Update: 2012-11-24 06:18 AM +0630


TIL Grammar Glossary


Compiled by U Kyaw Tun (UKT), M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.), and staff of TIL (Tun Institute of Learning, http://www.tuninst.net ), from various sources. Prepared for students of TIL Computing and Language Center, Yangon, Myanmar. Not for sale.

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Grammar Glossary - C

conciseness conclusion concord concordancer concrete concrete noun conditional conditional perfect conditional statement conjugation conjunct conjunction conjunctive adverb (adverbial conjunction) conjunctive mood connector (connective) connotation consonant construction continuous verb contraction contranym contrast coordinate adjective coordinating conjunction coordination copula (copula verb) correlative conjunction (correlative) count noun courseware creole critical thinking, reading, and writing crossword dictionary cumulative (loose) sentence

UKT Notes
que sera sera SPQR



From LBH
Use of the fewest and freshest words to express meaning clearly and achieve the desired effect with readers. (See pp. 57884.)

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From LBH
The closing of an essay, tying off the writer's thoughts and leaving readers with a sense of completion. (See pp. 10911 for suggestions.)
     A conclusion is also the result of deductive reasoning. See deductive reasoning syllogism.

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From UseE
When words have a grammatical relationship which affects the form of one or more of the elements then they are showing concord. 'They are' shows concord because the plural subject takes the verb form associated with the plural.

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From UseE
A concordancer is a kind of search engine designed for language study. If you enter a word, it looks through a large body of texts, called a corpus, a lists every single example of the word.
     This lets you look at a word in context, see how common it is, see the style associated with it. Such a tool is a computer-specific tool that you may not be familiar with from learning English by more traditional ways, but it is worth spending some time experimenting with it and getting to know how to use it and harnessing its potential.
     In addition to showing you a clear and objective picture of language use, it can help you with words that you are unsure of, which is of great use or grammatical words and, probably to a lesser extent with vocabulary. You can use it to compare you usage with that of native speakers or other learners and, once you get to know it quite well, you can use it to explore attitudes, the thought processes that lie behind the words.

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See abstract and concrete.

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concrete noun 

From UseE
A concrete noun refers to objects and substances, including people and animals, that exist physically. They can be either an uncountable noun or a countable noun.
     Clocks and watches exist physically and are Concrete Nouns.
is a concept that has no physical existence; it is not a Concrete Noun but an Abstract Noun.

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From UseE :
The conditionals are used to talk about possible or imaginary situations. Follow the links below for further information which are all on this page:
1.  First conditional
     If + Present Simple + Will
2.  Second conditional
     If + Past Simple + Would + Base Form
3.  Third conditional
     If + Past Perfect + Would have + Past Participle
4.  Zero Conditional
     If + Present Simple + Present Simple
5.  Mixed (3rd & 2nd) conditional
     If + Past Perfect + Would + Base Form
6. Mixed (2nd & 3rd) conditional
     If + Past Simple + Would have + Past Participle
7.  Other Conditionals
     If + Will, + Will
     Would + If + Would

First conditional
If + Present Simple, + Will
For future actions dependent on the result of another future action or event, where there is a reasonable possibility of the conditions for the action being satisfied.

If he gets here soon, I'll speak to him about it.
The speaker believes that there is a reasonable or good chance of seeing him.

Second conditional:
If + Past Simple, + Would + Base Form

1. For future actions dependent on the result of another future action or event, where there is only a small possibility of the conditions for the action being satisfied.

If I won the lottery, I would stop working.

2. For imaginary present actions, where the conditions for the action are NOT satisfied.

If you phoned home more often, they wouldn't worry about you.
The conditions are not satisfied because the person does not phone home, so they do worry.

If I were you, I'd tell her.

In Standard English the verb to be can take the 'were' form for all persons in the If clause. I'd is the contraction for I would as well as I had. The way to distinguish them is simple because 'would' is always followed by a Base Form and 'had', as an Auxiliary Verb, is followed by a Past Participle.

I'd tell her. -- 'tell' is the Base Form so it means 'I would tell her'
I'd done it. -- 'done' is the Past Participle so it means 'I had done it'

If he gets here soon, I'll speak to him about it.

Third conditional:
If + Past Perfect + Would have + Past Participle

For imaginary past actions, where the conditions for the action WERE NOT satisfied.

If you'd been there, you would've seen it.
The conditions were not met because the person was not there and as a result did not see it.

Zero conditional:
If + Present Simple + Present Simple

For actions that are always true when the conditions are satisfied.

