I came across a diagrammed sentence in a Houghton Mifflin English (Level 10, Pub. date 1992) book where the verb act was implied to be a linking verb. To simplify, the sentence in essence said, "He acts proud." Proud was diagrammed as a predicate adjective (and, in fact, most dictionaries will say that proud is an adjective, and not also an adverb).

So, the diagram showed act as a linking verb with proud as the predicate adjective.

I balked at that, thinking that act is an action verb; however, to use proudly does not quite sound right: He acts proudly.

Assuming act is indeed a linking verb, would someone please help me understand how act might indeed be a linking verb in this case--even though when I think of act, I think of literal action, not linking.

  • I think Tim has it right. You could also have a predicate noun, as in "He acts the fool all the time" with the sense that he always has the demeanour of a fool.
    – BillJ
    Feb 23, 2016 at 18:00

1 Answer 1


He behaves in a manner that "says" he is proud.

Acts is roughly synonymous with seems. I hedge there because their complements are different.

He seems proud.

He seems to be proud.

He acts proud.

not OK He acts to be proud.

He appears to be proud.

He appears proud.

  • 2
    Whether we want to admit it to the grammar book or not, in some constructions it certainly acts as if it were a linking verb. Consider "Act surprised when Aunt Fern gives you knitted mittens."
    – Rob_Ster
    Feb 23, 2016 at 20:45

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