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This page pertains to UD version 2.

fixed: fixed multiword expression

The fixed relation is used for certain fixed grammaticized expressions. Such expressions tend to behave like function words. For example, in spite of is a fixed expression functioning as a preposition in English; bien que (‘although’, lit. ‘well that’) functions as a subordinating conjunction in French; and vare sig (‘either’, lit. ‘be itself’) functions as a (pre)conjunction in Swedish. The scope of fixed MWEs corresponds roughly to the fixed expressions category of Sag et al. and should not be used for multiword expressions that are morphosyntactically flexible.


Fixed expressions typically do not allow intervening words, except in a few special cases such as clitics that go in a fixed position in the clause and can interrupt even fixed expressions. In addition, there may be inherently discontiguous fixed expressions, such as för … sedan in Swedish, corresponding to the English ago, which is syntactically irregular and always encloses a temporal expression, as in för 10 år sedan [“10 years ago”].

The creation of fixed multiword expressions is the end phase of a process of grammaticalization and there are always going to be cases of multiword expressions that are only somewhat grammaticalized. For practical treebanking, it is recommended to restrict this relation to the most grammaticalized cases and to treat them as a closed class by writing language-specific documentation listing the fixed expressions of the language.


Fixed MWEs are annotated in a flat structure, where all subsequent words in the expression are attached to the first one using the fixed label. The assumption is that these expressions do not have any internal syntactic structure (except from a historical perspective) and that the structural annotation is in principle arbitrary. In practice, however, it is highly desirable to use a consistent annotation of all fixed MWEs in all languages.

Fixed MWEs should not have any internal modification. Therefore, if a word attaches as fixed, it should not have any dependents (except perhaps punct, goeswith, and reparandum dependents, as these are not true syntactic relations).

I like dogs as well as cats
fixed(as-4, well-5)
fixed(as-4, as-6)
He cried because of you
fixed(because, of)
Je préfère prendre un dessert plutôt qu' une entrée \n I prefer getting a dessert rather than an appetizer
fixed(plutôt, qu')

New from v2: The fixed relation replaces the old mwe relation to prevent misunderstanding regarding its scope. For v2.14, this page has been revised to more clearly articulate the relationship to multiword expressions.

fixed in other languages: [bg] [bm] [cop] [cs] [de] [el] [en] [eu] [fi] [fr] [ga] [gd] [gsw] [hy] [id] [it] [ja] [ka] [ky] [pcm] [pt] [qpm] [ru] [sl] [sv] [tr] [u]