Real Spellers

English Makes Sense!

I just shared a great and rather involved question about the spelling of <jerk> from a mother and son team I'm working with. Check it out here. They had another question that stumped me as well! 

I love to be stumped with words I'd never really considered before!

This one I don't have much to offer rather than the question. They asked me why the word <are> has a final <e>. But even better, they added a great point to their question. We had just studied about function and lexical words, so they added -- because is can be a function word, it doesn't need to have a third letter!

What a great question. 

I tried to think of related words that might help me understand the <e>.


From the "to be" verb

I am

we are

she is

they were

OK, there is a final <e> in <were>, but is that enough?

Over to Etymonline...


are (v.) Look up are at
present plural indicative of be (q.v.), from Old English earun (Mercian), aron (Northumbrian). Also from Old Norse cognates. In 17c., began to replace beben as first person plural present indicative in standard English. The only non-dialectal survival of be in this sense is the powers that be. But in southwest England, we be (in Devonshire us be) remains non-standard idiom as a contradictory positive ("You people aren't speaking correct English." "Oh, yes we be!").


Interesting, but I can't see an explanation for the <e> yet.

Any ideas out there?

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