Module 3, Verbs: Types, Tenses, and Moods, Lesson 3:

Action vs. Linking Verbs


Can You Tell the Difference Between an Action Verb and a Linking Verb?

The verbs appear, become, feel, get, grow, look, remain, seem, smell, sound, stay, taste, and turn can act either as action verbs or linking verbs. In order to tell the difference, you have to pay attention to how each type of verb is used in a sentence—linking verbs are used for descriptions, whereas action verbs tell you what someone (or something) is doing.

Kelly grows tired after hours of gardening.
The adjective tired describes Kelly. Kelly is tired after she gardens.
Kelly grows sunflowers in her yard.
This sentence tells us what Kelly is doing—she plants sunflowers and grows them.
Remember, you can replace linking verbs with a form of to be (am, is, are, was, were, etc.) but you can't do the same thing with action verbs.
Kelly grows tired. = Kelly is tired.
Kelly grows sunflowers. ≠ Kelly is sunflowers.

In the second example, replacing grows with is creates a nonsense sentence. The noun sunflowers does not describe Kelly; she's not a sunflower.

Practice What You've Learned

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Identify the underlined verb as action or linking.
The magician appeared onstage in a cloud of smoke.
action / linking
Ellie appeared tired after working six hours of overtime.
action / linking
Take your umbrella in case the weather turns ugly.
action / linking
To open that puzzle box, turn the circle one twist to the right.
action / linking
My aunt in Louisiana grows the most beautiful roses.
action / linking
My grandmother told my sister that she grows more beautiful every year.
action / linking
Can you smell that strange odor?
action / linking
It really smells strange.
action / linking
I hope we will stay friends after we graduate.
action / linking
We always stay in a castle when we visit England.
action / linking