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Referentiality of the content noun in the prepositional numeral partitive construction
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The prepositional partitive construction requires the content noun to be referential.

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The preposition must be present if the content noun is referential, in the sense of being able to refer on its own, as is the case when it is definite:

Example 1

Trije fan de jongfeinten
three of the young.men
Three of the young men

Leaving out the preposition is ungrammatical:

Example 2

*Trije de jongfeinten
three the young.men
Three of the young men

The preposition must be absent if the content noun is non-referential, as is the case when it is realised as a bare plural:

Example 3

a. Trije jongfeinten
three young.men
Three young men
b. *Trije fan jongfeinten
three of young.men
Three young men
References:
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