Copular Verbs

We use a special kind of verb to join two parts of a sentence and to express either that the two parts denote the same thing or that the first has the property denoted by the second. These verbs are called copulas or copular verbs.

Common copular verbs are: be, seem, look, turn, become, appear, sound, smell, taste, feel and get.

  • Alice is my girlfriend. (The sentence asserts that Alice and my girlfriend are the same person.)
  • Alice is British. (The sentence asserts the quality of ‘Britishness’ to Alice.)
  • She seems happy.
  • She became famous.
  • It is getting late.
  • The stew smells good.

Adjectives after copular verbs

Copular verbs are followed by adjectives, not adverbs.

Compare:

  • She spoke intelligently. (Spoke is an ordinary verb. It is modified by the adverb intelligently.)
  • She looks intelligent. (Intelligent is an adjective in predicative position. It tells you about the person herself – rather like saying She is intelligent. Look is a copular verb.)

Note that some copular verbs are also used with other meanings as ordinary non-copular verbs. They are then used with adverbs, not adjectives. Examples are: appear, look, taste and feel.

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Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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