Monday 24 September 2007

AAE Q97: 'linking verbs'

Hi Matt,

If I want to say somebody´s appearance is nice I say e.g. he/she looks nice(but not nicely).

Are there any other verbs after which I have to use adjective instead of adverb?

I just know look, feel, taste, sound.



The type of verb you are referring too is called a linking verb.

Here is a list:
    • to appear
    • to be
    • to become
    • to feel
    • to get
    • to go
    • to grow
    • to look
    • to prove
    • to remain
    • to seem
    • to smell
    • to sound
    • to stay
    • to taste
    • to turn

Linking verbs are often followed by adjectives instead of adverbs. In such situations, the adjective describes the subject of the sentence rather than the verb. Study the examples below to learn the difference.


  • Mary seemed sad. Correct
  • Mary seemed sadly. Not Correct
  • The cake tastes good. Correct
  • The cake tastes well. Not Correct
  • The train is slow. Correct
  • The train is slowly. Not Correct
  • James grew tired. Correct
  • Sarah remained calm. Correct
  • The milk went bad. Correct
  • The seas turned rough. Correct
  • The negotiations proved pointless. Correct
However the verbs in the list above are not always used as linking verbs. Compare the examples below.


  • Sally grew angry.
    "Angry" describes Sally. In this sentence, "to grow" is being used as a linking verb meaning "to become."
  • The plant grew quickly.
    "Quickly" does not describe the plant, it describes the manner in which it grows. In this sentence, "to grow" is not being used as a linking verb.
Hope this helps


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