Indo-European copula

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A feature common to all Indo-European languages is the presence of a verb corresponding to the English verb to be. Though in some languages it is vestigial, it is present nonetheless in atrophied forms or derivatives.

General features[edit]

This verb has two basic meanings. In a less marked context it is a simple copula (I'm tired; That's a shame!), a function which in non-Indo-European languages can be expressed quite differently. In a more heavily marked context it expresses existence (I think therefore I am); the dividing line between these is not always easy to draw. Some languages have shared these functions between several verbs: Irish, Spanish and Persian all have multiple equivalents of to be, making a variety of distinctions. Many Indo-European languages also use the conjugations of the verb "to be" as an auxiliary for the formation of compound (periphrastic) tenses (I'm working; I was bitten). Other functions vary from language to language. For example, although in its basic meanings, to be is a stative verb, English puts it to work as a dynamic verb in fixed collocations (You are being very annoying).

The copula is the most irregular verb in many Indo-European languages. This is partly because it is more frequently used than any other, and partly because Proto-Indo-European offered more than one verb suitable for use in these functions, with the result that the daughter languages, in different ways, have tended to form suppletive verb paradigms. This article describes the way in which the irregular forms have developed from a series of roots.

The Proto-Indo-European [PIE] roots[edit]

*h1es-[edit]

The root *h1es- was certainly already a copula in Proto-Indo-European. The e-grade (see Indo-European ablaut) is found in such forms as English is, Irish is, German ist, Latin est, Sanskrit asti, while the zero grade produces forms beginning with /s/, like German sind, Latin sumus, Vedic Sanskrit smas, etc. In PIE, *h1es- was an athematic verb in -mi; that is, the first person singular was *h1esmi; this inflection survives in English am, Persian am, Sanskrit asmi, Old Church Slavonic есмь (esmĭ), etc.

This verb is generally reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European thus:[1]

Person Present
indicative
Imperfect
indicative
Subjunctive Optative Imperative
1st singular *h1és-mi *h1és-m̥ *h1és-oh2 *h1s-iéh1-m
2nd singular *h1és-i *h1és *h1és-esi *h1s-iéh1-s *h1és, *h1s-dʰí
3rd singular *h1és-ti *h1és-t *h1és-eti *h1s-iéh1-t *h1és-tu
1st dual *h1s-uós *h1s-ué *h1és-owos *h1s-ih1-wé
2nd dual *h1s-tés *h1s-tóm *h1és-etes *h1s-ih1-tóm *h1s-tóm
3rd dual *h1s-tés *h1s-tā́m *h1és-etes *h1s-ih1-tā́m *h1s-tā́m
1st plural *h1s-m̥ós *h1s-m̥é *h1és-omos *h1s-ih1-mé
2nd plural *h1s-té *h1s-té *h1és-ete *h1s-ih1-té *h1s-té
3rd plural *h1s-énti *h1s-énd *h1és-onti *h1s-ih1-énd *h1s-éntu

*bʰuH-[edit]

The root *bʰuH- or *bʰuh2- (which did not have ablaut variations in the protolanguage[2]) probably meant 'to grow', but also 'to become'. This is the source of the English infinitive be and participle been (Germanic participles have the suffix in -an). Also, for example, the Scottish Gaelic "future" tense bithidh; the Irish imperative , past bhí and future beidh; and the Slavic infinitive, etc. for example Russian быть (byt’). PIE *bh becomes Latin /f/, hence the Latin future participle futūrus and perfect fuī; Latin fīō 'I become' is also from this root, as is the Greek verb φύω (phúō), from which physics and physical are derived.

This verb can be reconstructed as follows:[1]

Person Indicative Subjunctive Optative Imperative
1st singular *bʰúH-m *bʰúH-oh2 *bʰuH-yéh1-m
2nd singular *bʰúH-s *bʰúH-esi *bʰuH-yéh1-s *bʰúH, *bʰuH-dʰí
3rd singular *bʰúH-t *bʰúH-eti *bʰuH-yéh1-t *bʰúH-tu
1st dual *bʰuH-wé *bʰúH-owos *bʰuH-ih1-wé
2nd dual *bʰuH-tóm *bʰúH-etes *bʰuH-ih1-tóm *bʰuH-tóm
3rd dual *bʰuH-tā́m *bʰúH-etes *bʰuH-ih1-tā́m *bʰuH-tā́m
1st plural *bʰuH-mé *bʰúH-omos *bʰuH-ih1-mé
2nd plural *bʰuH-té *bʰúH-ete *bʰuH-ih1-té *bʰuH-té
3rd plural *bʰuH-énd *bʰúH-onti *bʰuH-ih1-énd *bʰuH-éntu

*wes-[edit]

The root *wes- may originally have meant "to live". The e-grade is present in the German participle gewesen, the o-grade (*wos-) survives in English and Old High German was, while the lengthened e-grade (*wēs-) gives us English were. (The Germanic forms with /r/ result from grammatischer Wechsel.) See Germanic strong verb: Class 5.

*h1er-[edit]

This has been claimed as the origin of the Old Norse and later Scandinavian languages' present stem: Old Norse em, ert, er, erum, eruð, eru; the second person forms of which were borrowed into English as art and are.[3]

However, other authorities link these forms with *h1es- and assume grammatischer Wechsel (/s/→/r/), although this is not normally found in the present stem. Donald Ringe argues that the copula was sometimes unaccented in Pre-Proto-Germanic, which would have then triggered the voicing under Verner's law.[1][page needed] He explains the Germanic first person singular form *immi as such, deriving it from earlier *ezmi, since -zm-, but not -sm-, was assimilated to -mm- in Germanic (for which other evidence exists as well). Furthermore, the third person plural form *sindi (from PIE *h₁sénti) shows that this word, too, was unaccented. If the accent had been preserved, it would have become *sinþi, but that form is not found in any Germanic language. In this view, it is likely that stressed and unstressed varieties of the copula (with corresponding voiceless and voiced fricatives) existed side by side in Germanic, and the involvement of a separate root *h₁er- is unnecessary.

