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Arts & Letters Daily

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Linking Verbs

Linking Verbs

Notes

Linking verbs are a small group of verbs that do not express action. The verb ‘be’ is the most important linking verb. The main purpose of this verb is to serve as a link that joins the subject to a word in the predicate that gives meaning to the sentence.

1. The verb ‘be’

be Present Tense Past Tense Future Tense

Add ‘shall’ or ‘will’

First Person singular I am I was I will be
Second Person Singular You are You were You will be
Third Person Singular He/she/it is He/she/it was He/she/it will be
First Person Plural We are We were We shall shall
Second Person Plural You are You were You will be
Third Person Plural They are They were They will will

Chart 1. Verb ‘be’ – Present, Past and Future Tenses

Example: Bob is ill. (‘is’ is part of the verb ‘be’. The word ‘ill’ is a predicate adjective that describes how Bob feels.)

Example: My friends were late. (‘were’ is part of the verb ‘be’. The word ‘late’ is a predicate adjective that describes friends.)

2. Linking verbs can also serve an auxiliary function and therefore are called auxiliary verbs. They are combined with other verbs in a verb phrase to form verb tenses. Auxiliary verbs combine with the main verb to form a verb phrase. They include all tenses of the verb ‘be’ plus have, had, has, shall, will, would, may, might, must, can, could, need (to), aught (to).

Example: The train has started. (‘has’ is the auxiliary verb and ‘started’ is the main verb)

Example: We are leaving soon. (‘are’ is the auxiliary verb and ‘leaving’ is the main verb)

Example: I am leaving for a vacation next week. (‘am’ is the auxiliary verb and ‘leaving’ is the main verb)

3. Verbs acting as active and linking verbs

Some verbs can act like the verb ‘be’ because the can serve a linking verb. (Chart 2)

appear become feel grow keep look
prove remain seem smell sound stay
taste turn

Chart 2: Verbs acting as linking and active verbs

Example: The cookies are delicious. ( the predicate adjective ‘delicious’ modifies the noun ‘cookies’)

Example: The cookies taste sweet. (‘taste’ is a linking verb that joins the subject ‘cookies’ with the predicate adjective ‘sweet’)

Example: The cook tastes the cookies. (‘tastes’ is an active verb that describes the action of the subject ‘cook’. ‘Cookies’ is object of the verb ‘tastes’ )

Example: My forehead feels hot. (‘feels’ is a linking verb that joins the subject ‘forehead’ with the predicate adjective ‘hot’)

Example: The doctor feels the forehead of his patient. (‘feels’ is an active verb that describes the action of the subject ‘doctor’. ‘Forehead’ is object of the verb ‘feels’.

They can also act as adverbs. (Chart 3)

accordingly furthermore meanwhile similarly
also hence moreover still
anyway however nevertheless then
besides incidentally next thereafter
certainly indeed nontheless therefore
consequently instead now thus
finally likewise otherwise undoubtedly

Chart 3: Verbs acting as linking and active verbs

Assignment

Underline the correct linking veb in brackets.

1. Betty (is, was, will be) a commercial pilot when she finishes her training.

2. She (feel, felt, will feel) good about her accomplishment when she graduated.

3. Tom (is, am) the actor who (remains, remain) shy although he (is, are) famous.

4. Most actors (appears, appear) confident when they (is,are) in public.

5. The evidence (was, were) inconclusive.

6. The prisoners (became, become) quiet when the guard (appears, appear.

7. Most people (feel, feels) responsible when they break the law.

8. Plants (grows, grow) well when they (are, is) moist.

9. Flowers (smell, smells) best when they (remain, remained) in the garden.

10.  Brightly colored flowers (look, looks) attractive.

11.  Some flower petals (taste, tastes) delicious.

12.  The leaves of the rhubarb plant (is, are) poisonous.

13.  Vegetables (stay, stays) fresh when they are refrigerate.

14.  Most tomatoes (turn, turns) red whey they (are, is) ripe.

15.  Fruit (looks, look) attractive when it is packaged.

16.  The singer (appears, appear) confident now that she has a coach.

17.  The musicians (stayed, stay) relaxed when they perform before a live audience.

18.  The drummer (appear, appeared) promptly.

19.  The band (sounds, sound) great now that they (remain, remained) focused.

20.  The band (felt, feel) excited when the audience (give, gave) them a standing ovation.

Answer Key

Linking Verbs

1. Betty (is, was, will be) a commercial pilot when she finishes her training.

Answer: will be

2. She (feel, felt, will feel) good about her accomplishment when she graduated.

Answer: Felt

3. Tom (is, am) the actor who (remains, remain) shy although he (is, are) famous.

Answer: is; remains; is

4. Most actors (appears, appear) confident when they (is,are) in public.

Answer: appear; are

5. The evidence (was, were) inconclusive.

Answer: Was

6. The prisoners (became, become) quiet when the guard (appears, appear).

Answer: become; appears

7. Most people (feel, feels) responsible when they break the law.

Answer: Feel

8. Plants (grows, grow) well when they (are, is) moist.

Answer: grow; are

9. Flowers (smell, smells) best when they (remain, remained) in the garden.

Answer: smell; remain

10. Brightly colored flowers (look, looks) attractive.

Answer: Look

11. Some flower petals (taste, tastes) delicious.

Answer: Taste

12. The leaves of the rhubarb plant (is, are) poisonous.

Answer: Are

13. Vegetables (stay, stays) fresh when they are refrigerated.

Answer: Stay

14.Most tomatoes (turn, turns) red whey they (are, is) ripe.

Answer: turn; are

15. Fruit (looks, look) attractive when it is packaged.

Answer: looks

16. The singer (appears, appear) confident now that she has a coach.

Answer: appears

17. The musicians (stayed, stay) relaxed when they perform before a live audience.

Answer: stay

18. The drummer (appear, appeared) promptly.

Answer: appeared

19. The band (sounds, sound) great now that they (remain, remained) focused.

Answer: sounds; remain

20. The band (felt, feel) excited when the audience (give, gave) them a standing ovation.

Answer:felt; gave