What Are Linking Verbs?

A linking verb is a conventional term for a verb (such as a form of be or seem) that meets the subject of a sentence to a word or phrase that says something about the subject. For example, is serves as a linking verb in the sentence “The boss is unhappy.”

The word or phrase after the linking verb (in our example, unhappy) is called a subject complement. The subject accompaniment that follows a linking verb is typically an adjective, a noun, or a pronoun.

Linking verbs relate both to a condition of being (be, become, seem, remain, appear) or the senses (look, hear, feel, taste, smell).

In modern linguistics, linking verbs are called copulas, or copular verbs.

Examples of Linking Verbs

  • The Grinch is grumpy.
  • In the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the mayor of Whoville is Augustus Maywho.
  • In the book Horton Hears a Who!, Ned McDodd is the mayor of Whoville.
  • This lemonade tastes sour, but the cookies smell delicious.
  • Beth felt bad and wanted to go home.
  • Tom felt Beth’s forehead and then he became upset.
  • Though she appeared calm, Naomi was extremely happy about her promotion.
  • “If any word is incorrect at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.” (William Safire, How Not to Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar. W.W. Norton, 2005)