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. If you are being troubled by grammar and how these adjectives work within a sentence, keep reading to learn more about these pesky little grammatical elements.
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 as follows: 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. Many more examples can be found online, in grammar books, and in other print sources.
The best way to understand grammar is to just keep practicing finding grammatical elements within sentences. You can find many worksheets online or in grammar books that are from lesson plans.
Consult with your teacher if you are having trouble doing these worksheets or if you want to review your work to find your trouble areas in understanding how these adjectives function. For more help learning about these types of special adjectives, consult the section of a grammar book that offers more examples, definitions, and explanations.