*steh2-[edit]

The root *(s)teh2- meant "to stand". From this root comes the present stem of the so-called "substantive verb" in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, and tha respectively. On the absence of the initial s- in Celtic, see Indo-European s-mobile.

In Latin, stō, stare retained the meaning "to stand", until local forms of Vulgar Latin began to use it as a copula in certain circumstances. Today, this survives in that several Romance languages use it as one of their two copulae, and there is also a Romance tendency for a past participle derived from *steh2- to replace that of the main copula. See also Romance copula.

Although in Dutch, this verb retains its primary meaning of "stand", it is also used in an auxiliary-like function that only has a secondary meaning of "standing". For example, in ik sta te koken ("I stand (while) cooking"), the emphasis is on the act of cooking, and the implication of standing while doing so is only secondary, and may even be completely irrelevant. While it is not a full copula (it can normally only be used as an auxiliary with another verb), it does have shades of meaning that resemble that of the Italian sto cucinando ("I am cooking"). The verbs zitten ("to sit"), liggen ("to lie") and lopen ("to walk/run") are used in similar ways.

The resulting paradigms[edit]

Hittite[edit]

The Hittite verb "to be" is derived from the Indo-European root *h1es-.

  Present indicative Preterite indicative Imperative
1st sg. ēšmi ešun ēšlit
ēšlut
ašallu
2nd sg. ēšši ēšta ēš
3rd sg. ēšzi ēšta ēšdu
1st pl. (ašweni) ēšwen
2nd pl. ēšteni ēšten ēšten
3rd pl. ašanzi ešer ašandu

Indo-Iranian languages[edit]

Vedic Sanskrit[edit]

The Vedic Sanskrit verb as (to be) is derived from the Indo-European root *h1es-.

Person Present, Indicative, Active
Singular Dual Plural
1st asmi svas smas
2nd asi sthas stha
3rd asti stas santi

bhū (to be) is derived from Indo-European *bhuH-.

Person Present, Indicative, Active
Singular Dual Plural
1st bhavāmi bhavāvas(i) bhavāmas(i)
2nd bhavasi bhavathas bhavatha
3rd bhavati bhavatas bhavanti

Persian[edit]

With regard to the function of the verb ‘to be’ as a copula, the most conspicuous feature of Modern Persian language is the evolution of an existential be, hast (exists), out of ast (is). In fact, when studying the forms and functions of ‘to be’, one might find certain characteristics specific to Persian that is worth pondering upon[4]— i.e. even without considering the diachronic evolution of Modern Persian language and its relation to Ancient Iranian languages (such as Old Persian and Avestan) whose usage of the verb ‘to be’ seems more close to Sanskrit.
Paradoxically, despite the fact that Persian is apparently the only Indo-European language that has created an existential be out of the copula, it has simultaneously made an extreme use of the latter to produce a general paradigm for conjugating all Persian verbs.
Historically speaking, like most of Indo-European languages that make use of suppletive roots to denote ‘to be’, Persian integrates Proto-Indo-Eroupean (PIE) verbs *h1es- (to be) and *bhuH (to grow> to become> to be). Hence, while Persian (Pers) infinitive būdan (to be) < PIE *bhuH forms the past stem of the verb (e.g. Pers būd- ‘was’) or acts as an auxiliary verb in formation of pluperfect of other verbs, its present tense is solely based on the derivatives of PIE *h1es-. It is, in fact, from the declension of PIE *h1es- (to be) that six present stems have been created and assigned to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person singular and plural to act as the present-tense conjugation of Pers būdan (to be), as shown in the following table.
(NB 1. Modern Persian nouns and pronouns have no grammatical gender; thus, all pronouns are neutral, e.g. the language does not distinguish between ‘he’ or ‘she’.
NB 2. In the conventional transliteration of Iranian languages: [x] is to be pronounced as ch in Bach or Loch Ness; [ā] as a in far; [ī] as ee in deed; [ū] as oo in food, [š] as sh in she, č as ch in chair, [ž] as j in déjà vu)

Persian CF. Classical Attic English Persian English
1st Person -am εἰμί (eimi) am -īm (we) are
2nd Person εἶ (ei) (thou) art -īd (you) are
3rd Person ast ἐστί(ν) (esti(n)) is -and (they) are

