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The compound nominal predicate.

The compound nominal predicate denotes the state or quality of the person or thing expressed by the subject (e. g. He is tired, The book is interesting), or the class of persons or things to which this person or thing belongs (e. g. She is a student).

The compound nominal predicate consists of a link verb and a predicative (the latter is also called the nominal part of the predicate).

The link verb (or a verb of incomplete predication) expresses the verbal categories of person, number, tense, aspect, mood, sometimes voice. All link verbs, as the result of a long development, have partly lost their original concrete meaning. One link verb has lost its con­crete meaning altogether: this is the verb to be, which can be called a pure link verb as it performs only a grammatical function and can be linked with a predicative expressed by any part of speech used in this function.

This is a picture of London.1

1 In Russian the link verb быть is generally not used in the Present tense: Его сестра учительница.

Most link verbs to some extent preserve their meaning. The following are the most common of these link verbs: to appear; to get, to grow to continue, to feel, to keep, to look, to turn, to hold, to prove, to turn out to loom, to rank, to remain, to run, to seem, to smell, to taste, to fall, to stand, to go, to work.

His wife sighed and remained silent. (London)

Harris grew more cheerful. (Jerome)

At my age I get nervous. (Galsworthy)

He soon fell fast asleep in my arms, sobbing at longer intervals.(Dickens)

The boat seemed stuffy. (Jerome)

She, for her part, felt recessive and thence evasive. (Dreiser)

Many of these verbs can be used both as verbs of complete predica­tion fully preserving their concrete meaning and as link verbs.

Link Verbs Verbs of Complete Predication
to be
The sun was full of promise. (Du Maurier) No one was there to meet him. (Lind­say)
to grow
But she had grown too proud or too passive. (Wescott) Perhaps I should grow a beard. I look too young to have been publishing for five years. (Wilson)
to look
He looked stupid and good-natured and happy. (Greene) He blushed violently and looked away. (Wilson)
to feel
And yet at moments he felt very close to her. (Lindsay) He felt great awe and admiration. (Wilson)
to come
The nightmare of my life had come true. (Buck) Giles and Beatrice were coming for the night but nobody else. (Du Maurier)
to go
Philip Baring stiffened in his chair. His face went tense. (Wilson) Of a misty January morning Soames had gone there once more. (Gals­worthy)


There are some verbs which, though fully preserving their con­crete meaning, perform the function of link verbs: they are used with a predicative and form a compound nominal predicate. Here belong: to lie, to sit, to die, to marry, to return, to leave, to come, to stand, to fall, to go , etc.

After many adventures I and a little girl lay senseless in the Bad Lands. (Haggard)

The poor woman sat amazed. (Trollope)

I stood transfixed with awe and joy. (Haggard)

Here the important thing is not that the speaker stood but that he stood transfixed with awe and joy.

Happily, too, the greater part of the boys came back low- spirited. (Dickens)

Sometimes the predicative does not immediately follow these verbs but is separated from them by an adverbial.

One evening she came home elated. (O. Henry)

Thus the same verb when used as a link verb may either lose its meaning or fully preserve it.

Irene's hair was going gray. (Galsworthy) (link verb)

Tom went home miserable. (Twain) (notional verb performing the function of a link verb)

According to their meaning link verbs can be divided into two large groups:

(1) link verbs of being and remaining;

(2) link verbs of becoming.

The first group comprises such verbs as to be, to remain, to keep, to continue, to look, to smell, to stand, to sit, to lie, to shine, to seem, to prove, to appear, etc. The latter three verbs have some modal colouring.

Cotman was a nice-looking fellow, of thirty perhaps... (Maugham)

Do not delay, there is no time. Teacher Williams lies dead, al­ready. (Buck)

The Western powers stood aloof. (Buck)

Idris. aged five, at a litte desk all by himself near the fire, was looking extraordinarily pleased with life. (Cronin)

He felt exhausted not with physical fatigue, but with the weight of vague burdens. (Lindsay)

Either courseseemed unthinkable, without any connection with himself. (Lindsay)

The doorremained wide open; the voices insidewere louder than ever. (Priestley)

... the dancingcontinues fast and furious. (Douglas) Thatsounds not unsatisfactory. (Wilde)

The second group comprises such verbs as to become, to get, to grow, to come, to go, to leave, to run, to turn, to make, etc.

Oh, Adolphus Cusinswill make a very good husband. (Shaw)

Thisbecomes uninteresting, however, after a time. (Jerome)

How can Iget married without my best man? (Lindsay)

And every month of his life hegrew handsomer and more interest­ing. (Burnett)

The great daydawned misty and overcast. (Du Maurier)

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