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Linking Verbs and Adjectives

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Linking verbs behave differently from verbs that express an action performed by the subject. They connect the subject to a description, state, or relationship related to the subject.

Video Activity

Watch Linking verbs, adjectives, and adverbs on YouTube for further information and examples on this topic.

The Difference

Both of the following sentences uses the verb to look, but the second sentence uses it as a linking verb. Note the use of an adverb and an adjective in them.

“Look” as an action verb and as a linking verb.

  1. He looked at me suspiciously
  2. He looked suspicious.

In Sentence 1, look is a verb expressing an action performed by the subject. The adverb (suspiciously) modifies the verb; it expresses how the subject performed the action.

In Sentence 2, look is a linking verb. It describes the subject, not the action.

Trick to Identify Linking Verbs

To Be is Always a Linking Verb

The verb to be is the quintessential linking verb, connecting subjects to a state or relationship. In that sense, to be works as an equal sign between the subject and such a state or relationship.

  • Mary = a beautiful woman. Mary is a beautify woman.
  • My father = retired for 10 years. My father has been retired for 10 years.

Linking Verbs and Be

Linking verbs work the same way though they carry more information than the verb to be by itself. If you can substiture a verb in a sentence with the verb to be, it is a linking verb. Likewise, you use an adjective after to be and after linking verbs.

The “Be Test” for linking verbs

  • This bread tastes bad.
    This bread is bad.
  • John looks happy.
    John is happy.
  • His constant complaining has become annoying.
    His constant complaining has been (or is) annoying.

List of Common Linking Verbs

Below is a list of linking verbs and example sentences.


Example Sentences

In the example sentences below, note how adjectives, not adverbs, follow the linking verbs.

Tom appears angry.

All of his jokes fell flat.

John and I have become very close.

I don’t feel strong after being ill for so long.

He went mad when he reapzed he lost.

My grandparents have grown old together.

These clothes don’t lookcomfortable.

I have proved you wrong, haven’t I?

Please try to remain calm until the storm passes.

At first, the students didn’t seem happy with their new teacher.

These oranges smell sweet.

This music sounds terrible to me.

We need to stay confident.

This pie tastes very good.

The weather has turned cold.

Some Verbs Can Be Both

Keep in mind that some verbs can be both linking verbs and action verbs depending on how they are used. In the examples, below, notice the use of adjectives after linking verbs and adverbs after action verbs.


  • John looked sad. (linking verb)
  • John looked at me sadly.


  • I tried to convince them to stay, but they remained reluctant to do so. (linking verb)
  • They remained reluctantly because the police told them they had to stay to answer questions.


  • The soup tasted good. (linking verb)
  • I tasted the soup carefully to try to guess what the ingredients were.


  • When he saw me there, he turned angry. (linking verb)
  • When he saw me there, he turned to me angrily and started shouting.


Complete an exercise to practice what you have learned learned in this lesson.

Related Materials

Learn whther you should say “I'm good” or “I'm well”.

Learn when adjectives replace adverbs in idiomatic usage.

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