Copula verb

Definition: A copula (or copular) verb is a verb that connects the subject to the complement. They are sometimes called linking verbs. Linking verbs do not describe action.

subject + linking verb + information about the subject

For example:

  • That food smells nice. ('Smells' connects the subject to the adjective that describes it.)

Some verbs are always linking verbs because they never describe an action. Other verbs can be linking verbs in some sentences and action verbs in other sentences.

Verbs that are ALWAYS LINKING verbs
The following three verbs are always linking verbs:

to be (is, am, are, was, were, has been, have been, had been, is being, are being, was being, will have been, etc.)
to become (become, becomes, became, has become, have become, had become, will become, will have become, etc.)
to seem (seemed, seeming, seems, has seemed, have seemed, had seemed, is seeming, are seeming, was seeming, were seeming, will seem)

For example:

  • The dog became thin after his surgery. ('Became' links the subject, the dog, with information about him (that he became thin))

Verbs that can be both ACTION and LINKING verbs
There are verbs that can be linking verbs in SOME sentences, but are action verbs in other sentences. One way to determine if the verb is functioning as an action verb or a linking verb is to substitute the word “is” for the verb in question.If the sentence still makes sense, then it is probably a linking verb. If the sentence would not make sense with the word “is,” then it is probably an action verb in the sentence.



For expample:

  • Jhon appeared uninjured after the accident.

  • In this example you could substitute the word 'is,' for the word 'appeared' and the sentence would still make sense: "Jane is uninjured after the accident." This lets you know that appeared is a linking verb in this sentence.
  • Before I could leave, Jhon appeared.

  • In this sentence, appeared is not linking anything. It is telling the action that Jhon did. He appeared, or showed up.

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