Understanding Predicate Nominative and Adjective

Whether you’re learning English or studying grammar, there are several terms you’re likely to come across. Two of them are “predicate nominative” and “predicate adjective.” Both of these are types of “predicate complements.”

Although this can sound complex, the good news is that these terms are pretty easy to understand and use. Before we dig into their definitions and usage, however, we’ll go over some simple grammatical terms.

Noun

A noun is a thing; it can be a person, a place, an item, or a concept. Here are several examples of nouns: America, Bob, computer, store, planet, girl, truth.

Adjective

An adjective describes or modifies a noun, telling you about its size, color, shape, age, and other properties. The following are all adjectives: old, damaged, oval, green, big, shiny.

If you’re confident in your understanding of nouns and adjectives, read on to learn about predicates!

Related: Knowing the parts of speech, and you its important. 

What Does “Predicate” Mean?

The predicate is the part of the sentence that says something about the sentence’s subject. Let’s look at the following sentence, which can be divided into two parts:

Samantha is short.

The subject, in bold, is “Samantha.” The predicate, in italics, is “is short.”

Predicates always include a verb, and they can include other elements as well. Next, we’ll dive into predicate nominatives and predicate adjectives. 

What is a Predicate Nominative?

At first glance, the phrase “predicate nominative” seems complex. You might prefer to think of it by its other names, predicate noun and predicative nominate.

So, what is a predicate nominative? It’s a noun or a noun phrase that functions to rename or redefine the sentence’s subject. The predicate nominative comes after a linking verb, such as “is.” Look at the examples below; the predicate nominatives are in bold.

Katie is a great writer.

I am an aspiring photographer.

We became close friends.

Before that, they were accountants.

As you can see, the predicate nominative does not include the entire predicate. The whole predicate refers to the verb as well as the predicate nominative. 

Using a Compound Predicate Nominative

When a predicate nominative includes more than one noun, it’s called a “compound predicate nominative.” Check out the examples below; the compound predicate nominatives are indicated in bold.

The new students are Gabe, Mitchell, and Kay.

My birthday present could be a computer or a bicycle.

What is a Predicate Adjective?

A predicate adjective, sometimes referred to as a predicative adjective, is an adjective that comes after a linking verb. It refers back to or modifies the sentence’s subject. Predicate adjectives differ from attributive adjectives, which are the adjectives used immediately before a noun (for example, tall man, blue table, active child). Below, find examples of predicate adjectives marked in bold.

Scott is kind.

I am content.

We became nervous.

Before that, they were happy.

Based on the examples above, you can see that the predicate adjective does not include the entire predicate of the sentence. 

Compound Predicate Adjectives

A compound predicate adjective is formed when more than one predicate adjective is present in a sentence. 

Scott is kind, smart, and generous.

I am content and calm.

We became nervous and jumpy.

Before that, they were happy and carefree. 

What is a Linking Verb?

In our explanations of predicate nominative and predicate adjectives above, we’ve mentioned the need for a “linking verb.” If you’re wondering exactly what a linking verb is, we’re about to give you an answer!

A linking verb connects the sentence’s subject with the rest of the sentence. Sometimes, linking verbs are also called copular verbs. They are different from action verbs. 

The most frequently-used linking verbs are the forms of the verb to be: am, is, are, was, were, will be. There are also other linking verbs, and we’ve provided a few examples in bold below.

She looks beautiful.

Daryl seems very tired today.

The workday was really long.

He feels ill. 

Action Verbs, Predicate Nominatives, and Predicate Adjectives

Any sentence with a predicate nominative or a predicate adjective will contain a linking verb. If the sentence has an action verb, then it does not have a predicate nominative or predicate adjective. Take the sentence below, for example:

Sharon requested more tea. 

The verb “requested” is an action verb; it’s something that Sharon is doing. “More tea” is not a predicate nominative because it doesn’t define or describe Sharon herself. Instead, “more tea” is actually considered the object of the sentence. Here’s another example:

Steven walked quickly.

In this case, “quickly” is an adverb that modifies the action verb “walked.” If you wanted to use “quickly” as a predicate adjective instead, you’d need to adjust the sentence and say, “Steven was quick,” using the linking verb “was.”

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