Good day!

That car is the color of a ripe cherry.

"Color" is a noun that is in the same case as "car", i.e. in the subjective case. But how can it be possible? A car is a vehicle, a construction, a device, ... but not a color. How can a car be a color? It's nonsense.

Could you please explain this strange thing to me?


Upd. 1:

The leaves are green. - "green" is an adjective.

Her eyes were red from crying. - "red from crying" is an adjectival phrase.

That car is the color of a ripe cherry. - "the color of a ripe cherry" is a noun phrase, not an adjectival phrase.

Upd. 2:

He is the president. - "he" means a man. "President" means a man. So, they are appropriate for each other.

That car is the color of a ripe cherry. - "car" is a vehicle. "Color" is not a vehicle. So, they are not appropriate for each other.

  • 2
    I don't quite understand the question. To be is to indicate a manner of existence, not to indicate an equivalence or synonymization. The car is red, but that does not mean that red is the color of all cars. Language is not mathematics. – choster Jul 17 '19 at 14:57


be verb
\ ˈbē \
1 d : to have a specified qualification or characterization
The leaves are green.

This is what the word "be" (is/are) means. (One of its meanings.)


I don't know exactly why English has this construction. As you know, it's not restricted to the word color: we also use size and age the same way.

For age, English uses the copula in expressions like "I am fifty". Perhaps this is best analyzed as an elliptical form of "I am fifty years old", but in any case, it seems somewhat related to me to the predicative use of "age".

And for size, the copula is used in expressions of height like "I am five ten" (or "I am five feet, ten inches tall") and expressions of weight like "I am 200 pounds".

I'm not sure whether it's related, but when they are modified, color words like green or red can be used predicatively in a construction that looks like a noun phrase: The car was the red of a ripe cherry or The leaves were a bright green.

  • With size you can even use it in completely parallel constructions: “He is the size of a shed”. (For the record, the weight unit stone works like certain other units of measurement by not having a morphological plural, so “I am 14 stone” [I’m not actually, only about 10 stone, but grammatically].) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 17 '19 at 23:10
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: I see, I wasn't sure about that because I don't use "stone" measurements. – sumelic Jul 17 '19 at 23:15

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