If you put sugar in coffee, it tastes sweet.

Mixed (3rd & 2nd) conditional:
If + Past Perfect + Would + Base Form

For imaginary present actions or situations that are not possible because the necessary conditions were not met in the past.

If you had taken the course, you would know about it.
The conditions were not met because the person did not do the course and as a result does not know about it now.

Mixed (2nd & 3rd) conditional:
If + Past Simple + Would have + Past Participle

To avoid the illogicality of saying 'If I had been you', which means that "I was not you" on that occasion, but could be in the future, which is, of course, impossible.

If I were you, I wouldn't have done that.

Where the first part is still true:
     If I could speak Spanish, I wouldn't have needed to get the letter translated.
This means that I couldn't speak Spanish then when I needed the translator and still can't.

Other conditionals:
If + Will, + Will
When trying to convince someone that you will do something in return for their doing something.

If you'll walk the dog, I'll do the dinner.

Would + If + Would
To be very polite, especially in writing:

I would be very grateful if you would be so kind as to send me the forms as soon as possible.

Related Article: English Conditionals - Read up on the English Conditional and discover how they are used to talk about possible or imaginary situations.

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conditional perfect

From UseE
FORMATION: 'WOULD HAVE' + Past Participle
It is used in the 3rd Conditional to talk about imaginary situations in the past:

If she'd seen the advert, she would have applied for the job.
Note: 'If she'd seen = If she had seen


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conditional statement 

From LBH
A statement expressing a condition contrary to fact and using the subjunctive mood of the verb:

If she were mayor, the unions would cooperate.

See also mood.

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Contrast declension

From LBH
A list of the forms of a verb showing tense, voice, mood, person, and number. The conjugation of the verb know in present tense, active voice, indicative mood is I know, you know, he/she/it knows, we know, you know, they know.
(See p. 319 for a fuller conjugation.)

1. The inflection of a particular verb.
2. A presentation of the complete set of inflected forms of a verb.
3. A class of verbs having similar inflected forms.

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From UseE
A conjunct relates what is said in a sentence to another sentence. As such, it is not part of the structure of the sentence in which it is used.

However, things turned out much worse than expected.
However relates what is said to contrast it with previous information about the speaker's expectations.

All told, we did very well.
All told connects information that has already been given to produce a final conclusion that connects everything.

In both examples it is possible to remove the conjunct without making the sentence ungrammatical.)

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From LBH
A word that links and relates parts of a sentence.
Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet) connect words or word groups of equal grammatical rank:

The lights went out, but the doctors and nurses continued caring for their patients.
(See p. 282.)

Correlative conjunctions or correlatives (such as either...or, not only...but also) are two or more connecting words that work together:

He was certain that either his parents or his brother would help him.
(See p. 283.)

Subordinating conjunctions (after, although, as if, because, if, when, and so on) begin subordinate clauses and link them to main clauses:

The seven dwarfs whistle while they work.
(See p. 276.)

From UseE
A conjunction is a word like AND, BUT, WHEN, OR, etc., which connects words, phrases or clauses.

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conjunctive adverb (adverbial conjunction) 

From LBH
An adverb (such as besides, consequently, however, indeed, and therefore) that relates two main clauses in a sentence:

We had hoped to own a house by now; however, housing costs have risen too fast.
(See pp. 28485.)

The error known as a comma splice results when two main clauses related by a conjunctive adverb are separated only by a comma. (See pp. 37778.)

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conjunctive mood

See subjunctive mood

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connector (connective) 

From LBH
Any word or phrase that links words, phrases, clauses, or sentences. Common connectors include coordinating, correlative, and subordinating conjunctions; conjunctive adverbs; and prepositions.

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From LBH
An association called up by a word, beyond its dictionary definition. Contrast denotation. (See p. 568.)

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From UseE
B; C; D; F; G; H; J; K; L; M; N; P; Q; R; S; T; V; W; X; Z are the English consonants.
A consonant is a sound formed by stopping the air flowing through the mouth.

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From LBH
Any group of grammatically related words, such as a phrase, a clause, or a sentence.

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continuous verb 

From UseE
1. Present Continuous
2. Past Continuous
3. Present Perfect Continuous
4. Past Perfect Continuous
5. Future Continuous
6. Future Perfect Continuous

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From LBH
A condensation of an expression, with an apostrophe replacing the missing letters:
     doesn't (for does not) 
(for we will) 
(See pp. 50405.)

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From UseE :
A word that can mean the opposite of itself, like 'cleave', is a contranym.

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See   comparison and contrast.

