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In Latin apere means "to fasten." What do we call the word that fastens the subject to the predicate?

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Answer: the copula

The word copula denotes a word, usually a verb or a verb-like part of speech, that is used to link a sentence's subject to its predicate. For example, in the sentence Girls are nice, the word are is a copula.

It derives from the Latin copulatus, which is the past participle of copulare, join together, which in turn derives from the Latin apere, to fasten.


This makes more sense than what I was taught in "grammar" school -- that everything after the subject is the predicate.
dana937 at

I have never heard this term used in the teaching of grammar. In standard grammar parlance the predicate is the verb plus the modifiers relating to the verb. Thus the predicate joins itself to the subject without assistance. If you are referring to verbs that indicate state of being, like to be, to seem, to appear. Those are sometimes given a different status. Is that what you meant?

[Mootguy: I got this definition right out of the Concise Oxford Dictionary: "A connecting word, especially a part of the verb "be" connecting a subject and a predicate."]
emm451 at

I agree with "emm451". A copula is part of the predicate. A sentence has only two parts -- the subject and the predicate -- and that's it. What a copula does join, however, is the subject and the subject complement, acting something like an equal sign. I don't know what the Oxford says, but in current grammar this is what it is. Sounds like the question is confusing predicates with complements.

[Mootguy: In the end, guys, MooT is only as good as the dictionaries used: the Concise Oxford Dictionary and Oxford English Dictionary. Here's the latter's definition of the grammatical term "copula": "That part of a proposition which connects the subject and predicate"According to this definition, it seems that the copula is not necessarily part of the predicate. Note that in logic, the predicate is what is said about the subject — and the connecting words are not part of what is being said about the subject.What I think you are really disagreeing with is how the people at Oxford have defined the term.]
jacko at

My mother tongue is Dutch and as a child I learned to call the verb between the subject and the predicate the "coupling verb" [my literal translation of koppelwerkwoord). Same idea it seems.
flandria at

I agree with the Moot Guy - grammaticaly, the copula is quite distinct from the predicate; although I can understand the confusion, given the poor level of grammar taught in the U.S.
trexintar at

I figured it out this way: I got to the sound by playing around with the word apere -- first changing unvoiced consonants to voiced (p to b). When that didn't work, I dropped initial vowels. Bere didn't help. Pere didn't help.

Then I tried to remember my graduate school grammar course and came up with copula, and remembered that that's the word they use for the verb to be because, in a sense, subjects copulate with their objects in a sentence. (Grammar is sexy in graduate school. Actually, everything is sexy in graduate school.) I decided that co is used to mean that the two co-fasten and then took a wild guess.
zev_shanken at

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