What is a Subject Complement? Definition, Examples of Subject Complements

Subject complement definition: A subject complement is a word that follows a linking verb. The subject complement is always a noun, pronoun, or adjective.

What is a Subject Complement?

What is the subject complement? A subject complement gives further meaning to the subject. A subject complement will always be a noun, pronoun, or adjective. Subject complements follow linking verbs.

 

Examples of Subject Complement

Nouns, pronouns, and adjectives can all functions and subject complements.

A noun or pronoun as a subject complement will rename or re-identify the subject.

Subjective complement For example,

  • Spot is a dog.
    • “dog” is a noun
    • “dog” is the subject complement
    • “dog” follows the linking verb “is” (to be)
    • “dog” renames “Spot”

An adjective as a subject complement will describe the subject.

For example,

  • Spot is brown.
    • “brown” is an adjective
    • “brown” is the subject complement
    • “brown” follows the linking verb “is” (to be)
    • “brown” describes “Spot”

Subject Complement vs. Direct object

Subject compliment A subject complement will always follow a linking verb.

True linking verbs:

  • to be
  • to seem
  • to become

A linking verb does not take an object, i.e., an object will not follow a linking verb. Rather, a subject complement will follow a linking verb.

Subject Complement Example:

  • Ray seems frustrated.
    • “frustrated” is an adjective describing Ray
    • “frustrated” is not an object

A direct object follows an action verb. A direct object receives the verb. A direct object is always a noun or a pronoun.

Direct object example:

  • Ray drinks lemonade.
    • “lemonade” is noun and the direct object
    • “lemonade” receives the verb in that it is the thing that Ray drinks

Types of Subject Complements

Subject complement meaning A noun or pronoun as a subject complement is called a predicate nominative. A predicate nominative will rename or re-identify the subject.

For example,

  • My mom is a social worker
    • “social worker” is a noun and the predicate nominative
    • “social worker” follows the linking verb “is” (to be)
    • “social worker” renames “my mom”
  • Jean was a professor.
    • “professor” is a noun and the predicate nominative
    • “professor” follows the linking verb “was” (to be)
    • “professor” renames “Jean”

Subject verb complement An adjective as a subject complement is called a predicate adjective. A predicate adjective will describe the subject.

For example,

  • My mom appears friendly.
    • “friendly” is an adjective and the predicate adjective
    • “friendly” follows the linking verb “appears” (to appear)
    • “appears” describes “my mom”
  • Jean seems kind.
    • “kind” is an adjective and the predicate adjective
    • “kind” follows the linking verb “seems” (to seem)
    • “kind” describes “Jane”

Exercises with Subject Complements

Decide if the underlined portioned of the following sentences are subject complements or direct objects.

  1. I gave him a ball.
  2. She felt tired from an exhausting afternoon.
  3. We rested our heads on the pillow.
  4. The afternoon was relaxing.
  5. We should visit the museum

Summary: What are Subject Complements?

Define subject complement: the definition of subject complement is a complement that follows a linking verb and modifies or completes the sentence’s predicate.

In summary, a subject complement:

  • always follows a linking verb
  • is an noun, pronoun, or adjective
  • is also called a predicate adjective or predicate nominative

Answers

  1. object
  2. complement
  3. object
  4. complement
  5. object
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