Linking verbs and Stative verb in English

In the post, we learn what linking verbs are, what stative verbs are, and what the difference between linking verbs and stative verbs is.

What is a linking verb?

Linking verb definition: A linking verb is a type of a main verb that links the subject of a sentence to its complement (a word or a group of words that identifies the subject and either renames it or modifies it).

The word or a group of words that comes after a linking verb and identifies the subject is called the subject complement. It completes the meaning of the subject by either giving it a name (using a noun) or describing it (using an adjective).

Linking-verbs-explanation-and-examples
Linking-verbs-explanation-and-examples

A list of linking verbs in English

Here’s a complete link of linking verbs in English:

TO BETO BE: is, am, are, was, were, may be, might be,
should be, would be, can be, could be, must be, will be, shall be,

BEING: is being, am being, are being, was being, were being

BEEN: has been, have been, had been, may have been, must have been, could have, should have been,
will have been, shall have been, might have been
TO SEEMseem, seems, seemed
TO LOOKlook, looks, looked
TO FEELfeel, feels, felt
TO SOUNDsound, sounds, sounded
TO TASTEtaste, tastes, tasted
TO SMELLsmell, smells, smelt
TO STAYstay, stays, stayed
TO BECOMEbecome, becomes, became
TO GOgo, goes, went, gone
TO REMAINremain, remains, remained
TO TURNturn, turns, turned
TO GETget, gets, got
TO APPEARappear, appears, appeared
A list of linking verbs

Linking verb examples

  • You are an amazing teacher. (The linking verb ‘are’ is linking the subject ‘you’ to its complement ‘an amazing teacher‘, which is giving the subject a name. You = an amazing teacher)
  • Max is happy right now. (The linking verb ‘is’ is connecting the subject ‘Max’ with the subject complement ‘happy’. Jon = happy)
  • I was extremely tired last night. (The linking verb ‘was’ is linking the subject ‘I’ with its complement ‘extremely tired’.)

Note that the subject complement either identifies the subject with a noun/noun phrase or describes it with an adjective or an adjective phrase. The linking verb is either followed by a noun (predicate nominative) or an adjective (predicate adjective).

More linking verbs examples

  • I am really excited about the party.
  • Akshay was the best bowler of our team.
  • The teacher is upset with all the students.
  • My friends are the best.
  • You were the love of my life.
  • Sam is being extremely polite to me.
  • All the interviewers were being very rude to me.
  • This year has been terrible for most people.
  • Knowing how many skillful workers the company has lost, the employers have been very positive about the future.
  • Jon had been very helpful in those days.
  • You will be the mother of my baby in some time.
  • We shall be happy to contribute to this amazing cause.
  • Tina may be upset with you.
  • This trip might be a failure.
  • You must be a fighter. You look like one.
  • The team should be satisfied with their performance as it was quite a historical win.
  • If he didn’t come on time, I would be dead.
  • Because of you, the party could be exciting.
  • Jennifer could have been the lead actress of this movie.
  • Max should have been more careful with the money he won in the lottery.
  • Your family must have been disappointed with your results.
  • Everyone seemed clueless when he announced his retirement.
  • This jacket looks perfect on you.
  • You look beautiful without makeup.
  • The task seems difficult to solve.
  • My mom appears mad at me.
  • The food smells delicious.
  • I felt terrible when they stranded the dog.
  • If you put in the work, dreams come true.
  • Jimmy stayed calm and composed even after getting a death threat.
  • You must try this. It tasted extremely good.
  • The crowd went silent after Virat lost his wicket.
  • Even after losing his dream job, Max remained positive.
  • Sometimes, we get demotivated when things don’t go the way we want them to go.
  • He remained faithful to the company.
  • Your story never falls true.

What are stative verbs in English?

Stative verb definition: A stative verb in English, also known as state verb, is a type of a main verb that shows the state of the subject. It doesn’t indicate any physical (dynamic) action; it simply indicates in what state the subject is.

Stative verbs examples
Stative verbs examples

Examples:

  • I love my students.

