Chapter 2-2-3: Subject Complements

In addition to the transitive verb and the intransitive verb, there is a third kind of verb called a linking verb. The word (or phrase) which follows a linking verb is called not an object, but a subject complement.

The most common linking verb is "be." Other linking verbs are "become," "seem," "appear," "feel," "grow," "look," "smell," "taste," and "sound," among others. Note that some of these are sometimes linking verbs, sometimes transitive verbs, or sometimes intransitive verbs, depending on how you use them:

Linking verb with subject complement

He was a radiologist before he became a full-time yoga instructor.

Linking verb with subject complement

Your homemade chili smells delicious.

Transitive verb with direct object

I can't smell anything with this terrible cold.

Intransitive verb with no object

The interior of the beautiful new Buick smells strongly of fish.

Note that a subject complement can be either a noun ("radiologist", "instructor") or an adjective ("delicious").

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