Linking Verbs

Linking verbs are connectors of the language. Their only job is to link a subject with a subject complement. Want to know how?

Intermediate
"Linking Verbs" in English Grammar

What Are Linking Verbs?

Linking verbs (also called copula or copular verbs) just link the subject of a sentence to a word or phrase that tells something about the subject (which is called subject complement.

Common English Linking Verbs

The most common English linking verbs are:

  1. be, become
  2. seem, look, look like, appear
  3. feel, sound, taste, smell, touch
  4. get, grow
  5. remain, stay
  6. turn, prove

Tip!

Most linking verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses.

What Is a Subject Complement?

A word or phrase that comes after a linking verb and modifies or describes the subject is called a subject complement. A subject complement can be:

  • a predicative adjective

Mike is handsome.

In the examples above, 'handsome' is not an object to the verb 'is'. 'Handsome' is the subject complement to the subject 'he'. It means that 'he' and 'handsome' both refer to the same person.

Mike is a dentist.

'A dentist' is the complement of the sentence and 'is' stands for a linking verb.

Mike is behind the curtain.

Using the Linking Verb 'Be' in a Sentence

Adjectives

The adjectives that come alone and immediately after a linking verb is called a predicative postpositive adjective.

Warning

Keep in mind that linking verbs are not followed by an object or an adverb.

He seems nice. (not 'nicely')

Here, 'nice' is an adjective and you cannot use 'nicely' instead.

This pizza tastes delicious. (not 'deliciously')

Notice that you cannot say 'deliciously' because it comes after a linking verb.

Verbs 'Get' and 'Become'

Normally a linking verb does not take a continuous tense (-ing form). But, the verbs 'get' and 'become' can take both the simple or continuous forms.
The difference between these two verbs with other copulas is that while other verbs indicate that the subject and the subject complement are the same thing (we can put an equal sign in their place), 'get' and 'become' suggest a change.

Mike got married last fall.

Here, 'married' is an adjective and it is the subject complement. Remember that here, we are referring to a situation not an action. If we wanted to refer to an action we'd have said 'Mike married Susan last fall'.

Mike is getting married this fall.

Here, the sentence refers to a change in the situation in the future.

Review

  • Linking verbs:

just link the subject of a sentence and the subject complement.

  • Subject complement:

is a word or phrase that comes after a linking verb and modifies or describes the subject is called a subject complement.

English Linking Verbs

  1. be
  2. seem, look, look like, appear
  3. feel, sound, taste, smell :These verbs can be both state and action verbs.
  4. get, become: Normally a linking verb doesn't take a continuous tense (-ing form). But, the verbs 'get' and 'become' can take both the simple or continuous forms.

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