What Is an Adjective Complement?

You know what an adjective is, right? Now, what is an adjective complement? Simply put, it’s a clause or phrase that modifies an adjective or adds to its meaning. An adjective complement usually consists of a noun clause or a prepositional phrase.


Types of Adjective Complements

An adjective complement is a functional part of a sentence that completes, or complements, the adjective. As mentioned, it can be a noun clause or a prepositional phrase.

Noun Clause

A noun clause is simply two or more words that function as a noun. It should have a subject and a verb, and, since it takes the place of a noun, it’s a dependent clause and cannot stand alone. A noun clause starts with the words “that," “how,” “if,” and the “wh-” words — “what,” “when,” “why,” etc.

  • when you arrived
  • that he is happy
  • where Sara went

Prepositional Phrase

A prepositional phrase starts with a preposition — such as “with,” “about,” “on,” or “in” — and is followed by a noun, pronoun, noun phrase, pronoun phrase, or noun clause.

  • with the car
  • under the bridge
  • after the show

An adjective complement always follows the adjective it complements.

Examples of Adjective Complements

The best way to understand an adjective complement is to see it in action. And, remember, the adjective will always precede the adjective complement.

Take a look at these example sentences with the adjective complement underlined:

  • She was unsure how her parents would react. (noun clause)
  • My boss was anxious when sales fell. (noun clause)
  • Are you afraid of spiders? (prepositional phrase)
  • We were shocked by the news. (prepositional phrase)
  • I was delighted that she was chosen. (noun clause)
  • I am very surprised about the nomination. (prepositional phrase)
  • The little boy was eager for Christmas to arrive. (prepositional phrase)
  • I am curious what color you picked. (noun clause)
  • It was wrong of her to leave. (prepositional phrase)
  • I will be happy when I get married. (noun clause)

As you start to understand the place of these clauses in a sentence and want to see more, head over to Adjective Complement Examples.


Other Types of Complements

Adjectives are popular parts of speech, but you also have subjects, verbs, adverbs, direct objects, and more. So, you may not be surprised to learn there are other types of complements, too.

Three other common types are: subject complements, object complements, and verb complements.

Subject Complements

A subject complement is one or more words which acts as an adjective or noun and modifies or refers to the subject of the sentence. It follows linking verbs, such as: is, are, was, become, seems, tasted, smells, and feels. For example:

  • Whales are beautiful.
  • She is a star!
  • The food smells delicious.

Object Complements

An object complement is one or more words which acts as an adjective or noun and modifies or refers to the direct object of the sentence. It follows the direct object. For example:

  • The movie should keep them quiet.
  • I knight you Sir Peter.
  • The pizza party will get the students excited.

Verb Complements

Verb complements are phrases or clauses, like adjective complements. They act as objects of other verbs, either directly or indirectly.

It’s important to note that verb complements may include infinitives. Also, gerunds and noun clauses may act as verb complements. For example:

  • She wanted him to go. (infinitive)
  • I considered leaving the Army. (gerund)
  • He insisted that he pay the check. (noun clause)

An Added Detail

Don’t let these technical terms deter you from one central theme. An adjective complement enhances an adjective in order to provide further detail. That’s all there is to it!

One of the simplest examples above was, “I will be happy when I get married.” What’s the adjective in that sentence? Happy. Why is this person happy? Because they are getting married. Be sure to make use of these clauses and phrases in your writing whenever they apply; they’re fantastic methods of elaboration.