As an example, in the following sentences, the present forms of the verb 'to be' are used as copulas or predicates:
______________ "man doxtar-e to am; īn barādar-e man ast; to pedar-e man ī "
______________ (‘I am your daughter; this is my brother; thou art my father.’)
Furthermore, as endings added to the stem of the verbs, these declensional forms have been grammatized to shape a general paradigm for the grammatical conjugation of all other verbs; as if any of these endings was once an auxiliary verb which evolved into an enclitic. Ironically, this generalized conjugational paradigm is also applied to the past tense of the very verb būdan (e.g. būd-am = literally: *‘(I) am was’→ ‘I was’; similarly būd-īm→ ‘we were’ etc.)
(NB. An old declensional suffix -ad is still used instead of ast for 3rd person singular in present-tense and subjunctive conjugation of Persian verbs).
However, what is linguistically notable, is the emergence of an existential be out of the copula, viz hast (exists) out of ast '(is). The evolution of this exceptional form, might go back to ancient Iranian languages, where ast could have two variants (cf. Avestan which has both as- and has- <PIE *h1es- ‘be’). In the next phase, what we may call a pseudo-verb appeared, vis. the verb هستن hastan (to exist) has been analogically evolved from hast (exists) and has been conjugated like any other Persian verb (e.g. hast-am = literally: *‘(I) am existence’→ ‘I exist’).
Nevertheless, created out of a wrong re-analysis of hast (exists), the restrictions of this pseudo-verb would show up as soon as one tries to either find its past-tense and/or negate it. Then, hastan (to exist) will simply turn into the familiar past-tense or negation of the aforementioned verb būdan (e.g. būd-am ‘I was’ vs. na-būd-am ‘I was not’) which acts just as a copula and its existential meaning has to be inferred like English ‘to be’. We may therefore deduce that neither hast (exists) nor its derived pseudo-verb hastan (to exist) can be negated at all, unless reduced to copulas! In other words, we do not have *ni-hast (it does not exist), but *ni-ast> nīst (it is not) (despite the fact that there was once such a verb as (a)nihistan in Middle Persian (Pahlavi)). It is also worth mentioning that in the early stages of the Classic (Modern) Persian, ni-am was the only way to say ‘I am not’. However, following a secondary analogy (similar to hast [exists] → hastan [to exist]) a negative pseudo-verb nīstan (not to be) was invented. Therefore, the mirror image of the pseudo-verb hastan is not a negation of the existential verb, but just a simple negative copula formed from ast (is) → *ni-astnīst (is not)> nīstan ‘not to be’ which, like hastan, has only present-tense (e.g. nīst-am ‘I am not’).
Finally, going back to the verb būdan, there is no doubt that it can only act as a copula, even if we look at its other forms which, as a heritage of the ancient Persian, has provided such moods as optative bād [<bovād ‘May it be!’], (wish to be), the potential (mood of probability) bov-ad (might be), and perhaps subjunctive/ conditional/ imperative bāš.
(NB. However, bāš may be from another PIE root *wes- cf. English was).[5]
In this regards, we may notice that the third person forms of bāš whose infinitive bāšīdan is conjugated to produce conditional, or substantial mood, has a tendency to replace ast (is), although considered wrong by educated/cultured Persians (e.g. ū mādar mī-bāš-ad [She is (a) mother.] instead of simply ū mādar ast).
To summarize: As mentioned in the General Feature, the most significant point is that Persian grammar differentiates the marked or substantive form هست hast from copula است ast.[6] Hast is used to express existence while ast expresses predication. Of course in colloquial Persian, hastan can be also used for emphasis to express predication in the present tense. In the past tense, the verb بودن būdan covers both meanings.

Strictly speaking, hastan is only a theoretical infinitive, not lexical. Therefore, būdan functions as the actual infinitive., used, for example, in past-tense as būd (was) and in present-tense modal bovad ‘it may be’. The circumstantial form of būdan is باش bāš, used for the imperative and subjunctive, e.g. اگر باشد agar bāsh-ad 'if it is'.

The forms ast (is) and hast (exists) have been derived from the Indo-European root *h1es-, where būd (was) is derived from Indo-European *bhuH-.

Substantive verb HASTan (to exist) as an arbitrary infinitive conjugated with the aid of copula
The pseudo-verb هستن "hastan" (to exist) has only Simple Present Tense; in addition, it is truly and purely EXISTENTIAL only in the case of third person singular (hast). The fact is that the verb has been the product of this very case, as an "existential is", هست hast (she/ he/ it exists). For other persons the conjugation has to use enclitic copulas. These copulas are, in turn, derived from the declension of PIE *h1es- (to be); as if the predicative To BE has been an auxiliary verb turned into enclitic, to provide six endings for 1st/2nd/ 3rd person (singular & plural) [table above]. However, as it is said, the 3rd person singular has no ending in the case of "hastan". That is to say that the existential هست hast (exists), which is like the alter-ego of the copula است ast (is), takes no ending, while the present stem of all other verbs take an archaic ending -ad in their 3rd person singular.
Singular Enclitic copula Plural Enclitic copula
هستم hastam = (I exist) ام -am هستيم hastīm = (we exist) ايم -īm
هستى hastī = (thou existest) اى -ī هستيد hastīd = (you exist) اید -īd
هست hast = (s/he/ it exists) {اد ad}> Ø هستند hastand = (they exist) اند -and
Simple Past Tense of BUDan (to be) as a double copula
The Simple Past Tense conjugation of the verb بودن būdan (to be) is in fact formed by a double-copula, in the sense that both the stem and the ending are copulas: the past stem of the verb بود būd- is derived from PIE *bhuH-, while the endings are from the suppletive form of PIE *h1es- (to be) with the exception of 3rd person singular which has zero ending for the all Persian verbs in the past-tense.
Singular Enclitic copula Plural Enclitic copula
بودم būdam = (I was) ام -am بوديم būdīm = (we were) ايم -īm
بودى būdī = (thou wast) اى -ī بوديد būdīd = (you were) اید -īd
بود būd = (s/he/ it was) Ø بودند būdand = (they were) اند -and
Present Perfect of BUdan (to be) as a perfect double copula
The Present Perfect conjugation of the verb بودن būdan (to be) is a perfect double copula paradigm, in the sense that it is produced by addition of all enclitic copulas to the past participle of the verb: būde (been).
Singular Enclitic copula Plural Enclitic copula
بوده ام būde-am = (I have been) ام -am بوده ايم būde-īm = (we have been) ايم -īm
بوده اى būde-ī = (thou hast been) اى -ī بوده ايد būde-īd = (you have been) اید -īd
بوده است būde ast = (s/he/ it has been) است ast بوده اند būde-and = (they have been) اند -and

Greek[edit]

The Ancient Greek verb eimi (I am) is derived from the Indo-European root *h1es-.

