Linking verbs

Linking verbs does not have much meaning on its own and must be followed by a complement in a complete sentence. The function of a linking verb is to link a subject to a complement, in other words, it links the subject to what is said about the subject.

Usually, a linking verb shows equality or a change to a different state. It does not have an action as oppose to transitive (action) verbs. Linking verbs are always intransitive but not all intransitive verbs are linking verbs.

Shows equality

  • The idea sounds workable (idea=workable)
  • The food tastes delicious (food=delicious)
  • The dog is a thoroughbred (dog=thoroughbred)

Notice that the linking verbs (sound, tastes, is) link the subject (idea, food, dog) to the complement (workable, delicious, thoroughbred) showing equality.

Shows change of state

  • Sally is distracted (Sally > distracted)
  • The weather looks threatening (weather > threatening)
  • Tom seems preoccupied (Tom > preoccupied)

The linking verbs here (is, looks, seems) link the subject (Sally, weather, Tom) to the complement (distracted, threatening, preoccupied) showing a change of state.

The following sentences show that the linking verbs may also connect the subject to a noun, a pronoun, an adjective or may answer “what” as a direct object similar to transitive verbs, but does not provide an action:

  • Mary is the President of the Club (President=noun)
  • Those shoes look like mine (mine=pronoun)
  • The cake tastes good (good=adjective)
  • China’s economy is the fastest growing in the world (answer to “what”)

Some verbs are always linking verbs because they never describe an action. Other verbs can be linking verbs in some sentences and action verbs in other sentences, depending on their functions.

These 3 verbs are always linking verbsLondon bridge:-

  • to be (is, am, are, was, were, has been, have been, had been, is being, are being, was being, were being, will have been, etc)
  • to become (become, becomes, became, has become, have become, had become, will become, will have become, etc
  • to seem (seemed, seeming, seems, has seemed, have seemed, had seemed, is seeming, are seeming, was seeming, were seeming, will seem)

The verb BE:

The main function in English is the verb “be”. It is sometimes referred to as “the copula”. All the forms of “be” can be used as a linking verb. “Be” is the main verb of the sentence, rather than the auxiliary.

Other linking verbs are:

Current linking verbs: appear, be, feel, lie, look, remain, seem, smell, sound, stay, sit, taste

Resulting linking verbs: become, get, grow, fall, prove, run, turn

Both action and linking verbs: look, smell, appear, prove, sound, feel, remain, taste, grow

For examples:

  • The victim looks badly beaten >>> She looks for her purse
  • Her perfume smells refreshing >>> The dogs smell for clues
  • Johnny appears torn >>> She only appeared after an hour’s delay