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I would tell my 5th graders that the state of being verbs were ones that take place in the brain and can't be seen. Then I would provide a couple of examples and make it funny. Ex: I would say has anyone ever seen a "was"? No, but it is important because it tells what the subject does or is up to. How about an "are"? Same thing, you can't see it, but it is important to a sentence.
Actually, state of being verbs are linking verbs. Donald is describing abstract action verbs. State of being verbs show a relationship. I am a teacher. I = teacher. The sunshine is bright. sunshine = bright. All state of being verbs can be replaced with the correct form of to be. The cheese smells funky. = The cheese is funky. Sentence diagramming helps as well.
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