Subject Complements

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

What Are Subject Complements in English?

What Are Subject Complements?

'Subject complements' (also known as predicative adjectives) are words or phrases that follow linking verbs and complete the meaning of the clause by describing the subject of the clause. Subject complement provides a description of the subject.

Subject Complements: Types

There are five types of subject complements in English:

Adjective Phrases as Subject Complements

Adjective phrases can consist of one or more adjectives. They can be placed after linking verbs to provide additional information and complete the description of the subject.
Check out the examples:

The walls are green.

It will get quite small when you fry it in oil.

Noun Phrases as Subject complements

Noun phrases can consist of a single word or multiple words. They can be used as subject complements in a clause, providing additional information about the subject of the sentence. Take a look at the examples:

It seems a long time since I have seen you.

My favorite animals are sea horses.

'sea horse' is the subject complement

Pronouns as Subject Complements

Pronouns can also act as subject complements following linking verbs. There are various types of pronouns that can be used in this way, including:

Check out the examples:

The big problem is this. → demonstrative pronoun

You can still smell him. → object pronoun

* You can still smell he. → subject pronoun

This use of subject pronouns is old fashioned and uncommon.

The teacher is who? → (interrogative pronoun)

She is just a nobody. I don't care about her. → (indefinite pronoun)

Adverb Phrases as Subject Complements

While adverb phrases can be used as subject complements following linking verbs, it is important to note that if an adverb can be easily removed from the sentence without affecting the meaning, then it is not acting as the subject complement. For example:

She was upstairs.

His mother is out.

Noun Clauses as Subject Complements

A noun clause functioning as a subject complement is a type of clause that follows a linking verb and serves to complement the subject by providing information about it. For example:

The challenge is who will lead the team.

Her belief is that honesty is the best policy.

Review

What comes after the linking verb and completes the meaning of a clause, is called a subject complement. Let us take a look at different types of subject complements.

  • adjective phrases
  • noun phrases
  • pronouns
  • adverb phrases
  • noun clauses

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