Adjective Complements

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

Adjective Complements in the English Grammar

What Are Adjective Complements?

Adjective complements are words, phrases, or clauses that follow and provide additional information about an adjective in a sentence. They are essential to fully understanding the meaning of the adjective, as they clarify or complete its description of the subject.

Adjective Complements: Types

An adjective complement can be:

1. Noun Clauses as Adjective Complements

Noun clauses are groups of words that contain a subject and a verb and act as a noun. They're dependent clauses and do not express a complete thought. Noun clauses commonly begin with 'who', 'what', 'where', 'when', 'why', 'how', or 'that'. For example:

It was obvious that she was lying.

I was anxious that it might be cancer.

It's amazing how you've accomplished so many of your goals.

using adjective complements in a sentence

2. Prepositional Phrases as Adjective Complements

Prepositional phrases consist of a preposition and the object of the preposition which can be a noun, pronoun, noun phrase, pronoun, or noun clause. They can act as adjective complements. Take a look at these examples:

He was addicted to marijuana.

3. Infinitive Clauses as Adjective Complements

Infinitive phrases are formed by '(to) + the base form of the verb' and any additional objects or modifiers of the verb. They can be used to modify adjectives. For example:

We're happy to know you!

I'm glad to be of service.

Tip!

Adjective complements usually work with predicative adjectives. For example:

Dad was so happy that they finally got engaged.

I am worried that the test results will not be good.

Adjective Complements: Placement

When we have both an infinitive clause and a prepositional phrase as adjective complements, the order of the clause elements would be like this:

  • adjective + (prepositional phrase: for/of + noun) + (to-infinitives)

It is necessary for you to study for your exams.

It is very important for you to listen to your parents.

Warning

Do not confuse infinitive phrases with prepositional phrases beginning with 'to'.

Adjective Complement: Use

Adjective complements are necessary parts of a sentence and the meaning of the sentence would be incomplete without them. Consider this sentence:

It may be necessary.

Because the sentence has a dummy subject ('it') and we don't know what it is talking about, the listener might ask 'what may be necessary?'. In this case, we need an adjective complement to provide the necessary information needed for the sentence to make sense:

It may be necessary for you to wear a tie at the ceremony.

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Antecedents

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