Ann Hogue's First Steps in Academic Writing contrasts linking verbs with action verbs, and the same terms are used in a number of other books, including McGraw-Hill's essential ESL grammar by Mark Lester. This use of the word action could easily lead to a confused contrast with stative. On the other hand, maybe another terminology is partially at fault. ESL Beginner by Johanna Pugni, Linda Robbian, Sherry Boguchwal, Dianne Ramdeholl says linking verbs are sometimes called state-of-being verbs. Or perhaps the confusion is preexisting and the terminology is the result. Whatever the source may be, there's a problem.
Linking verbs are those verbs that allow adjective phrases as one of their complements. These include words like be, look, seem, feel, sound, get, become, stay, etc. Even where these verbs take noun or preposition phrase complements, they are generally still linking verbs.
- He seems nice/a good fellow/up to it.
- It was good/a pen/under the bed.
- She became healthy/president.
In contrast, stative verbs have nothing at all to do with complementation. A simple rule of thumb is: if you can't put it in the progressive, it's stative:
- it seems nice -> *it's seeming nice stative
- I have a car -> *I'm having a car stative
- It gets hot -> It's getting hot dynamic
- It works -> It's working dynamic
It may be coincidentally true that many linking verbs are stative, but the two sets of properties are orthogonal.
When it comes to teaching, the stative/dynamic dichotomy is most relevant when teaching progressive aspect. In contrast, verb complementation is typically best dealt with at the pattern level as a verb is learned. It may be useful to bring it up, however, when addressing passive voice because students could mistake an NP complement for an object and try to front it with ungrammatical results.
- she became president -> *(the) president was become by her
What about sentences like: "She ate healthy" and "She's having a baby"? I know the first is a non-standard usage, but the second is not.
The verb ate is simply intransitive here. It's neither stative nor linking. The verb phrases with have in the sense of possession are usually stative, but other meanings of have are usually dynamic.
don't linking verbs also allow noun phrases (predicate noun) in addition to adjective phrases?
In "Bob was a coach," coach is a noun, not an adjective.
Yes, Sherry, that's right. "Linking verbs are those verbs that allow adjective phrases as one of their complements...Even where these verbs take noun or preposition phrase complements, they are generally still linking verbs."
This is useful to help teachers sort out the confusion for themselves but can it be used to explain the difference to non-native speakers who do not have a sense of what word can or should go after a particular verb?
"Can it be used to explain the difference to non-native speakers?" It can if you point them to examples or give them access to corpora rather than have them rely on their own intuition. But the intended audience was teachers. Not confusing students is really important.
When you explain this to students sometimes you need to overstate the case to avoid confusing them. In West Africa one often hears, "I am having a car," or "I was loving a man." It's so fossilized that I just ban the progressive use of certain verbs in my class. Of course, on the online poetry forum I use, a common respnse to someone's poem is now, "I am loving this!" What can you say?
A little late, but I've just seen this grammar page (http://www.english-grammar-revolution.com/list-of-verbs.html) where the writer says - There are three major categories of verbs: action verbs, linking verbs, and helping verbs
This categorisation seems a bit strange to me. I would have thought that action verbs would normally be contrasted with state verbs, linking verbs with transitive and intransitive verbs (as in learners' dictionaries), and auxiliary or helping verbs with main or lexical verbs. And she really does seem to mean action verbs - she gives 24 examples, all of which can be used in continuous (progressive) tenses.
Yes, Will. I've seen similarly inexplicable groupings.
Thank you. That was exactly what I wanted to know, and your explanation was clear, precise and complete.
she is being silly.In this sentence, being is a main verb.But is it still a linking verb. I wonder this.
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