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Have can be a state of being verb. And a state of being verb is a linking verb. Why is have not a linking verb? Look at the following examples:

"He has a degree in linguistics" is the same as "he is a linguistics degree holder";

"He has 2 legs" is the same as "He is of 2 legs".

  • I have no reference to cite, just a bit of experience. In some languages, "have" indeed often expresses a state of being. However, in English, I have never seen it express a state of being. In English, we would say "I am hungry." In Dutch, "Ik heb honger" or "I have hunger." In English, "I am cold." In French, "J'ai froid" or "I have cold." Since we do not use "have" in the same way, as a state of being, then I am assuming that is why "have" can not be a linking verb. Can you give us an example of a case where you think "have" indicates a state of being in the English language? – Little Carol Dec 16 '18 at 6:32
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    That's not the same. Having a degree is not the same things as being something. I stole your linguistics degree and I now have it in my possession versus I am a linguist. The first is incidental; the second is defining. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Dec 16 '18 at 6:44
  • @herme, I see what you mean now. It is a very small distinction, but "he has a degree in linguistics" would mean "he holds a degree" or "he has earned a degree." It truly is interchangeable with "he is a linguistics graduate," however, the state of being a linguistics graduate still is slightly different than having a degree in linguistics. Having the degree still implies some action of holding the actual "paper" degree, whereas being the linguistics graduate is only about "being" the graduate. Very tricky stuff. – Little Carol Dec 16 '18 at 6:45
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    @Little Carol, try this one: "he has 2 legs", which is the same as "he is of 2 legs". So "have" is similar to "be". – user1006 Dec 16 '18 at 6:49
  • @herme, "he has 2 legs" vs. "he is of 2 legs" is another very similar case of phrases that are interchangeable, but whose meaning is subtly different. Having two legs, means possessing those legs, a form of action. Being of two legs, is, again, a state of "being the creature" who possesses those legs. I hope that helps. Again, tricky! – Little Carol Dec 16 '18 at 6:50
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Have can be a state of being verb. And a state of being verb is a linking verb. Why is have not a linking verb?

I have no reference to cite, just a bit of experience. In some languages, "have" indeed often expresses a state of being. However, in English, I have never seen it express a state of being. In English, we would say "I am hungry." In Dutch, "Ik heb honger" or "I have hunger." In English, "I am cold." In French, "J'ai froid" or "I have cold." Since we do not use "have" in the same way, as a state of being, then I am assuming that is why "have" can not be a linking verb.

'He has a degree in linguistics" vs. "he is a linguistics graduate" is a case where the phrases are interchangeable in speech or writing, but they are subtly different. "He has a degree in linguistics" would mean "he holds a degree" or "he has earned a degree." So, having the degree implies the action of holding the actual "paper" degree, whereas being the linguistics graduate is only about "being" the graduate.

"He has 2 legs" vs. "he is of 2 legs" is another very similar case of phrases that are interchangeable, but whose meaning is subtly different. Having two legs, means possessing those legs, a form of action. Being of two legs, is, again, a state of "being the creature" who possesses those legs. Hope this helps.

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