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Subject complements

Posted by Manjusha. Filed in English Grammar

Some clauses consist of a subject, the verb be and an expression that either modifies the subject or denotes something identical to the subject.

  • Jane is a journalist.
  • The children were very excited.
  • Susie is in the shower.

The expression that modifies the subject in clauses like these is often called a subject complement. Subject complements can also follow other copular verbs like become, seem and look.

  • Alice became a doctor.
  • She looks depressed.
Object complement

An object complement is a phrase which follows a direct object and either modifies that object or denotes something identical to it.

  • She called me a liar.
  • They made her a star.
  • I consider hang-gliding dangerous.
Complements of verbs, nouns and adjectives

Words and expressions which complete the meaning of a verb, noun or adjective are also called complements.

  • I am fond of children. (of children is the complement of the adjective fond.)
  • I am sorry to tell you this. (to tell you this is the complement of the adjective sorry.)
  • Let us get a bottle of wine. (of wine is the complement of the noun bottle.)
  • She wants to find a new job. (to find a new job is the complement of the verb wants.)

It is important to know what kinds of complements can come after a particular word. For example, interested can be followed by in -ing or by an infinitive; want can be followed by an infinitive, but suggest cannot; on the other hand suggest can be followed by a that-clause, but want cannot.

  • I am interested in learning to fly.
  • I want to take a long holiday.
  • The doctor suggested taking a long holiday.
  • The doctor suggested that I should take a long holiday.



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