In the following clause,

that all men are created equal,

is "are" serving as a linking verb (in which case you could say "the created (to be) equal men") or as a helping verb for main verb created (in which case one could ask...I think, not completely sure about this, sounds kind of weird... "how did the men create?" and you could reply "to be equal")?

Or better yet, is there any correct answer?

[I tried to start thinking about this... one question I had was, is it possible for men to "create" (in the sense that "create" == "spawn", or something like that)? Or does create mean something else in this case? Or am I missing something blindingly obvious?]

1 Answer 1


This is simply a passive form.

Someone (God, divine being, nature) created men.

Men are created by Someone.

When Someone created men, he/she/it did it in a way that the men it/she/he created would be equal to each other.


All men are created equal.

[None of this has anything to do with men creating.]

  • This doesn't answer my question, though. What is are doing in this sentence?
    – tehsockz
    Sep 18, 2013 at 0:57
  • 3
    I think it does answer the question. Are is making the sentence passive. It is saying men are created. As in they are created by something or someone else. If you take are out of the sentence, it means something entirely different.
    – Lumberjack
    Sep 18, 2013 at 1:27
  • 1
    @tehsockz As Lumberjack says, the verb to be is how we create the passive voice. I create. I am created. You can characterize are as a helping verb, but in this type of cinstruction is specifically makes create passive.
    – bib
    Sep 18, 2013 at 1:32

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