  Homeric Greek Classical Attic Modern Greek
Present indicative 1st sg.
2nd sg.
3rd sg.
1st pl.
2nd pl.
3rd pl.
εἰμί (eimi)
εἶς, ἐσσί (eis, essi)
ἐστί(ν) (esti(n))
εἰμέν (eimen)
ἐστέ (este)
εἰσί(ν), ἔασι (eisi(n), easi)
εἰμί (eimi)
εἶ (ei)
ἐστί(ν) (esti(n))
ἐσμέν (esmen)
ἐστέ (este)
εἰσί(ν) (eisi(n))
είμαι (ime)
είσαι (ise)
είναι (ine)
είμαστε (imaste)
είστε (iste)
είναι (ine)
Preterite indicative 1st sg.
2nd sg.
3rd sg.
1st pl.
2nd pl.
3rd pl.
ἦα, ἔον (ēa, eon)
ἦσθα, ἔησθα (ēstha, eēstha)
ἦ(ε)ν, ἔην (ē(e)n, eēn)
ἦμεν (ēmen)
ἦτε (ēte)
ἦσαν (ēsan)
ἦ(ν) (ē(n))
ἦς, ἦσθα (ēs, ēstha)
ἦν (ēn)
ἦμεν (ēmen)
ἦστε, ἔατε (ēste, eate)
ἦσαν ἔσαν (ēsan, esan)
ήμουν (imun)
ήσουν (isun)
ήταν (itan)
ήμασταν (imastan)
ήσασταν (isastan)
ήταν (itan)
Subjunctive 1st sg.
2nd sg.
3rd sg.
1st pl.
2nd pl.
3rd pl.
ἔω ()
ἔῃς, ἔοις (eēis, eois)
ἔῃ(σι), ᾖσι(ν), ἔοι (eēi(si), ēisi(n), eoi)
 
 
ἔωσι(ν) (eōsi(n))
(ō)
ᾖς (ēis)
(ēi)
ὦμεν (ōmen)
ἦτε (ēte)
ὦσι(ν) (ōsi(n))
Optative 1st sg.
2nd sg.
3rd sg.
1st pl.
2nd pl.
3rd pl.
εἴην (eiēn)
εἴης (eiēs)
εἴη (eiē)
 
εἶτε (eite)
εἶεν (eien)
εἴην (eiēn)
εἴης (eiēs)
εἴη (eiē)
εἴημεν, εἶμεν (ei(ē)men)
εἴητε, εἶτε (ei(ē)te)
εἴησαν, εἶεν (eiēsan, eien)
Imperative 2nd sg.
3rd sg.
2nd pl.
3rd pl.
ἔσσο, ἴσθι (esso, isthi)
 
ἔστε (este
ἴσθι (isthi)
ἔστω (estō)
ἔστε (este)
ἔστων, ὄντων (estōn, ontōn)
Infinitive εἶναι, ἔμ(μ)εν(αι) (einai, em(m)en(ai)) εἶναι (einai)
Participle ἐών, ἐόντ- (eōn, eont-)
fem. ἐοῦσα (eousa)
ὦν, ὄντ- (ōn, ont-)
fem. οὖσα (ousa)

Note also that the participles are based on the full-grade stem ἐσ- in Homeric, according to Smyth.

Italic languages[edit]

Further information: Romance copula

Except for Latin, the older Italic languages are very scarcely attested, but we have in Oscan set (they are), fiiet (they become), fufans (they have been) and fust (he will be), and in Umbrian sent (they are). This section will explain Latin, and the Romance languages that have evolved from it.

In Spanish, Catalan, Galician-Portuguese and to a lesser extent, Italian there are two parallel paradigms, ser/èsser/essere from Latin esse "to be" on one hand, and estar/stare from Latin stare, "to stand" on the other.

For simplicity, the table below has only the full conjugation of the present tense, and the first-person singular forms of some other tenses.

  Latin Old French French Spanish Italian Portuguese Catalan Romanian
Infinitive esse stāre estre ester être ser estar essere stare ser estar ser, ésser estar fi
Present indicative sum
es
est
sumus
estis
sunt
stō
stās
stat
stāmus
stātis
stant
suis
es
est
sommes
estes
sont
este
estes
este
estons
estez (=estets)
estent
suis
es
est
sommes
êtes
sont
soy
eres
es
somos
sois
son
estoy
estás
está
estamos
estáis
están
sono
sei
è
siamo
siete
sono
sto
stai
sta
stiamo
state
stanno
sou
és
é
somos
sois
são
estou
estás
está
estamos
estais
estão
sóc
ets
és
som
sou
són
estic
estàs
està
estem
esteu
estan
sunt
eşti
este
suntem
sunteţi
sunt
Present subjunctive sim stem sois este sois sea esté sia stia seja esteja sigui estigui fiu
Preterite fuī stetī fus estai fus fui estuve fui stetti fui estive fui estiguí fusei / fui
Imperfect eram stābam ier estais étais era estaba ero stavo era estava era estava eram
Future erō stābō serai esterai serai seré estaré sarò starò serei estarei seré estaré voi fi
Past participle   statum   esté été sido estado stato stato sido estado estat / sigut
(dialect)
estat fost

In several modern Romance languages, the perfect is a compound tense formed with the participle as in English, but the old Latin perfect survives as a commonly used preterite in Spanish and Portuguese, and as a literary "past historic" in French, Italian and Catalan.

There is a tendency for a past participle derived from stare (or more specifically its supine, statum) to replace that of the main copula derived from esse. For example, the French participle été comes from statum.

For further information, see the main Romance copula article.

Germanic languages[edit]

Main article: Germanic verb

Proto-Germanic retained the dual, but only in the first and second person.

