Copula ( Concept )

      |_ Abstract
            |_ Linguistic Property
                  |_ Part Of Speech Property
                        |_ Predicator
                              |_ Verbal
                                    |_ Copula


Indicates a relationship of equivalency between the subject and predicate or complement of a clause. Verbal copulas have essentially the same morphosyntactic properties as verbs: English 'be', Spanish 'ser', and Russian 'byt’' are illustrations of this class. Nonverbal copular items include the the pro-copula - a demonstrative or personal pronoun which serves as the linker between subject and predicate nominal, and which is obligatory in nominal predication - and particle copulas, which have their origin in a variety of markers of discourse-oriented phenomena such as topicalization, backgrounding, or contrastive focus for subjects or predicates. Zero copula refers to a construction in which the relation between a subject and a nominal predicate is not marked by an overt item. Zero copula is mandatory in some languages, such as Sinhalese, whereas it is conditional or restricted in other languages, such as Russian. [Stassen 2008]

Usage Notes

Language Code: eng Verbal Copula in English
2010-05-07 15:41:18

a. He is a teacher

b. The policeman seemed not at all satisfied

c. It got worse and worse

[Hartmann and Stork 1972: 55]

Language Code: fin Verbal Copula in Finnish
2010-06-04 11:16:02
‘My friend is a vicar.’

[Fromm and Sadeniemi 1956: 115]

Language Code: heb Pro-Copula in Hebrew (Nonverbal Copula)
2010-06-04 11:18:03
‘Moshe is a student.’

[Li and Thompson 1977: 428]

Language Code: kmn Particle Copula in Awtuw (Nonverbal Copula)
2010-06-04 11:19:49
‘I am a human being.’

[Feldman 1986:148]

Language Code: sin Zero Copula in Sinhalese
2010-06-04 11:23:19
‘He is/was a very famous person.’

[Gair 1970: 145]

Language Code: rus Restricted Zero Copula in Russian
2010-06-04 11:44:06

a. ona vrač
she doctor
‘She is a doctor.’

b. on byl učenik-om
he be.m.pst pupil-instr
‘He was a pupil.’

In Russian, a zero copula is used in the present tense, whereas a full copula is mandatory for all other tenses.

[Stassen 2008 p.c. with Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm]


User Submitted Issues
Status: Pending Not all copula are verbal - Anthony Aristar
2010-06-05 18:37:22

It is wrong to classify copula as a child of verbal. There are non-verbal copula such as pronoun and particle copula as well as zero copula as shown in the examples. Hence, this classification should be reconsidered.

Changed 'verb' in definition to elements

Also noticed the source for this is Stassen 2008 - We have Stassen 2005 in the bibliography but not 2008. Is the 2005 source correct?