Linking Verbs: What Are They & How to Use Them

What are linking verbs

So, you've decided to learn English in California? That’s awesome! You’ll surely have a lot of fun along the way. However, after many fun classes, you’ll need to do some serious work, too: you’ll also have to dive into more complex aspects of the language.  

Verbs definitely fall into this category. You've probably noticed that not all of them behave in the same way within various types of sentences in English. That's because there are different types, including action verbs that describe activities, auxiliary verbs that convey different grammatical meanings, modal verbs that express different types of modality, and linking verbs that describe the subject of the sentence. 

While you don’t need to remember their names, you should be aware of their existence. And of course, you can't learn all of them at once. That would be too overwhelming! 

So let's start with the semantically interesting ones: linking verbs. In this blog post, we will explain what they are and how to spot them. Read on! 

What are linking verbs?

A linking verb describes the subject by connecting it with the rest of a sentence. Unlike action verbs, these verbs do not convey action. Instead, they describe or identify a subject. Let’s look at an example:

  • Mary is beautiful. 

In this sentence, we don’t have any action, we just describe Mary.

How do you recognize a linking verb?

There are three simple ways to identify a linking verb.

  1. You can replace the verb with is or are, and if the sentence still makes sense, then your verb is most likely a linking verb. Let’s look at an example: Tony looks happy. If we replace “looks” with “is”, we get: Tony is happy. The second sentence makes sense, which means "looks" is a linking verb.
  2. You can replace the verb with an equals sign (=). If the sentence doesn’t sound awkward, the verb is almost certainly a linking verb. Here is an example: This music sounds great. This music = great, so “sounds” is a linking verb too.
  3. The final trick is to decide whether the verb describes a state of being or an action. If the verb describes the subject’s state of being, it’s probably a linking verb. However, if the verb describes an action, it’s probably not. Let’s look at the example: Daisies smell wonderful. Are daisies doing anything? No, they just smell nice. This means “smell” is a linking verb in this sentence. 

What are the three most common linking verbs?

The most common linking verbs are:

  1. Be: I am a teacher. 
  2. Become: She became an expert in this field. 
  3. Seem: She seems very sad today.

Alas, English has so many ambiguities, and some linking verbs can also function as action verbs. These include all the sense verbs, such as look, touch, smell, appear, feel, sound, and taste. There are also some outliers, such as turn, grow, remain, and prove. Used as linking verbs, they provide additional information about the subject. 

Here are some examples:

This soup tastes good! We have a linking verb in this sentence because we just describe the soup.

Jake tastes the soup. In this case, we describe what Jack is doing, so we have an action verb.

I grow plants in my garden. In this sentence, we have an action verb that describes what the subject does. 

She grew suspicious as she heard his story. In this case, we have a linking verb that describes the subject more closely. 

Where can I learn English in California? 

Oh, these linking verbs seem so terrifying, right? We feel you! That’s why, at the College of English Language, you’ll get all the support you need to excel. Our native teachers know how to tailor their classes to suit your individual needs. And you won’t feel like you have been working hard - our classes are fun-packed! 

On top of that, we boast state-of-the-art classrooms in three amazing locations in California: San Diego, Santa Monica, and Pacific Beach. Drop by our school on your way to Waterfront Park, and you will be welcomed with warm staff ready to assist you in one of the most exciting adventures in your life! We are waiting for you!

 


 

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