Complements for intermediate learners

In grammar, complements are words, phrases, or clauses that are essential to complete the meaning of a given expression. Here, we will study them thoroughly!

"Complements" in the English Grammar

What Are Complements?

An important part of all clauses is a complement (also called an argument). A complement can be a word, a phrase, or a clause.

Types of Complements

Generally, we have two major kinds of complements. Take a look at the following list:

Now, take a look at the following examples:

Money is everything. (Subject complement)

I caught my friend stealing. (Object complement)

Now, let us examine each separately:

Subject Complements

Subject complements (also called predicative nominative and predicative adjectives) add necessary information to the subject of the clause. They can be nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. Please note that they always follow a linking verb. Study the following examples carefully:

Kim is a cartographer.

As you can see, 'cartographer' is about the subject and if we remove it, the sentence will remain incomplete.

They became rock stars.

The structure below shows the order of the different parts of a clause when we have a subject complement:

Subject + verb + subject complement

Subject complements can be classified into four subgroups:

  • Predicative Nouns
  • Predicative Pronouns
  • Predicative Adjectives
  • Predicative Prepositional Phrase

In this lesson, we are going to learn all about 'predicative nouns' and 'predicative adjectives':

Predicative Nouns

Predicative nouns rename or describe the subject of a clause. Please note that these predicative nouns always come after a linking verb. Let us take a look at some examples below:

Life becomes tough sometimes.

Christianity is my religion.

Predicative Adjectives

When we want to modify the subject, we use predictive adjectives. Please note that these adjectives always come after the linking verbs. Take a look at the following examples:

Her novel was awful.

That ice cream tastes sour.

Object Complements

When we want to add information to the direct object, we use object complements. It can be a noun, a pronoun or an adjective. Take a look at the following examples:

He made me angry yesterday.

I called her an idiot.

The structure of the sentence when we have an object complement is as follows:

Subject + verb + direct object + object complement

Object complements can be nouns, adjectives, relative clauses, infinitives, and gerunds. Below, we are going to learn about some of them:

Nouns and Noun Phrases

There are some verbs with which we can have object complements. These verbs are called factitive. They indicate the result of the action. Below is a list of some common factitive verbs:

  • Make
  • Appoint
  • Choose
  • Select
  • Judge

Now, check out the following examples:

She made her friends pasta.

The manager appointed her the head waitress.

Adjectives and Adjective Phrases

We can use adjectives or adjective phrases to describe or modify direct objects. Take a look at the following examples below:

She made me overly happy.

As you can see, an adjective phrase has been used to modify the direct object.

The painter painted Anne's room blue.

Infinitives and Infinitive Phrases

We can also have an infinitive or an infinitive phrase to modify an object complement. Study the following examples carefully:

I didn't ask him to help me.

She chose her sister to accompany her to the wedding.


The only difference between adjuncts and complements is that adjuncts are used when we want to add extra information to the sentence whereas, complements are a necessity. Compare the following examples:

I named the baby Sheila.

Here, 'Sheila' is a complement because without it, the sentence will be incomplete.

I quit going to the gym long ago.

As you can see, if we remove 'long ago', the sentence is still meaningful.


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Indirect Objects

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Objects of Prepositions

Objects of prepositions are used when we know there must be an object after the prepositions.


'Adjunct' is a word from the Latin that means 'join'. They are any elements in the structure of a clause that is not part of its core. Let's learn about them!

Subject Complements

Subject complements are placed after linking verbs. Follow the article to learn more about them.

Object Complements

Some verbs can take a nominal structure or an adjectival structure as an object complement for the direct object of the transitive verb.

Adjective Complements

Adjective Complements are clauses or phrases that give information about an adjective. In this lesson, we will learn all about them.

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