative case for indefinites, but not for definites. Thus couting as "article" according to the property definition.
  Contributor: Amrit Amritavalli
   Kashaya Yes John Gluckman
+ KiLega Yes Kasangati Kinyalolo
  Words: n.á.nú.le m`ázi
  Gloss: I.drank.PAST 6.water
  Translation: I drank water
  Contributor: Kasangati Kinyalolo
+ Kom Yes Richard Kwamong
  Words: mà yuyn mIlú`?
  Gloss: I buy beer
  Translation: I ve bought beer
  Comment: (? = glottal stop). The tense is marked by a change of verb tone in this context.
  Contributor: Richard Kwamong
  Words: afvéf a tàngsI sá`ny¯ a m(á ) Íwe
  Gloss: wind agr blow sand loc. my terrace
  Translation: the wind blew sand on my terrace
  Contributor: Richard Kwamong
  Words: Jòn bIs nyvI mˆlI`k a tsï``
  Gloss: John early drink milk loc. tea
  Translation: John drank tea for breakfast
  Comment: ‘Joyn , mˆlˆ^k and tsˆ^’ are loan adapted words from John, tea and milk. Actually the word breakfast is not in the Kom tradition. There is but dinner which points to a feast.
  Contributor: Richard Kwamong
+ Korean Yes Shin-Sook Kim
  Words: Mina-nun mayil mwul-ul masi-n-ta
  Gloss: Mina-TOP every.day water-ACC drink-PRS-DECL
  Translation: Mina drinks water every day.
  Contributor: Shin-Sook Kim
+ Kusaal Yes Hasiyatu Abubakari
  Words: ba kuos.id daam daar wusa
  Gloss:  3pl sell.imperf beer day every
  Translation: They sell beer every day
  Comment: The-id suffix on the verb expresses the habitual here, but more work is needed to gloss it with confidence.
  Contributor: Hasiyatu Abubakari
   Latin Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Latin (Late) Yes Chiara Gianollo
  Words: ecclesia habet de se gratiam grandem
  Gloss: church:NOM have:PRS.3SG from REFL.PR.ABL grace:ACC great:ACC
  Translation: 'the church emanates great grace'
  Comment: (Itin. Eg. 3.3) abstract noun - Itin. Eg. = Itinerarium Egeriae, 4th cent. CE, electronic LLT-A edition (=CCSL 175, P. Geyer / O. Cuntz, 1965, p. 37-90).
  Contributor: Chiara Gianollo
  Words: et de eo torrente aquam bibebat
  Gloss: and from this:ABL stream:ABL water:ACC drink:IPFV.3SG
  Translation: 'and he would drink water from this stream'
  Comment: (Itin. Eg. 16.3) - Itin. Eg. = Itinerarium Egeriae, 4th cent. CE, electronic LLT-A edition (=CCSL 175, P. Geyer / O. Cuntz, 1965, p. 37-90).
  Contributor: Chiara Gianollo
   Mada Yes Bebey Théodore
+ Malagasy Yes Hilda Koopman
  Comment: all property values set on the basis of Paul (2006), On the presence versus absence of determiners in Malagasy. Examples to be added.
  Contributor: Hilda Koopman
   Mandarin Yes Cristina Guardiano and Hilda Koopman
+ Muyang Yes Bebey Théodore
  Words: Nu né shí yam
  Gloss: I 1sg drink water
  Translation: I drink water.
  Comment: The object is not case marked, there is no quantifier like some, a genitive is not possible (unless a noun like half is present:rita ge oslà lit: healk of meat; an adjective like little expressing amount is fine. CHECK translation of: Nu na hepeɗè oslà weley I 1sg eat-P1 meat what “I ate what meat”
  Contributor: Bebey Théodore
  Words: ameɗ a hulukiy-à weyeng ka dav-à
  Gloss: blew 3sg put-P1 sand on terrace-Asp
  Translation: The wind blew sand on my terrace
  Contributor: Bebey Théodore
  Words: Nu né shí yam
  Gloss: 1sg drink water
  Translation: I drink water.”
  Contributor: Bebey Théodore
  Words: John e shè ɗuwa ge meledᵾw-è
  Gloss: John 3sg drink-P1 milk of morning-Asp
  Translation: John drank wine in the morning
  Comment: Asp is perfective
  Contributor: Bebey Théodore
  Words: John á gráy amal ge olive a vedang gayang-vu
  Gloss: John 3sg do oil of olive at farm his-in
  Translation: John produces oil on his farm.”
  Contributor: Bebey Théodore
+ nda'nda' Yes Christelle Niguieu Toukam and Bertille Baron ALS4 workshop 2016
  Words: ŋgə̀ jú nù
  Gloss: 1STSG.PST buy drink
  Translation:  ‘I bought beer.’
