What is the most common way to refer to the group of words like "is", "be", "am", "are", "were", and "was" in English?
When I learned English as my second language, every teacher in my country called them "be-verbs", which is a subclass of verbs in general ("verb" is in my own language, of course). But after that, I noticed that almost no native English speakers call them "be-verbs". Instead, I sometimes see the word copula to refer to these words. Some people seem to use linking verbs, with which I'm not familiar at all.
I know that these words are called copula at least by professional linguists, but currently I'm under the impression that copula may not be widely recognized by the general public. So I'm interested to see the layperson's term which I can use safely.
So here are my questions:
- What is the easiest term to refer to these words?
- Do ordinary native English speakers have a chance to learn what a copula is, along with other grammar terms such as noun, verb, adjective? If yes, when and how?
- Do ordinary native English speakers consider English copulas as a subtype of verbs, or as something independent?