  Proto-Germanic
(reconstructed)
Gothic Old Norse Icelandic Faroese Nynorsk
Norwegian
Norwegian
Bokmål
+
Danish
Old Swedish Swedish Old English English Old High
German
German Luxem-
burgish
Old Saxon Dutch
Infinitive *wesaną *beuną? wisan vera vera vera vera/vere være vara vara wesan bēon be wesan sein sinn wesan zijn / wezen
Present
indicative
*immi
*izi
*isti
*izū
*izudiz
*izum
*izud
*sindi
*biumi
*biusi
*biuþi
*beū?
*biuþiz
*beum
*beuþ
*biunþi
im
is
ist
siju
sijuts
sijum
sijuþ
sind
em
ert (est)
er (es)


erum
eruð
eru
er
ert
er


erum
eruð
eru
eri
ert
er


eru
eru
eru
er
er
er


er
er
er
er
er
er


er
er
er
æm/ær
æst
ær


ærum
ærin
æru
är
är
är


är (äro)
är (ären)
är (äro)
eom
eart
is


sint
sint
sint
bēo
bist
biþ


bēoþ
bēoþ
bēoþ
am
art
is


are
are
are
bim, bin
bist
ist


birum, bir(e)n
birut, bir(e)t
sint
bin
bist
ist


sind
seid
sind
si(nn)
bass
ass


si(nn)
sidd
si(nn)
bium
bist
is


sind
sind
sind
ben

is


zijn
bent/zijt*
zijn
Present
subjunctive
*sijǭ
*sijēs
*sijē
*sīw
*sīþiz
*sīm
*sīþ
*sīn
*biwjǭ?
*biwjēs?
*biwjē?
*biwīw
*biwīþiz
*biwīm
*biwīþ
*biwīn
sijau
sijais
sijai
sijaiwa
sijaits
sijaima
sijaiþ
sijaina
sjá
sér



sém
séð

sért



séum
séuð
séu
veri
veri
veri


veri
veri
veri


(vere)






(være)






sē(i)/vari




sēi(n)/vari(n)


(vare)




sīe
sīe
sīe


sīen
sīen
sīen
bēo
bēo
bēo


bēon
bēon
bēon
be
be
be


be
be
be

sīs(t)



sīm, sīn
sī(n)t
sīn
sei
sei(e)st
sei


seien
seiet
seien


sief





sīs(t)



sīn
sīn
sīn
zij

zij


zijn
zij
zijn
Preterite
indicative
*was
*wast
*was
*wēzū
*wēzudiz
*wēzum
*wēzud
*wēzun
was
wast
was
wēsu
wēsuts
wēsum
wēsuþ
wēsun
var
varst
var


várum
várið
váru
var
varst
var


vorum
voruð
voru
var
vart
var


vóru
vóru
vóru
var
var
var


var
var
var
var
var
var


var
var
var
var
vast
var


vārum
vārin
vāru
var
var
var


var (voro)
var (voren)
var (voro)
wæs
wǽre
wæs


wǣron
wǣron
wǣron
was
wast
was


were
were
were
was
wāri
was


wārum
wārut
wārun
war
warst
war


waren
wart
waren
war
waars
war


ware(n)
waart
ware(n)
was
wāri
was


wārun
wārun
wārun
was

was


waren
was/waart*
waren
Preterite
subjunctive
*wēzį̄
*wēzīz
*wēzī
*wēzīw
*wēzīdiz
*wēzīm
*wēzīd
*wēzīn
wēsjau
wēseis
wēsi
wēseiwa
wēseits
wēseima
wēseiþ
wēseina
væra
værir
væri


værim
værið
væri
væri
værir
væri


værum
væruð
væru
væri
væri
væri


væri
væri
væri







var
var
var


var
var
var


vāri




vāri(n)
vore
vore
vore


vore
vore (-en)
vore
wǣre
wǣre
wǣre


wǣren
wǣren
wǣren
were
wert
were


were
were
were
wāri
wārīs
wāri


wārīm
wārīt
wārīn
wäre
wärest
wäre


wären
wäret
wären
wier
wiers
wier


wiere(n)
wiert
wiere(n)
wāri
wāris
wāri


wārin
wārin
wārin
ware

ware


waren
ware
waren
Imperative -
*wes
*wesadau
-
*wesadiz
-
*wisid
*wesandau
-
wis
wisadau

wisats
-
wisiþ
wisandau
-
ver
ver



verið
verið
-
vertu
vertu


-
verið
verið
-
ver
ver


-
verið
verið

ver
ver



ver
ver
-
vær
vær


-
vær
vær

-
-




-
-
var
var


-
var
var
-
wes
wes


-
wesaþ
wesaþ
-
be
be


-
be
be
-
wes
wes


-
wesit
wesit
-
sei
sei


-
seid
seid
-
-
-


-
-
-
-
wes
wes


-
wesad
wesad
-
wees
-


-
weest
-
Past participle verit verið verið vore (vori) vært været varin varit been giwesan gewesen gewiescht (gi)wesan geweest

Old English kept the verbs wesan and bēon separate throughout the present stem, though it is not clear that they made the kind of consistent distinction in usage that we find, for example in Spanish. In the preterite, however, the paradigms fell together. Old English has no participle for this verb.

The plural forms in Modern Swedish (indicated in brackets) were in common use in formal written language until the mid-20th century, but are now no longer in use except in deliberately archaising texts. The preterite subjunctive is also increasingly being replaced by the indicative.

  • Dutch, like English, has abandoned the original second-person singular forms, replacing them with the second-person plural forms. However, while in English the old forms are still in limited and deliberately archaic use, in Dutch they have disappeared entirely and are no longer known or used at all. The forms listed in the plural are the historical plural forms, the 'jij' and 'gij' forms. Dutch formed a new plural pronoun 'jullie' with inflection similar to the 1st and 3rd person plural, but it would be redundant to list them here.

