Difference Between Adjunct and Complement

Main Difference – Adjunct vs Complement

Adjuncts and complements are two main elements in a sentence. However, there is a major difference between these two elements. Complements are words or phrases that are used to complete the meaning of a given sentence. Adjuncts are parts of sentences that contain extra information; they are not necessary to complete the meaning of a sentence. The main difference between adjunct and complement is that adjunct is optional to a sentence whereas complements are a necessary part of a sentence.

This article looks at, 

1. What is an Adjunct? – Definition, Grammar, Function and Examples

2. What is a Complement? – Definition, Grammar, Function and Examples

3. Difference Between Adjunct and Complement – Comparison of Grammar and Function 

Difference Between Adjunct and Complement - Adjunct vs Complement Comparison Summary

What is a Complement

Complement is a word, phrase or clause that is necessary to complete the meaning of a given sentence. They can complete the meaning of a subject, object or verb.

Subject Complement

A subject complement is usually a noun or an adjective that renames or defines the subject in some way. Subject complements always follow a linking verb. For example,

Your sister is cute.

Slippery roads are dangerous.

You look happy.

Object Complement

An object complement modifies or refers to the direct object. It always follows the object of a sentence. An object complement is always a noun or an adjective.

You made him lazy.

They call my brother Fatty.

Verb Complement

A verb complement is a noun or a noun phrase that occurs after the verb. Direct and indirect objects can also act as a verb complement. The meaning of the verb and the sentence will be incomplete without the complement. 

He wiped his face.

He wanted a new car.

The complements in the above examples are underlined. If you try to remove the underline words and phrases from the above examples, you’ll notice that none of these sentences have any sense without their complements.

Difference Between Adjunct and Complement

She looks happy.

What is an Adjunct

Adjunct is an optional and structurally dispensable part of a sentence, clause or phrase. It is not necessary to the structure of the clause and removing it does not have a major effect on the rest of the sentence. Thus, an adjunct only adds extra information to a sentence. Adjunct always functions as an adverbial.

He laughed at her mistake.

I met him in the park.

Yesterday, she gave me a letter.

I’ll come after I have had my breakfast.

Diane will leave tomorrow

She wanted a new car for her birthday.

The underlined sections in the above sentences can be defined as adjuncts. If we remove these sentences, the overall meaning of the sentences would still be complete.

Main Difference - Adjunct vs Complement

We saw flamingos at the zoo.

Difference Between Adjunct and Complement

Definition

Adjunct is an optional and structurally dispensable part of a sentence, clause or phrase.

Complement is a word, phrase or clause that is necessary to complete the meaning of a given sentence.

Completion of a Sentence

Adjuncts are not necessary to complete the meaning of a sentence.

Complements complete the meaning of a sentence.

Structure

Adjuncts are structurally dispensable.

Complements are structurally indispensable.

Role

Adjuncts are adverbials .

Complements can be nouns or adverbs.

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.


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