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What is a Subject Complement? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 Complements/Terms to Know
  • 1:22 What Is a Subject Complement?
  • 1:35 Predicate Nominatives
  • 2:19 Predicate Adjectives
  • 2:55 Sentence Pattern for…
  • 3:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

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

In writing, it's helpful to know the ingredients of a strong sentence. In sentences that contain linking verbs, one important component is a subject complement. We'll learn all about subject complements in this lesson.

Complements

Don't you love it when you find just the right necklace or scarf to make your outfit perfect? Or what about when you have gone out to dinner and had a good meal, and then gotten a dessert that made the meal absolutely amazing? It's great when things like that happen, right? Well, that necklace or scarf has complemented the outfit, and that dessert has complemented the meal.

If you look closely at the word complement, you may be reminded of the word 'complete.' A complement is something that completes or finishes something else - a complement makes it better. Just like an accessory can complete an outfit and a dessert can complete a meal, making them better, a subject complement adds information that makes the subject of the sentence more complete.

Before we explore some examples, let's review a couple of key terms.

Terms to Know

The subject of a sentence tells who or what the sentence is about. The subject can be a noun, pronoun, or group of words that acts as a noun.

  • Christina baked a cake.

The subject in this sentence is 'Christina.'

A linking verb expresses a state of being and connects the subject to a subject complement. Linking verbs are often forms of the verb 'be.' Some other linking verbs include: 'appear,' 'seem,' 'feel,' 'sound,' and 'become.'

  • Pablo is hungry.

The linking verb in this sentence is 'is.'

What Is a Subject Complement?

A subject complement is a word that comes after a linking verb and renames, identifies, or describes the subject. There are two main types of subject complements: predicate nominatives and predicate adjectives.

Predicate Nominatives

A predicate nominative is a noun or pronoun that comes after the linking verb. It can rename or identify the subject. Let's take a look at some sentences. See if you can find a predicate nominative:

  • Maria Luisa is my neighbor.

In this sentence, 'Maria Luisa' is the subject. The linking verb is 'is.' The word 'neighbor' is a noun that identifies Maria Luisa. 'Neighbor' is the predicate nominative: Maria Luisa = neighbor.

Let's take a look at another sentence:

  • Keith's uncle was his soccer coach.

The subject of this sentence is 'uncle.' The linking verb is 'was.' The noun 'coach' is a predicate nominative that renames uncle: uncle = coach.

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