Verbs: What are Linking Verbs?

Verbs are commonly regarded as “action words,” but did you know that there is a kind of verbs which does not necessarily show a form of physical or mental action? This main type is called the linking verb, which is sometimes referred to as the copular verb.

Functions of Linking Verbs

As mentioned earlier, linking verbs do not express actions. So what exactly do they do? Basically, linking verbs connect the subject in the sentence with the subject complement or show a state of being/ condition.

  1. Linking verbs may link the subject with an adjective.
    • Examples:
    • Her mom was proud of her achievements.
    • The underlined linking verb connects the subject (mom) with the adjective (proud).
    • Ezekiel seemed exhausted when I saw him awhile ago.
    • In this example, the underlined verb links the subject (Ezekiel) with the adjective (exhausted).
  2.  Linking verbs may link the subject with a noun.
    • Examples:
    • He is a mess.
    • The linking verb “is” connects the subject (he) with the noun (mess).
    • Infection appeared to be the cause of death.
    • The word “appeared” functions as a linking verb that connects “infection” with “cause.”
  3. Linking verbs may link the subject with a pronoun
    • Examples:
    • The handkerchief could be hers.
    • In this sentence, the linking verb “could be” connects the subject (handkerchief) with the pronoun “hers.”

Examples of Linking Verbs

Below is a list of linking verbs that are forms of the verb “to be” and are most commonly used in everyday communication or in writing:

  • is
  • am
  • are
  • were
  • was
  • are being
  • has been
  • had been
  • will be
  • might have been
  • Sample Sentences:
    • Robert Langdon is a claustrophobic.
    • The teachers thought that the play was offensive.
    • They were excited for the field trip.

Other Linking Verbs

Aside from these linking verbs, there are also some which can be considered as either verbs of sensation or verbs of existence. Both of these types of linking verbs can also function as active verbs, which display forms of actions. In order for you to understand better, sample sentences and their meanings will be provided for your reference.

Examples of verbs of sensation:

  • look
  • feel
  • sound
  • smell
  • taste

Examples of verbs of existence:

  • seem
  • stand
  • turn
  • prove
  • continue
  • act
  • remain
  • grow

Examples of Linking Verbs as active verbs:

  • Jacob tasted the fertilized duck egg for the first time.
  • Surprisingly, the fertilized duck egg tasted good.

In the first sentence, the word “tasted” is something that Jacob is doing. Therefore, it is an active verb. However, in the second sentence, the same underlined word simply links the subject with the word “good” and does not imply an actual action.

  •  The newly-baked cookies smell heavenly.
  • He smelled the cookies as soon as they were taken out of the oven.

In the first sentence, the verb “smell” serves as a linking verb that connects the subject with the adjective “heavenly,” while in the second one, the same verb functions as an active verb that demonstrates an actual action of smelling (sniffing).

Additional Tips and Final Thoughts

The main difference between active and linking verbs is that active verbs demonstrate specific actions, while linking verbs connect the subject with the subject complement in the sentence. Aside from that, linking verbs allow changing of positions between the subject and the subject complement. Unlike active verbs however, linking verbs do not alter the meaning of the sentence.

For example:

Linking Verb

  • The striker of the football team is Phil Younghusband.
  • Phil Younghusband is the striker of the football team.

You will notice that the meaning of the sentence did not change, even though the positions of the subject and the subject complement were interchanged.

 Active Verbs

  • The professor threw the chalk.
  • The chalk threw the professor.

Without thorough analysis, you will immediately see the change in meaning. In the first sentence, the doer of the action is the “professor,” while in the second one, it is the “chalk.”

Linking verbs can be considered very essential components that make sentences cohesive and more meaningful. A deep understanding of this concept is very important because it will help you construct well-organized compositions and improve your speech as well. Just remember the things discussed in this article, and you will definitely be able to use linking verbs appropriately and effectively.

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