A Complete Guide for Showing Changes Through Linking Verbs

In order to help teachers with various resources for students, we’ve crafted a guide to linking verbs in English. Based on the examples we will use here, this guide should be suitable for students of all age ranges, including those at the elementary, middle, or high school levels of learning. To assist students who may be learning English as their second language, we will keep our examples simple yet concrete. We will also explain the basic rules for identifying, forming, and using these verbs in average, everyday writing. As we go along, we can address the different types of linking verbs students might encounter in the course of their studies.

linking verb examples

What Are Linking Verbs?

Before we go into detail about what makes a linking verb, let’s cover the standard verb form briefly. Your basic verb is a word that shows or denotes an action that takes place. The subject of a sentence tends to perform this action, and it could do so as part of something that impacts a direct object. However, some actions do not need to act upon direct objects to achieve the results or meaning we require.

Although we use the word verb to describe the whole term of linking verb, words that you might find in a linking verbs list do not show action at all. Instead, linking verb examples would show some kind of condition about the subject. They might include information about a subject’s relationship to something else in the sentence, too. Therefore, these verbs are ones that make connections that tell us more about the subject.

Learning the Rules for Linking Verbs

In order to learn the rules for these kinds of verbs, it is important to get a handle on how we might form them in the English language. Students may be able to grasp what these verbs are if they think of them as equals signs within a sentence. In other words, you could cut out the linking verb in a sentence and replace it with this mathematical symbol. Even if you do this, the sentence should still be something the reader can comprehend. Let’s look at a few linking verb examples right away in order to understand this difference clearly.

  • Gladys is calm
  • Tony seems elated about the news
  • Albert looks too tired from his studies

If we take the above examples, we can go through them and see how the linking verb connects the subject with the rest of the sentence. In the first, the linking verb is tells us that Gladys feels relaxed. We could take out the linking verb and replace it with an equals sign in order to illustrate this. Similarly, Tony seems to be elated when someone looks at him, and Albert looks like he is tired. Although we’ve continued the latter two sentences by giving some reasons for the state of being, we could have left those parts off completely. The linking verbs would have still done their jobs.

How Do These Verbs Change the Subject?

A linking verb might not change the subject of a sentence in a way that students might notice immediately. However, it still does things to alter the subject’s relationship to the rest of the sentence, and it can do so in a couple of ways.

With a Noun

One of the main ways a linking verb alters the nature of the subject is by pairing it with a noun. Once this happens, the noun then renames the original subject of the sentence. The subject does not change its function, but its appearance may shift based on word choice. We can illustrate this with a few more linking verb examples.

  • Mason is a dairy farmer
  • Margaret plays a fairy princess
  • Jackson is an uncle to his nephew

This format is called the predicate nominative. When you start a sentence with a subject, you can link it with other kinds of nouns that rename it. They will also refer back to it in some way. If we were to draw a sentence diagram of this sort of thing, we would separate the subject from the link with a solid line. However, we would use a line with a slant in it to illustrate that the predicate noun after the link still ties back to it.

If we look at the linking verb examples we created in this section, we can clarify this point. In the examples, dairy farmer is a term that tells you a bit more about Mason. It also refers back to Mason, describing who he is by his profession. Similarly, we know that Margaret will portray a fairy princess in some sort of production. This is her role, just as uncle becomes a role for Jackson. We could turn all three sentences around in terms of the predicate nominative, and they would still make sense.

With an Adjective

Some things that follow linking verbs will be adjectives. In fact, linking verb examples might include the various forms of to be, verbs that help us describe human sense or emotions, and verbs about the status of the subject. In many cases, we will follow up such verbs with adjectives.

  • The forest is dangerous at night
  • Those eggs smell spoiled
  • Vera feels fine

Rules Governing True Linking Verbs

We’ve mentioned some facts about the verb to be already. Along with forms of to seem or to become, it represents a type of linking verb that is always constant.

  • He was happy with the results
  • She became a legal scholar
  • They seemed thoughtful in their approach

Contextual Linking Verbs

Conversely, some verbs are not always in the linking category, but they can be. If they are not functioning as links in a sentence, they are probably doing so as actions instead. We mentioned verbs that relate to senses, and this is one major category where this can occur. If you can replace a contextual linking verb with a true one, then the word is functioning as a link in the sentence.

  • Jason sounds hoarse
  • He remains stoic throughout the proceedings
  • She looks confused about something


Proper verb identification and usage is a crucial part of early learning when it comes to English skills. Verbs that connect the subject to other parts of a sentence represent one piece of this puzzle. Not all verbs that can link will do so all the time, however. You can have students create their own linking verb lists to practice what they’ve learned here.

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