Linking Verbs

Icon of chainA linking verb is a verb that links a subject to the rest of the sentence. There isn’t any “real” action happening in the sentence. Sentences with linking verbs become similar to math equations. The verb acts as an equal sign between the items it links.

As the video establishes, to be verbs are the most common linking verbs (is, was, were, etc.). David and the bear establish that there are other linking verbs as well. Here are some illustrations of other common linking verbs:

  • Over the past five days, Charles has become a new man.
    • It’s easy to reimagine this sentence as “Over the past five days, Charles = a new man.”
  • Since the oil spill, the beach has smelled bad.
    • Similarly, one could also read this as “Since the oil spill, the beach = smelled bad.”
  • That word processing program seems adequate for our needs.
    • Here, the linking verb is slightly more nuanced than an equals sign, though the sentence construction overall is similar. (This is why we write in words, rather than math symbols, after all!)
  • This calculus problem looks difficult.
  • With every step Jake took, he could feel the weight on his shoulders growing.


Read each sentence and determine whether its verb is a linking verb or not:

  1. Terry smelled his yogurt to see if it was still good.
  2. Rosa looks intimidating.
  3. Amy looked over at the clock to check the time.
  4. Gina smelled like chrysanthemums and mystery.
  5. Raymond is a fantastic boss.