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Can the verb "end up" be a linking verb? E.g. "he ended up homeless"

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  • Yes: the two-word idiom "end up" takes a predicative complement, in this case "homeless". Note that it can be replaced with "became" with no change of meaning.
    – BillJ
    Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 8:15
  • I spent about 20 minutes answering your question, providing citations. You shouldn't mark answers as accepted so quickly. Now I feel my effort was wasted.
    – Pound Hash
    Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 22:20

2 Answers 2

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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.

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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.

Regarding the phrasal verb end up, Collins dictionary has some good illustrations to help make this clear.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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