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The term absentee was coined in 2000 as a grammatical expression by the Dutch linguist Casper de Groot. The absentive is a verbal form that could be classified under the aspect of the verb and is used to express that a person is not present at a certain place or is not available for an interaction, and which is coded in the infinitive Action represents the reason for the absence. With a statement like “Thomas is shopping” it is expressed that Thomas is not at the speaker's place because he is shopping (or on the way to / from the shop).

The absentee is e.g. B. to find more or less trained in the European languages German , Frisian , Dutch , Hungarian , Italian , Norwegian , Swedish , Finnish and Catalan . For the German language, however, its status as an independent grammatical category is questioned by some experts.


The absentive expresses absence through a grammatical construction. To be able to classify a construction as absent, it must be able to express the following:

  • that a person has moved away from a certain place (the "Topikort") (e.g. their office, their home)
  • that she has permanent, temporary employment away from home (e.g. shopping, swimming, jogging)
  • that she will come back for the foreseeable future when she has finished her job, d. H. Has not left a place forever
  • the construction must be able to express the absence without the need for additional lexical expressions, e.g. B. "away", "away from home", "gone away"

A typical situation is when someone asks for someone else who is currently out of town because they went shopping in town, for example. The question of their whereabouts can be answered with the absentive. Depending on the language, you can also apply the absentive to yourself.

German language

For the German language, constructions are assumed to be absent, which are formed according to the following rules:


  • Karin is shopping .
  • Karin is jogging .

Not: Karin went jogging. (grammatically but perfect of "Karin goes joggen"; the perfect of the absentive would have been "Karin has been jogging . ")

In the German language, the absentive can also be used in the first person:

  • I didn't see your message until later; I was shopping. (= I had moved away from the place where I could have seen the message.)

When used in the 1st person present tense, it often expresses an action in the future:

  • I'll be back to work then!

The absentee becomes ungrammatic as soon as it is not used in the intended sense:

  • * President Obama is to rule the USA as US President (Obama has not left the topical location and will not return there; he is absent from the start and will remain so.)
  • * Petra is emigrating. (Petra has left the topical location, but will not be back.)
  • * There are moving boxes around everywhere, my girlfriend is unpacking. (the girlfriend is present)
  • My brother is not there; he went into town. (grammatically, but not absent, since the absence is expressed lexically)

The absentive aspect can not syntactically with by "on", "at" or "in" formed progressive forms are combined:

  • Peter is shopping. (Absent)
  • Peter is shopping. (Progressive form)

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Absentive  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ De Groot, Casper (2000): The absentive . In: Östen Dahl (Ed.): Tense and aspect in the languages ​​of Europe. Berlin / New York: 693–719.
  2. Mar Garachana: absentive im diccionari linguistica on ub.edu ( Universidad de Barcelona ).
  3. Theodor Ickler : No “absenteeism” in German: For a more economical grammar .
  4. Werner Abraham: Absent arguments on the Absentive: An exercise in silent syntax. Grammatical category or just pragmatic inference? ( Memento of July 14, 2014 in the Internet Archive ).