Grammar: Logical form vs. direct predicate  Logical form; copula; linking verb

Though the systems diverge, grammar is based on formal logic. Knowledge of grammar will enhance your ability to think logically and to make and sustain a logical argument

Putting a sentence into logical form

Alfred Sidgwick, in  Elementary Logic, makes the following observations:

1. In Grammar you are supposed to be able to look at any ordinary statement and discover in it

a. “That which is spoken about”

this you call the Subject; and 

b. “That which is said about the Subject”

and this you call the Predicate.  

2. But what Grammar calls the Predicate, Logic regards as a combination of Predicate and Copula.  

a. To take the simplest kind of example, the sentence “The horse is running” 

would be analyzed by Grammar into: Subject “The horse,” Predicate “is running.” 

b. Logic would agree in regarding “The horse” as Subject, but would divide the rest of the sentence into:

i. Copula “is,” and 
ii. Predicate “running.” 

3. We need not here trouble ourselves with the inquiry how there came to be this difference between Logic and Grammar

a. All that matters from our present point of view 

is that one of the rules in formal logic we have to abide by is the division into Subject, Copula and Predicate.

b. In order to get material for playing the game, 

i. propositions must be regarded as made up of two “terms”
~Subject term and
~Predicate term 
ii. connected by a copula.  
It is assumed that there are in existence a large number of words unattached, whether ranged in order as in a dictionary or floating about casually in our minds.

4. You can take any two of them of these words and join them together with a copula

—i.e. you insert between them the word “is” (or “is not” or “are” or “are not”) and then you have got a proposition, whether true or not. Out of propositions so obtained you can then proceed to construct syllogisms by following certain further rules. 

5. To analyze an ordinary sentence and express it so as to show its two terms and its copula is called

a. “putting it into Logical Form” or 

b. “showing its Logical character

From A New English Grammar for Schools, by Thomas Harvey:

Direct Predicate

6. The subject “horses” deals directly with the predicate “run” without the use of a linking verb (copula). 

a. Instead, a linking verb and predicate are united in one word

b. for “The horse runs” means the same as “The horse is running.”


Express a thought about each of the following subjects, first by putting it in logical form, and then by giving it a direct predicate.
Boys, dogs, flies, birds, snow, wind, men, lessons, flags, water.
“The boys are playing is put into logical form, whereas
“The boys play uses a direct predicate.

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