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In the English language, the verb 'to be' (also known as the copula) has several distinct functions:
*identity, of the form "noun copula definite-noun" [The cat is my only pet]; [The cat is Garfield]
*class membership, of the form "definite-noun copula noun" [Garfield is a cat]
*class inclusion, of the form "noun copula noun" [A cat is an animal]
*predication, of the form "noun copula adjective" [The cat is furry]
*auxiliary, of the form "noun copula verb" [The cat is sleeping]; [The cat is being bitten by the dog]. The examples illustrate two different uses of 'be' as an auxiliary. In the first, 'be' is part of the progressive aspect, used with "-ing" on the verb; in the second, it is part of the passive, as indicated by the perfect participle of a transitive verb.
*existence, of the form "there copula noun" [There is a cat]
*location, of the form "noun copula place-phrase" [The cat is on the mat]; [The cat is here]
Bourland sees specifically the "identity" and "predication" functions as pernicious, but advocates eliminating all forms for the sake of simplicity. In the case of the "existence" form (and less idiomatically, the "location" form), one might (for example) simply substitute the verb "exists". Other copula-substitutes in English include taste, feel, smell, sound, grow, remain, stay, and turn, among others a user of E-prime might use instead of to be.