Predicate noun definition: A predicate noun is a noun that completes a linking verb and renames or re-identifies the subject.
What is a Predicate Noun?
A predicate nominative only exists after a linking verb.
Predicate Noun Examples:
- Lisa is my mother.
Here, “Lisa” is the subject. The linking verb “is” connects the predicate noun, “my mother,” to the subject. “My mother” is the predicate noun.
- Susan is your niece.
Here, “Susan” is the subject. The linking verb “is” connects the predicate noun, “your niece,” to the subject. “My mother” is the predicate noun.
Predicate Nominatives vs. Predicate Adjectives
Not everything that follows a linking verb is a predicate noun.
When the term or phrase following a linking verb renames the subject, it is a predicate noun.
When the term or phrase following a linking verb describes the subject, it is a predicate adjective.
- Suzy is content.
- Suzy is a teacher.
In the first sentence, the predicate adjective describes the subject.
In the second sentence, the predicate noun renames the subject—it is a noun re-identifying another noun.
Predicate Nouns After Linking Verbs
Predicate nouns only follow linking verbs. This is because predicate nouns express a state of being, not an action.
- Jared is a skateboarder.
- Seamus was an acrobat.
In these sentences, the subjects are not “doing” anything. That is, they are not completing an action. They are “being” something, which is why the follow a linking verb (in this case, “to be”) which expresses a state of being.
Predicate Nouns are Not Direct Objects
Furthermore, predicate nouns are not direct objects.
Direct objects follow action verbs. A subject does something to something else to make a direct object (the direct object is the something else).
- The doctor prescribed medicine.
In this sentence, prescribed is an action verb. The doctor is doing the action verb to the medicine, the direct object.
Even though a predicate noun follows a verb just like a direct object follows a verb, it is not a direct object. This is because in a sentence with a linking verb, the subject is not doing anything to anything else. Rather, the subject is being something.
- Jacobson is a doctor.
In this sentence, “is” is a linking verb. Mrs. Jacobson is not “doing” a doctor; she is being a doctor.
Summary: What are Predicate Nouns?
Define predicate noun: the definition of a predicate noun is a word or group of words that completes a linking verb by renaming or identifying the subject.
To sum up, a predicate noun:
- renames or re-identifies the subject
- follows a linking verb
- is not a direct object