I found the following example on oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com. This is from the first entry of the verb feel. A pattern 'feel something' is given under this entry, while the verb 'feel' is listed as a linking verb. Does it mean a linking verb can be transitive? (There is also a sense which is explicitly listed as transitive.)

1 linking verb
to experience a particular feeling or emotion

+ adjective
The heat made him feel faint.

feel something
He seemed to feel no remorse at all.


3 [transitive] (not usually used in the progressive tenses)

feel something
to become aware of something even though you cannot see it, hear it, etc.
Can you feel the tension in this room?

  • I'm not quite sure what OLD mean by a "linking verb", but yes, transitive is a term of syntax, and syntactically feel no remorse is transitive because it has a Noun phrase as a direct object. The semantics of this expression are different from in their meaning 3, though.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 26, 2014 at 12:24
  • Feel is a Sense Verb, and it is one of those that come in three grammatical varieties: Volitional (I listened to/felt it very carefully), Non-Volitional (I heard/felt something just now), and Flip (That sounds/feels strange to me). The Flip subject is the source of the perception, and its human receiver is in a prepositional phrase, or unspecified to me. It looks like the auxiliary be of a predicate adjective, but it's actually a case of Raising, like seem or appear. Nov 26, 2014 at 17:44

1 Answer 1


This seems to be an error in the dictionary's listing.

The verb to feel has a transitive sense and a copular sense. When copular, its argument is a subject complement. When transitive, its argument is an object.

In the sample sentence for the questionable entry, the verb is copular. However, that verb is seemed. The infinitive to feel in this sentence has a direct object and is used in its transitive sense. There is no grammatical difference between "to feel no remorse" and "to feel the tension".

Saying that a verb is transitive is the same thing as saying that the verb has an object. Saying that a verb is copular, or a linking verb, is the same thing as saying that the verb has a subject complement. Certainly a verb can be transitive in one use, copular in another. It can't be both transitive and copular in the same use.

  • They probably mean the same thing by "linking verb" that you do by saying it has a "copular sense". Neither of these is precise terminology, and neither is the same as "auxiliary verb". That's why I don't use "linking" or "copula" as grammatical terms for English; they're imprecise and nonstandard, even though some consider them The Real Deal, certified by The Academy. Nov 26, 2014 at 17:32
  • Yes, "linking verb" and "copular verb" are synonyms. To me, it is a precise term. Copular verbs cannot be cast in the passive voice, and they take subject complements as their only argument. It's terminology like "sense verb" and "action verb" that I find to be imprecise. Nov 27, 2014 at 1:46
  • 1
    They also appear in questions, tags, equatives, comparatives, perfects, and passives. You may find sense verb and action verb imprecise, but that's because you don't know their definitions. Nov 27, 2014 at 2:54
  • Presumably one could call a copular/linking verb a "description verb": "He feels embarrassed"; "she looks cold"; "the car is blue". That's not the same sense as "he feels embarrassment"; and that's not the same as "he felt her touch".
    – Andrew Leach
    Nov 27, 2014 at 7:42

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