How Do Linking Verbs Work?

Contributor: Allison Crews. Lesson ID: 13713

By their name alone, you should guess that linking verbs join — or link — things together. But what do they link and how? Find the answers here!


Grammar, Writing

English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Did you ever watch the game show called "The Weakest Link"?

Contestants answer trivia questions and vote to eliminate one player each round. The host then unceremoniously dismisses the weakest link.

Watch part of an episode below.

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Keep reading to learn how to keep your verbs from being the weakest link!

What Are Linking Verbs?

Linking verbs join a subject with a subject complement that describes the subject. The linking verb is the link between the two.

The most common linking verbs are variants of the verb to be.

say what

  • What does that mean?

Linking verbs don't show action like the verbs run or yell. They connect -— or link — the subject to its description.

Keep this in mind as you read through this lesson.

Different forms of the verb to be are the most common linking verbs used.

To Be Verbs

First, review the forms of the verb to be.

  Present Tense
    Singular Plural
  • I am.
  • We are.
  • You are.
  • You are.
  • He / She / It is.
  • They are.


  Past Tense
    Singular Plural
  • I was.
  • We were.
  • You were.
  • You were.
  • He / She / It was.
  • They were.


  • What would the simple future tense of to be look like?

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  • Simple, right?

to be or not to be

Consider this sentence.

I am hungry!

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Hungry is a state of being. A subject can't be hungry but can be described as hungry.

This is what linking verbs do.

What If the Linking Verb Isn't To Be?

There are other linking verbs that are pretty easy to remember. They are verbs that refer to the senses (taste, smell, see, feel, hear) and the verbs to become and to seem.

Other verbs commonly act as linking verbs, such as forms of to grow, to remain, , and to appear, depending on their function in the sentence.

These verbs all link a subject to a subject complement similarly.

Take a look.

You seem sad.

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Try one more.

The chicken tastes salty.

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  • Feeling good about linking verbs?

Click through to the Got It? section to learn more about subject complements!

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