Verbs may be classified as Transitive, Intransitive, or Linking.
Linking verbs “link” the subject of the sentence by describing a relationship between the subject and another
noun, pronoun, or adjective. It is called a “linking verb” because it joins the subject of the sentence with
a noun, pronoun, or adjective that tells something about the subject.
Transitive verbs require an object for the action of the verb. The object may be stated or implied.
The action of the verb is carried over into (or onto) an object of the verb. Therefore, transitive verbs
will always have an object for the verb. [ see Transitive ]
Intransitive verbs do not take an object. The verbal idea of the verb determines if a verb is transitive
or intransitive. [See Intransitive ]
Because a participle is a verbal adjective, it can function as an adjective or as a noun. It can also be
joined with a linking verb. ( See Table VL-3 below)
The verb εἰμί (to be) is the most frequently used linking verb.
- There are 2,597 linking verbs in the New Testament.
- 2,129 of the occurrences are with the verb εἰμί
- 275 of the occurrences are with the verb γίνομαι
- 59 of the occurrences are with the verb κάλεω
- 39 of the occurrences are with the verb λέγω
- 35 of the occurrences are with the verb ὐπάρχω,
- And the remaining 60 occurrences are with 18 different verbs.
The reader should keep in mind; A verb may be transitive, intransitive or linking depending on its function in the sentence. For example εἰμί occurs 2,458 times in the New Testament, but only 2,129 times does εἰμί function as a linking verb. εἰμί occurs as an intransitive verb or as a transitive verb the other 329 times.
The following is an example of εἰμί (to be) used as a linking verb.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life
The following is an example of εἰμί (to be) used as a transitive verb with a participle phrase ἔχων “one having”
as the object of the subject of the sentence. This is also an example of how a verb may function one way in the
Greek language and a different way in a different language.
In this instance ἦν (the imperfect active indicative 3rd person singular of εἰμί) serves as a transitive verb.
It cannot be a linking verb because there is no separate noun for it to link. The participle ἔχων is the object of the verb. However, in the English translation. The pronoun “He” is a separate word. The sentence then becomes “because he was one who has many possessions.” The verb “is” in the English translation now becomes a linking verb linking the pronoun “he” to the participle phrase “one who had many possessions.”
||one who has
because he was one who had many possessions.
The following are two examples of εἰμί as an intransitive verb.
VL-4 εἰμί as an intransitive verb
There was the true light
Table VL-5 εἰμί as an intransitive verb
before Abraham was, I AM.
The following is an example of a participle form of εἰμί (οὖσιν) being used as a linking verb.
he even gave (some) to those who were with him