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coordinate adjectives 

From LBH :
Two or more adjectives that equally modify the same noun or pronoun:

The camera panned the vast, empty desert.

(See pp. 48081.)

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coordinating conjunction 

See conjunction.

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From LBH
The linking of words, phrases, or clauses that are of equal importance, usually with a coordinating conjunction:

He and I laughed, but she was not amused.

Contrast subordination. (See pp. 43133.)

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copula or copula verb

From AHTD:
n. 1. Grammar A verb, such as a form of be or seem, that identifies the predicate of a sentence with the subject. Also Called linking verb . -- AHTD

From Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copula 0805224

In linguistics, a copula is a word used to link the subject of a sentence with a predicate (a subject complement or an adverbial). Although it might not itself express an action or condition, it serves to equate (or associate) the subject with the predicate. The word 'copula' originates from the Latin noun for a "link or tie" that connects two different things (for a short history of the copula see the appendix to Moro 1997 and references cited there).

A copula is sometimes (though not always) a verb or a verb-like part of speech. In English primary education grammar courses, a copula is often called a linking verb.

The term is generally used to refer to the main copular verb in the language: in the case of English, this is "to be". It can also be used to refer to all such verbs in the language: in that case, English copulas include "to be", "to become", "to get", "to feel", and "to seem". Other verbs have secondary uses as copulative verbs, as fall  in "The zebra fell victim to the lion."

For a complete list see: List of English copulae.

Several sub-uses of the copula can be identified:

Identity: "I only want to be myself." "When the area behind the dam fills, it will be a lake." "The Morning Star is the Evening Star." "Boys will be boys."
Class membership. To belong to a set or class: "She could be married." "Dogs are canines." "Moscow is a large city." Depending on one's point of view, all other uses can be considered derivatives of this use, including the following non-copular uses in English, as they all express a subset relationship.
Predication (property and relation attribution): "It hurts to be blue." "Will that house be big enough?" "The hen is next to the cockerel." "I am confused." Such attributes may also relate to temporary conditions as well as inherent qualities: "I will be tired after running." "Will you be going to the play tomorrow?" but please note that a linking verb has nothing to do with these so called "Be"- verbs.(see below)

Non-copular uses

As an auxiliary verb:
-- To form the passive voice: "I was told that you wanted to see me"
-- To add continuous aspect to tenses: "It is raining"
Meaning "to exist": "I want only to be , and that is enough." "There's no sense in making a scientific inquiry about what species the Loch Ness Monster is, without first establishing that the Loch Ness Monster indeed is." "To be or not to be, that is the question." "I think therefore I am."

Note that the auxiliary verb function derives from the copular function; and, depending on one's point of view, one can still interpret the verb as a copula and the following verbal form as being adjectival. Abelard in his Dialectica made an argument against the idea that the copula can express existence based on a reductio ad absurdum (Kneale - Kneale 1962 and Moro 1997).

Unified theory of copular sentences
Along with copular sentences where the canonical order of predication is displayed - that is, the subject precedes the predicate - as in "a picture of the wall is the cause of the riot" there can also be "inverse copular sentences" where this order is mirrored as in "the cause of the riot is a picture of the wall" (cf. Everaert et al 2006). Although these two sentences are superficially very similar it can be shown that they embody very different properties. So, for example it is possible to form a sentence like "which riot do you think that a picture of the wall is the cause of" but not "which wall do you think that the cause of the riot was a picture of". The distinction between these two types of sentences, technically referred to as "canonical" vs. inverse copular sentences, respectively - and the unified theory of copular sentences associated to it - has been proved to be valid across-languages and has led to some refinement of the theory of clause structure. In particular it challenges one of the major dogmas of the theory of clause structure, i.e. that the two basic constituents of a sentence Noun Phrase and Verb Phrase are associated to the logical/grammatical functions of subject and predicate (cf. phrase structure rules and sentence (linguistics)).

In fact, copular sentences show that this axiom is not adequate on empirical grounds since the Noun Phrase that cooccurs with the Verb Phrase in a copular sentence can be the predicate and the subject be contained in the Verb Phrase. Interestingly, it has been suggested that inverse copular sentences appear to play a sharp role in setting the pro-drop parameter. In Italian, for example in sentences of the type Noun Phrase verb Noun Phrase, the verb generally agrees with the Noun Phrase on the left with one exception: inverse copular sentences. One can construe minimal pairs like the cause of the riot is/*are these pictures of the wall vs. la causa della rivolta sono/* queste foto del muro: the two sentences are one the gloss of the other with only one difference: the copula is singular in Italian and plural in English. If one does not want to give up the idea that agreement is on the left, then the only option is to assume that pro occurs between the copula and the Noun Phrase on the left. That pro can occur as a predicate must be in fact independently assumed to assign a proper structure to sentences like sono io (is me: "it's me") which can by no means be considered a transformation of *io sono, which has no meaning.

