Many PPs exhibit some amount of lexicalization or idiomaticity. This is especially true of PPs that tend to be used predicatively. In general it is extremely difficult to establish tests to distinguish idiomatic PPs from fully productive combinations. However, the usual criteria apply for the supersense analysis.

For example, if the PP answers a Where? question, it qualifies as Locus; whereas qualitative states usually have Characteristic as the scene role:

See further discussion at Characteristic.

PP Idioms vs. Multiword Prepositions#

A PP idiom is a fixed or semi-fixed expression consisting of an adposition plus its complement (usually an NP, AdjP, or AdvP), which must be a complete phrase. In some of these expressions the complement may take variable modifiers (e.g., on_ ONE's _own: see `$). The PP idiom as a whole does not take a complement (is intransitive). A fixed expression ending in a transitive preposition like of or as (in_search_of, as_long_as) requires a complement, and thus is not a PP idiom.1

Reflexive PP Idioms#

Certain idiomatic constructions involve a preposition that requires a reflexive direct object.


1. When something is done for one’s own benefit rather than someone else’s:#

2. When something is done in a way that affords direct rather than second-hand information:#


1. When something is done without accompaniment (the negation would be with others):#

2. When something is accomplished independently, without assistance:#

BE by oneself.

Alone; unaccompanied:

  1. Infinitive marker to counts as a transitive preposition for purposes of this definition. 

  2. Though myself is not literally accompanying I, the PP as a whole describes the nature of accompaniment (or lack thereof).