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Context: In technology, there is such a thing as a live video broadcast but I cannot seem to construct a sentence where “live” is the main verb. Consider this example. My colleague is going to be at a live video conference/presentation for work and shared a link for me to watch ... as a live stream. So how can I construct this sentence?

So, you will be live? (As in you will be live this afternoon)?

But if we remove the aux-elements will be, is it somehow possible to say:

Will you live this afternoon with your colleague?

Now, “live” is obviously pronounced like in live event rather than the live in “I live with my parent”. But somehow we have no problem with will live being pronounced as that in live event in will be + live, but we do when it is acting as a main verb, our minds automatically pronounces it as the live in “I live here”.

This is possibly why:

Will you live this afternoon with your colleague? (video conference)

is only pseudo-acceptable. It makes your head scratch. It doesn’t seem impossible to be constructed by everyday laymen, but it sounds weird and the second meaning of “live” as in to reside or abode just doesn’t seem to work in this context but our mind automatically seems to think it's that verb. My reason for it not being appropriate is that the future/request will you live seems to clash with the time reference this afternoon, when meaning to reside or abode, but we have no problem with “Will you live with your colleague” both in the sense of the meaning to abode and in the sense of live broadcasting.

Also, what is strange is I can also replace live with video conference such as in:

Will you video conference with your colleague?

There is also ambiguity with “video conference” is this a verb or a noun?

In the dictionary “video conference” is only a noun which I agree with but you can also add -ing to it and use it as a verb:

I am video conferencing my friend.

In this sense, is it then a verbal noun?

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  • Technically, English lacks future tenses. It has various ways of talking about events that haven’t yet come to pass and which vary according to the speaker's expectation or volition. Sometimes these employ adverbials; other times they involve periphrastic constructions using assorted auxiliary verbs. For example: I see my doctor in the morning or I’m to see my doctor later today. Some even talk about past events using nearly the same periphrastic constructions as are in other instances used to talk about future ones, such as He will have seen his doctor last week.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 3:55

2 Answers 2

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Live /laɪv/ is an adjective, not a verb, regardless of the tense of the sentence where it occurs.

So, you will be live?

This uses the be + adjective construction. You can't omit be any more than you can omit it before any other adjective. For example, we say "The moon is bright tonight", "The moon will be bright tonight", "Will the moon be bright tonight?", and we don't say *"The moon will bright tonight" or *"Will the moon bright tonight"?

"video conference" can be used as a verb. The usage might be recent enough to not be recorded in dictionaries. The compound nominal "video conferencing" might be older than the use of "video conference" as a verb, because nouns and adjectives tend to form compounds of this sort more easily than verbs in English.

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  • Yeah. Here, I think one has used the noun a lot many times to make it a verb. Just like, “you don’t know something, google it!”. Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 3:48
  • What tests did you do to know its a verb? [ Will you be going, / playing / learning / eating ? etc. ] and compare it with [ Will you be okay, / fine? ] what would you classify the present participles as to be - adj or verb? I can think more of a plethora of be + verb-ing constructions, rather than the be + adjective construction.
    – aesking
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 4:37
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    @aesking: Verbs aren't used in the plain form after to be: We don't say *"Will you be go", *"Will you be play" etc. So it's hard to argue that "live" is a verb in "Will you be live". Participles are difficult to distinguish from adjectives, and some linguists have argued that participles are adjectives (such as Björn Lundquist who I cite here, and Martin Haspelmath who I cite here), but CGEL (for example) categorizes participles as verbs instead.
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 4:57
  • @herisson good point, but a little tidbit you can use the plain simple verb form after be: ... I was struck by lightning. Struck is both the the past simple and past partriciple of strike.
    – aesking
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 10:54
  • @aeskingL: the "plain form" of a verb refers to the form used for the infinitive, imperative, and non-third-person-singular present tense; "struck" is not the plain form ("strike" is).
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 11:11
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Will you video conference with your colleague?

This is an instance – a modern one – of verbing a noun, denominalization. It's entered the lexicon, whereas "live" as a verb in this sense hasn't. If it were to, it would derive from an adjective part of speech, the state of "being live".

As an alternative, in some contexts people have adopted the phrase "live streaming" or "to livestream". This does carry connotations of performance and broadcasting rather than conversation with the observer, of course. Stream has 13th century roots as a verb meaning "to flow copiously", so it's easily re-appropriated in contemporary communications when flowing ongoing data from one party to another.

In the dictionary “video conference” is only a noun which I agree with but you can also add -ing to it and use it as a verb

In your example, adding "am" + "-ing" is simply altering the declination from 2nd person to 1st person. It doesn't affect the part of speech compared to the first example.

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