Copula deletion
In informal speech, the copula may be dropped. This is a feature of African American Vernacular English but is also used by a variety of English speakers in informal contexts. Ex. "Where you at?" "We at the store." E-Prime is a variant of the English language that prohibits the use of the copula in all its forms.

As in most Indo-European languages (UKT: are Pali and Sanskrit included?), the English copula is the most irregular verb, due to constant use. Most English verbs (traditionally known as "weak verbs") have just four separate forms, e.g. "start", "starts", "starting", "started". A large minority (traditionally known as "strong verbs") have five separate forms, e.g. "begin", "begins", "beginning", "began", "begun". "To be" is a very special case in having eight forms: "be", "am", "is", "are", "being", "was", "were", "been". Historically it had even more, including "art", "wast", "wert", and, occasionally, "best" as a subjunctive.

Subset relator
From one perspective, the copula always relates two things as subsets. Take the following examples:

1. John is a doctor.
2. John and Mary are doctors.
3. Doctors are educated.
4. Mary is running.
5. Running is fun.

Example 1 includes John in the set of all doctors. Example 2 includes John and Mary both in the set of all doctors. Example 3 includes the set of doctors in the set of those who are educated.

Example 4 is different. Example 4 includes Mary's state at the time of utterance in the set of states consistent with running. Example 5 then includes the set of states consistent with running in the set of states consistent with fun.

Distinguishing between a copula and an action verb
You can generally tell between a copula and an action verb by adding the verb "to seem" or "to be" in its place.

Example of an Action Verb :
   Sam looks at lettuce.
   *Sam seems at lettuce?
   *Sam is at lettuce?

The latter two don't make sense, so "looks" in this case is being used as an action verb.

Example of a Copula :
   Sam looks happy.
   Sam seems happy?
   Sam is happy?

The latter two make sense; "looks" is used as a copula in this case.

Copula in other languages
In Indo-European languages, the words meaning "to be" often sound similar to each other. Due to the high frequency of their use, their inflection retains a considerable degree of similarity in some cases. Thus, for example, the English form is is an apparent cognate of German ist , Latin est  and Russian jest' , even though the Germanic, Italic, and Slavic language groups split at least three thousand years ago. The origins of the Indo-European copulae can be traced back to four different stems *es- (*h1es-), *sta- (*steh2-), *wes- and *bhu- (*bhuH-) in most Indo-European languages.

Georgian and German
Just like in English, the verb "to be" (qopna ) is irregular in Georgian (a Kartvelian non-Indo-European language); different verb roots are employed in different tenses. The roots -ar-, -kn-, -qav-, and -qop- (past participle) are used in the present tense, future tense, past tense and the perfective tenses respectively. Examples:

Masc'avlebeli var. -- "I am a teacher."
Masc'avlebeli viknebi. -- "I will be a teacher."
Masc'avlebeli viqavi. -- "I was a teacher."
Masc'avlebeli vqopilvar. -- "I have been a teacher."
Masc'avlebeli vqopiliqavi. -- "I had been a teacher."

Note that in the last two examples (perfect and pluperfect) two roots are used in one verb compound. In the perfective tense, the root qop (which is the expected root for the perfective tense) is followed by the root ar, which is the root for the present tense. In the pluperfective tense, again, the root qop is followed by the past tense root qav. This formation is very similar to German. In German, the perfective and the pluperfective are expressed in the following way:

Ich bin Lehrer gewesen. -- "I have been a teacher", literally "I am a teacher been."
Ich war Lehrer gewesen. -- "I had been a teacher", literally "I was a teacher been."

Here, gewesen is the past participle of sein ("to be") in German. In both examples, just like in Georgian, this participle is used together with the present and the past forms of the verb in order to conjugate for the perfect and the pluperfect aspects.

Zero copula
While copula deletion commonly occurs in various languages within a particular grammatical context, there are some languages where such usage is formalized. In Russian, Hungarian, and Hebrew, the copula in present tense is implied rather than spoken: Russian: я  человек, ya  chelovek "I (am) a human"; Hungarian: ő ember, "he (is) a human"; Hebrew: אני בן-אדם "I (am a) human". This usage is known generically as the zero copula. Note that in other tenses (sometimes in other persons besides third singular) the copula usually reappears.