    (‘Love‘ is the stative verb here that is showing the emotional state of the subject. Note that the subject is not performing any physical action here; he is simply in a state of being.
  • Jon did not understand my situation.

    (Here, ‘understand’ is the stative verb that’s showing the cognitive/mental state of the subject ‘Jon’ in the past. He didn’t do any dynamic action. Actually, he did not do anything at all. The stative verb ‘understand’ indicates the mental state of the subject.)
  • My History teacher hates me. He doesn’t like my approach towards the subject.

    (‘Hates” is the stative verb here that’s showing the emotional state of the subject ‘My History teacher’. The verb ‘hate’ does not indicate any physical action.)

Ask yourself, “How to you hate or love or disgust?”

When your emotions are in a certain way, you give them a name (love, hate, disgust). So verbs like love, hate, abhor, disgust, understand, etc don’t indicate a physical action. They just indicate a state (mental, emotional, possessional) the subject is in

But verbs like eat, sleep, write, type, run, walk are some verbs that indicate a physical action, unlike stative verbs.

Types of stative verbs in English

Stative verbs indicate the following state of a subject:

  1. Mental or Cognitive state: think, believe, doubt, guess, remember, pretend, recognize, recall, guess, forget, agree, disagree, need, prefer, satisfy
  2. Emotional state: love, hate, adore, abhor, like, dislike, appreciate, envy, detest, loathe
  3. Senses: see, hear, feel, seem, taste, smell, sense, sound
  4. Possessional state: have, belong, possess, own, belong, want
  5. Others (condition): weigh, contain, involve, concern, lack, deserve, matter, resemble

Examples:

  • Ashish loves his parents more than anyone in the world.
  • Nobody likes to talk to Rohan. He brags too much about his job.
  • I hated Mathematics for many years.
  • Do you believe in God?
  • He pretended to be a cop in front of my friends.
  • I can’t recall the date.
  • Every time we doubted him, he proved us wrong.
  • How can he dislike chocolates?
  • We appreciate what Max has done for our family.
  • He needed food very badly.
  • You seem upset about something.
  • The food tastes awful.
  • You smell great.
  • He sounds quite confident.
  • All of us have a gaming laptop.
  • She wanted a cook.
  • The syrup contains alcohol.
  • Shami deserves the credit for this win.

Stative verbs are not used in continuous forms.

Stative verbs are not used in continuous forms as they show the state of the subject. So, don’t make the mistake of using stative verbs in continuous tenses.

  • We are loving the class. ❌
  • We love the class. ✔️
  • Are you understanding my question? ❌
  • Do you understand my question? ✔️
  • I am remembering everything about that day. ❌
  • I remember everything about that day. ✔️
  • The students were needing some extra classes for English. ❌
  • The students needed some extra classes for English. ✔️
  • This ringtone is sounding great. ❌
  • This ringtone sounds great. ✔️
  • We are having some issues with the network. ❌
  • We have some issues with the network. ✔️
  • I have been owning this place for 10 years. ❌
  • I have owned this place for 10 years. ✔️
  • The pizza was tasting good. ❌
  • The pizza tasted good. ✔️

It’s important to note that some stative verbs are often used in continuous forms in spoken English. But still, that’s inappropriate to do if want to be grammatically correct.

  • I am loving it. (McDonald’s tagline)
  • Are you understanding me?
  • Nobody is agreeing with you.
  • Everyone is appreciating the government for taking care of the patients.

These sentences are common in practice, but they try not to use stative verbs in continuous forms.

A list of verbs that can be both stative verbs and dynamic verbs

Here are the verbs that can be both stative verbs and action verbs:

  1. Smell
  2. Taste
  3. See
  4. Have
  5. Think
  6. Look
  7. Weigh
  8. Measure
  9. Be
  10. Feel
  11. Appear
VerbsStativeDynamic
SmellMeaning = the condition of something in terms of its smell

• The fish smells awful.
(In other words, the fish is awful in terms of its smell.)
Meaning = the action of using your nose

• He smells the fish before packing them.
TasteMeaning = the quality of taste of something

• The food tastes delicious.
(In other words, the food is delicious.)
Meaning = to eat something to find out its taste

