The term “linking verb” refers to a verb that connects the subject of a sentence to information about the subject. Linking verbs do not relay an action but instead link the subject and the other statement details. Perhaps the most common linking verb is to be. However, there are several other examples, including all verbs that deal with human senses.
Common Linking Verbs
The following is a selection of some commonly used linking verbs:
- To be and its conjugated forms: is, am, were, can be, was being, etc.
- to become
- To appear
- to seem
The verbs listed above connect the subset of the sentence to a description of some sort. For example:
- He is a broker.
- Alcatraz Island is in San Francisco Bay.
- We became annoyed with her constant complaining.
- This wooden beam appears warped.
- That actor seems like a difficult person.
You will notice that these sample sentences involve the linking verb connecting a subject to various forms of speech:
- Broker is a noun
- In San Francisco Bay is a prepositional phrase
- Annoyed and warped are adjectives
- A difficult guy contains a noun and an adjective.
These different parts of speech provide the reading with information about what the sentence subjects are, became, appear, or seem like.
Linking Verbs that Are Also Action Verbs
Confusing though it may seem, there are linking verbs that can also serve as action verbs. Most prominent in this category are verbs pertaining to the five senses: look, touch/feel, smell, sound, and taste.
Additionally, the verbs remain, grow, turn, and prove can function as both action verbs and linking verbs. When you use one of these words as a linking verb, it provides information about the subject of the sentence.
Here are some examples:
- The sky looked ominous as we drove home.
- We felt nauseous after the oysters.
- The beets taste excellent with that herb mix.
- The final volume of the anthology remains lost among the shelves.
On the other hand, here are those same verbs used to relay an action:
- I looked him hard in the eyes to see if he was lying.
- She felt ground around the fire pit to make sure there were no live embers.
- Please taste this wine and tell me if it’s to your liking.
- Remain in this room until we conclude our search.
Related: Learn about passive verbs, and how to change them to active verbs.
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