In Hungarian, zero copula is restricted to present tense in 3rd person singular and plural: Ő ember/Ők emberek  "s/he is a human"/"they are humans"; but: (n) ember vagyok "I am a human", (te) ember vagy "you are a human", mi emberek vagyunk "we are humans", (ti) emberek vagytok "you (all) are humans". The copula also reappears for stating locations: az emberek a hzban vannak, "the people are in the house".

Hungarian uses a copula to say Itt van Rbert "Bob is here" (and this not only with regard to third person singular/plural), but not to say Rbert reg "Bob is old". This is to relate a subject to a more temporary condition/state taking place in space (very often in the sense of Lojban zvati: la rabyrt. zvati ne'i le zdani "Robert is in the house").

Further restrictions may apply before omission is permitted. For example in the Irish language, is, the present tense of the copula, may be omitted when the predicate is a noun. Ba the past/conditional cannot be deleted. If the present copula is omitted, the following pronoun , , iad preceding the noun is omitted as well.

Essence versus state
Romance copulae usually consist of two different verbs meaning "to be", the main one from the Latin sum (derived from *es-), and a secondary one from sto (derived from *sta-) . The difference is that the former usually refers to essential characteristics, whilst the latter refers to states and situations, e.g. "Bob is old" versus "Bob is well". (Note that the English words just used, "essential" and "state", are also cognate with the Latin infinitives esse and stare.) In Spanish, the quite high degree of verbal inflection, plus the existence of two copulae (ser and estar), means that there are 105 separate forms to express the eight in English, and the one in Chinese.

In certain languages there are not only two copulae but the syntax is also changed when one is distinguishing between states or situation and essential characteristics. For example, in Irish, describing the subject's state or situation typically uses the normal VSO ordering with the verb b. The copula is, which is used to state essential characteristics or equivalences, requires a change in word order so that the subject does not immediately follow the copula (see Irish syntax).

In Slavic languages, a similar distinction is made by putting a state in the instrumental case, while characteristics are in the nominative. This is used with all the copulas (e.g. "become" is normally used with the instrumental). It also allows the distinction to be made when the copula is omitted (zero copula) in East Slavic languages (in other Slavic languages the copula is not omitted).

Haitian Creole
Haitian Creole, a French-based creole language, has a reputation as being rather exotic linguistically when compared to French and the other Romance languages; and it lives up to this reputation with its copula system. It has three forms of the copula: se, ye, and the zero copula, no word at all (whose position we will indicate with "", just for purposes of illustration).

Although no textual record exists of Haitian at its earliest stages of development from French, se is obviously derived from French c'est (IPA:  [sɛ]), which is the normal French contraction of ce (that) and the copula est (third-person singular of the present indicative of the verb tre, ultimately from Latin sum). There appears to be no trace of Latin sto.

The derivation of ye is less obvious; but we can assume that the French source was il est ("he/it is"), which, in rapidly spoken French, is very commonly pronounced as y est  (IPA: [jɛ]).

The use of a zero copula is unknown in French, and it is thought to be an innovation from the early days when Haitian was first developing as a Romance-based pidgin. Coincidentally, Latin also sometimes used a zero copula.

Which of se/ye/ is used in any given copula clause depends on complex syntactic factors that we can superficially summarize in the following four rules:

1. Use (i.e., no word at all) in declarative sentences where the complement is an adjective phrase, prepositional phrase, or adverb phrase:

Li te an Ayiti. -- "She was in Haiti." (she past-tense in Haiti)
Liv-la jon. --  "The book is yellow." (book-the yellow)
Timoun-yo lakay. -- "The kids are [at] home." (kids-the home)

2. Use se when the complement is a noun phrase. But note that whereas other verbs come after any tense/mood/aspect particles (like pa to mark negation, or te to explicitly mark past tense, or ap to mark progressive aspect), se comes before any such particles:

Chal se ekriven. -- "Charles is writer."
Chal se pa ekriven. -- "Charles is not writer." cf. with the verb kouri ("run"): Chal pa kouri, not Chal kouri pa.
Chal, ki se ekriven, pa vini. -- "Charles, who is writer, not come."

3. Use se where French and English have a dummy "it" subject:

Se mwen! -- "It's me!", French C'est moi!
Se pa fasil. -- "It's not easy", colloquial French C'est pas facile.

