copular verb

Babylon is fallen

Tower of Babel in Babylon

Tower of Babel

♪♩♫ Joy to the world 
The Lord is come… ♫♩♪

Wait, wait. The Lord is come? Isn’t there something wrong? First, we know that come cannot be in the passive voice here, as come is an intransitive verb, it does not have an object, which basically means it cannot have a passive form. On the other hand, if it was in the present perfect tense, then the auxiliary used should have been “have” (has) instead of “be” (is). What is happening?

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Aren’t they too irregular?

We all know there are certain irregular verbs which do not quite fit into the normal paradigm for forming the past tense and the past participle. In other words, they do not form the past tense by adding -ed and the past participle by adding -ed/-en. These include verbs like ‘come’: come came come; ‘buy’: buy bought bought; and ’sing’: sing sang sung. Those of us who are not native speakers probably had a hard time trying to remember all these forms.

But being merely irregular is fine, at least they look alike. There are a few words in English which may seem truly out of place. Foremost of these is the verb ‘be’: am/is/are was/were been. Its tensed forms are simply too creative if they were really created out of the base form. Inquisitive as we are, we want to ask why and how.

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Impossible is nothing!

Impossible is nothing

“Able was I ere I saw Elba.” – Napolean

Poetic as it may sound, “able was I ere” is not a sentence we may normally use, even if we forgive the archaism of the expression. When you introduce yourself to someone, it is customary to say ”My name is Thomas” rather than “Thomas is my name”. Grammatically speaking, there is nothing in particular that forbids you to say that. The verb ‘to be’ is a so-called copular verb, which means that it acts like an equal sign, signifying that the two nouns or adjectives surrounding it are equal (or at least that is the simplistic view). For an equal sign, then, which one of the two arguments comes first should not be a matter of concern, because they are, after all, equal. But we know that is not true.

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