Difference Between Linking and Helping Verbs

Main Difference – Linking vs. Helping Verbs

The main difference between linking and helping verbs is that linking verbs act as the main verb of a sentence whereas helping verbs do not act as the main verb. In addition, helping verbs are generally used with action verbs whereas linking verbs do not denote an action.

What are Linking Verbs

Linking verbs are verbs that link the subject to words or phrase that describes or identifies the subject. They do not denote an action but describes further the subject. Consider the following sentences.

Lisa is a mother of two children.

This dress looks pretty.

My mother is a teacher.

She felt sick when she got up the following morning.

In all these examples, you’ll notice that the underlined noun or noun phrase acts as a subject complement. Therefore, we can deduce that linking verb is the verb that links the subject and the subject complement.

We can summarize the features of linking verbs as follows.

do not indicate an action

link the subject to words or phrases that describe or identify the subject

are followed by subject complements

cannot take a direct object

Some common linking verbs include be, am, is, are, was, were, feel, look, appear etc.

Main Difference - Linking vs Helping Verbs

He is cute.

What are Helping Verbs

Helping verbs are verbs that help the main verb to express an action or a state of being. Helping verbs are also known as auxiliary verbs. They add extra information to the main verb such as time, tense, etc. For example,

Jeanine is doing her homework.

Jeanine has done her homework.

The only difference between these two examples is their linking verb. Yet, the meanings of these sentences have changed with this difference. The first example indicates an action in progress, but the second example shows a completed action. Thus, a helping verb can have a big impact on a sentence. Helping verbs help to indicate tense, grammatical aspect, modality, voice, etc.

Helping verbs are also very helpful in forming questions and negations. For example,

She didn’t like him.

They are not helping us.

Has she completed the project?

There are three common helping verbs in the English language.

Be: am, is, are, was, were, etc.

Do: do, does, did, etc.

Have: has, have, had, etc.

Apart from these verbs, there is also a separate category known as Modal verbs. This category includes Can, Could, May, Might, Must, Ought to, Shall, Should, Will, Would

I can help you.

She has had a baby.

Will Marie agree to this proposal?

Your mother didn’t call me.

He was singing a song.

Difference Between Linking and Helping Verbs

He is playing with his teddy.

Difference Between Linking and Helping Verbs

Main verb

Linking verbs are the main verbs in sentences.

Helping verbs are not the main verbs in sentences.

Followed by

Linking verbs are followed by the subject complements.

Helping verbs are often followed by the principal verb.


Linking verbs link the subject and the subject complement.

Helping verbs add extra information about the action.


Linking verbs are used to describe or identify the subject.

Helping verbs are used to express an action or a state of being.Difference Between Linking and Helping Verbs- infographic

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