references for Grammar Glossary entry: “copular verb”

• The following sections of A Comprehensive Grammar of The English Language (Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, Jan Svartik, Longman, London & New York, 1985) were consulted in preparing this entry:

Clause types

§2.16     53, 54

Copular complemenation [A1] Adj. phrase as subject complement

§16.21   1171-1173

Copular complemenation [A2] Noun phrase as subject complement

§16.22   1173

Semantic notes on copular verbs

§16.23   1174

Copular complemenation [A3] Complementation by an adjunct

§16.24   1174-1176

further notes:

1. the meaning of copular verbs: In §16.23 (p 1174), “Semantic notes on copular verbs,” the authors of CGEL point out that, “be,” “the most central” and “overwhelmingly the most common” copular verb, atlhough basically stative, occasionally has a resulting meaning as in, “There was loud applause when Harry appeared on the stage.” They also point out that “be” sometimes has a meaning very similar to “become” as in, “Dick will be a fully-qualified accountant next year.” In addition, they make some interesting comments on the nuances of meaning of various “verbs of becoming”; “get,” as in “get out,”  they say, “puts emphasis” on the agency behind the event or on the result of the change, whereas “go” and “turn,” as in “go sour” and “turn grey,”  “refer to changes which happen in spite of human agency, and therefore are often used to describe deterioration.” Finally, they mention that “grow” also refers to natural changes but, particularly, to gradual ones as in “grow lazy” and “grow crooked” and also that it is “likely to occur with comparative adjectives as in “grow cooler” and “grow more content.” ”

2. In §§16.21, 16.22, and 16.24 there are lists of examples of copular verbs taking the various types of complementation. Some remarks: i. the relative length of the lists indicates that adjective phrases are by far the most common type of complementation; ii. in the list of copular verbs taking adjective phrase complementation, there is a sub-category devoted to verbs which “function with severe restrictions on the words occurring in the complement.” As examples of this phenomenon they give, among others the current copulas, lie flat, loom large, and stand firm and the resulting copulas fall silent, run wild and slam shut. Some of these verb-adjective combinations could clearly also be classified as multi-word verbs of the kind that are dealt with in §16.17 (p 1167), “Other multi-word verb constructions.” In fact, one of the multi-word verbs mentioned in §16.17 is plead guilty and one of the verb adjective combinations listed in §16.21 is plead (innocent). The entry, multi-word verbs without particles concerns items of this type. iii. In §16.22, with their usual care and thoroughness, the authors of CGEL mark several noun phrase-subject complement combinations as ones which tend to be avoided in American English in favor of complementation with a to- infinitive construction or constructions using like. For example, a speaker of American English is more likely to say Zack appears to be an honest man,” than to say “Zack appears an honest manand more likely to say, It sounds like a good idea than It sounds a good idea. (It is surprising however to see that the authors regard Zack seems a genius as normal in American English.)