the verb

Gerald van Koeverden gvk at
Thu Jan 20 14:38:14 UTC 2000

I have simple question.  I feel embarrased to ask it, because after lurking in the
shaodows of this list-serve for sometime, it definitely rates very low compared to the
level of academic discussion.  I hope that there is a spirit here of promoting
interest in the field of linguistics, even if only in the coffee claches of us lay
men...and lay women of course.

In the sentence "Ice is less dense than water," we both agree that "ice" and "water"
are the subject and object.  But what is the verb?

My friend argues that the verb is "is".

I argue that it is "is less dense than".  She argues that those other three words
"less", "dense" and "than" aren't listed as verbs in the dictionary.  I say that it
doesn't matter, that the verb is what expresses the relationship between the subject
and the object, and since it takes all four words to do it, then so be it.  Even
though that collection is not "a" verb, it is acting as "the" verb.

Looking forward to any comments you might have.


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