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 the linking verbs and complete the meaning of the clauses. The most important function of a subject complement in a sentence is to describe the subject. Subject complement offers a new description about the subject.

Subject Complements: Types

There are five types of subject complements as follows:

Adjective Phrases as Subject Complements

Adjective phrases can be only one adjective or it can include more than one adjective. These phrases can be placed after linking verbs to complete the description of the subject. Check out the examples:

The walls are green.

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

Noun Phrases as Subject complements

Noun phrases can be only one word or even more words. Noun phrases can be used as the subject complement of the clauses. 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 be used as the subject complement after the linking verbs.
There are different types of pronouns that can be used as subject complements as follows:

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

The teacher is who? → (interrogative pronoun)

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

Adverb Phrases as Subject Complements

Adverb phrases can be used as subject complements, but the important thing to keep in mind is that if any adverb can be easily omitted from a sentence after the linking verb, then it is not the subject complement anymore. For example:

She was upstairs.

His mother is out.

Prepositional Phrases as Subject Complements

Prepositions that are followed by other terms can follow the linking verbs and be used as prepositional phrases which function as subject complements. Check out the examples:

The garden is like a jungle.

I feel like a lonely man.


Linking verbs are verbs that link the subject to a new description. Verbs such as: be, become, appear, feel, look, smell, taste, etc. are all linking verbs.


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
  • prepositional phrase


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