If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Linking verbs

Linking verbs are verbs that can connect ideas to one another, like "It is sunny out" or "she looks unhappy". Verbs like "to be", "seems", "appears", or other verbs that reference the five senses are linking verbs. "That smells good." "The cactus feels spiky."

Want to join the conversation?

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hello, grammarians. Today, we're talking about verbs and bears. We had previously established at least one thing about the verb, and that was that it can show actions. But today I'd like to introduce the idea that the verb can link ideas to one another. In fact, we have this whole class of verbs that we call "linking verbs." Or, if you want to call it something fancier, we call that "state of being verbs." These linking verbs include all forms of the verb "to be," which I have handily written out for you. So, I am, he is we are, be nice, they were being, they have been, he was, we were. Now we use a linking verb when we want to connect one idea to another. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna divide the screen in half between the action side and the state of being side, just to show you what I mean. So we use action verbs to show what something does, whereas we use state of being verbs to show what something is. So let's bring it back to this bear. Let's think of an action for this bear to do. What is a bear-like thing to do? The bear eats a fish. That's an action. That's something the bear is doing. The bear is hungry, however, is not something that the bear is doing, it's something that the bear is. So what "is" is doing here, is connecting the word "hungry," to the word "bear." It's linking it. Some verbs can be used both ways. They can be used both as actions, and as linking verbs. I'll show you an example of that. You could say, "The bear looked at me." Which is to say the bear is doing a thing, looking, at something, namely me. But we could also say, using the same verb, "The bear looked lonely." Now in this case, this is describing how the bear looks. What the bear looks like. This looking is not something the bear is doing, it is how the bear appears to a viewer. So, "looked" is connecting "lonely" to "bear." It is linking "lonely" to "bear." It is a linking verb. By the same token, we could say, for an action, "The bear smells a person." What is it smelling? A person. But we could also say, "The bear smells like cinnamon." Which, I grant you, is pretty unlikely. Don't go smelling bears. But what "smells" is doing here is connecting the idea of cinnamon, to the bear. The bear isn't smelling the cinnamon, the bear smells like cinnamon. And that's the difference between a linking verb and an action verb. A linking verb shows what something is, an action verb shows what something does. So the bear is hungry, the bear looked lonely, the bear smells like cinnamon. These all reflect something about what the bear is. How it's being. You can learn anything, David out.