Look at the sentences given below.
- He sleeps.
- He seems tired.
The sentence He sleeps makes complete sense. But if you say He seems, the sense is incomplete. You have to supply a word like tired (or sad, happy, cheerful etc.) to make the sense complete. Seems is therefore a verb of incomplete predication. The word (e.g. tired) which completes the meaning of the sentence is called the complement of the verb.
Verbs of incomplete predication are also called linking verbs because they join the subject and the predicate. Here are the most common linking verbs: be, feel, grow, seem, smell, remain, appear, sound, stay, look, taste, turn, become.
- He is a wicked ruler.
- She appears intelligent.
- The sky grew dark.
- He looked happy.
- Sugar tastes sweet.
Many linking verbs can also be used as action verbs. For example:
- The kids looked sad. (Linking verb)
- I looked for the dog in the pouring rain. (Action verb)
Helping verbs are added to another verb to make the meaning clearer. Helping verbs include any form of to be. Here are some examples: do, does, did, have, has, had, shall, should, will, would, can, could, may, might, must.
Verb phrases are made of one main verb and one or more helping verbs.
- They will run before dawn.
- They do have a serious problem.