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What are all the words that make up a complete list of linking verbs in English? My English teacher from what I can remember listed them as follows, am I missing any?

  • is • am • are • was • were • be • been • being
  • have • has • had
  • do • does • did
  • may • might
  • must
  • can • could
  • will • would
  • shall • should
  • seem • become • appear • look • smell • taste • sound • feel

(Thank You Mr. Weber of Era, Texas for being the best English teacher in the world.)

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    Perhaps it would be good if you would tell us exactly what you think a "linking verb" is, and how one can tell them from other verbs, because this list is all jumbled up. It contains some forms of some auxiliary verbs, and some forms of some sense verbs, and the rest are a variety of other kinds of verb. They don't behave at all the same way. – John Lawler Sep 1 '13 at 14:40
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    @JohnLawler It would also help if he asked just for citation forms instead of for inflections when those apply. – tchrist Sep 1 '13 at 14:54
  • myenglishpages.com/site_php_files/… - If you don't distinguish between auxiliary verbs ( for tenses), modal verbs + infinitive (for modalities) and linking verbs (with subject complement) you will have difficulties in understanding grammar. Your list is a muddle. – rogermue Aug 29 '15 at 16:43
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In your list, only the various forms of be (the first eight) and become, seem, appear, look, smell, taste, sound and feel are copular verbs. Others include remain, keep, stay, get, go, come, grow, prove, turn, turn out, end up and wind up.

  • What do you mean by "copular" verbs, Barrie? Those are all different constructions; is this the list of verbs with To be-Deletion? – John Lawler Sep 1 '13 at 14:58
  • They are, in the words of the Longman Grammar, verbs that ‘report a state of existence or a logical relationship that exists between entities.’ They are ‘used to associate an attribute with the subject of the clause. The attribute is usually expressed by the subject predicative following the verb.’ I thought that’s what the OP meant by ‘linking verbs’, but perhaps the British nomenclature is different from the American. – Barrie England Sep 1 '13 at 15:10
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    That's not a grammatical description, however; just about every predicate in our language "reports a state of existence or a logical relationship that exists between entities". It's certainly not a definition that can be used to construct tests to see whether a particular verb qualifies. Between this and your question about ergative in another item, I think I'm going to have to explain what I mean by verb categories; there are a lot of them, and "copula" or "linking" is not one. Kind of unsure how to handle it in this artificial Q:A format; maybe I'll ask a question. – John Lawler Sep 1 '13 at 15:21
  • Or take it up with Douglas Biber, the lead author of the Longman Grammar! – Barrie England Sep 1 '13 at 15:28
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    I was about to post an answer quoting from the Cobuild treatment, which deals with link-verbs as those whose main role is grammatical, rather than semantic, filling a messy void between say 'Bob' and 'warm' / 'a man' in the kiddiespeak 'Bob warm' or 'Bob a man'. Moving on, once you get to similar constructions with say 'become' ('Bob became warm'), 'pass' ('she passed unnoticed'), 'blush' ('the rose blushed pink') 'escape' ('she escaped unscathed') the 'link-like' verb, as Cobuild says, now has semantic weight. However, I'd say 'blushed pink' is far more coherent than 'passed unnoticed'. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 1 '13 at 16:27
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Barry quotes Longman:

[Link verbs] are, in the words of the Longman Grammar, verbs that ‘report a state of existence or a logical relationship that exists between entities.’ He adds: They are ‘used to associate an attribute with the subject of the clause. The attribute is usually expressed by the subject predicative following the verb.’

To which John Lawler replies:

That's not a grammatical description, however; just about every predicate in our language "reports a state of existence or a logical relationship that exists between entities". It's certainly not a definition that can be used to construct tests to see whether a particular verb qualifies.

Cobuild ( https://arts-ccr-002.bham.ac.uk/ccr/patgram/ch01.html ) (Section 6) simply classifies constructions in this area from the surface structure:

6 V adj

The verb is followed by an adjective group. This pattern has one structure:

Verb with Complement [there is a preceding subject not mentioned here by Cobuild]

I was hungry.

Though I must point out that

  1. happy , say, in she looked happy is obviously a complement (in the sense of being grammatically obligatory) whereas young in my father died young isn't, and

  2. happy , say, in she was happy is obviously modifying (specifying an attribute of) the subject whereas unnoticed in she passed unnoticed looks more to be modifying the manner of her passing (ie has a suspiciously adverbial flavour),

this is a start for analysing this structure / these structures. And Cobuild give a comprehensive semantic breakdown of which verbs appear in such structures.

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As I use the term, English only has one copula: the verb "to be". The object of a copula takes nominative case, not accusative, so "It is I" not "*It is me." (Although some people do accept this usage for some reason.) Also, in formal semantics, the copula disappears. So "John is a man" turns into something like "exists(x) {John(x) and man(x)"}

None of the other verbs on the list meets either of those tests. For example, we have to say "John smells him"; no one accepts "*John smells he." Semantically, "John smells a man" becomes "exists(x,y) {man(x) and John(y) and smells(y,x)}

I've heard of "psuedo-copulas," but none of my graduate-level linguistics classes had any use for the distinction. I suspect the modern notion of theta roles eliminated the need for a special category of pseudo-copulas. That is, we can specify that "to smell" is a transitive verb that can take either a noun phrase or an adjective phrase as a direct object.

Carnie has a good explanation of theta roles. Heim describes the copula in semantics.

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    The "some reason" is that English pronouns don't really have case in the same way, e.g., Latin does. As such, the traditional nominative form is used only when the pronoun is the sole subject of the verb and the verb has the same number and person as the pronoun. Otherwise, the traditional objective form is used. This means that the objective form is unmarked and the nominative form is marked, which is the reverse of how it is in Latin and German. – siride Sep 1 '13 at 16:01
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    In regard to linking verbs, note that verbs like "smell" can be regular transitive verbs, or they can take a predicate adjective: "this smells good", which makes them similar to, but not the same as true copulas. – siride Sep 1 '13 at 16:02
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    Another "some reason" is that the 'rule' that one must use the 'nominative' for complements is of fairly recent imposition, and many people are adopting a partial reversion to the former one. To quote Pope Pullum, "If someone knocks at your door, and you say "Who's there?" and what you hear in response is "It is I," don't let them in. It's no one you want to know." ( news.ucsc.edu/2002/04/107.html ) And to quote 99.99...% of English speakers, "It's us." – Edwin Ashworth Sep 1 '13 at 16:40
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    As regards 'link verbs' or 'linking verbs', see my comments above for how Cobuild (and many dictionaries) include verbs other than be in this category. Indeed, ACGEL (Quirk et al) do; seem is clearly labelled as copular. Obviously, there is the complication that there is more than an equivalence with all such verbs other than be (and perhaps equal). I think OP is requesting a list of verbs used in similar structures (and getting more than he bargained for!) 'used to associate an attribute with the subject'(BE) But, as I imply, 'passed unnoticed' smells adverbial rather than adjectival. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 1 '13 at 17:01
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    The sense verbs come in three varieties, with very different grammar and meaning. – John Lawler Sep 1 '13 at 23:26

protected by tchrist Nov 7 '17 at 13:23

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