linking verb

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Origin of linking verb

First recorded in 1930–35
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is a linking verb?

A linking verb is a verb that expresses a state of being or connects information to the subject rather than express action.

Most verbs are used to say that a subject is performing an action or doing something, as in I kicked the ball to Kelly. These kinds of verbs are called action verbs.

A linking verb doesn’t express action, however. Instead it links a subject with more information about it, as in Jack is a young boy.  A linking verb is also used to express the subject’s state of existence, as in My mom seems angry. The most commonly used linking verb is the verb be.

The verbs become, seem, and be are always linking verbs in any sentence they appear in. Other verbs can be used as either a linking verb or an action verb. For example, in The cake tasted good, tasted is a linking verb because it links information to the subject, cake. In The chef tasted the pie, however, tasted is an action verb because it expresses the action the chef performed.

The word copula is also used to mean linking verb.

Why is linking verb important?

The first records of linking verb come from around 1930. It combines the word linking, meaning “connecting” with the word verb. Rather than express action, linking verbs connect pieces of information together.

Like action verbs, linking verbs can be used in every verb tense and can be either singular (I am happy.) or plural (They were upset.).

Did you know … ?

Words that express the five senses (such as look, taste, and smell) are often used either as action verbs or linking verbs.

What are real-life examples of linking verb?

This table lists some of the commonly used linking verbs and gives an example of them being used as a linking verb in a sentence.

Be She is a good student.
Become He became a rock star.
Seem This seems dangerous.
Feel It felt wrong.
Look That painting looks hideous.
Smell This soap smells great.
Stay The dog stayed calm.
Turn The scene turned ugly.
Grow My dad grew angry.
Appear It appears stable for now.


We use linking verbs every day.


What other words are related to linking verb?

Quiz yourself!

Is the verb in the following sentence an example of a linking verb?

The suspicious butler definitely seemed guilty.

How to use linking verb in a sentence