Action vs. Linking Verbs

May 21, 2021

Can You Tell the Difference Between an Action Verb and a Linking Verb?

The verbs appearbecomefeelgetgrowlookremainseemsmellsoundstaytaste, and turn can act either as action verbs or linking verbs. In order to tell the difference, you have to pay attention to how each type of verb is used in a sentence—linking verbs are used for descriptions, whereas action verbs tell you what someone (or something) is doing.


Kelly grows tired after hours of gardening.
The adjective tired describes Kelly. Kelly is tired after she gardens.


Kelly grows sunflowers in her yard.
This sentence tells us what Kelly is doing—she plants sunflowers and grows them.

Hint: Remember, you can replace linking verbs with a form of to be (amisarewaswere, etc.) but you can’t do the same thing with action verbs.

Kelly grows tired. = Kelly is tired.
Kelly grows sunflowers. ≠ Kelly is sunflowers.

In the second example, replacing grows with is creates a nonsense sentence. The noun sunflowers does not describe Kelly; she’s not a sunflower.