Monday, August 09, 2010

An ESL Guide, Part 2: Linking Verbs

Most people will say that a verb is an action word. Not always. We also have state-of-being verbs, such as the verb to be (e.g., am, are, is, was, were, be, have been). These verbs tend to link two words in a sentence. So when we say, “I am hungry,” we mean that I am in a state of hunger, or I and hunger are one in the same.

Knowing linking verbs is important because we use adjectives to link with them, whereas action verbs are modified by adverbs. Examples:

  • Linking verb with an adjective complement: I am hungry.
  • Action verb with an adverb as a modifier: I ate hungrily.

Other linking verbs include certain sense words (look, sound, smell, feel, taste), but sometimes they are action verbs. Examples:

  • Linking Verb: You looked happy yesterday.
  • Action Verb: You looked happily at the sunrise.
  • Linking Verb: He sounded powerful to me.
  • Action Verb: He sounded the trumpet powerfully.
  • Linking Verb: After emerging from the smoke, we smelled bad.
  • Action Verb: He smells badly enough to fail the scent discrimination test.
  • Linking Verb: They felt wary.
  • Action Verb: They felt their way warily through the dark tunnel.
  • Linking Verb: Her drink tastes bitter.
  • Action Verb: She tasted the drink bitterly.
Still other linking verbs exist, such as appear, become, get, grow, keep, lie, prove, remain, seem, stay, and turn—all requiring adjective complements.

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