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Learn to Write English Clearly and Correctly

Set 3 - Lesson 10  ( Go to the Answer Key )

Lesson 10: Sentences Using Linking Verbs with Nouns and Adjectives: N+LV+N  and N+LV+Adj

These sentences consist of a Noun plus Linking Verb plus Noun or Adjective.  All of these terms have been defined and illustrated in earlier lessons, but to remind you:


  • words that name a person, place, object, an idea, a feeling
  • words with which you can use the, a, an, this, that, or counting words
  • words that tell who or what a sentence is about, who or what does something or is something

Words that can act like nouns in a sentence:

  • verbs with -ing endings (gerunds) such as running, eating, quitting - they are the names of activities.
  • gerund phrases such as going to school, riding my bicycle, dropping the football.
  • Infinitive phrases such as to sit, to fix my car, to catch fish also name activities.


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Running is my favorite activity. Stopping the bus was almost impossible.
 Eating was the cause of my weight gain. To sit for a long time is difficult for some children.
Going to school is a real problem for me. To fix my car was the purpose for taking the class.

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    In each of these examples, the -ing verb, the gerund phrase, or the infinitive phrase (to + verb + object noun) was acting as the subject of the sentence.

Linking Verb (see Lesson 5):  These connect a subject noun with a predicate noun that means the same thing or with a predicate adjective that describes the subject.  Example: The man was a lawyer.  man = lawyer.  The lawyer is dishonest.  dishonest describes lawyer. The most common Linking Verbs are: am, is, are, was, were, be, been, become, seem, look.

Look at the sentences in the box.  running and activity are the same thing linked together by is.  To test that idea, reverse the nouns to see if the sentence still makes sense.  My favorite activity is running.  Yes, it does.  The same is true with the next sentence - The cause of my weight gain was eating.  This should work for most,  if not all, N+LV+N sentences.

The situation is a little different with N+LV+Adj sentences.  These usually cannot be reversed and still make sense.  (Almost impossible was stopping the bus.  This is not a good sentence.)  Notice, however, that the phrase 'almost impossible' describes the subject  'stopping the bus', and the Linking Verb 'was' joins those thoughts together.

Adjectives: words that modify or describe nouns.  They tell which one, what kind, how large or small, what color, how many.  In the sentence "To sit for a long time  is difficult for some children."  , the adjective 'difficult' describes what it is like 'To sit for a long time'.  The subject and the description are linked by the verb 'is'.

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Exercise A: Read the following sentences and label  the basic parts with N, LV, or Adj.






Going to school


 a problem 


for me. 

To fly a helicopter can be    difficult.  
Jogging was

 (good) exercise.





(very) lazy.


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1. Mr. Smith has been a teacher for twenty years.


2. Falling down on the ice was my biggest worry.


3. That large black horse appears quite healthy.


4. All last week, those ten students were hall monitors for the school.


5. I am sick.

Exercise B: Change the following sentences from N+LV+N to N+LV+Adj or from N+LV+Adj. to N+LV+N.  Example:  James is my father.  becomes James is six feet tall.  and  My dog was vicious. becomes  My dog was a good guard.

1. Jim's brother had been a fine policeman.


2. Janet was really angry.


3. Driving a truck was my occupation.


4. To find a parking place in New York is a challenge.


5. Koalas are very cute.


6. Jack and his friend were totally obnoxious.


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Exercise C: Choose linking verbs from the list and use them to complete the sentences below.  After you use a verb, cross it out.  Do not use it again.  There will be some verbs left over.



can be



will be











should be

could be

might be

has been

had been

have been




have become

had seemed

will appear


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1. The chicken and the donkey ___________ great friends.

2. Arthur ___________ the country's worst magician.

3. Drinking too much beer ______________ rather stupid.

4. We ______________ deathly ill on the cruise.

5. The seventeen sailors on shore leave _______________ residents of the brig later.

6. Three tiny fish ______________ our total catch.

7. Mrs. Moroni _______________ pale and sickly.

8. That handsome television star _______________ my neighbor.

9. To ride a hot-air balloon ________________ my secret desire.

10. My mother ______________ very forgetful.

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Examination:  Fill in the missing parts in the following sentences.  Use your imagination, but be sure your answers agree with the N+LV+N or N+LN+Adj. patterns.

1. _________________ have been enemies since childhood.

2. Rattlesnakes are ____________________________________.

3. Green beans ______________________ my favorite vegetable.

4. ____________________ will be __________________________.

5. Nurses and doctors __________________________________________.

6. ________________________________ pink and yellow with green stripes.

7. Tom's younger brother _______________________ his best man.

8. Yesterday, the little girl seemed __________________________________.

9. ______________________________ could become vice-president.

10. ________________________ were _____________________________.

-The End-

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