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Action and Linking Verbs

Grammar can be tricky, but we have an online course to ease the pain. Grammar That Counts! walks business writers through the most important grammar principles. Why are grammar rules important? Let's take a look at action and linking verbs as an example.

What Is the Difference?

Action verbs describe, well, action. You picture in your mind the intent. Using action verbs often improves your writing because of the clear picture the words paint. The verbs often denote movement or the senses.

But you also have to use linking verbs, which do not depict action. The most common are "be," "seem" and "to become." The verbs falling under "to be" include is, are, were, etc. Typically, these verbs connect the subject of a sentence to an adjective, noun or pronoun that complements the subject or shows a relationship. Here is an example:

"Joseph is an excellent manager."

Subject: Joseph; linking verb: is; manager: subject complement; (excellent: adjective describing manager).

Even though this is simple writing and not very active, sometimes linking verbs provide the only means to a clear message.

How to Tell Meaning

Some verbs are considered both linking and action verbs, depending on how the writer uses them.

"Elizabeth appeared irritated during the meeting."

Appeared is a linking verb, because you can easily replace "appeared" with "was."

"Elizabeth appeared at the door five minutes after the meeting started."

This time, "appeared" demonstrates the action of Elizabeth arriving at the meeting.

The proper use of the linking adjective or adverb can help us determine the writer's meaning

"My dog smells good."

In this case, we would assume because good is an adjective that the writer's dog just got back from the groomer!

"My dog smells well" uses an adverb, which hints to readers that the dog can sniff out a treat from across a room.

These nuances of English grammar can befuddle some of the best business writers. Our online courses can get you started on the path to better understanding of grammar and how to apply it to your business communication. And our coaches can keep you on track. Learn more about our coaching services and Webinar topics online or call us at 425-485-3221 to improve your business writing and grammar skills.

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