Unit 73 Link verbs

Main points

* Link verbs are used to join the subject with a complement.

* Link verbs can have adjectives, noun groups, or `to’-infinitive clauses as complements.

* You can use `it’ and `there’ as impersonal subjects with link verbs.

1 A small but important group of verbs are followed by a complement rather than an object. The complement tells you more about the subject. Verbs that take complements are called `link’ verbs.

appear, be, become, feel, get, go, grow, keep, look, prove, remain, seem, smell, sound, stay, taste, turn

I am proud of these people.
She was getting too old to play tennis.
They looked all right to me.

2 Link verbs often have adjectives as complements describing the subject.
We felt very happy.
He was the tallest in the room.
See Units 31 to 33 and Unit 47 for more information about adjectives after link verbs.

3 You can use link verbs with noun groups as complements to give your opinion about the subject.
He’s not the right man for it.
She seemed an ideal person to look after them.

You also use noun groups as complements after `be’, `become’, and `remain’ to specify the subject.
He became a geologist.
Promises by MPs remained just promises.
This one is yours.

Note that you use object pronouns after `be’.
It’s me again.

4 Some link verbs can have `to’-infinitive clauses as complements.


He appears to have taken my keys.
She seemed to like me.

These verbs, and `remain’, can also be followed by `to be’ and a complement.
Mary seemed to be asleep.
His new job proved to be a challenge.

5 You can use `it’ and `there’ as impersonal subjects with link verbs.
It seems silly not to tell him.
There appears to have been a mistake.
See Units 17 and 18 for more information.

You can use `be’ with some abstract nouns as the subject, followed by a `that’-clause or a `to’-infinitive clause as the complement.

advice, agreement, answer, decision, idea, plan, problem, solution

The answer is that they are not interested in it.
The idea was to spend more money on training.

Some can only have a `that’-clause.

conclusion, explanation, fact, feeling, reason, report, thought, understanding

The fact is that I can’t go to the party.