Is there a way to tell when a verb used with an adjective or similar word is really a separable verb? For example, I ran across the following two sentences in DWDS's wonderful usage database:
Die Eltern dürfen die anderen drei Kinder behalten, weil sie sich bereit erklärten, ihnen unter anderem Milch zu geben. (Der Tagesspiegel, 18.11.2004)
Weil er sich als einziger bereiterklärte, mit den ermittelnden Armee-Instanzen zusammenzuarbeiten. (Der Tagesspiegel, 17.05.2004)
In the first example there are two words bereit and erklären and in the second example there is a single compound word bereiterklären which takes the form of a seperable verb. You can tell the difference in these sentences because the word/phrase is used in a subordinate clause. But if it's in a main clause then there doesn't seem to be a way to tell which one is meant. For example.
Dafür erklärten sie sich bereit, möglichst früh in Rente zu gehen. (Der Tagesspiegel, 22.01.2005)
If the prefix is a preposition then it's easy to tell when it's part of a verb, because prepositions go in front of something else unless they're being used as a verb prefix. For adjectives that trick doesn't work. Is there a grammatical way to tell or does it not matter since both grammatical interpretations have the same meaning? It does seem to make it more difficult to look up the verb in the dictionary though; is it under erklären or bereiterklären, or does it still not matter because the compound is just the combination of its parts?