I enjoyed the post titled: Different meaning of “looks good” vs. “looks well.” Does the answer change when using a participle ("are looking," as opposed to "looks")? I think that "you are looking good" would be right according to the post, but I feel like I'm hitting on someone! But "you look good" doesn't strike me as flirtatious. Do participles or gerunds get the same copular/linking verb rules as the simple present?


Normally stative predicates are supposed to be incompatible with the progressive form. E.g., The car is red, not *The car is being red.

However, this is flouted in a special class of constructions generally referring to a person's behavior: You're being annoying, You're being dumb, etc., pointing out some temporary extreme of behavior. You're looking good falls into this pattern, as it suggests that the person appears, at the moment, more attractive than usual.

Yes, you are hitting on someone when you say that. Not a general rule about rules for linking verbs, just a special construction.

(Also, say "copula verb" rather than "copulative verb," lest people think you are hitting on them).

  • Haha! Thanks! So is "You're looking well" correct, even if "looking" is a copular verb? I feel like it's just one of Bryan Garner's 'skunked phrases' now, and I'll instead have to say something more specific: Your hair! Wow! – Jessica Perry Jul 17 at 14:27
  • @JessicaPerry no that sounds awkward to say. "Look" isn't a copula verb, but it has stative aspectual class, similar to a copula verb. – jlovegren Jul 18 at 0:18

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