Volume 20, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1571-0718
  • E-ISSN: 1571-0726
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Discovering, comparing, and contrasting natural kinds is critical for scientific progress. It should be the goal of linguistic inquiry to seek out natural kinds within and between languages. Unfortunately, the most common definition of a copula is consistently inadequate for categorizing and comparing the data in cross-linguistic research on this topic. The categories of pseudo-copula and semi-copula have been offered to account for constructions which resemble the copular relationship between subject and complement, though with added meaning in that relationship. I will argue that copulas, defined more broadly, function in diverse ways cross-linguistically to instantiate the alterable feature-driven relationship between subject and complement. This article presents a gradient view of copulas based on a set of binary featural parameters with which a language may represent with one or more copulas. A formal description of this phenomena is also offered within in the framework of Distributed Morphology, building on Wilson (2020).


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Abdulaev, Arsen K., and Isa K. Abdullaev
    2010Cezyas folklor/Dido (Tsez) folklore/Didojskij (cezskij) fol´klor. Leipzig–Makhachkala: “Lotos.”
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Adger, David, and Gillian Ramchand
    2003 “Predication and Equation.” Linguistic Inquiry34 (3): 325–359. 10.1162/002438903322247515
    https://doi.org/10.1162/002438903322247515 [Google Scholar]
  3. Arche, María J.
    2012 “On the aspectuality of the Individual-Level/Stage-Level dichotomy.” Borealis1(2): 109–132. 10.7557/
    https://doi.org/10.7557/ [Google Scholar]
  4. Arregi, Karlos, and Andrew Nevins
    2012 “Morphotactics: Basque auxiliaries and the structure of spellout.” Springer Science and business Media.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Bjorkman, Bronwyn A. M.
    2011 “BE-ing the Default: The Morphosyntax of Auxiliaries.” PhD dissertation, MIT, Cambridge MA.
  6. Camacho, José
    2012 “Ser and Estar: The individual/stage-level distinction and aspectual predication.” The handbook of Hispanic linguistics, 453–475. 10.1002/9781118228098.ch22
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118228098.ch22 [Google Scholar]
  7. 2015 “What do Spanish copulas have in common with Tibetan evidentials?” InNew Perspectives on the Study of Ser and Estar [Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics 5], ed. byIsabel Pérez-Jiénez, Manuel Leonetti and Silvia Gumiel-Molina, 173–201. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/ihll.5.07cam
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ihll.5.07cam [Google Scholar]
  8. Carlson, Gregory
    1977 Reference to Kinds in English. PhD dissertation. University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
  9. Croft, William
    2022Morphosyntax: Constructions of the World’s LanguagesCambridge, CUP. 10.1017/9781316145289
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316145289 [Google Scholar]
  10. Embick, David
    2015The morpheme: A theoretical introduction. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. 10.1515/9781501502569
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9781501502569 [Google Scholar]
  11. Embick, David, and Rolf Noyer
    2007 “Distributed morphology and the syntax/morphology interface.” The Oxford handbook of linguistic interfaces, 289–324. Oxford: OUP.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Escandell-Vidal, María Victoria
    2017 “Evidential commitment and feature mismatch in Spanish estar constructions.” Journal of Pragmatics1281: 102–115. 10.1016/j.pragma.2017.10.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2017.10.004 [Google Scholar]
  13. Escandell-Vidal, María Victoria, and Manuel Leonetti
    2002 “Coercion and the stage/individual distinction.” InFrom words to discourse: Trends in Spanish semantics and pragmatics, ed. byJ. Gutierrez-Rexach, 159–179. Oxford, England: Elsevier Science. 10.1163/9780585475295_011
    https://doi.org/10.1163/9780585475295_011 [Google Scholar]
  14. Halle, Morris, and Alec Marantz
    1993 “Distributed Morphology and the pieces of inflection.” InThe View from Building 20: Essays in Linguistics in Honor of Sylvain Bromberger, ed. byK. Hale and S. J. Keyser, 111–176. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Harley, Heidi
    2014 “On the identity of roots.” Theoretical linguistics40 (3–4): 225–276. 10.1515/tl‑2014‑0010
    https://doi.org/10.1515/tl-2014-0010 [Google Scholar]
  16. Hengeveld, Kees
    1992Non-Verbal Predication. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110883282
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110883282 [Google Scholar]
  17. Irwin, Patricia
    2018 “Existential unaccusativity and new discourse referents”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics3(1): 24. 10.5334/gjgl.283
    https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.283 [Google Scholar]
  18. Kopeć, Zbigniew
    2020 “Towards a Construction Grammar Analysis of English Pseudo-Copular Constructions with Perceptual Impression Verbs.” Bulletin de la Société Polonaise de Linguistique761: 321–335. 10.5604/01.3001.0014.6663
