Linking verbs may seem like a complex grammatical concept, but they play a crucial role in our everyday communication. In this guide, we’ll explore the world of linking verbs through illustrated examples, making it easier for anyone to grasp this fundamental aspect of the English language. So, let’s dive in and demystify linking verbs in a friendly, approachable manner.
What Is a Linking Verb?
A linking verb, also known as a copulative verb, is a verb that connects the subject of a sentence to the complement, which can be either an adjective or a noun. Unlike action verbs that express physical or mental actions, linking verbs serve to describe or define the subject. Common linking verbs include “is,” “am,” “are,” “was,” “were,” “seem,” “become,” “appear,” and “feel.” What Is A Linking Verb?
Linking Verbs in Action
To better understand the concept of linking verbs, let’s explore some examples:
- She is a talented artist.
In this sentence, “is” links the subject “She” with the complement “a talented artist.” It doesn’t show any action but rather defines what she is.
- The cake smells delicious.
Here, “smells” links “The cake” with “delicious,” describing the cake’s scent.
- The flowers appear beautiful.
In this example, “appear” connects “The flowers” to “beautiful,” defining their state.
- He became a successful entrepreneur.
“Became” links “He” with “a successful entrepreneur,” indicating a transformation.
Spotting Linking Verbs
Identifying linking verbs in a sentence is essential for understanding the sentence’s structure. To recognize them, look for words that do not express action but instead establish a connection between the subject and the complement. Here are some more examples:
- Feel: The cat feels content.
- Seem: The weather seems unpredictable.
- Look: The room looks cozy.
Understanding the basics of linking verbs is an excellent start, but to truly master their usage, it’s essential to explore the nuances and applications of these versatile words. In this section, we’ll delve deeper into the world of linking verbs and their various functions.
The Verb “To Be”: A Central Player
As mentioned earlier, forms of “to be” (such as “is,” “am,” “are,” “was,” and “were”) are among the most common linking verbs. These versatile words can connect subjects with complements, indicating a state of being, identity, or condition. Let’s take a closer look:
- Identity: “She is a doctor.” In this sentence, “is” links “She” with the complement “a doctor,” establishing her identity.
- Condition: “The day was rainy.” Here, “was” connects “The day” to “rainy,” describing the condition of the day.
But “to be” verbs aren’t limited to these basic roles. They can also serve as auxiliary verbs when forming verb tenses. For example:
- Present Continuous Tense: “He is eating.” In this case, “is” is an auxiliary verb, working with the main verb “eating” to create the present continuous tense.
The “Sense” Verbs
In addition to “to be” verbs, there are several other linking verbs often referred to as “sense” verbs. These verbs, including “seem,” “become,” “feel,” “appear,” “smell,” and “taste,” play a unique role in describing sensory perceptions and changes. Let’s explore some examples:
- Perception: “The coffee tastes bitter.” In this sentence, “tastes” links the subject “The coffee” with “bitter,” expressing a sensory perception.
- Change: “He became a hero overnight.” “Became” here denotes a significant transformation.
Using Linking Verbs for Emphasis and Clarity
Linking verbs can be powerful tools for writers, allowing them to emphasize certain qualities or characteristics. By choosing the right linking verb, you can provide a more vivid and precise description. Let’s consider the following examples:
- She looked stunning.
The verb “looked” here emphasizes the visual aspect, indicating that her appearance was particularly noteworthy.
- He feels confident.
“Feels” stresses the emotional state, making it clear that confidence is at the forefront.
- The cake smells irresistible.
“Smells” highlights the sensory experience, suggesting that the aroma of the cake is truly tempting.
Linking Verbs in Literature and Everyday Language
Linking verbs are not confined to academic or formal writing; they play a significant role in everyday language and literature. Some of the most famous literary quotes and expressions rely on linking verbs to convey emotions and imagery. Consider these well-known examples:
- Shakespeare’s “To be or not to be, that is the question.” In this iconic line from “Hamlet,” the verb “to be” conveys the essence of existence and choice.
- The Rolling Stones’ “You can’t always get what you want.” Here, the linking verb “can’t” emphasizes the idea that desires are not always fulfilled.
- The opening of Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” In this celebrated opening, the linking verb “was” sets the stage by contrasting two distinct periods in history.
Q1: What’s the difference between linking verbs and action verbs? A1: Linking verbs connect the subject to a complement, describing a state or condition. Action verbs, on the other hand, express physical or mental actions.
Q2: Can a sentence have more than one linking verb? A2: Yes, a sentence can have multiple linking verbs. For instance, “She is happy and feels satisfied.”
Q3: Are all forms of “to be” verbs linking verbs? A3: Not necessarily. Forms of “to be,” such as “am,” “is,” “are,” can function as linking verbs or as auxiliary verbs, depending on the context.
Q4: How do I distinguish between a linking verb and a helping verb? A4: Linking verbs connect the subject to a complement, while helping verbs work with main verbs to create verb phrases. For example, in “He is eating,” “is” is a helping verb, and “eating” is the main verb.
Q5: Are there other linking verbs besides “to be” verbs? A5: Yes, there are. Verbs like “seem,” “become,” “feel,” “appear,” and “look” can also function as linking verbs.
Incorporating Linking Verbs into Your Writing
Understanding linking verbs is not just about grammar; it’s about enhancing your writing. By using linking verbs effectively, you can provide more depth and clarity to your descriptions. Consider the following:
- The sunset is breathtaking.
Instead of saying “The sunset looks breathtaking,” using the linking verb “is” provides a more direct and impactful statement.
- She became a renowned author.
By employing “became,” you convey the transformation more succinctly than saying “She started to be a renowned author.”
In the realm of language, linking verbs are the silent connectors that give sentences their structure and meaning. They play a vital role in expressing states, conditions, and characteristics. With illustrated examples and a clear understanding of how linking verbs function, you can improve your writing and communication skills. Embrace the power of linking verbs, and let your words come to life.
In the end, what might seem like a grammatical technicality is, in fact, a powerful tool to make your sentences more vibrant and descriptive. So, the next time you write, don’t just tell; use linking verbs to show and convey your message effectively. Your words will thank you for it. Explore Hungary