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Linking Verbs

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Linking Verbs

Linking verbs are a kind of intransitive verb. These verbs don’t take a direct object. Instead, they are followed by a noun or adjective that describes the subject:

Henry is a mechanic.

She became angry.

The linking verb acts like an equal sign, linking the subject to the description after the verb. The latter is called the subject complement:

Subject = complement (noun or adjective)

There aren’t that many linking verbs, and most of them are forms of to be. The others tend to describe states of being or are associated with the senses:

“To Be” States of Being Senses
am appear feel
is become look
are grow/turn smell
was stay/remain sound
were seem taste

Note that “to be” can also be a helping verb.

As you study the following examples, look for the way in which the subject complement (the noun or adjective after the linking verb) describes the subject:

Your duet sounded fantastic.

This specimen is a Libellula depressa, a species of dragonfly.

The apple pie smells lovely.

The main dish will be linguine.

Be careful though: some of these linking verbs can be transitive or intransitive verbs in a different context:

Smell the roses!

He tasted the oysters.

She is in the bathroom.

Kendra looked through the telescope.

The first two sentences have direct objects and the last two end with prepositional phrases (so no direct object or subject complement).