CHAPTER 22 – Definition – Intensive verb – Copule

An intensive verb is called un verbe d’état or une copule in French.

An intensive verb is also referred to as a copular verb or linking verb in English.

An intensive verb in French is one such as devenir, sembler, rester, paraître or the good old être. As linking verbs, they link a complement with a subject:–> Il est devenu avocat. / He became a lawyer. 

Now, if you are wondering why *intensive*, here is the simple explanation.

A verb is called intensive when all the information it provides (its complement) focuses only on the subject attached to it. So for example, if you say: “Je suis malade”, the verb suis would be considered intensive/linking/copular since its complement “malade” gives more detail about its subject Je. 

By contrast, extensive verbs would be all the remaining verbs (those other than the copular verbs). For example, “Il court vite.” He runs fast. The main function of an extensive verb is to shed light on the verb, i.e. provide information about that verb, (not the subject as intensive verbs do).