Is the verb "play" used as a linking verb in this sentence mentioned below?

"My younger sister played Tiny Tim in the Christmas performance."

Can a valid argument be made that "played" is synonymous with linking verbs like "became" or "is" in this context?

  • 2
    No. Playing is an actual verb, describing what actors do.
    – Robusto
    Sep 3, 2015 at 15:01
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    Thanks...but verbs don't "describe" anything, do they? I'm not trying to be snarky - just precise and grammatically substantive with my explanation.
    – Suitcase
    Sep 3, 2015 at 15:06
  • It is a transitive verb, with the direct object being the name of the character in the drama that they portray. That's what transitive play means. Sir Lawrence Olivier played Henry V in the movie means that the real person named Sir Lawrence Olivier played the dramatic character "Henry V" when the real person acted in the movie. Sep 3, 2015 at 15:08
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    Play is not like was because your sister was not Tiny Tim. She was an actress. Play here is an ordinary transitive verb and Tiny Tim is an example of metonymy (for "the part called Tiny Tim")
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 3, 2015 at 15:09
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    The passivisability test mentioned by @Edwin, incidentally, is good evidence that play in this sense is a transitive verb with a direct object, because “Tiny Tim was played by my sister” is perfectly good and cromulent. In the sense ‘pretend to be’, however, passivisation fails, and that usage can more meaningfully be called a linking verb: “She played dumb the whole time” => “*Dumb was played by her the whole time”. (“Hard to get was played by her”?!?) Sep 3, 2015 at 15:23

2 Answers 2


I'm afraid, it is not a linking verb as you say.

The most common linking verbs are 'be' and its other forms such as am, was, will be and so on. Linking verbs do describe the subject. And, the subject with linking verbs don't do any action.


She is hungry - the linking verb 'is' describes her.

Now, action verbs are different. They show that the subjects do action.


She sings nicely - the action verb sing describes her action.

Since you read here, tell me, what is the verb in your example?

My younger sister played Tiny Tim in the Christmas performance.

So to answer this question is- no, it is not used as a linking verb. It's an action verb.

  • 1
    So became is not a linking verb? Or is there no action in the kitten eventually became a cat? Oct 22, 2015 at 13:58

Played is a transitive verb in your sentence with Tiny Tim as its object.

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