4. Finally, use the other copula form, ye, in situations where the sentence's syntax leaves the copula at the end of a phrase:

Kijan ou ye? -- "How you are?"
Pou kimoun liv-la te ye? -- "Whose book was it?" (of who book-the past-tense is?)
M pa konnen kimoun li ye. -- "I don't know who he is." (I not know who he is)
Se yon ekriven Chal ye. -- "Charles is a writer !" (it's a writer Charles is; cf. French C'est un crivain qu'il est.)

The above is, however, only a simplified analysis.[1]

Japanese has copulas which would most often be translated as one of the so-called be-verbs of English. The Japanese copula has many forms. The words da  and desu are used to predicate sentences, while na and de are particles used within sentences to modify or connect.

Japanese sentences with copulas most often equate one thing with another, that is, they are of the form "A is B." Examples:

私は学生だ。Watashi wa gakusei da. -- "I'm a student." (lit., I TOPIC student COPULA)
これはペンです。Kore wa pen desu. -- "This is a pen." (lit., this TOPIC pen COPULA-POLITE)

The difference between da and desu appears simple. For instance desu is more formal and polite than da. Thus, many sentences such as the ones below are almost identical in meaning and differ in the speaker's politeness to the addressee and in nuance of how assured the person is of their statement. However, desu may never come before the end of a sentence, and da is used exclusively to delineate subordinate clauses. Additionally, da is always declarative, never interrogative.

あれはホテルだ。Are wa hoteru da. -- "That's a hotel." (lit., that TOPIC hotel COPULA)
あれはホテルです。Are wa hoteru desu. -- "That is a hotel." (lit., that TOPIC hotel COPULA-POLITE)

Japanese sentences may be predicated with copulas or with verbs. However, desu may not always be a predicate. In some cases, its only function is to  make a sentence predicated with a stative verb more polite. However, da always functions as a predicate, so it cannot be combined with a stative verb, because sentences need only one predicate. See the examples below.

このビールはうまい。Kono bīru wa umai. -- "This beer is good." (lit., this beer TOPIC be-tasty)
このビールはうまいです。 Kono bīru wa umai desu. -- "This beer is good." (lit., this beer TOPIC be-tasty POLITE)
* このビールはうまいだ。 * Kono bīru wa umai da. -- This is unacceptable because da may only serve as a predicate.

There are several theories as to the origin of desu; one is that it is a shortened form of であります de arimasu, which is a polite form of である de aru. Both forms are generally used only in writing and more formal situations. Another form, でございます de gozaimasu, which is the more formal version of de arimasu, etimologically a conjugation of でござる de gozaru and a honorific suffix -ます -masu, is also used in some situations and is very polite. Note that de aru and de gozaru are considered to be compounds of a particle で de, and existential verbs aru and gozaru. です desu may be pronounced っす ssu in colloquial speech. The copula is subject to dialectal variation throughout Japan, resulting in forms such as や ya (in Kansai) and じゃ ja (in Hiroshima).

Japanese also has two verbs corresponding to English "to be": aru and iru. They are not copulae but existential verbs. Aru is used for inanimate objects, including plants, while iru is used for people and animals, though there are exceptions to this generalization.

本はテーブルにある。Hon wa tēburu ni aru. -- "The book is on a table."
キムさんはここにいる。Kimu-san wa koko ni iru. -- "Kim is here."



N.B. The characters used are simplified ones, and the transcriptions given in italics reflect standard Mandarin pronunciation, using the Pinyin system.

In Chinese languages, both states and qualities are generally expressed with stative verbs with no need for a copula, e.g. in Mandarin, "to be tired" (累 li), "to be hungry" (饿 ), "to be located at" (在 zi), "to be stupid" (笨 bn) and so forth. These verbs are usually preceded by an adverb such as 很 hěn ("very") or 不 b ("not").

Only sentences with a noun as the complement (e.g. "this is my sister") use the verb "to be": 是 sh. This is used frequently: for example, instead of having a verb meaning "to be Chinese", the usual expression is "to be a Chinese person", using 是 sh. Other sentences use adjectives plus the nominaliser 的 de, e.g. 这是红的 zh sh hng de "this is [a] red [one]".

The history of the Chinese copula 是 is a controversial subject. Before the Han Dynasty, the character served as a demonstrative pronoun meaning "this" (this usage survives in some idioms and proverbs, as well as in Japanese). Some linguists argue that 是 developed into a copula because it often appeared, as a repetitive subject, after the subject of a sentence (in classical Chinese we can say, for example: "George W. Bush, this president of the United States" meaning "George W. Bush is the president of the United States). Other scholars cannot completely accept the explanation, proposing that 是 served as a demonstrative pronoun and a copula at the same time in ancient Chinese. Etymologically, 是 developed from the meaning of "straight"; in modern Chinese, 是 means "yes" as an interjection, and "correct", "right" as an adjective, implying a sense of judgement.


