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Linking Verb

Want to link things together in a sentence? This is where linking verbs come in handy. Linking verbs are an important part of the English language and are used all of the time. But have you stopped to think about what they are, or can you think of any examples of linking verbs in sentences? If not, don't worry! Let's begin by taking a look at a definition:

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Linking Verb

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Want to link things together in a sentence? This is where linking verbs come in handy. Linking verbs are an important part of the English language and are used all of the time. But have you stopped to think about what they are, or can you think of any examples of linking verbs in sentences? If not, don't worry! Let's begin by taking a look at a definition:

Linking Verb Definition

As the name suggests, linking verbs are a type of verb used to link a subject to a subject complement. One of the most commonly used linking verbs is the infinitive 'to be' and its other forms (is/am/are/were/was/will be).

Linking verbs are also known as copula verbs.

In case you need reminding:

The subject of a sentence is the person/thing carrying out the action of a verb or who/what the verb relates to. It is usually a noun or pronoun.

The complement in a sentence is a word or phrase that adds extra detail to the subject. It is usually a noun, adjective, or descriptive phrase (such as a noun phrase or adjective phrase).

Linking Verbs Vector graphic of a chain StudySmarterFig. 1 - Think of a sentence as a chain. The subject goes first, followed by the linking verb, and then the subject complement.

Linking Verb Examples

Here are some examples of linking verbs and example sentences. As you read through each one, think about what each linking verb is doing. Does it link a subject and a noun, or a subject and an adjective? Is it in the past, present, or future tense?

Linking VerbExample Sentence
IsThe vase is pink and gold.
BecameThe dog became excited when he saw his owner.
FeelDo you think clouds feel fluffy?
AppearAt first glance, the car may appear red.
SeemsKirsty seems happy today!
LookedHe looked handsome in his new suit.
GrowingI am growing older.
TastedThe lemon tart tasted sour.
GettingI'm getting better at sewing.
RemainThe group of friends remains close.
SmellsThat cake smells amazing!
SoundDoes this song sound good or bad?

Linking Verb List

Below is a list of linking verbs in their infinitive forms (the basic form found in the dictionary).

Infinitive
To be
To become
To appear
To seem
To feel
To sound
To taste
To smell
To look
To grow
To remain
To get

Can you think of any others?

Linking Verb Sentences

When using linking verbs in sentences, you should be aware of the following things:

Linking verbs are always followed by a subject complement. There are two types of subject complements that linking verbs can connect. These are:

1. Predicate nouns (and noun phrases)

2. Predicate adjectives (and adjective phrases)

Predicate nouns (also known as predicate nominatives) are used to define or label the subject. For example, in the sentence "Sarah is a care worker," the predicate noun is "care worker," as it describes what Sarah is.

Predicate adjectives give more detail and description about the subject. For example, in the sentence "Mark's new puppy is tiny," the predicate adjective is "tiny" as it gives more detail about the puppy.

Linking the Subject to a Predicate Noun - Example Sentences

Below are some sentences in which the linking verb is used to link the subject to a predicate noun.

My friend's cat is a Siamese.

John was a lawyer, but he retired last year.

Kathy will become a ballet dancer.

Linking the Subject to a Predicate Adjective - Example Sentences

Below are some sentences in which the linking verb is used to link the subject to a predicate adjective.

Steven felt tired after his morning run.

The dog will grow bigger over the next few years.

The pizza tastes delicious.

A good way to identify a linking verb in a sentence is to replace the verb with an equal sign ( = ). If the sentence still makes sense with the equal sign, the verb is probably a linking verb!

For example:

Take the sentence "Keith seems sad" and replace the verb with an equal sign:

"Keith = sad."

The sentence still makes sense, so the verb is a linking verb.

Take the sentence "Steph jumped over the fence" and replace the verb with an equal sign:

"Steph = over the fence."

In this case, the sentence does not make sense, so the verb is not a linking verb. Instead, it is an action verb. Not sure about the differences between linking verbs and action verbs? Keep reading to find out more...

Linking Verb and Action Verb

Although they are both types of verbs, linking verbs and action verbs have different purposes in a sentence. Take a look at the definition of an action verb:

As the name suggests, an action verb is a type of verb that expresses an action.

For example, in the sentence "I walked to the library", the action verb is "walked" as it expresses the action of walking.

Unlike action verbs, linking verbs are not used to express action. Instead, they let us know what the subject is, and give us more detail about it. They are used alongside nouns or adjectives to help describe the subject's state of being.

Linking Verbs Image of three people with screens as heads StudySmarterFig. 2 - Linking verbs are often associated with our five senses.

Linking Verb Vs Helping Verb

Linking verbs and helping verbs may be confused with one another, but there are differences between the two. Take a look at the definition of a helping verb:

Helping verbs (also known as auxiliary verbs) are used in front of the main verb to add grammatical or functional meaning to the sentence - they may be used to express tense, aspect, voice, modality, emphasis, etc.

For example, in the sentence "I must go to the store to buy some milk", the helping verb is "must." Here, it is used to express modality - particularly a sense of certainty.

The main difference between linking verbs and helping verbs is that linking verbs can stand alone and function by themselves (like a main verb), whereas helping verbs do not make sense alone so must be placed before other verbs, e.g., "I must go

Linking Verb - Key takeaways

  • Linking verbs are a type of verb used to link a subject to a subject complement.
  • Linking verbs are also known as copula verbs.
  • Linking verbs are always followed by a subject complement. The two types of subject complement are predicate nouns (and noun phrases) and predicate adjectives (and adjective phrases).
  • Action verbs are used to express action, whereas linking verbs let us know what the subject is and give us more detail about it.
  • Helping verbs are used in front of the main verb to add grammatical or functional meaning to the sentence, whereas linking verbs can function alone and are used to express a state of being.

Frequently Asked Questions about Linking Verb

A linking verb is a type of verb used to link a subject to a subject complement.

One of the most well-known examples of a linking verb is 'to be' (and all of its forms) -e.g. "I am a painter"

If the verb is used to describe the subject, it is probably a linking verb. Linking verbs are also always followed by a subject complement, so make sure you look out for them when identifying a linking verb!

Linking verbs are important because they connect a person or thing to a state of being and provide more detail about them.

Linking verbs are used to express a state of being, whereas action verbs are used to express an action.

Helping verbs are used in front of the main verb to add grammatical or functional meaning to the sentence, whereas linking verbs can function alone and are used to express a state of being.

More about Linking Verb

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