a friend is come

enJoanet

Senior Member
Français
Hi people!

In reading a novel by Mary Shelley, I came across a sentence whose construction appeared to me as very atypic:

"'Your family is perfectly well', said Mr Kirwin with gentleness' and some one, a friend, is come to visit you".

So my question is quite simple indeed: why is???

thanks in advance!
:)
 
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Hi EnJo. Mary Shelley was writing around 1800, wasn't she? Around that time it was quite common in English to 'conjugate' certain verbs with be instead of have (as still applies in French). This now sounds extremely old-fashioned.
    To my modern eyes reading a friend is come to visit you sounds like a kind of 'halfway house' between a present and a present perfect, or an 'amalgam' of the two. It feels like: A friend has come to visit you and is now sitting in the other room waiting to see you.
     

    enJoanet

    Senior Member
    Français
    hi,
    well, initially I thought It might be related with the fact French also makes this kind of distinction between to have and to be, all the more so as French has had a major influence on British literary language...
    but I may be speculating!
    :)
     

    enJoanet

    Senior Member
    Français
    Hi EnJo. Mary Shelley was writing around 1800, wasn't she? Around that time it was quite common in English to 'conjugate' certain verbs with be instead of have (as still applies in French). This now sounds extremely old-fashioned.
    To my modern eyes reading a friend is come to visit you sounds like a kind of 'halfway house' between a present and a present perfect, or an 'amalgam' of the two. It feels like: A friend has come to visit you and is now sitting in the other room waiting to see you.
    Ok, I see!
    thanks very much to both of you!
     

    Fospia

    Senior Member
    English (United States) and Spanish (Cub
    "Is come" is somewhat archaic English. In the song, Joy to the World, one of the lyrics is, "Christ is come." As some have said, this is because of the huge role French played in the development of the English language.
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The use of the auxiliary to be with verbs of motion is also very much alive and well in German. I’m sure the distinction is still made in many languages.
     
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