Meaning of Verb – Action Verb or Linking Verb?

What is a Verb? What is the difference between Action Verbs and Linking Verbs?

There are a lot of people when asked about the meaning of verb would just say, “A verb is an action word”. I’m not saying this definition is wrong. It’s just that this does not convey the complete meaning of a verb. 

Now before we dig deeper, I want to share this really fun song about verbs. I’m sure you’ll love it because I really do.

A verb describes an action or a state of being or condition. It tells us what someone or something does. A verb also helps to describe what someone or something is or is like.

Verbs which describe events, actions, activities or happenings are what we call  action verbs.

For example:

The little girl opened the windows.

Fred runs every morning.

The dolphin jumped into the water.

Verbs which describe a condition or a state of being are called linking verbs.

 The most common linking verbs in English are am, is, are, was, were, feel, sound, smell, taste, look, remain, turn and so on.

For example:

I am happy right now.

She is so beautiful.

The cake smells good.

My ice cream tastes so sweet.

Her father remained faithful until the end.

Tina’s documents turned yellow after many years of keeping them.

It is very easy to spot the be verbs (am/is/are/was/were) as linking verbs in sentences, but many might get confused when they see the verbs of senses (sound, taste, look, smell, feel). Just remember that many verbs that can be used as linking verbs can also be used as action verbs.

For example:

Carlo smells his cake before he eats it. (Action Verb)

Carlo’s cake smells really delicious. (Linking Verb)

Andrea looked at me with amazement. (Action Verb)

Andrea looked really amazing today. (Linking Verb)

To spot the difference quicker and easier, try to substitute the be verbs (am/is/are/was/were) in the verb slot  and if the sentence makes sense, then it’s most probably a linking verb.

For example:

I felt  really great today.

(I was really great today.) The sentence makes sense, and it tells us the condition of the subject. Therefore, felt is a linking verb.

I felt the softness of my skin.

(I was the softness of my skin.) The sentence doesn’t make sense, so felt is an action verb.

More examples:

He turned his back on me. (Action Verb)

He turned angry after hearing me shout. (Linking Verb)

David sounded upset after the meeting.(Linking Verb)

David sounded the alarm to start the meeting. (Action Verb)

The cookie I baked tasted sweet and delicious.(Linking Verb)

My daughter tasted the cookie I baked for her. (Action Verb)

See also:

Nouns for Beginners

What is Pronoun – Why do we have to know pronous

Eight Parts of Speech



Filed under Grammar

9 responses to “Meaning of Verb – Action Verb or Linking Verb?

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