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He is loved.

This is something that I've always kind of wondered.

In a sentence like this, is loved a verb or an adjective? Can it be considered either?

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You should address this question to ell.stackexchange.com/questions –  Josh61 Apr 28 at 8:21
    
Why exactly? Is the question too simple? Is the answer obvious to you in a way it isn't to me? –  Whatever Apr 28 at 8:23
    
ELL is the right place for grammatical questions, ELU is more for the usage of English words and expressions. –  Josh61 Apr 28 at 8:31
    
@Josh61 "grammar" is the second in the list of type of questions that can be asked on ELU –  msam Apr 28 at 8:43
    
It's a past participle, serving the function of an adjective. Participles have the nifty ability to do that. –  Anonym Apr 28 at 15:53

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Swan classes this usage as participial (and thus I'd say verbal):

Most past participles have passive meanings when they are used like adjectives or adverbs.

... [emphasis mine]

He lived alone, forgotten by everybody.

cf He is loved [by everybody].

One trouble with classifying 'loved' as an adjective is that it isn't commonly used attributively

?/* A loved man.

except in combinations such as 'much loved':

Nelson was a much loved and respected figure.

However, this is possible:

_Dan is liked by all his new family.

_Oh? He told me that he thought wasn't really being accepted.

_No, no! He really is loved / popular.

'Popular' is obviously not a verb [form].

Sometimes, it is far easier than this to distinguish adjectival and verbal usages of -ed forms:

[On arriving back home, we saw that] the front window was broken. [adj]

The front window was broken by the ball Gayle hit over the main stand. [verb]

But in the sentence given, I'd agree it's ambiguous, though nearer the passive verb end of the continuum.

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Loved is still a verb, but it's the past participle, so plays a similar role to an adjective.

This sentence uses the passive voice.

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