Alternative to “to be” in copulae that cannot be understood as defining

In particular in scientific writing, copulae using to be can not only be used to describe the properties of something but also to recapture a definition, to define something or to indicate complete identity. For example, the first of the following sentences gives the definition of a prime number, the second one just describes its properties:

A prime number is a natural number with exactly two divisors.

A prime number is a natural number.

Usually, it is clear from context how a copula is meant to be read, but now I am facing a case where it isn‘t. More specifically, I want a copula or syntactically similar construct to be clearly understood as describing only properties. I am thus looking for verbs or phrases meaning to have the property of being or similar (but less convoluted), i.e.:

A prime number has the property of being a natural number.

I searched thesauri (1, 2) for synonyms of to be and found no satisfying answer as only other meanings of to be, such as to exist, were covered.

I am aware, that as a last resort I can completely rephrase the sentence, e.g.:

Prime numbers are a subset of the natural numbers.

Finally note, that the above are only examples (my actual problem is more complicated and requires background knowledge), so I am not looking for answers specific to this.


A prime number is a natural number.

That statement is ambiguous because it could potentially apply to just one prime or a set of primes that you happen to be discussing.

The easiest transformation is:

Prime numbers are natural numbers.

You can make this even clearer by saying:

All prime numbers are natural numbers.

but, in grammatical terms, that is unnecessary as the two statements are equivalent.

Source : Link , Question Author : Wrzlprmft , Answer Author : chasly – supports Monica

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