Slavic languages[edit]

Proto-Slavic
(reconstructed)
Old Church Slavonic Ukrainian Russian Polish Czech Slovak Slovenian Serbo-Croatian Bulgarian
Infinitive *byti byti бути, buty быть, byt' być být byť biti biti
Present *(j)esmĭ
*(j)esi
*(j)estĭ
*(j)esvě
*(j)esta
*(j)este
*(j)esmŭ
*(j)este
*sǫtĭ
jesmĭ
jesi
jestŭ
jesvě
jesta
jeste
jesmŭ
jeste
sǫtŭ
єсмь, jesm' / емь, em'
єси, jesy
є, je / єсть, jest'



смо, smo
сте, ste
суть, sut'
есмь, jesm'
еси, jesi
есть, jest'



есмы, jesmy
есте, jeste
суть, sut'
jestem, -m
jesteś, -ś
jest



jesteśmy, -śmy
jesteście, -ście
jsem
jsi
je



jsme
jste
jsou
som
si
je



sme
ste
sem
si
je
sva
sta
sta
smo
ste
so
jesam, sam/budem*
jesi, si/budeš
jest, je/bude



jesmo, smo/budemo
jeste, ste/budete
jesu, su/budu
съм, səm
си, si
е, e



сме, sme
сте, ste
са, sə
Imperative
*bǫdi
*bǫdi
*bǫděvě
*bǫděta

*bǫděmŭ
*bǫděte
*bǫdǫ

bǫdi
bǫdi
bǫděvě
bǫděta

bǫděmŭ
bǫděte
bǫdǫ

будь, bud'
будь, bud'



будьмо, budĭmo
будьте, bud'te
будуть, budut'

будь, bud’




будем, budem
будьте, bud’te

bywaj/bądź




bywajmy/bądźmy
bywajcie/bądźcie

buď




buďme
buďte

buď




buďme
buďte

bodi

bodiva
bodita

bodimo
bodite

budi
(neka bude)



budimo
budite
(neka budu)

бъди, bədi





бъдете, bədete

Future *bǫdǫ
*bǫdešĭ
*bǫdetĭ
*bǫdevě
*bǫdeta
*bǫdete
*bǫdemŭ
*bǫdete
*bǫdǫtĭ
bǫdǫ
bǫdeši
bǫdetŭ
bǫdevě
bǫdeta
bǫdete
bǫdemŭ
bǫdete
bǫdǫtŭ
буду, budu
будеш, budeš
буде(ть), bude(t')



будемо, budemo
будете, budete
будуть, budut'
буду, budu
будешь, budeš'
будет, budet



будем, budem
будете, budete
будут, budut
będę
będziesz
będzie



będziemy
będziecie
będą
budu
budeš
bude



budeme
budete
budou
budem
budeš
bude



budeme
budete
budú
bom, bodem
boš, bodeš
bo, bode
bova, bodeva
bosta, bodesta
bosta, bodesta
bomo bodemo
boste, bodeste
bodo
budem
budeš
bude



budemo
budete
budu
ще бъда, šte bədə
ще бъдеш, šte bədeš
ще бъде, šte bəde



ще бъдем, šte bədem
ще бъдете, šte bədete
ще бъдат, šte bədət
Imperfect *běaxŭ
*běaše
*běaše
*běaxově
*běašeta
*běašete
*běaxomŭ
*běašete
*běaxǫ


běaše


běašete


běaxǫ
bijah, b(j)eh
bijaše, b(j)eše
bijaše, b(j)eše



bijasmo, b(j)esmo
bijaste, b(j)este
bijahu, b(j)ehu
бях, bjah
беше, beše
беше, beše



бяхме, bjahme
бяхте, bjahte
бяха, bjahə
Imperfective aorist *běxŭ
*bě
*bě
*běxově
*běsta
*běste
*běxomŭ
*běste
*běšę
běxŭ


*běxově
*běsta
běste
běxomŭ
*běste
běšę
бях, bjah
бе, be
бе, be



бяхме, bjahme
бяхте, bjahte
бяха, bjahə
Perfective aorist *byxŭ
*by(stŭ?)
*by(stŭ?)
*byxově
*bysta
*byste
*byxomŭ
*byste
*byšę
byxŭ
by(stŭ)
by(stŭ)
byxově
bysta
byste
byxomŭ
byste
byšę
bych
bys
by



