9.4. Borderline cases with multi-word predicates

The respective types of multi-word predicates (in particular verbal idioms and complex predicates) may overlap; however, it may also be difficult to determine whether it is a case of a type of multi-word predicates at all (this is especially true when a verb is used in its abstract meaning or in phrases signifying "a state").

Borderlines between complex predicates and verbal idioms. The main differences between complex predicates (see Section 9.3, "Complex predicates") and verbal idioms (see Section 8.2, "Verbal idioms") are introduced in Table 6.5, "The borderline between complex predicates (CPHR) and verbal idioms (=DPHR)".

Table 6.5. The borderline between complex predicates (CPHR) and verbal idioms (=DPHR)

Complex predicates (CPHR) Verbal idioms (DPHR)
The governing verb is semantically empty; the lexical meaning is carried by a dependent noun. The lexical meaning is carried by the phrase as a whole. The meaning of the phrase is strongly marked, not corresponding to the combination of meanings of the individual components of the idiom.
The phrase may be replaced in regular cases by a one-word predicate having the same meaning. As a rule, the phrase does not have a corresponding expression in the form of a one-word predicate.
The dependent noun retains its valency (and also its ability to be modified further). The dependent components of the idiomatic expression lose their valency properties (they may share them with the governing verb) and as a rule they are not even modified by free modifications.

Abstract meanings of the verb. Abstract, metaphorical use of verbs (for example: oživit mírový proces (=to revive the peace process); vyjít z předpokladu (=to make an assumption)) must be distinguished in particular from verbal idioms and from complex predicates. While verbs used metaphorically have an abstract, figurative meaning, they do not form a single lexical unit with their valency modifications and a multi-word predicate is not formed. The nodes for the dependent modifications have in these cases one of the functors for the arguments (as a rule, PAT). In the valency lexicon, metaphorical (abstract) meanings of the verb are represented by separate valency frames (on this, see also Section, "Literal, abstract and idiomatic meanings of verbs").

Phrases signifying "a state". In cases of combinations of a verb and a prepositional phrase it is not always clear what type of predicate is involved. The interpretation of a phrase as a complex predicate is in competition in particular with the interpretation of a given phrase as a verbal idiom or a phrase signifying a "state". Cf.:

!!! It must be pointed out, of course, that between all these types there runs a very broad transitional zone and clear criteria for their differentiation still remain to be established.