What is a linking verb?
A linking verb connects a subject to a subject complement which identifies or describes the subject. Basically, linking verbs do not express action. Instead, they connect the subject of the verb to additional information about the subject.
- The play is Waiting for Godot. In this sentence, the linking verb "is" links the noun phrase "the play" to the identifying phrase "Waiting for Godot," which is called a subject complement.
- Some of us thought that the play was very good. In this sentence, the verb "was" links the subject complement "very good" to subject "the play".
- Others thought it became tedious after the first fifteen minutes. In this sentence, the linking verb "became" links the subject "it" to the subject complement "tedious." The phrase "after the first fifteen minutes" functions as a adverb modifying the clause "it became tedious".
- The cast appears disorganised and confused; perhaps Beckett intended this. Here "appears" is functioning as a linking verb that connects the subject "the cats" to its subject complement "disorganised and confused".
- The play seems absurd to me. The subject "the play" is joined to its subject complement "absurd" by the linking verb "seems".
The following verbs are true linking verbs:
Any form of the verb be [am, is, are, was, were, has been, are being, might have been, etc.] become, and seem.
Verbs with multiple personalities:
appear, feel, grow, look, prove, remain, smell, sound, taste, and turn.
Sometimes these verbs are linking verbs; sometimes they are action verbs. Their function in every individual sentence determines what you call them.
Sylvia tasted the spicy stew.
Sylvia is the stew? I don't think so! Tasted, therefore, is an action verb in this sentence.
The spicy stew tasted good.
The stew is good? You bet.
I smell the delicious aroma of a mushroom pizza baking in the oven.
I am the aroma? Nope! Smell, in this sentence, is an action verb.
The mushroom pizza smells heavenly.
The pizza is heavenly? Definitely!