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After reading this question on this site, I learned that ~かかる following a verb-stem can be translated as "about to ~"; the example in the original question being 殺されかかった, or "about to be killed" (as per the accepted answer).

My question is, I have also learned that PT-Vb + ところだ also means "about to", e.g. 行くところだ = "about to go", するところだ = "about to do", etc. What is the difference between these 2 verb forms?

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I'll take a stab at this.

In the past tense, with 殺されるところだった vs 殺されかかった, I think they are mostly the same. One expect that those things didn't actually happen.

For the present tense, I'll quote from 大辞林

⓱(動詞の連用形に付く)もう少しでそうするところである。…しそうになる`

~かかる means that they are slightly before the level of ~ところだ. So they are very similar, but I think in general with ~ところだ there is a stronger nuance that one expects the verb to happen (assuming no any interventions).

For the case of 殺される, I think in the dictionary form of the verb, both can be used in the sense of being very close to dying/heavily injured. I'm not sure about the exact context of the following image, but one could easily imagine Goku being on the verge of death after being punched and injured.

〇悟空は敵に殴られて大怪我を負って、殺されるところだ。

〇悟空は敵に殴られて大怪我を負って、殺されかかる。

enter image description here

However, 殺されかかる can be used to describe another type of situation:

enter image description here

〇悟空は敵に殴られて殺されかかるけど、彼は玄人なので余裕だ。

✖悟空は敵に殴られて殺されるところだけど、彼は玄人なので余裕だ。

Obviously if Goku were to get by one of those punches, he might end up in a situation similar to the first image, but Goku is a professional and has it completely under control. One doesn't necessarily expect any of those punches to land on Goku.

  • I asked a Japanese friend of mine this question (after waiting for a week here with no answer) and she said that ~かかる is used for when the action is already started, while ~ところだ is used when the action is about to start. Have you also heard this nuance? Her English isn't great so we may have misunderstood each other when she was explaining. – Ertai87 Mar 25 at 14:09
  • @Ertai87 So, there are many examples like 食べかける (partially eaten), 言いかける (was about to say something), but I think that's more strongly associated with かける than かかる. I think for example that's a bit different from 殺されかかる for example. – Ringil Mar 25 at 14:39

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