I have found in this website that the "state of being" or "be" verb (is) is followed by an "action verb" (say). What is the rule behind this? Please explain.

What we can say is that this is an important issue, which the MoD should be looking at.

  • 1
    All I say is - yeah, it's possible! :P
    – Maulik V
    May 17, 2016 at 9:51
  • As per your example, the phrase (I say) is an appositive of "All". However it is different in my criterion, the word "What" is not a noun (I assume). If the phrase "we can say" is an appositive "What", "What" would have become as an interrogative pronoun which should end with question mark.
    – ARYF
    May 17, 2016 at 10:15
  • 2
    This sentence is an ordinary X is Y copulation, with a free relative clause as its subject. Parse it like this: [What we can say] is [that this is an important issue]. May 17, 2016 at 10:49
  • 1
    See No. 2 definition and the first example sentence. 'What we need is a commitment'
    – user24743
    May 17, 2016 at 13:45

1 Answer 1


The structure is "[What we can say] is ... ". The two verbs are not in the same clause. "What we can say" is a subordinate clause functioning as the subject of "is".

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