bychom
byste
by
(bi)
bi
bi
(bi)
(bi)
(bi)
(bi)
(bi)
(bi)
bih
bi
bi



bismo
biste
biše
бих, bih
би, bi
би, bi



бихме, bihme
бихте, bihte
биха, bihə
Present active participle *sy m.
*sǫťi f.
*sy n.
sy m.
sǫšti f.
sy n.
същ, səšt m.
съща, səšta f.
също, səšto n.
Future active participle *bǫdy m.
*bǫdǫťi f.
*bǫdy n.
bǫdy m.
bǫdǫšti f.
bǫdy n.
будучий, budučyj m.
будуча, buduča f.
будуче, buduče n.
будущий, buduščij m.
будущая, buduščaja f.
будущее, buduščeje n.
będący m.
będąca f.
będące n.
budoucí m.
budoucá f.
budouce n.
budúci m.
budúca f.
budúce n.
bodoči m.
bodoča f.
bodoče n.
budući m.
buduća f.
buduće n.
бъдещ, bədešt m.
бъдещ, bədeštа f.
бъдещо, bədeštо n.
Past active participle *byvŭ m.
*byvŭši f.
*byvŭ n.
byvŭ m.
byvŭši f.
byvŭ n.
бувший, buvšyj m.
бувша, buvša f.
бувше, buvše n.
бывший, byvšij m.
бывшая, byvšaja f.
бывшее, byvšeje n.
bywszy m.
bywsza f.
bywsze n.
bivši m.
bivša f.
bivše n.
bivši m.
bivša f.
bivše n.
бивш, bivš m.
бивша, bivša f.
бивше, bivše n.
Resultative participle *bylŭ m.
*byla f.
*bylo n.
bylŭ m.
byla f.
bylo n.
був, buv m.
була, bula f.
було, bulo n.
был, byl m.
была, byla f.
было, bylo n.
był m.
była f.
było n.
byl m.
byla f.
bylo n.
bol m.
bola f.
bolo n.
bil m.
bila f.
bilo n.
bio m.
bila f.
bilo n.
бил, bil
била, bila
било, bilo
  • In Russian, the present forms are archaic and no longer in common use, except for the third person forms, which are used in "there is/are" type phrases.
  • In Serbo-Croatian the forms jesam, jesi, jeste and so on are used as the basic form of the Present Tense "to be" (i.e. I am, you are etc.), while the forms budem, budeš, bude etc. are used only for the formation of the Future Perfect.
  • In Bulgarian, forms бъда, бъдеш, etc. are not used by themselves but only in compound forms (future ще бъда, subjunctive да бъда). In this respect they closely follow the usage (and non-usage) of prefective verbs. As such it has its own forms for the aorist (бидох, биде, биде, бидохме, бидохте, 'бидоха), the imperfect (бъдех, бъдеше, бъдеше, бъдехме, бъдехте, бъдеха) and the resultative participle (бъдел). Another verb - бивам with fully regular conjugation type III paradigm - completes an aspect triple: imperfective съм, perfective бъда, secondary imprefective бивам. The perfective aorist has lost its original meaning and is now used only to form the compound conditional mood (бих чел = I would read). All participles except the resultative participle (бил) have lost their function and are now used as regular adjectives with changed meanings (същ = same, бивш = previous, ex-, бъдещ = future).

Baltic languages[edit]

Lithuanian Latvian Old Prussian
Infinitive būti būt
Present esu, esmi (rare), būnu
esi, būni (rare)
yra, esti, esa (rare), būna
esame, būname (rare)
esate, būnate (rare)
yra, esti (rare), esa (rare), būna (rare)
esmu, esu (vernacular)
esi
ir
esam
esat
ir
Past simple buvau
buvai
buvo
buvome
buvote
buvo
biju
biji
bija
bijām
bijāt
bija
Past active participle buvęs (m. sg.)
buvusi (f. sg.)
buvę (m. pl.)
buvusios (f. pl.)
bijis (m. sg.)
bijusi (f. sg.)
bijuši (m. pl.)
bijušas (f. pl.)
Future būsiu
būsi
bus
būsime
būsite
bus
būšu
būsi
būs
būsim
būsiet, būsit
būs
Imperative
būk

būkime
būkite

esi

būsim
esiet


Quotative esot, būšot
Conditional būčiau
būtum
būtų
būtumėme
būtumėte
būtų
būtu

In Lithuanian, the paradigm būnu, būni, būna, etc. is not considered archaic or dialectal but rather a special use of the verb būti, to be, mostly used to describe repeated actions or states, or habits.

Celtic languages[edit]

In the Celtic languages there is a distinction between the so-called substantive verb, used when the predicate is an adjective phrase or prepositional phrase, and the so-called copula, used when the predicate is a noun.

The conjugation of the Old Irish and Middle Welsh verbs is as follows:

Old Irish substantive verb Old Irish copula Middle Welsh
Present (at)·tó
(at)·taí
(at)·tá
(at)·taam
(at)·taïd
(at)·taat
am
at
is
ammi
adib
it
wyf
wyt
yw, mae, taw, oes
ym
ych
ynt, maen(t)
Preterite ·bá
·bá
·boí
·bámmar
·baid
·bátar
basa
basa
ba
bommar
unattested
batar
buum
buost
bu
buam
buawch
buant
Future bia
bie
bieid, ·bia
beimmi, ·biam
bethe, ·bieid
bieit, ·biat
be
be
bid
bimmi
unattested
bit
bydaf
bydy
byd
bydwn
bydwch
bydant

The forms of the Old Irish present tense of the substantive verb, as well as Welsh taw, come from the PIE root *stā-. The other forms are from the roots *es- and *bhū-. Welsh mae originally meant "here is" (cf. yma 'here').

Irish and Scottish Gaelic[edit]

In modern Gaelic, person inflections have almost disappeared, but the negative and interrogative are marked by distinctive forms. In Irish, particularly in the south, person inflections are still very common for the tá/bhí series.

[note 1]

The Verb Bí[edit]
Scottish Gaelic Irish
Present affirmative
interrogative
negative
negative interrogative
tha
a bheil
chan eil
nach eil
tá (1 táim, 2 táir, 3 tá, 1pl táimíd, 2pl (archaic) táthaoi, 3pl táid)
an bhfuil
níl (ní fhuil)
nach bhfuil (1 fuilim, 2 fuilir, 3 fuil, 1pl fuilimíd-fuileam, 2pl (archaic) fuiltaoi, 3pl fuilid)
Past affirmative
interrogative
negative
negative interrogative
bha
an robh
cha robh
nach robh
bhí (1 bhíos, 2 bhís, 3 bhí, 1pl bhiomair, 2pl bhíobhair, 3pl bhíodar)
an raibh
ní raibh
nach raibh (1 rabhas, 2 rabhais, 3 raibh, 1pl rabhamair, 2pl rabhabhair, 3pl rabhadar)
Future affirmative
interrogative
negative
negative interrogative
bidh (or "bithidh")
am bi
cha bhi
nach bi
beidh (1 bead, 2 beir, 3 beidh, 1pl beimíd, 2pl beidh sibh, 3pl beid)
an mbeidh
ní bheidh
nach mbeidh
The Copula[edit]
Scottish Gaelic Irish
Before a consonant Before a vowel Before a consonant Before a vowel
Present affirmative
interrogative
negative
negative interrogative
is


is
an

nach
is
an

nach
Past/Conditional affirmative
interrogative
negative
negative interrogative
bu


ba
ar
níor
nár
b'
arbh
níorbh
nárbh

[7]

Gaelic (bh)eil and Irish (bh)fuil are from Old Irish fuil, originally an imperative meaning "see!" (PIE root *wel-, also in Welsh gweled, Germanic wlitu- "appearance", and Latin voltus "face"), then coming to mean "here is" (cf. French voici < vois ci and voilà < vois là), later becoming a suppletive dependent form of at-tá. Gaelic robh and Modern Irish raibh are from the perfective particle ro (ry in Welsh) plus ba (lenited after ro).

