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linking verbs

Linking verbs do not express an action; instead, they express a state of being.

The verb be

For that reason, the most common linking verb is the verb be (and its other forms: am, is, are; was, were; been, being):

  • Rashid is hungry.
  • Hannah will be an excellent artist.
  • Our friends were very excited about the party.

A verb of being is called a linking verb because it simply links the subject with the subject complement (a word or word group that tells you more about the subject). In the examples above, each linking verb is followed by a subject complement:

  • Hungry describes the subject Rashid.
  • An excellent artist tells what the subject Hannah will be.
  • Very excited describes the subject friends.

Other common linking verbs

Besides the verb be, several other verbs can act as linking verbs:

  • feel: Jaime feels embarrassed.
  • look: Azura looks worried.
  • smell: Something smells funny.
  • sound: That band sounded great.
  • taste: The pie tasted good.
  • become, grow: We became (grew) tired during the long hike.
  • seem, appear: Jason seems (appears) angry.

But the verbs feel, look, smell, sound, taste, grow and appear can also be action verbs. If you want to tell whether one of these verbs is an action or a linking verb, try the tip below.

Tip for finding linking verbs

If you can replace the verb in the sentence with a form of be, the verb is almost certainly a linking verb.

  • “The pie tasted good” = linking verb [We can say “The pie was good.”]
  • “John tasted the pie” = action verb [We cannot say “John was the pie.”]