Can the verb "end up" be a linking verb? E.g. "he ended up homeless"
Yes. The sentence "He ended up homeless" is grammatically correct, and "end up" functions as a linking verb. "End up" is not in my mental list of linking verbs, but I'm confident of my claim for two reasons.
First, "homeless" is a subject complement, and that requires a linking verb.
Second, "ended up" can be replaced with "became", and keep the same function and close enough to the same meaning. I'm confident "become" is a linking verb, so "end up" must be one too.
The phrasal verb end up can sometimes be a linking verb, and sometimes an action verb.
Here's an explanation and tip for identifying linking verbs:
A verb is a linking verb if it’s used to describe the subject. Linking verbs always have a subject complement afterward.
- Source: grammarly
Regarding the phrasal verb end up, Collins dictionary has some good illustrations to help make this clear.
- If someone or something ends up somewhere, they eventually arrive there, usually by accident: She fled with her children, moving from neighbor to neighbor and ending up in a friend's basement.
In this case, ending up is an action, and a friend's basement describes the result of the action.
- If you end up doing something or end up in a particular state, you do that thing or get into that state even though you did not originally intend to: Every time they went dancing they ended up in a bad mood.
In this case, ending up is a linking verb because a bad mood is describing the subject they.