Modern Welsh[edit]

The present tense in particular shows a split between the North and the South. Though the situation is undoubtedly more complicated, King (2003) notes the following variations in the present tense as spoken (not as written according to the standard orthography):

Affirmative (I am) Interrogative (Am I?) Negative (I am not)
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
North First Person dw dan ydw? ydan? (dy)dw (dy)dan
Second Person —, (r)wyt dach wyt? (y)dach? dwyt (dy)dach
Third Person mae maen ydy? ydyn? dydy dydyn
South First Person rw, w ŷn, — ydw? ŷn? (d)w ŷn
Second Person —, (r)wyt ych wyt? ych? (ych)
Third Person mae maen ydy?, yw? ŷn? dyw ŷn

Note that, for example, the spoken first person singular dw i'n is a contraction of the formal written yr ydwyf fi yn . The Welsh F /v/ is the fricative analogue of the nasal /m/, the PIE suffix consonsant for the first person singular.

Affirmative (I am) Interrogative (Am I?) Negative (I am not)
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Preterite First Person bues buon fues? fuon? fues fuon
Second Person buest buoch fuest? fuoch? fuest fuoch
Third Person buodd buon fuodd? fuon? fuodd fuon
Imperfect First Person roeddwn roedden oeddwn? oedden? doeddwn doedden
Second Person roeddet roeddech oeddet? oeddech? doeddet doeddech
Third Person roedd roeddyn oedd? oeddyn? doedd doeddyn
Future First Person bydda byddwn fydda? fyddwn? fydda fyddwn
Second Person byddi byddwch fyddi? fyddwch? fyddi fyddwch
Third Person bydd byddan fydd? fyddan? fydd fyddan

Bod also has a conditional, for which there are two stems. The bas- stem is more common in the North, and the bydd- stem is more common in the South:

Affirmative Interrogative Negative
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
bydd- First Person byddwn bydden fyddwn fydden fyddwn? fydden?
Second Person byddet byddech fyddet fyddech fyddet? fyddech?
Third Person byddai bydden fyddai fydden fyddai? fydden?
bas- First Person baswn basen faswn fasen faswn? fasen?
Second Person baset basech faset fasech faset? fasech?
Third Person basai basen fasai fasen fasai? fasen?

Armenian[edit]

The Classical Armenian present tense derives from PIE *h₁es- (cf. sg. h₁esmi, h₁essi, h₁esti; 3rd pl. h₁s-énti).[8]

  present
1st sg. em
2nd sg. es
3rd sg. ē
1st pl. emkʿ
2nd pl. ēkʿ
3rd pl. en

Albanian[edit]

The Albanian copula shows two distinct roots. The present jam ‘I am’ is an athematic root stem built from PIE *h₁es-. The imperfect continues the same root, with the singulars from the PIE imperfect and the plurals from the optative. The perfect, on the other hand, comes from the thematic aorist of PIE *kʷleu- ‘turn’ (cf. Ancient Greek épleto ‘he turned’, Armenian eɫew ‘he became’, Old Irish cloïd ‘turns back, defeats’).

  PIE present PIE → PAlb imperfect (Cham dialect) PIE → PAlb perfect
1st sg. *h₁ésmi jam *h₁és-m̥ → ésa isha (jeshë) *kʷleu-s-m̥ → klesa qeshë
2nd sg. *h₁ési je *h₁és-e-t → éset ishe (jeshë) *kʷleu-s → kles qe
3rd sg. *h₁ésti është *h₁és-t → ést ishte *kʷleu-t → klet qe
1st pl. *h₁s-méi jemi *h₁es-ī́me → esīm ishim (jeshëm) *kʷleu-mé → kleme qemë
2nd pl. *esi (2nd sg.) + -ni jeni *h₁es-ī́te → esīt ishit (jeshëtë) *kʷleu-té → klete qetë
3rd pl. *h₁s-nti janë *h₁es-íjnt → esīnt ishin (ishnë) *kʷleu-nti → klenti qenë

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Colin Mark has suggested that the Scots Gaelic substantive verb forms can be treated as assertive forms of the copula;[9] since the verb is in any case suppletive, this is a matter of perspective.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Ringe, Don (2006). A History of English: Volume I: From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199284139. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Jasanoff, Jay (2003). Hittite and the Indo-European Verb. Oxford University Press. p. 112. ISBN 0-19-928198-X. 
  3. ^ Calvert Watkins, American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.
  4. ^ Toofan, M. Zabān: ast yā hast? (Language: Is or Exists?). Ketāb-e Iran, 2000
  5. ^ Toofan, M. Zabān ast yā hast?. (Language: is or exists?) Ketāb-e Tehran, 2000
  6. ^ Lambton, Ann K. S. (1984). Persian Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 10–14. ISBN 9780521091244. OCLC 236076075. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Bräsicke, Lars. "Gramadach na Gaeilge - Irish Grammar". Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  8. ^ Hrach K. Martirosyan, Etymological Dictionary of the Armenian Inherited Lexicon, s.v. “em” (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 255.
  9. ^ Colin Mark, Gaelic Verbs systemised and simplified, Savage (London & Edinburgh) 1986, p21ff.