Tag Archives: Linking Verbs

Helping Verb and Main Verb

I understand there are a lot there who get confused about what is helping verb or main verb or what function does each have in a sentence. This is basically the equation:     Helping Verb + Main Verb = Verb Phrase

VERB PHRASE = is composed of two or more words (helping verb + main verb)  in a sentence that basically has a single function which is as VERB.


(Verb)    Carl walks to work everyday.

(Verb Phrase)      Carl is walking to work right now.

(Verb)     I waited for you last night.

(Verb Phrase)   I have been waiting for you all night.

(Verb) Mary studied this book yesterday.

(Verb Phrase)  Mary has been studying this book for the entire month.


For example: The students must submit their homework by the end of the class.

**In this example, the word submit is the main verb because it expresses the main action in the sentence while must submit is our verb phrase.


1.) The main verb expresses the main action in the sentence.

2.) All main verbs are either action verbs or linking verbs.

3.) Main verbs are also called by other grammarians as Lexical verbs.

4.) The main verbs in the sentence may be of different forms depending on the helping verb(s) before it.


For example:  The student in the class is drawing while listening to her teacher.

**In this example, the word is is the helping verb because it helps the main verb express the time or the tense of the action. It indicates that the action is in the present time.

Let’s have another example: The student in the class was drawing while listening to her teacher.

** Notice how the tense of the sentence changed when we used was instead of is in the verb phrase.

For the idea of necessity, here is the example: All the employees must wear their identification cards before entering the building.

For possibility: The workers may finish the job next week.

Permission: May I borrow the book that you just bought last night?

**Notice that verb phrases may be split when used in asking questions.

For example: Where will you go after this event?


1.) Helping verbs are words that help the main verbs express the time or the tense of the action being expressed in the sentence.

2.) Helping verbs are also known as auxiliary verbs.

3.) Helping  verbs may also express ideas such as possibility, necessity and permission.

4.) The main helping verbs in English are: be (am/is/are), have, do, can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would and must.


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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


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