There are many kinds of adjectives, but perhaps one of the most difficult to explain is the predicate adjective. Sometimes, these adjectives are called subject complements.
A sentence expresses a complete thought as opposed to a phrase that can give a lot of information, but does not complete the whole thought. All sentences have a subject and a predicate. The subject is the person, thing, place, or idea that the sentence is about and can be a noun, a pronoun, or a noun phrase. The predicate tells something about the subject, like what it did or how it looks.
An example of a simple sentence where there is a noun for the subject and a verb for the predicate is “Mary jogs.” Sometimes the subject is implied in a sentence, like “Watch out!” The person you are addressing is the subject of the sentence, so the sentence is “You watch out!”
A simple predicate has a verb, a string of verbs, or a compound verb. Examples of these three are: “She swam.” “She has been swimming.” and “She swam, got tired, and climbed out of the pool.” The verb is “swam” the verb string is “has been swimming” and the compound verb is “swam, got tired, and climbed”
Many teachers often offer the following textbook definition of a predicate adjective: an adjective that is used to predicate an attribute of the subject of the sentence. However, this definition often confuses people: the grammar jargon can become jumbled in technical definitions like this.
A more simple explanation of predicate adjectives is it modifies the subject of the sentence. In the sentence “The flowers are blue,” the subject is “the flowers.” In this example, “blue” is what modifies the subject, “the flowers,” and is connected to the subject by what is known as a linking verb.
There are several linking verbs that have a special function when it comes to predicate adjectives. These verbs are special because they connect the subject with the descriptive adjective. These linking verbs (shown here in the infinitive tense) are as follows: is, become, seem, grow, turn, prove, look, feel, smell, taste, sound, appear, stay, keep, and remain.
When you see one of these verbs in a sentence, you have a good chance of finding a predicate adjective in that sentence as well. However, these verbs are only linking verbs when they are followed by adjectives, nouns, or pronouns that rename the subject. Look for a linking verb connecting the subject to a descriptive adjective.
Having predicate adjectives means that we can describe subjects without putting the adjectives before him. Instead of having to say, “The good boy” followed by a verb, we can simply say, “the boy is good.” In this sentence, we can identify that “the boy” is the subject, “is” is the linking verb, and “good” is the predicate adjective. “Good” effectively renames the subject of the sentence.
Let’s go through all of the possible linking verbs and give examples of predicate adjectives for each. The amount of possibilities is nearly limitless, but the number of linking verbs is very limited, so it is best to explore all of those options. The predicate adjectives follow each example in parentheses. For more practice, see if you can replace the given predicate adjectives for each example with another predicate adjective that works in the given sentence.
The above adjective examples all feature linking verbs connecting the subject of the sentence to descriptive adjectives. More examples can be found at Examples of Predicate Adjectives.
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