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Complements of adjectives

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Some adjectives can be followed by other words and expressions which complete their meaning. These adjective ‘complements’ can be of different kinds. For example, some adjectives are followed by preposition + noun / -ing form. Others are followed by infinitives.

  • She is interested in philosophy. (Here the adjective interested is followed by a preposition + noun.)
  • She is interested in learning philosophy. (Here the adjective interested is followed by a preposition + -ing form.)
  • We are ready to start. (Here the adjective ready is followed by an infinitive.)
  • You don’t look happy to see me.

If the infinitive has its own subject, it is introduced by for.

  • She is anxious for her daughter to get a good job. (= She is anxious that her daughter should get a good job.)

Many adjectives can be followed by more than one kind of complement.

  • I am pleased about your success. (preposition + noun)
  • I am pleased to accept this invitation. (to-infinitive)
  • I am pleased that you are doing well in your studies. (that-clause)

Note that if the adjective is followed by a noun, we put the complement after the noun.

  • He is a difficult person to work with. (NOT He is a difficult to work with person.)

Sections in this article

Adjectives placed before nouns
Adjectives placed after verbs
Adjectives without Nouns
Adjectives: order before nouns
Kinds of Adjectives
Adjectives with and

See also
Adjectives - definition
Adjective clause
Adjective phrase
Attributive adjective
Participial adjectives


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