In this sentence, is the verb "is" or "is central"?

The principle that an action must be judged on the basis of its foreseeable consequences is central to many areas of the law

I thought the verb is just "is" with "central" being an adjective, but my LSAT study material indicates the verb is "is central".

  • 1
    Suppose you omit the unnecessary words, leaving "... is [central to many areas of] the law." What is the verb? Commented Mar 20 at 23:20
  • 1
    No, central is no verb here. It works like: is key, is important, is vital, is logical. Commented Mar 20 at 23:21
  • 1
    What exactly does the study material say? Can you link to the source? You're right but it'd be better if we could tell you why.
    – alphabet
    Commented Mar 20 at 23:21
  • 1
    Central is a keyword here, but doesn't become a verb. "The principle is good." Good is not a verb. Commented Mar 20 at 23:24
  • 1
    @AfterWorkGuinness In that case, their answer is so blatantly wrong that it should call the site's value into question.
    – alphabet
    Commented Mar 21 at 3:17

1 Answer 1


You’re correct, the verb is is. It functions as a standard copula here, linking the subject (principle) to a predicate adjective (central) as you say. In some cases the line between verb phrase and copula + subject complement may be blurred (i.e., passive verbs vs. participial adjectives)—but central is clearly not a verb form in any sense . . . so where they came up with that classification is beyond me. I’d imagine, though, that an LSAT study guide is not necessarily the ideal resource for grammatical guidance (nor would it have much of a reason to be).

  • 1
    I'd say that the subject is the whole of the NP the principle that an action must be judged on the basis of its foreseeable consequences.
    – BillJ
    Commented Mar 21 at 7:34
  • Functionally, yes, I’d agree that the whole NP is the subject. But when parsing a sentence I tend to refer to the heads of such phrases—the syntactically “essential” parts—as subject or predicate rather than the whole phrase. And perhaps that’s a relic of my younger education.
    – GrammarCop
    Commented Mar 22 at 1:41
  • I suggest you ditch any relics of your younger education and concentrate on accurate syntactic analyses. It's the only way to avoid misunderstandings. If you must cite just the heads of phrases, then you should make that clear in your answers.
    – BillJ
    Commented Mar 25 at 12:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.