Before looking at subject complement, it’s important to understand what a linking verb is. A linking verb is a verb denotes a state. Some examples of linking verbs include to be, to become, to seem, to appear, to smell, etc. These verbs do not denote an action.
What is a Subject Complement
A subject complement is a word or phrase that follows a linking verb. This word or phrase can be a noun, pronoun or an adjective. The main function of a subject complement is describing or renaming the subject. Based on these functions, subject complement can be categorized into two types: predicative nominative and predicative adjective.
When the linking verb of a sentence is followed by a noun or a noun phrase, it is known as a predicative nominative. Predicative nominative defines, identifies and renames the subject.
Dinner is my favourite meal of the day.
(Subject = dinner, Linking Verb = is, Predicative Nominative = my favourite meal of the day.)
You are a cheater.
(Subject=you, Linking Verb = are, Predicative Nominative= cheater)
When the linking verb of a sentence is followed by an adjective or an adjective phrase, it is known as a predicative adjective. A predicative adjective describes the subject.
She looks great.
(Subject=she, Linking Verb=looks, Predicative Adjective=great)
The biscuits taste salty.
(Subject=biscuits, Linking Verb=taste, Predicative Adjective=salty)
Only linking verbs can have subject complements. If the verb denotes an action, it can possess a subject complement. The nouns or phrases that occur after an action verb usually belong to the direct or indirect object.
Examples of Subject Complement
This is the worst meal I’ve ever had.
Ice cream is her favourite dessert.
He is a pirate.
Julie Adams is the main actress in the film.
Mrs. Milan is the best teacher I’ve ever met.
You look tired.
These cupcakes smell delicious.
He has grown tall.
I was sad to see them go.
This pink dress looks lovely on you.
Subject Complement – Summary
- A subject complement is a word or phrase that follows a linking verb.
- It can be either a noun or an adjective.
- A noun that follows a linking verb and renames the subject is known as a predicative nominative.
- An adjective that follows a linking verb and describes the subject is known as a predicative adjective.