    https://doi.org/10.5604/01.3001.0014.6663 [Google Scholar]
  19. Kratzer, Angelika
    1996 “Severing the external argument from its verb.” InPhrase Structure and the Lexicon, ed. byJ. Rooryck and L. Zaring, 109–137. Dordrecht: Springer. 10.1007/978‑94‑015‑8617‑7_5
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-015-8617-7_5 [Google Scholar]
  20. Leonetti, Manuel, Pérez-Jiménez, Isabel, and Silvia Gumiel-Molina
    2015 “Ser and estar.” InNew perspectives on the study of Ser and Estar, ed. byIsabel Pérez-Jiménez, Manuel Leonetti and Silvia Gumiel-Molina, 1–20. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/ihll.5.01leo
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ihll.5.01leo [Google Scholar]
  21. Lyons, John
    1968Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University. 10.1017/CBO9781139165570
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139165570 [Google Scholar]
  22. Marantz, Alec
    1997 “No escape from syntax: Don’t try morphological analysis in the privacy of your own lexicon.” University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics4 (2): 201–225.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. 2013 “Verbal argument structure: Events and participants.” Lingua1301: 152–168. 10.1016/j.lingua.2012.10.012
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2012.10.012 [Google Scholar]
  24. Marín, Rafael
    2009 “Spanish individual-level and stage-level adjectives revisited.” Unpublished manuscript, Université Lille.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. 2010 “Spanish adjectives within bounds.” InAdjectives: Formal analyses in syntax and semantics, ed. byPatricia Cabredo-Hofherr and Ora Matushansky, 307–332. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/la.153.09mar
    https://doi.org/10.1075/la.153.09mar [Google Scholar]
  26. Markman, Vita. G.
    2008 “The case of predicates (revisited): Predicate instrumental in Russian and its restrictions.” Journal of Slavic Linguistics1(2): 187–246. 10.1353/jsl.0.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1353/jsl.0.0001 [Google Scholar]
  27. Matushansky, Ora
    2019 “Against the PredP theory of small clauses.” Linguistic Inquiry50 (1): 63–104. 10.1162/ling_a_00301
    https://doi.org/10.1162/ling_a_00301 [Google Scholar]
  28. Myler, Neil
    2016Building and Interpreting Possession Sentences. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press. 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034913.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/9780262034913.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  29. 2018 “Complex copula systems as suppletive allomorphy.” Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics3 (1): 51. 10.5334/gjgl.214
    https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.214 [Google Scholar]
  30. Nevins, Andrew, and Jeffrey K. Parrott
    2010 “Variable rules meet impoverishment theory: Patterns of agreement leveling in English varieties.” Lingua120 (5): 1135–1159. 10.1016/j.lingua.2008.05.008
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2008.05.008 [Google Scholar]
  31. Petré, Peter
    2014Constructions and Environments: Copular, Passive, and Related Constructions in Old and Middle English. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199373390.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199373390.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  32. Pierce, Charles S.
    1909 ‘Copula’. Term inMats Bergman and Sami Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce’s Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved fromwww.commens.org/dictionary/term/copula, 10.09.2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Pustet, Regina
    2003Copulas: Universals in the Categorization of the Lexicon. Oxford: OUP. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258505.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258505.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  34. Raxilina, Ekaterina B.
    2008Cognitivny analiz predmetnyx imen: semantika i sočetaemost’ (Cognitive analysis of subject names). Russkie Slovari. Moscow.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Roby, David B.
    2009Aspect and the categorization of states: The case of ser and estar in Spanish. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/slcs.114
    https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.114 [Google Scholar]
  36. Stassen, Leon
    1997Intransitive Predication. Oxford: OUP. 10.1093/oso/9780198236931.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198236931.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  37. Vendler, Zeno
    1957 “Verbs and times.” The Philosophical Review661: 143–160. 10.2307/2182371
    https://doi.org/10.2307/2182371 [Google Scholar]
  38. Vydrin, Valentin
    2020 “Non-verbal predication and copulas in three Mande languages.” Journal of West African Languages7 (1): 77–105.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Wilson, Daniel J.
    2020Syntactic and Semantic Variation in Copular Sentences: Insights from Classical Hebrew. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/la.261
    https://doi.org/10.1075/la.261 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): copula; pseudo-copula; semi-copula
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error