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Copular verbs

Copular verbs

What are copular verbs?

Copulas, linking verbs or copulative verbs, are a special type of verb that joins a subject complement to the subject of the sentence. The most common copular verbs are: be, seem, appear, feel, sound, get, become, taste, look.

For example, in the sentence:

  • “The lady seemed nice”.

Here, the adjective is “nice” and the subject is “lady”, so which kind of verb should be used to join an adjective like “nice” with the subject of a sentence such as “the lady”? We use copular verbs. In addition, the most common type of copular verbs are:

  • To be, seem, feel, appear, look, become, taste, get, sound, turn, grow, find…

Above all, we use Copular Verbs to join or connect the subject of a sentence with a subject complement. Subject complements can take the form of a noun phrase, an adjective (most common), a prepositional phrase or an adverb.

Let’s take a look at another example

  • “I am here”.

Here, the subject is “I”, and in order to describe that “I” is “here”, a copular verb (“am” from “to be”) is being used to connect it to the adverb “here”.

  • “Paul feels amazing today”.

In this sentence, the subject, “Paul” is connected to the adjective “amazing” using the copular verb “to feel”.

  • “You’re a brilliant person”.

The subject is “you” and “you” is connected to the adjective “brilliant” using the copular verb “to be” (in the second person contracted “’re”). Moreover, copular verbs are most common when we want to describe people or things in English using adjectives.

Common examples of Copular Verbs with adjectives

Furthermore, here are some common examples with which you’ll be familiar. That is, making usage of copular verbs to connect the adjective with the subject:

• The sea seems transparent.
• The meal looks tasty.
• We are thankful to you.
• Why does Jane always appear late?
• She became quite annoying.
• The food tastes delicious.
• Martin, get better.
• The man seemed grateful to me.
• The plan sounds excellent.
• I am intelligent and hard-working.

Remember, we use copulative verbs to connect the adjective to the subject. We can’t use adverbs.

  • He spoke amazingly. ‘Amazingly’ is an adverb. It tells us HOW the person spoke. So, ‘speak’ is not a copular verb, but rather, a normal verb.
  • She looks amazing. ‘Amazing’ is an adjective in the predicative position. The adjective ‘amazing’ describes the subject ‘she’ by using the copular verb ‘to look’.
  • That man is horrible.
  • Their doorman seemed nice to me.
  • The party appeared somewhat exhausting.
  • I think the patient is feeling a bit of pain.
  • Our alarm sounded twice.
  • He‘s getting sick of this nonsense.
  • My brother became a football player.
  • The paella tastes amazing.
  • You look really good in that suit.

The adjectives are in red and the subjects are in bold.

Copular verbs always connect the subject with the noun complement or adjective. 

A complete list of copular verbs in alphabetical order

Act, appear, be, become, bleed, become, come, come out, constitute, end up, die, get, go, grow, fall, feel, freeze, keep, look, prove, remain, run, seem, shine, smell, sound, stay, taste, turn, turn up, wax. 

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