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What is a Predicate Adjective? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

In English, words are classified by their part of speech. One part of speech is adjectives. Adjectives can be sorted into different types. This is a lesson about predicate adjectives, where they appear in the sentence, and how to identify them.

Descriptions

Imagine your friends invited you to their house for dinner. They gave you the following directions: Turn on the street. Look for the trees, then stop at the house. You couldn't find their house with those directions! Which street? What kind of trees? Which house? You need descriptive information.

In English, one of the types of descriptive words we use are adjectives. They help immensely: if your friends told you to look for the large redwood trees and then stop at the small green house, you'd have a much better chance of finding it. The adjectives large, redwood, small, and green would provide the details you need.

This is a lesson about one type of adjective, the predicate adjective. Before we look at predicate adjectives, let's review a few things.

What Is an Adjective?

An adjective is a word that modifies or describes a noun or pronoun. We know that a noun names a person, place, thing, or idea; and a pronoun simply replaces a noun. This means that an adjective describes a person, place, thing, or idea.

  • Here are a few adjectives: red, big, happy, hungry, warm
  • Here are a few adjectives with the nouns they describe: blue shirt, salty soup, angry driver

Adjectives usually answer one of these questions:

  • What kind?
  • Which one?
  • How many?
  • How much?

Using Adjectives

Sometimes, adjectives and descriptions are only part of the point of a sentence. They improve the main point of the sentence by adding detail. Look at this sentence.

  • Mary ran to the blue house.

The adjective blue describes house, but the most important part of the sentence is that Mary ran to the house.

Sometimes, however, the description is the most important part of the sentence. Look at this sentence.

  • The house looks scary.

The adjective scary not only describes the house, but it is the entire reason this sentence was written. The writer wants you to know that the house is scary.

When the description is the most important part of the sentence, we will find predicate adjectives.

Predicate Adjectives

A predicate adjective is an adjective that comes after a linking verb and describes the subject of the sentence.

Let's look at a sentence that contains a predicate adjective:

  • The tree is tall.

What are the parts of this sentence?

We should recall that the subject of the sentence is a noun or pronoun that tells whom or what the sentence is about. The subject of this sentence is tree.

A linking verb is used to connect the subject to a word that renames it or describes it. The linking verb in our sample sentence is is.

The predicate adjective in this sentence is tall - it follows the linking verb, and describes tree.

The predicate part of the sentence tells what the subject does or is. A predicate adjective gets its name because it is found in the predicate part of the sentence. The predicate of our sentence is is tall. This predicate contains the linking verb and the predicate adjective.

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