Talk:List of English copulae

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Linguistics (Rated Stub-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Linguistics, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of linguistics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Stub-Class article Stub  This article has been rated as Stub-Class on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.


What about "sound" and "taste"? —JerryFriedman 23:55, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

Also "stay", "remain", and "keep" (as in "keep quiet")? —JerryFriedman 23:51, 20 December 2005 (UTC)
And "wax" (as in "wax poetic" or "wax eloquent")? Jeff Worthington 00:21, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Are "wax" and "grow" inchoative verbs? --Fashnek 02:54, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

What about "drive" as in "Tom drives me crazy"? Johnfrye3 (talk) 04:58, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

let's not get completely anal....[edit]

I gather that the task set here is a compilation of EVERY SINGLE verb that could be conceived of as a Copula, in alphabetical order. Might I ask the following:

1. Of what earthly use would this be to anyone?

2. Lists don't explain ANYTHING. My objection to the article in general is that it consistently uses long lists of things as a substitute for an explanation. For example, I get far more useful info on what a copula is from a basic definition on any on-line dictionary.

3.In these on-line definitions, copula is said to belong to the field of grammar rather than linguistics. That is where I would have put it.

4. How is a copula, in English at any rate, different to a transitive verb. It seems, from the list starting to take shape here, that just about ANY verb could be said to "link a subject to a predicate". What else do verbs do? The article fails to give simple info on these basics.

5. Look at (1)"He gained access to the Internet" and (2)"He accessed the Internet". Is "gained" a copula in (1), with "access" as the predicate? And is "accessed" a copula in (2) with "Internet" as the predicate?

6. What about "Tom went to the shop"? Is THIS an example of a "went to" as a copula? Because if it is, then so is just about every verb known. Look at my note in the article on clear writing and try to fix it up. I am a medically-retired writer of manuals, and have 25 years' experience in the field and I would red-line just about everything I see here. And apparently, the same attitude is displayed in other articles on grammar. Dense, obsessively detailed, abstruse, ramshackle, and with the same tendency to use lists as a substitute for clear explanation.


Notice that all these verbs have to do with appearance and being. Your examples like "gained access" and "accessed" do not fit the general purpose of these ones. I don't see how a list like this can be so lacking in "clear writing"; it seems fairly clear to me. Just from looking at this list I can instantly get a perfect idea of what defines a copula and where copulae are used. I'm not sure why you're having trouble.

Actually, I see now what you mean about "ANY verb" having the purpose of "linking a subject to a predicate". However, the use of "link" in this case is the same as in the often-taught term "linking verb". It's not just any relation; "Tom went to the shop" does not at all match the concept of Tom with the concept of a shop. --Fashnek 05:59, 29 April 2007 (UTC)


Hey Originator, let me try to explain the copula. To answer your question number 4, no, not every verb links a subject to a predicate. most verbs link a subject to an OBJECT. In all your examples an object is being used (the shop, the internet, ...). A verb is only a copula if it can be replace with a form of TO BE while still making sense. He is access to the internet - doesnt make sense. He is the internet - doesnt make sense. Tom is the shop - doesnt make sense. Now do this with every verb listed on the english copula articles and you´ll see that the sentences still make sense, therefore those verbs are copula.

Clearly copula is a valid grammatical (sub)category. I do agree with the spirit of the anonymous user's second point, however: lists are less useful than explanations. I am not convinced that this list is useful or notable. At the very least, it needs a better lead section. The fact that the anonymous user above did not understand the difference between copula and transitive verbs after reading the list shows that the current lead section is insufficient. See Wikipedia:Lists (stand-alone lists)#Lead and selection criteria. Cnilep (talk) 15:56, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
so with... "Tom entered the shop;" entered is NOT a copula because the subject is a person and the linked to predicate is a thing? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Xetxo (talkcontribs) 19:12, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

---To anti-listers--- While lists are less useful than explanations, comprehensive lists do serve their function, especially for those of us who teach English as a second language. I came here for exactly this reason only to find a diatribe against the usefulness of the very thing I was looking for. Thanks guys. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:08, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Forms of "to be"[edit]

