Linking verb

grammar concept
(Redirected from To be)

A linking verb is a verb that joins the subject of a sentence to the complement (the word or phrase needed to finish an idea).

Here are some examples of linking verbs:

  • The sky is blue.
  • In the schools are enclosed rooms.
  • The finger is long

('is' and 'are' are the linking verbs that connect the subject to the adjective or adjective phrase that describes it.)

Many languages have one main linking verb. In English, this is the verb to be. People use this verb to show how or what something or someone is. Some languages, for example Portuguese and Spanish, have two different verbs for the two meanings of this verb.

Other languages, for example Arabic and Russian, do not have any linking verbs. That is because most languages without linking verbs have inflections, or word endings, that show what part of the sentence words are. Speakers of those languages can join the subject to the complement without any extra words since they share the same kind of inflection. For example, to say "I am a cat" word by word in Russian, a person only says "I cat" (Я кошка in Russian), but it is obvious to the Russian speaker what the meaning is because both words are in the nominative case, or the word form that shows that a word is the subject of a phrase. Since both words are in the subject form, the words are both linked together.

Conjugation of the verb "to be"


Infinitive: to be

Imperative: be
Present participle: being
Past participle: been
Present indicative Past indicative Present subjunctive Past subjunctive
First-person singular (I) am was be were
Second-person singular (you) are were be were
Third-person singular (he, she, it) is was be were
First-person plural (we) are were be were
Second-person plural (you) are were be were
Third-person plural (they) are were be were