Linking Verbs

Introduction to Linking Verbs

A linking verb, also known as a copula or a copulative verb, connects the subject of a sentence to a noun or adjective that renames or describes the subject. These verbs simply indicate a state of being or condition, rather than expressing an action carried out by the subject. Common examples of linking verbs include 'be', 'appear', 'become', 'feel', 'seem', etc.

Understanding Linking Verbs

Linking verbs do not express actions. Instead, they connect the subject to information about the subject. The verb shows a relationship between the subject and a subject complement, which can be a noun, an adjective, or a pronoun that renames or describes the subject.

Example 1:

He is a doctor.

In the above sentence, 'is' acts as a linking verb, connecting the subject 'He' to the noun 'doctor' that gives us more information about the subject.

Example 2:

Jane feels tired.

In this sentence, 'feels' is the linking verb, connecting the subject 'Jane' to the adjective 'tired' that describes the condition of the subject.

Types of Linking Verbs

1. True Linking Verbs

True linking verbs are also termed as copular verbs or pure linking verbs. These verbs always function as linking verbs. Examples include 'be', 'seem', 'appear', 'become', etc.

2. Sensory Linking Verbs

Sensory linking verbs refer to the five senses. They include 'feel', 'sound', 'look', 'taste', and 'smell'. These verbs can function both as linking and action verbs depending upon the context of their usage.

3. Conditional Linking Verbs

Conditional linking verbs establish a conditional relationship or potentiality between the subject and the predicate. Examples include 'could', 'would', 'should', etc.

Spotting the Linking Verbs

As some verbs can function both as linking and action verbs, depending upon their usage, it sometimes becomes difficult to identify them. To spot the linking verbs in a sentence, you can apply the substitution test. Substitute the verb in question with the form of 'be'. If the sentence still makes sense, the verb is a linking verb.


She seems happy.

She is happy.

Both sentences make sense, hence 'seems' is a linking verb in this context.

Commonly Confused Linking Verbs

Some linking verbs, such as 'feel', 'appear', 'look', 'smell', 'taste', and 'sound', can also function as action verbs. The distinction between their action and linking uses can often confuse learners.

Example of 'look' as a linking verb:

The cake looks delicious.

Here, 'looks' connects the subject 'The cake' to the adjective 'delicious' which describes the cake. So 'looks' is a linking verb.

Example of 'look' as an action verb:

I look at the stars.

In this sentence, 'look' represents an action performed by the subject. Hence, 'look' is an action verb.


Linking verbs play an essential role in English grammar, fostering coherence and harmony within sentences. Understanding their concept and usage can significantly improve your grammar and sentence construction skills. Always remember that not all verbs that function as linking verbs are linking verbs. Consider the context before tagging them!

Leave a Reply