Linking Verbs

Linking Verbs

What are linking verbs? Need help understanding what are linking verbs and what aren’t? Check out our page and find our linking verbs lists and learn how to weave linking verbs into your own writing.

Verbs come in all shapes and sizes. Some show action and some do not. Some describe or rename the subject in the sentence. Verbs that describe or rename the subject are called linking verbs.

What are linking verbs?

Another way to define linking verbs is that linking verbs do not express action but connect the subject and verb to more information. Some words can function as both linking verbs and action verb as you will see in some of the sentences below.

 Linking Verbs List – ExamplesWhat is a Linking Verb?

Is isn’t something that Michael can actually do. Instead, it connects the subject, Michael to more information about him, that he really enjoys playing or watching the ball. So in this sentence is is a linking verb.

Linking Verbs Example #1) Tomas always feels tired when he stays up playing video games all night.

Feels connects the subject, Thomas, to his state of being, tired.

Linking Verbs Example #2) Learning to speak a new language seems impossibly hard at first.

Seems connects the subject, a new language, with something said about it, that it’s difficulty can be deceiving at first with linking verbs.

Linking Verb Examples

Are isn’t something dogs can do. Are as a linking verb that connects the subject, dogs, to information about them, that they are mad at the cat.

There are other verbs that are known as true linking verbs and they are as follows:

Any form of the verb be which includes am, it, is, are, were, was, has been, are being, etc. Also, become and seem are linking verbs. These verbs are called true linking verbs because they are always linking verbs.

Then there are linking verbs that can be linking verbs or action verbs. These include feel, look, remain, grow, appear, smell, taste, turn, and sounds.

But how do you tell when these words are being used as an action verb and when they are being used as linking verbs? It’s not as difficult as you may think.

One handy little trick is to see if you can substitute is, and, or are and see if the sentence still makes sense. If it does then you’re dealing with a linking verb. If it doesn’t make sense after the substitution, then it’s an action verb. Here are a few examples of this trick in action:

Stella tasted anchovy pizza for the first time.

Stella is anchovy pizza? Of course not! So in this case, tasted is an action verb and expresses something Stella is doing.

The anchovy pizza tasted delicious.

The anchovy pizza is delicious? Some people think so! Since tasted can be replaced with is, the verb tasted is a linking verb in this sentence.

I smelled the cookies baking as soon as I walked in the door.

I am the cookies? Not me. Smell, in this case is acting as an action verb.

The cookies smell divine.

The cookies are divine? Absolutely! Have one! Smell is a linking verb in the above sentence.

When Karen felt the slimy fish, she dropped it immediately.

Karen is the slimy fish? Of course not! Again, here we’re dealing with an action verb. Felt is something Karen is doing.

Are you beginning to see how this works? Just remember that linking verbs do not show action but describes or renames the subject and gives us more information about it.