Simple tenses with copulative verb

Identify Tense

Write your sentence and find its tense

What is the auxiliary verb of your sentence*

What is the form of your verb*

As defined in the previous chapter of verb copulas or copulative sentences can be defined as follows;

  • They don’t show action
    Example: He is honest, It looks bad.
  • Subject used with them is not actor, means, it doesn’t act.
    Subject as actor: He is driving a car.
    Subject not actor: He is a manager.
  • Predicative complement is used instead of object.
    Object and predicative complement both are the parts of complement. The difference is that object is patient which receives action, like, “he knocks at the door” (door here receives action) whereas predicative complement is not patient like, “he is ill.” (ill is not receiving action). In the coming chapters of kernel clauses you will find complete details of complements and all its kinds.

Copulas are; be, is, am, are, seem, taste etc. in copulative sentences copulas are used alone with no main verb with them because they are not showing action.

Be-form acts as copula as mentioned already but you must know that when it is used in continuous tenses along with main verb (present participle) they cease to be copulas because there they are showing action.

First form of copulatives are used in present tense whereas in past tense second form or past form is used. like;

  • For present tense: is, am, are, taste, tastes, seem, seems, look and looks.
  • For past tense: was, were, tasted, seemed, and looked.

In the following examples you will see that copulas which are underlined and italicized are not going to show any action.

  • I am ill.
  • He seems good in mathematics.
  • This dress looks awkward with you.
  • It tastes good.

For future, as defined thoroughly in previous chapters of tenses, we have to use will or shall otherwise in English language verb alone doesn’t stand for future.

If you go back to tenses you will see only present form of the verb which is used with will or shall and in this case present and the most basic form of copulas is be which shall be used in future situations.

  • I shall be there in time.
  • They will not be here tomorrow.
  • He will be dutiful.

In copulatives we see be-form is mostly used but in case of seem, look and taste they also act like be-form and don’t show any action.

It can be seen in the following examples where they are replaced by be-form and still sentence stands as copulative where there is no action, subject is not actor and predicative complement is used instead of object.

  • It looks bad.
  • It seems bad.
  • It tastes bad.
  • It is bad.

Some other very simple non-copulative form of sentences are the ones with have and its inflectional forms (has, had) as only auxiliary, like;

  • I have a job.
  • He had a head ache

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