Monday, August 30, 2004

More on Linking Verbs

There are only three verbs that are always linking verbs: be, become, and seem.

  • She is tired.
  • He becomes angry when he doesn't get his way.
  • She seems sleepy.

However, there are several verbs that can be linking verbs or transitive verbs. These verbs can be divided into two groups.

One group consists of current verbs. These verbs describe states and are sometimes called stative verbs.

They are : appear, be, feel, lie, look, remain, seem, smell, sound, stay, taste

The other group of linking verbs are resulting verbs. These verbs are: become, get, grow, fall, prove, run, turn.

As I wrote, except for three verbs (be, become, and seem), linking verbs can also be transitive. When they are linking verbs, they do not pass the action from the subject to the verb. When they are transitive verbs, the subject passes the action to the object.


He got angry. (Linking)
He got a job. (Transitive)

He feels sick. (Linking)
He feels the child's throat. (Transitive)

She sounds nice. (Linking)
She smells the flower. (Transitive)

For more information look at Grammar Bytes and Katrien Vanassche's site.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Linking Verbs

There are basically two types of verbs: action verbs and linking verbs. I want to discuss linking verbs now. A linking verb makes a connection between the subject and some information about the subject. The information identifies or describes the subject.

  • The girl is tall. (describes)
  • The girl is a student. (identifies)
  • The girl is a good student. (identifies)

When describing, we tend to use adjectives because adjectives work very well in describing by making the noun more specific through giving more information about the noun.

Identification actually works in a similar way because we are giving more information about the noun, and the information helps us identify the noun and separate it from other similar nouns. Another way to describe it is that the subject is renamed by the noun that follows the linking verb as in the girl = student.

But when we use linking verbs, we don't want to just write simple sentences like the example sentences above. We can make the sentences more interesting by adding information.

We can add more adjectives.
The girl is tall, blond haired, and soft-spoken.

We can add prepositional phrases.
The girl is a student at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Florida.

We can add an adjective clause.
The girl is a good student, who gets As on most of her tests.

We can even use all of the information is one sentence.
The tall, blond-haired, and soft-spoken girl is a good student at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Florida, who gets As on most of her tests.

These are just a few examples of how to expand a sentence using a linking verb.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Time and times

Time is one of the words in English that can be either countable or uncountable.

There is not enough time to finish.
He spends most of his time with her.
At the time of their arrest, they were drunk.


He kicked the ball several times
In colonial times, there were few printing presses.
She went to the movie four times.
These times are difficult.

What seems to be going on here is that when time refers to an abstract idea, it is uncountable. It is a general idea that can be broken down into countable units like hours, or minutes. Thus, this use of time is like money. Time is a large or abstract category.

But when times refers to a concrete action or period of time, it is countable. In this case, it is not broken down into smaller units.

He saw her several times last week.

Here it is countable because the times were separate units (each time he saw her) and countable. Unlike spending most of his time, in which case, the time could be broken down into smaller units such as hours or minutes.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Amount or Number; Fewer than or less than

Both of these pairs concern agreement with count or uncountable (also called noncount) nouns.

In English something that is uncountable is an amount. Money is one example. Yes, I know you can count dollars, pennies, and the government counts in millions and billions, but money itself is uncountable because it is a generalization. So we talk about amounts of money, such as a large amount of money.

Number is used with countable things. The number of coins in your pocket tells us how much money you have in your pocket. So money acts like luggage and homework as an uncountable. They describe a general category.

Uncountable: money, luggage, homework

Countable: coins, suitcases, assignments

Another thing to notice about amount and number is that they are often accompanied by the preposition of.

The amount of money you will need is $75.00.

The number of coins you will need is four.

Fewer (than) and (less) than also relate to countable and uncountable nouns. Despite the fact that grocery stores and discount stores have signs that say Less than 8 items in this aisle, the sign should read fewer than because if you can count them then the are fewer.

The less money I have, the more bills I seem to have.

I have fewer dollars for this week than last week.

Fewer and less are used in comparison, so they must agree with the nouns that are being compared.

I have less money than my wife.

I have fewer dollars than my wife.