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I'm having some difficulties understanding the construction 崩れかけた in

博士たちは崩れかけた門をくぐり、中へ入っていった。

I couldn't find it as a single word, so I take it is constructed from 崩れる and かける. My guess is that it's the stem form of 崩れる joined with かける (equivalent to the て form to join to verbs), but I'm not sure.

崩れる means something like collapsed so I was thinking it referred to a collapsed gate. I don't know what かける adds to this though...

Can someone shine some light on this?

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かける can be used as an subsidiary verb to mean "start to [verb]", so 崩れかけた is indeed the 連用形 ren'yōkei (masu-stem) of 崩れる followed by かけた.

崩れかけた門 means "a gate, which has started to break down / deteriorate". Of course you would usually translate this more directly, maybe (for lack of a better word) "deteriorating / wrecked gate".

See for example

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  • Thank you, didn't know about this at all. I'm a bit surprised it doesn't appear in either "A Dictionary of Basic/Intermidiate Japanese Grammar" though. – Jak Jul 17 at 0:39
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    @Jak I couldn't seem to find it in the "A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar" books either. However I sometimes like to check this Wikipedia page which does have it: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_grammar#Auxiliary_verbs – Jeremy Bare Jul 17 at 15:56
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    It appears in Jim Breen's EDICT, which is the basis of pretty much every online J->E dictionary out there. I was doing subtitles for a concert video more than three years ago. 壊れかけた現実 came up in a song and I found in the above that it must be "reality that's on the verge of breaking" or "started to break". I have all three of those grammar books:--basic, intermediate, advanced--but didn't need them for this. – Kaz Jul 17 at 16:11
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    Added comment: This <verb stem> + かける pattern is very common in both modern spoken and written Japanese. Worth understanding. – Jesse Casman Jul 21 at 19:31

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