  Contributor: Bertille Baron
+ Norwegian Yes Marit Julien
  Words: De drikk-er vann
  Gloss: they drink-pres water
  Translation: They drink water
  Contributor: Marit Julien
+ Nupe Yes Jason Kandybowicz
  Words: Mi ma Musa ewo
  Gloss: 1.sg lend Musa money
  Translation: I lent Musa money
  Contributor: Jason Kandybowicz
   Old English Yes Willem Koopman
   Old French Yes Heather Burnett
   Old Norse Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Old Saxon Yes George Walkden
  Words: thar fîđad sie meti te kôpe
  Gloss: there find they food to buy.DAT
  Translation: there they will find food to buy
  Comment: (Heliand 2826)
  Contributor: George Walkden
+ Oluwanga (Eji) Yes Ceciliane Odangah
  Words: John a-nyw-ere a- ma -bere itsuli.
  Gloss: John PST-drink-PST AUG- C6 -milk morning
  Translation: John drank milk in the morning
  Comment: Only in In recent past, 3rdsg y- is absent. y shows up in yesterday past (both recent past and yesterday past use the prefix a- and suffix .re. Y- is also obligatory with the far away PST a-, which combines with V_FV.
  Contributor: Ceciliane Odangah
  Words: O- mu -yeka kweya o- mu -yeshe mu- mu -taro kwa-nje
  Gloss: AUG- C3 -wind SA. blew AUG- C3 -sand LOC - C3 -terrace ku.a-1sg
  Translation: The wind blew sand on my terrace.
  Contributor: Ceciliane Odangah
  Words: Nd -a -kul-ire e-shi-tabu mungolobe.
  Gloss:  1sg -PST-buy-PST AUG- C7 -book yesterday
  Translation: I bought a book yesterday
  Comment: a(=PSTt) and -ire(+PST) equals recent past
  Contributor: Ceciliane Odangah
   Portuguese Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Q'anjob'al Yes Kathleen O'Flynn
   Romanian Yes Monica Alexandrina Irimia
+ Russian Yes Cristina Guardiano and Hilda Koopman
  Words: Ja dostala vino i syr iz xolodil'nika
  Gloss: I take.out.PST.SG.FEM wine.ACC and cheese.ACC from fridge
  Translation: I took wine and cheese from the fridge.
  Comment: see property definition.
  Contributor: Cristina Guardiano and Hilda Koopman
   Samoan No Hilda Koopman tricky: could be yes, depending on how to classify bare "incorporated"mass nouns, an option which is somewhat restricted/ not freely available.
   San Dionisio Ocotepec Zapotec Yes George Aaron Broadwell
+ Sicilian Yes Cristina Guardiano
  Words: ki ti vivisti? Mi vippi vinu
  Gloss: what to.you drank2.S? To.me drank.1S wine
  Translation: What did you drink? I drank wine
  Comment: Bare indefinite mass nouns are hardly accepted in object position: only as an answer to a Wh-question or in negative/interrogative contexts
  Contributor: Cristina Guardiano
   Spanish Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Swedish Yes fredrik heinat
+ Teramano No Iara Mantenuto
  Words: k-i cumpratə? - *So kumpratə vinə
  Gloss: what-have.you bought? - I.have bought wine
  Translation: what did you buy? - I bought wine
  Contributor: Iara Mantenuto
  Words: k-i kumpratə? - so kumpratə vinə e lattə
  Gloss: what-you.are bought? - I.am bought wine and milk
  Translation: what did you buy? - I bought wine and milk
  Comment: EXAMPLE PROVIDED BY IARA MANTENUTO. In a coordinated construction it is possible to have bare nouns without articles.
  Contributor: Cristina Guardiano
   Tupi (Ancient) Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi There are no articles in Tupi, of any kind. There are no classifiers. Grammatical number is invariable (although it is possible to express the singular-plural distinction)
+ Turkish Yes Sozen Ozkan
  Words: Her gün su iç-er-im
  Gloss: every day water drink-AOR-1sg
  Translation: I drink water every day
  Contributor: Sozen Ozkan
   Vata Yes Hilda Koopman
+ Vietnamese Yes Jimmy Nguyen
  Words: Em uống nước mỗi ngày.
  Gloss: I drink water every day
  Translation: I drink water everyday.
  Contributor: Jimmy Nguyen
+ Wolof Yes Cristina Guardiano and Hilda Koopman
  Words: Jënd-na-a ceeb
  Gloss: buy-FIN-1SG rice
  Translation: I bought rice
  Comment: Tamba, Torrence, Zimmermann 2013: 904, ex 34
  Contributor: Cristina Guardiano and Hilda Koopman
   Wuhu Chinese Yes Zhuo Chen