Siouan languages (UKT: North American native languages of Sioux tribes)
In Siouan languages like Lakota, in principle almost all wordsaccording to their structureare verbs. So, not very unlike in Lojban (see below), not only (transitive, intransitive and so-called 'stative') verbs but even nouns often behave like verbs and do not need to have copulas.

For example, the word wicasa [wicha's^a] refers to a man, and the verb "to-be-a-man" is expressed as wimacasa/winicasa/he wicasa (I am/you are/he is a man). Yet there also is a copula heca [he'cha] (to be a ...) that in most cases is used: wicasa hemaca/henica/heca (I am/you are/he is a man).

In order to express the statement "I am a doctor of profession," one has to say pezuta wicasa hemaca [phez^u'ta wicha's^a hema'cha]. But in order to express that that person is THE doctor (say, that had been phoned to help), one would have to use another copula (i)ye (to be the one): pezuta wicasa (kin) miye lo (medicine-man DEF ART I-am-the-one MALE ASSERT).

In order to refer to space (e.g. Robert is in the house), various verbs are used as copula, e.g. yankA [yaNka'] (lit.: to sit) for humans, or han/he [haN'/he'] (to stand upright) for inanimate objects of a certain shape. "Robert is in the house" could be translated as Robert timahel yanke (yelo), whereas "there's one restaurant next to the gas station" translates as "owotetipi wigli-oinazin kin hel isakib wanzi he".

Constructed languages
The constructed language Lojban has copulae, but they are rarely used, and are sometimes viewed with distaste in the Lojban community, because all words that express a predicate can be used as verbs. The three sentences "Bob runs", "Bob is old", and "Bob is a fireman", for instance, would all have the same form in Lojban: la bob. bajra, la bob. tolcitno, and la bob. fagdirpre. There are several different copulae: me turns whatever follows the word me into a verb that means to be what it follows. For example, me la bob. means to be Bob. Another copula is du, which is a verb that means all its arguments are the same thing (equal).

The E-Prime language, based on English, simply avoids the issue by not having a generic copula. It requires instead a specific form such as "remains", "becomes", "lies", or "equals".

Esperanto uses the copula much as English. The infinitive is esti, and the whole conjugation is regular (as with all Esperanto verbs). Additionally, adjectival roots can be turned into stative verbs: La ĉielo bluas. "The sky is blue."

Similarly, Ido has a copula that works as English "to be". Its infinitive is esar, and, as is the case in Esperanto, all of its forms are regular: the simple present is esas for all persons; the simple past is esis, the simple future is esos, and the imperative is esez, among a few more forms. However, Ido also has an alternative irregular form for the simple present ("es"), which some Idists frown upon. The possibility to turn adjectives and even nouns into verbs also exist, although this is mostly done by means of an affix, on top of the verbal endings. The affix is "-es-". So, "The sky is blue." can be said as "La cielo bluesas". As can be seen, the suffix "-es-" plus the verbal desinence "-as" are simply the verb "to be" annexed to the adjectival or nominal root.

Interlingua speakers use copulae with the same freedom as speakers of Slavic, Germanic, and Romance languages. In addition to combinations with esser ('to be'), expressions such as cader prede ('to fall prey') are common. Esser is stated, rather than omitted as in Russian.

Existential usage
The existential usage of "to be" is distinct from and yet, in some languages, intimately related to its copulative usage. In language as opposed to formal logic, existence is a predicate rather than a quantifier, and the passage from copulative to existential usage can be subtle. In modern linguistics one commonly speaks of existential constructions - prototypically involving an expletive like there - rather than existential use of the verb itself. So for example in English a sentence like "there is a problem" would be considered an instance of existential construction. Relying on unified theory of copular sentences, it has been proposed that there-sentences are subtypes of inverse copular sentences (see Moro 1997 and "existential sentences and expletive there" in Everaert et al. 2006 for a detailed discussion of this issue and a historical survery of the major proposals).

For example:

Japanese: 吾輩は猫である 。名前はまだないWagahai wa neko de aru. Namae wa mada nai I am a cat. As yet, I have no name. Natsume Sōseki

English: To be or not to be, that is the question. William Shakespeare
English: [Why climb Mount Everest?] Because it is there. George Mallory

Hebrew: אהיה אשר אהיה Ehyeh asher ehyeh I am that I am. Exodus 3:14.

