Caibidil a Ceathair: The Copula (an Chopail)

What is a copula

what is a copula?
uses of the copula
properties of the copula

what is a copula?

A copula is a word that connects the subject and predicate ("copulates").
If a "normal" verb is the predicate, one does not need an additional copula.[ 1 ]
It occurs only if a noun, pronoun or adjective is the predicate.
In German the verb "sein" serves as the copula.
The correllating Irish verb (present tense ) does not act as the copula (except with adjectives)!!
It is therefore impossible, to say "*Tá mé an dochtúir = I am the doctor " !
(Unless one changes the predicate into a prepositional object: "tá mé i mo dhochtúir" = "I am in my doctorhood = I am a doctor." see classificatory and identificatory clauses without the copula or bí and is further below.

Instead of that there is an seperate copula (in the simple form is), that does not count as a real verb, although it is related to the German "ist" or English "is" and is also so translated. It is seen more as a particle, in the best case as a defect verb.

uses of the copula

The use of the copula is limited in Irish to the following, specific, yet frequently occurring uses:

properties of the copula

navigation bar
the copula
Gramadach na Gaeilge

© Lars Braesicke 1999 / 2000

Valid HTML 4.01!

[ 1 ]
The subject forms of the personal pronouns sé,sí,siad count as a combination of the copula is and the pronouns é,í,iad. This is how in every sentence with these pronouns the copula couples the predicate and subject. Also the relative form of the verb ending in -as in the combination with the copula is explained.
[ 2 ]
The claim that these are "compunds" or copula-"forms" is simplified:
In reality, they are often normal verbal particles by which the copula is simply omitted (e.g. insted of *"ní is").
The "missing" copular form is also the reason why that after the particles one doesn't lenite or eclipse: (ní maith liom not *"ní mhaith liom").
Although the copula mostla as the form (ba) is omitted after particles also in the preterite , the lenition caused by the absent ba remains: (e.g.: níor mhaith liom), so the instigator of the lenition is here actually not níor but the "missing in action " ba!
Real fusions are e.g. más (má + is) and those ending in -b, -bh (as a contrationc of ba, or. lenited bha), mostly only preceding a vowel: níorbh é an fear instead of *"níor bha é an fear"