In English, the verb be is sometimes referred to as "the copula," but other verbs (identified in Observations, below) have a copular function as well.
Etymology:From the Latin, "link"
Examples and Observations:
- "These two very old people are the father and mother of Mr. Bucket. Their names are Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josephine."
(Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1964)
- "We use a special kind of verb to join an adjective or noun complement to a subject. These verbs can be called 'copulas' or 'copular verbs.' Common copular verbs are: be, seem, appear, look, sound, smell, taste, feel, become, get.
- The weather is horrible.
- That car looks fast.
- The stew smells good.
- I do feel a fool.
- She became a racehorse trainer.
- It's getting late.
- He spoke intelligently. (Intelligently is an adverb. It tells you about how the person spoke.)
- He looks intelligent. (Intelligent is an adjective in a predicative position. It tells you about the person himself--rather like saying 'He is intelligent.' Look is a copular verb.)
(Michael Swan, Practical English Usage. Oxford Univ. Press, 1995)
- "A copular (or linking) verb is complemented by a subject predicative in sentence or clause structure. The most common copular verb is be; others include become (my friend), feel (tired), get (ready), seem (happy). A copular prepositional verb is a prepositional verb (combination of verb plus preposition) that is complemented by a subject predicative: sound like (you), turn into (a monster), serve as (mitigating circumstances)."
(Sidney Greenbaum, Oxford English Grammar. Oxford Univ. Press, 1996)
- "A smile is a curve that sets everything straight."
(attributed to Phyllis Diller)
- "If it looks good, you'll see it. If it sounds good, you'll hear it. If it's marketed right, you'll buy it. But if it's real, you'll feel it."
- "When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion."
(attributed to Abraham Lincoln)
- "Copular verbs fall into two broad groups:
- Describing some kind of state that the thing or person referred to by the subject is in; verbs of this sort include be, remain, seem and appear.
- Describing the result of some change affecting the thing or person referred to by the subject; verbs of this sort include become, turn, grow and get.
(James R. Hurford, Grammar: A Student's Guide. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994)