I don't have a cold; I am a cold

I’ve been wanting to comment on this for a while, and The Last Psychiatrist reminded me about it:

(NB: "the patient has bipolar," not "the patient is bipolar.")

Precisely. Who goes around linking their illness to who they are? It sounds ridiculous to say, "I am cancer" or "I am diabetes." People have depression; they struggle with bipolar disorder; they suffer from anemia.

I suppose I understand the mistake. (Grammar lesson, folks.) When people refer to themselves as bipolar, it’s being used as a predicate adjective. Americans do this commonly in the English language: "I am ill" as opposed to "I have an illness." Or perhaps, "I am anemic" instead of "I have anemia." It’d be confusing, however, for a person to declare, "I am cold" instead of "I have a cold."

So what’s today’s lesson, kids? Tell people that you have an illness as opposed to saying that you are an illness. Your personality will be less inclined to take a beating.

Credit goes to my husband for reminding me that a linking verb is followed by a predicate adjective. (I initially got the adjective part.) So much for me and my English degree.

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