Predicate adjective definition: A predicate adjective is an adjective that follows a linking verb and modifies the subject.
What is a Predicate Adjective?
A predicate adjective refers to an adjective in a sentence. However, a predicate adjective must follow a linking verb. Furthermore, a predicate adjective describes the subject.
Predicate Adjective Examples:
- Maren is happy.
- Subject: Maren
- Linking verb: is
- Predicate adjective: happy
In this example, the predicate adjective describes the subject, Maren.
- Josh was clean.
- Subject: Josh
- Linking verb: was
- Predicate adjective: clean
In this example, the predicate adjective described the subject, Josh.
Predicate Adjectives and Linking Verbs
Linking verbs “link” the predicate adjective to the subject. They do this because what comes after them describes, modifies, or renames the subject.
When an adjective follows a linking verb, it is called a predicate adjective.
Some linking verbs, however, don’t solely function as linking verbs. When they are followed by nouns, they serve as action verbs; when they are followed by adjectives, they serve as linking verbs.
- The man smelled the cologne.
- In this sentence, smelled is not acting as a linking verb because it is followed by a noun, not an adjective.
- The man smelled fresh.
- In this sentence, smelled is acting as a linking verb because it is followed by an adjective.
As you can see, whether or not specific verbs are acting as linking verbs depends on what follows them.
Here is a list of verbs that act as linking verbs only when followed by an adjective. When followed by a noun, these verbs are action verbs.
Predicate Adjective vs. Predicate Nominative
Not everything that follows a linking verb is a predicate adjective.
When the term or phrase following a linking verb renames the subject, it is a predicate nominative.
When the term or phrase following a linking verb describes the subject, it is a predicate adjective.
- She is pretty.
- She is my mom.
In the first sentence, the predicate adjective describes the subject.
In the second sentence, the predicate nominative renames the subject—it is a noun renaming another noun (pronoun).
Compound Predicate Adjective
What is a compound predicate adjective? When there is more than one predicate adjective modifying the same subject, it is known as a compound predicate adjective.
- My father seemed majestic and powerful.
- In this sentence, the predicate adjective is everything after “seemed”, describing my father.
- He is tall, dark, and handsome.
- In this sentence, the predicate adjective is “tall, dark, and handsome,” describing him.
Why Are Predicate Adjectives Important?
Predicate adjectives are important because they further describe a subject. They give us important details about how they look, how they feel, how they smell, etc.
In other words, they give us a richer picture of the subject that allows the reader to have a more meaningful connection with the text.
Summary: What are Predicate Adjectives?
Define predicate adjective: the definition of predicate adjective is an adjective that modifies the subject but comes after a linking verb and is not followed by a noun.
In summary, a predicate adjective is a word (or words) that follows a linking verb. A predicate adjective will always describe the subject.