Linking Verbs: Definition And Examples

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Linking verbs are a special type of verb that connects the subject of a sentence to more information about it. They are sometimes called copulas, helping verbs, or auxiliary verbs. Linking verbs do not show action; instead, they help explain or describe the state or condition of the subject in some way. Common examples include “be,” “seem,” and “become.” Understanding how linking verbs work is essential for proper grammar usage and writing effectively. In this article, we’ll explore what linking verbs are, provide examples of each type, discuss common mistakes with them, and answer frequently asked questions about them.

Linking Verbs

Types of Linking Verbs

Linking verbs are an important part of the English language that are often overlooked. A linking verb is a type of verb that connects the subject with an adjective or noun in a sentence, essentially linking or equating them in some way.

A. Primary Linking Verbs

Primary linking verbs are the standard of the linking verb family. They express a state of being and conjoin the subject and its complement. Primary linking verbs include ‘be’ verbs such as am, is, are, was, were, being, and been. Forms of these nuances can be used with different tenses that denote the same meaning despite their slight variation in wording.

For example, ‘I am running’ and ‘I was running’ both describe an action over a period of time regardless of their difference in tense. In addition to expressing state of being, primary linking verbs have a host of other uses in sentences like including ability to join subjects and predicate nouns/adjectives together along with identifying relationships between words in phrases.

When using primary linking verbs in our writing or conversations, be cognizant that each form works differently based on the context it is placed in to get optimal comprehension out of your sentence.

B. Secondary Linking Verbs

Secondary linking verbs, which are also known as state-of-being verbs, are used in sentences to link the subject to a noun or an adjective. Examples of secondary linking verbs include the very common ‘be,’ ‘become,’ and ‘seem.’ These words indicate a permanent or temporary state rather than an action taking place.

For example, if someone said, “I am tired,” they would be using the verb ‘am’ (which is in the present tense of ‘be’) to show their current state of fatigue. You may also see these types of verbs used in situations like “The soup tastes delicious”–here, “tastes” is a form of ‘be,’ since it’s indicating the way that something appears. In short, secondary linking verbs help us describe how things appear or how we feel about them.

Common Mistakes with Linking Verbs

Common mistakes with linking verbs aren’t uncommon, since they are so easily confused with action verbs.

  • One of the most common mistakes is to use them intransitively—without an object following. For example, ‘I walk’, as opposed to ‘I walked quickly’. Another error is forgetting the adjunct (or modifier) that accompanies many linking forms, such as ‘He looked excited’, not just ‘He looked’.
  • Additionally, some words may seem like a linking verb but actually demand a helping verb, with combinations like ‘She can smell the sweet aroma’ instead of ‘She smells the sweet aroma.’
  • In questions and negative statements, using do/does/did requires extra attention when served up with a linking verb. Who remembers how to say “Did you feel better?” instead of “Feel you better?” To get it right every time and avoid any confusion or errors in meaning, remember these four points and you’ll be a pro at using those tricky linking verbs like feel, seem, look, become and taste!

Examples of Linking Verbs

Below are a few examples illustrating the use of each type of linking verb:

  • Be: The boys were tired after their long day of soccer.
  • Remain: Despite rumors, the bridge remained standing.
  • Seem: The sky seemed to be on fire with the sunset.
  • Appear: The kitten appeared out of nowhere.
  • Become: She became a successful attorney in her hometown.


Llinking verbs can be tricky to use but are essential for expressing the relationships between a subject and its complements or modifiers. Knowing the difference between primary and secondary linking verbs is key to avoiding common mistakes with them. With some practice and by reviewing examples of each type, you will be able to master using these important grammar components in no time!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is ‘seem’ a linking verb?

A: Yes, ‘seem’ is a type of secondary linking verb used to indicate how something appears or seems.

Q: What is an example of a primary linking verb?

A: Examples of primary linking verbs include forms of ‘be’ such as ‘am,’ ‘is,’ and ‘are.’

Q: When do I use a helping verb with my linking verb?

A: You should use a helping verb when the action is not occurring in the present tense. For example, “I have been walking” instead of “I been walking.” This helps to clarify the timing of the action.

Q: What other types of words are considered linking verbs?

A: Other words that can be used as linking verbs include ‘become,’ ‘appear,’ and ‘remain.’ These words indicate a permanent or temporary state rather than an action taking place.

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