• Let him taste the food.
• The chef is tasting the food.
SeeMeaning = To perceive through your eyes

• Can you see me?
(You see objects without trying to look at them. So, there is no dynamic action here.)
Meaning = to check or date a person

• The doctor is seeing someone right now. (checking)
• She is seeing someone these days. (dating)
HaveMeaning = to possess or own

• Jon has a ship.
• I don’t have much time.
Meaning = to eat, take, or taste

• You can have (eat) my lunch.
• What are you having (drinking)?
ThinkMeaning = to talk about your opinion

• I think he should try teaching.
Meaning = to have/process something in your mind

• I was thinking about our conversation.
LookMeaning = to appear

• You look dapper in the suit.
• She looked tired in the class.
Meaning = to direct eyes in a direction deliberately

• They are looking at you.
• Why did you look at my sister angrily?
WeighMeaning = the weight possessed by something

• My phone weighs 200 gms.
Meaning = to measure the weight

• The conductor is weighing the goods.
MeasureMeaning = the measurement of an object

• The TV screen measures 42 inches.
Meaning = to measure something

• We can’t measure the statue without permission.
• They are measuring the length of the house.
BeMeaning = a state of being

• My friends are supportive.
Meaning = a deliberate action to be in a state/behave

• He is being sarcastic.
FeelMeaning = to have an opinion

• I feel we are smart enough to pass the test.
Meaning = to experience a feeling or emotion (through touching generally)

• I am feeling something hot in my pocket.
• Feel the quality of the glass before buying it.
AppearMeaning = to make people believe something to be true

• He appears to be a talented teacher.
• It appears that didn’t enjoy the match.
Meaning = to show up

• Conor is appearing in the next show.
• Did Dhoni’s wife appear at the match?
A list of verbs that can be both stative and linking with examples

Linking verbs vs Stative verbs

Linking verbs and stative verbs seem to be similar sometimes, but their functions are quite different. A linking verb links the subject to its complement (subject complement). It is followed by either a noun or an adjective. So, a linking verb works like a bridge that connects two parts: the subject and the subject complement.

On the other hand, a stative verb only shows the state the subject is in. Its job is to indicate the state of the subject. It isn’t necessarily followed by the subject complement, but it can.

Linking verb examples:

  • You are smart.
  • Conor is a great fighter.
  • I was upset with you.
  • Your mother seems unhappy.
  • The movie could be exciting.
  • I will be a father soon.

Stative verb examples:

  • I love English.
  • She hates all of us.
  • I remember that day.
  • We agree with you.
  • People need money to survive.
  • My teacher wants us to leave.

Note that linking verbs are linking the subject to its complement (an adjective or a noun), and the stative verbs are showing a state of the subject (emotional, cognitive, possessive). Also, note that stative verbs aren’t being followed by the subject complement here.

But some verbs work as both linking verbs and linking verbs: they indicate the state of the subject and also link it with its complement. Let’s look at the verbs that can do that.

Verbs that are both linking verbs and stative verbs

  • Be
  • Look
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Sound

Examples:

  • Jennifer is crazy about video games.
  • You are being funny mean to me.
  • He was my best friend.
  • The job may be good.

‘To be” form of verbs are the most common verbs that both link the subject to its complement and also show its state.

  • You look funny in shorts. (The verb ‘look’ links the subject (you) to its complement (funny) and also indicates the physical state of the subject.)
  • The food smells tasty. (The verb ‘smells’ links the subject (the food) to its complement (tasty) and also indicates the state of the food.)
  • The fish tasted awful. (The state (condition) of the food is awful, and the verb ‘taste’ is linking the subject ‘the food’ to its complement ‘awful’.)
  • He sounds arrogant. (The verb ‘sounds’ is showing the state in which the subject (he) seems to others (arrogant), and it is also connecting the subject with its complement.)

In a nutshell, both linking verbs and stative verbs are different in function. But it’d not be wrong to say that most linking verbs are stative verbs too.

Related topics (YouTube videos):

Congratulations! You have mastered the difference between stative verbs and linking verbs, and how they are used in English. Feel free to correct any typing mistakes you come across in the post.

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