Russian: Страна, которую ищут дети, есть Strana, kotoruju ishchut djeti, jest' That land we yearn for in our childhood is there. Prishvin

French: Je pense, donc je suis. I think; therefore, I am. Descartes
Latin: Cogito ergo sum. I think; therefore, I am. Descartes
Hungarian: Gondolkodom, teht vagyok. I think; therefore, I am. Descartes

Turkish: Dşnyorum, yleyse varım. I think; therefore, I am. Descartes

Filipino/Tagalog: Ang kahalagahan ng pagiging seryo A translation-transplantation of The importance of being Earnest of Oscar Wilde in Filipino.

Other languages prefer to keep the existential usage entirely separate from the copula. Swedish, for example, reserves vara (to be) for the copula, keeping bli (to become) and finnas (to exist, lit. to be found) for becoming and existing, respectively.

In ontology, philosophical discussions of the word "be" and its conjugations takes place over the meaning of the word is, the third person singular form of 'be', and whether the other senses can be reduced to one sense. For example, it is sometimes suggested that the "is" of existence is reducible to the "is" of property attribution or class membership; to be, Aristotle held, is to be something. Of course, the gerund form of "be", being, is its own (vexed) topic: see being and existence.

Wikipedia notes :
1. For more details on the syntactic conditions as well as on Haitian-specific copula constructions such as se kouri m ap kouri (It's run I progressive run; "I'm really running!"), see the grammar sketch in Catherine Howe's Haitian Creole Newspaper Reader (which is the source for most of the Haitian data in this article), and see also Valdman & Philippe's textbook Ann Pale Kreyol: An Introductory Course in Haitian Creole.
2.Pulleyblank, Edwin G. (1995). Outline of Classical Chinese Grammar. Vancouver: UBC Press.
3. Lojban For Beginners

Wikepedia references :
Everaert, M. - van Riemsdijk, H - Goedemans, R. (eds) 2006 The Blackwell Companion to Syntax, Volumes I-V, Blackwell, London: see "copular sentences" and "existential sentences and expletive there" in Volume II.
Kneale, W. - Kneale, M. 1962 The Development of Logic, Clarendon Press, Oxford.
Valdman & Philippe Ann Pale Kreyol: An Introductory Course in Haitian Creole.
Essay on Lakota syntax
Moro, A. 1997 The raising of predicates. Predicative noun phrases and the theory of clause structure, Cambridge Studies in Linguistics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England.


From UseE :
A copula verb is a verb that connects the subject to the complement. They are sometimes called linking verbs.

That food smells nice.
'Smells' connects the subject to the adjective that describes it.

The following are the principle Copula Verbs in English that can be used to connect the subject to an adjective:
appear; be; become; feel; get; go; grow;   keep; lie; look;
prove; remain; resemble; run;   seem; smell; sound; stay; taste; turn;

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correlative conjunction (correlative) 

See conjunction.

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count noun or countable noun

From UseE :
A Count Noun (countable noun) is a noun that has both a singular and a plural form. The plural is normally made by the addition of '-s'.
     a horse - two horses
Nouns that do not have plural forms are called uncountable nouns or mass nouns

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From LBH :
A program for online communication and collaboration among the teacher and students in a course. (See p. 246.)

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See dialect pidgin

From UseE :
A creole is a pidgin that has developed into a native language for a group of speakers. While a pidgin has a restricted vocabulary and grammar, a creole usually develops more complex structures and has a greater vocabulary.

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critical thinking, reading, and writing 

From LBH :
Looking beneath the surface of words and images to discern meaning and relationships and to build knowledge. (See Chapter 5.)

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crossword dictionary 

From UseE :
A crossword dictionary has words grouped together by the number of letters in the word to help people find words of a certain length to complete their crossword puzzles.

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cumulative (loose) sentence 

From LBH :
A sentence in which modifiers follow the subject and verb:

Ducks waddled by, their tails swaying and their quacks rising to heaven.

Contrast periodic sentence. (See p. 421.)

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UKT notes

Que sera sera

The answers to "Que Sera Sera"
Spanish : "That to be to be"
Portuguese: "That be be"
-- http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070419072901AAfB5h1&show=7 quoting http://ets.freetranslation.com/

Go back que-sera-sera-note-b

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S.P.Q.R. or SPQR abbr. Latin 1. Senatus Populusque Romanus (the Senate and the people of Rome).
UKT: This was on the standard carried ahead of Roman troops (to check with peers).

Go back SPQR-note-b

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