Can linking verbs and action verbs be together as elements of the same list?

I am writing a sentence that contains a list of elements in it. Some of the elements are formed with linking verbs and some with action verbs.

For example:

Laura is a sexy lady, smells heavenly, dances salsa gracefully, and plays soccer in her free time.

To me, somehow, mixing linking verbs (is, smells) and action verbs (dances, plays) in the same sentence sounds strange. I feel that it, somehow, breaks the parallel structure of the elements of the list. However, since English is not my mother tongue, I’ve learned to distrust my “feelings” about how something sounds.


Though I believe this is grammatically correct, an easy fix for an example like this to improve the “sound” is to change the sentence to:

Laura is a sexy lady who smells heavenly, dances salsa gracefully, and plays soccer in her free time.

As “smells heavenly” is not a phrase that will be parsed by native English speakers as meaning that she has a heavenly skill level at smelling, I believe readers will gloss over the passivity of “smells” vs. the activity of “dances” and “plays”. However, replacing a comma with the “who” does a few things:

  • It whittles the list of things Laura does down to three terms, which is the optimal size for such a list (more info on the Rule of Three)
  • It takes focus off of the question of active vs. linking for the verbs, as you have removed the clearly linking verb “is”
  • It sounds much more natural as a sentence.

So, to answer your question: Yes, linking and action verbs can be elements of the same list, but you should take care to make sure that it sounds natural. Perhaps read it aloud to see if it “sounds” right.

Source : Link , Question Author : Juanch0p , Answer Author : JeezLouise

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