Demystifying Linking Verbs: An Illustrated Guide

Have you ever been puzzled by linking verbs in your English class or while crafting a piece of writing? If so, you’re not alone. Linking verbs are like the secret code of the English language, and many struggle to decipher their true purpose. In this friendly and easy-to-read guide, we’ll break down the enigma of linking verbs, offering a clear understanding with the help of illustrations.

Understanding Linking Verbs

Before we dive into the fascinating world of linking verbs, let’s clarify what they are. A linking verb is a verb that connects the subject of a sentence to a subject complement, which can be a noun or an adjective. Unlike action verbs that express an action, linking verbs describe a state of being, showing what the subject is or is like.

Now, let’s embark on the journey of cracking the code of linking verbs. What Is A Linking Verb?

Identifying Linking Verbs

Linking verbs can be somewhat tricky to identify because they don’t convey action. Common linking verbs include “be,” “is,” “am,” “are,” “was,” “were,” “become,” “seem,” “appear,” and “feel.” An easy way to spot a linking verb is to check if it can be replaced with “is” or “was” without altering the sentence’s meaning. If it works, you’ve likely found a linking verb!

The Role of Linking Verbs

Linking verbs play a crucial role in sentences. They establish a connection between the subject and the subject complement. This helps in describing, identifying, or defining the subject more clearly. For example, in the sentence “She is an artist,” the linking verb “is” connects “She” to the subject complement “an artist,” telling us what she is. What Is A Linking Verb?

Active Examples

Let’s illustrate the concept with some active examples:

  1. The flowers smell delightful. In this sentence, “smell” is a linking verb, connecting “The flowers” to “delightful.” It describes the state of the flowers.
  2. John became a lawyer. Here, “became” links “John” to “a lawyer,” defining his occupation.
  3. The cake appears delicious. In this case, “appears” connects “The cake” to “delicious,” expressing the cake’s quality.

Linking Verbs vs. Action Verbs

It’s essential to distinguish between linking verbs and action verbs. Action verbs convey an action, while linking verbs establish a state of being. For instance:

  • Action Verb: She sang a song. (Expressing an action)
  • Linking Verb: She is talented. (Describing her state of being)

Common Misconceptions

Understanding linking verbs may come with some common misconceptions:

Misconception 1: All Forms of “Be” Are Linking Verbs

While forms of “be” are often linking verbs, they can also be used as helping verbs in some sentences. For example, “She is running” uses “is” as a helping verb to show an action.

Misconception 2: Linking Verbs Must Always Be in the Present Tense

Linking verbs can appear in various tenses. For instance, “He was tired” features the past tense linking verb “was.”


Q1: What’s the difference between a linking verb and a helping verb?

A linking verb connects the subject to a subject complement, describing a state of being. A helping verb, on the other hand, assists the main verb in a sentence to show the verb’s tense or mood.

Q2: Can a sentence have more than one linking verb?

Yes, a sentence can have multiple linking verbs if there are multiple subject complements. For example, “She is happy and content” uses two linking verbs, “is” and “content.”

Q3: Are there any irregular linking verbs?

Yes, a few irregular verbs like “become,” “seem,” and “feel” function as linking verbs. They don’t follow the same pattern as regular linking verbs but serve the same purpose.

Q4: What’s the difference between linking verbs and passive voice?

Linking verbs describe the state of being, while passive voice describes the subject’s action being done to it. “The cake was eaten” is in passive voice, while “The cake appears delicious” uses a linking verb.

Q5: How can I improve my understanding of linking verbs?

Practice is the key to improving your understanding. Analyze sentences, identify linking verbs, and observe how they connect subjects and subject complements.


Demystifying linking verbs doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Armed with this illustrated guide, you can confidently identify and understand the role of linking verbs in sentences. These seemingly mysterious words are simply the glue that holds our language together, helping us convey ideas and descriptions effectively.

So, next time you encounter a sentence, try spotting the linking verbs that connect subjects to their complements. It’s like decoding a secret language that’s been hiding in plain sight. Understanding linking verbs is a valuable skill that can enhance your writing and communication. Happy writing!

In this article, we’ve provided a friendly and accessible guide to linking verbs, their functions, and common misconceptions. With this knowledge, you’ll be well-equipped to use linking verbs correctly and effectively in your writing. So, why not take the next step and enhance your writing skills by mastering the art of linking verbs?

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