What are "am" and "are" doing at in this list? "To be" is sufficient. — (talk) 16:38, 10 April 2008 (UTC)


Every example given uses "Tom" as the subject, except for one: "taste 'The gâteau tastes delightful.'" For the sake of consistency, I think we should replace this with "Tom tastes delightful." Mmm, that would be much better. —Iamthedeus (talk) 21:38, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

What does copula contrast with?[edit]

What are non-copula called? I don't fully understand this concept so maybe this is a non-applicable question, but it may be nice to have a link to the copula's counterpart if such a concept has been articled somewhere on wiki already.Xetxo (talk) 19:06, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Oh, looks like I was thinking of "intransitive verb"Xetxo (talk) 23:37, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Tom acted suspicious[edit]

Is this correct English? Shouldn't it be "Tom acted suspiciously"? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:20, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

I would say the adverb is necessary. An adverb describes how, where, when, or why an action is performed. Therefore, it should be "Tom acted suspiciously,". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:52, 2 May 2010 (UTC)

The example may not capture the copulative sense of "act". "Tom acted angry" means Tom acted as if/pretended to be angry. "Tom acted angrily" conveys a different sense of "act", closer to "behave" or "engaged in action". The "suspicious" example is correct but less intuitive for me. HTH. DCDuring (talk) 04:50, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
The two possibilities are very different. "Tom acted suspicious" means that Tom had some suspicions and acted accordingly; in other words, "Tom was suspicious." However, "Tom acted suspiciously" means that Tom's own actions seemed suspicious; in other words, "Tom acted in a suspicious manner.
  • Copula: An adjective (e.g. "suspicious") is used and implies "to be or become adjective in some way," with the copula standing in for the idea of being or becoming.
  • No copula: An adverb (e.g. "suspiciously") is used and implies "to non-copulative verb in an adverb way."
If we use another copulative verb--smelled--the distinction might be made clearer. "Tom smelled suspicious" means that Tom gave off a strange, questionable odor. "Tom smelled suspiciously" means that Tom sniffed his nose in an inquisitive, questioning manner. Wolfdog (talk) 06:04, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

Acted suspicious[edit]

Shouldn't that be 'acted suspiciously'?--Jcvamp (talk) 01:11, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

....erm, see the section immediately above. (talk) 02:04, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

fade, leave, etc.[edit]

  • fade as in "He faded away" seems very dubious to me. Surely "fade away" is just an ordinary phrasal verb?
  • I am also unsure about leave with example "They left happy." What about "They arrived happy", "They departed happy", "They died happy", "They went away happy". The list could go on. Are these all valid?
  • Should we be including phrasal verbs like end up as in "I ended up broke"? If so, what about "I finished up broke", "He fell down dead", "I wound up dead", "I pulled up short" -- and that's just after a minute's thought.
  • What about sleep in "slept easy"?

This article needs a solid explanation of the inclusion criteria. (talk) 02:04, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

Indeed. Another problem is "rest", which takes only one adjective as a complement (except in one interpretation of the historical phrase "God rest you merry"). —JerryFriedman (Talk) 22:49, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
Yep, I wouldn't keep leave. It's looks very much like a flat adverb. -- Puisque (talk) 06:59, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Indeed. Also, compare "They left happy." → "Happy, they left." with "They are happy." → "Happy, they are.". The second transformation doesn't work (unless you are Yoda). I think clauses on which a transformation like this doesn't work can count as copulae. Further examples: "Tom turned angry." → "Angry, Tom turned." (doesn't work without changing meaning); "Tom appears satisfied" → "Satisfied, Tom appears" (doesn't work without changing meaning); "Tom arrived angry" → "Angry, Tom arrived" (works). I think there is a copular use of "to leave", but it is transitive, as in "to leave alone", "to leave out", "to leave unsettled"; e.g. "The sight of the corpse left Tom unsettled", "Tom left his brother alone in his office", "Tom will leave his enemies out of his team". Thoughts, anyone? Pied Kiwi (talk) 18:45, 23 January 2013 (UTC)