What makes be an intransitive verb? How do we know that the analysis of It is me as transitive by tradtional grammars is incorrect? And how does this analysis apply to other verbs, like hurt for example below:

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How to tell if hurt in It hurt me is a copula? It can be replaced by other to be linking verbs (Is, was etc.) Even though (Is, was) are stative verbs while hurt is more of a dynamic/action verb.

The following verbs are true linking verbs: any form of the verb be [am,is, are, was, were, has been, are being, might have been, etc.],become, and seem. These true linking verbs are always linking verbs.

**Then you have a list of verbs with multiple personalities: appear, feel,grow, look, prove, remain, smell, sound, taste, and turn. Sometimes these verbs are linking verbs; sometimes they are action verbs.

How do you tell when they are action verbs and when they are linking verbs?

If you can substitute am, is, or are and the sentence still sounds logical, you have a linking verb on your hands.**

If, after the substitution, the sentence makes no sense, you are dealing with an action verb instead.

Source: http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/linkingverb.htm

Normally action verbs have direct objects, but nearly all verbs can be used as transitve and intransitive, e.g. the verb drive: compare "He drives fast" and "He drives the car fast". The first is a predicative compliment but what about the second one? And in, "It was given to her" - is her a compliment or an object? (Even though her is normally associated with the object pronoun, consider: It was her)

Furthermore can the verb "hurt" be a reporting verb relating the feelings of the subject rather than an action verb like (I feel hurt) or (I am hurt) in "It hurt me"? If it is seen as an action verb, me is an object, while the other interpretation is that there is no object and hurt is being used intransitively. If it is the latter, what differentiates "It hurt me" and "It is I/me" grammatically as predicative compliments?

  • Welcome to ELL, Joe. I have marked this question as a duplicate of another one: if other people agree with me, your question will be closed. Please look at the other question and, if you don't think it's the same question, please edit your question to explain what is different.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 3:55
  • @JavaLatte Hi, you misread my question. This is about the grammatical difference not formality. In particular, English pronoun case after copula (be).
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 4:03
  • Who claims that the accusative is the direct object in "it is me"? I don't think CaGEL says this (I can't check it right now, so I'm not sure)
    – sumelic
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 5:00
  • "The accusative me is claimed to be the case of the direct object as in, It hurt me" @sumelic provided a picture above. I'd like to think "as in" to mean "as well as."
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 5:26
  • 2
    Thanks for the picture. The quoted passage seems to be saying that the "strong prescriptivist tradition" (which CaGEL says is confused and incorrect) claims that "the accusative me is the case of the direct object". CaGEL doesn't seem to agree with this.
    – sumelic
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 5:58

1 Answer 1


Objects are involved in an action. So an expression of Subject-Verb-Object is talking about 2 distinct entities (subject and object). You leave the sentence with information about 2 things.

I hit the wall. (This action included me and the wall)

Predicative complements serve to identify X or communicate an attribute of X. There is only 1 distinct entity, and you leave the sentence with more information about 1 thing.

My name is John.

The coffee is hot.

She seems that she's not telling the truth.

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