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Subject Complement

This article is about Subject Complement — enjoy your reading!

2:20 min read
  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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You would have come across the word complement a thousand times while reading, listening or writing English language. Or you could also have read or heard its synonym compliment and are well aware of both the terms. If not, refer to our article, compliment vs. complement.

The word complement generally means to add meaning to an existing thing.

The lace pattern complements the classy look of this dress.

Today, we will discuss another use of this word. Complement is also a grammatical term in English language which has a very similar meaning to its original meaning. A word, phrase or clause that completes or ads on to a given expression is called a complement in English language.


The carpets are muddy.

In the above example, carpets are noun and are is the verb and muddy is the compliment word.

In a sentence, a compliment can exist in two different forms i.e. subject complement and object complement.

A subject complement is a word, phrase or clause in a sentence that is either itself a noun or an adjective or it acts as a noun or an adjective. In other words, something that adds meaning to the subject of the sentence is the subject complement. One way of figuring out about a subject complement is that it always follows a linking verb and not an action verb. Linking verbs are the verbs that link the subject to the object instead of describing the action happening.

In the above example, are is the linking verb. Some other linking verbs include is/was/were/has been/seem/become etc.

The moon is bright tonight.

Take the above example, moon is the subject and is is the linking verb. Bright is an adjective which is adding meaning to the subject moon so it is a subject complement.

A subject complement is further divided into two categories i.e. predicate nominatives and predicate adjectives.

Predicate Nominatives

When the subject complement rename the original subject of the sentence or tells about who the subject is in the form of another subject, it is termed as a predicate nominative.


She is a poet.

The subject she is renamed in the same sentence by another subject poetPoet will be the predicate nominative in this sentence.

Predicate Adjective

When the subject complement does not rename but adds information about or modify the original subject of a sentence in the same way an adjective does, it is called predicate adjective.


The public seemed concerned.

In this example, public is the original subject and concerned is an adjective which is describing the behavior of the original subject; thus it is the predicate adjective.

Sara looks flabbergasted.



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