Most of us are familiar with adjectives and how they describe a noun. The adjectives in sentences like “The purple flowers bloomed,” or “The happy dog wagged its tail,” are pretty easy to spot because they are directly in front of the noun and are, therefore, a part of the noun phrase. However, adjectives can show up in other parts of the sentence, too.
While their most obvious spot is in front of the noun they describe, adjectives have range. In the case of subject and object complements, for example, adjectives don’t appear by the noun, but by the verb of a sentence. Adjectives describe their nouns—no matter where they are in the sentence. Here’s a look at subject and object complements.
Subject complements are adjectives or noun phrases that are located in the predicate of the sentence instead of next to the subject noun they modify.
For example, in the sentence, “The children seemed excited for summer break,” excited is the adjective modifying the subject, children, but it appears after the linking verb seemed.
Here are some additional examples of subject complements:
- Lila is a sailor. She appears ready to go out to sea.
- My father is a psychiatrist who works with children.
- The dog is brown and spotted.
Object complements are adjectives that are still not a part of the noun phrase, even though they share the predicate with the object they describe.
In the sentence, “I found the room chilly, but everyone else was comfortable,” chilly is describing the object of the sentence, room, but because it appears after the noun instead of before it, chilly is considered an object complement.
Here are some additional examples of object complements:
- The dog bit Sheila and made her mad.
- We made her happy when we gave her a present.
Subject and Object Complements Can Spice Up Your Writing
When used well, your subject or object complements can add variety to your writing style. This is especially true if you’re trying to craft paragraphs full of sentences of varying lengths. Consider this paragraph:
Chase has always been interested in leatherworking. It was taught to him by his father. Chase loved the smell of leather. He always woke up early in the morning. Then he would go to his workshop. Next, Chase would work all day and night. Finally, he would show his father what he had created. Proudly, his father exclaimed, “Look at what my son has accomplished!” The two went home together.
Now, consider the revised version:
Chase was always interested in doing leatherworking. His father taught him when he was a child, and Chase had always loved the smell of leather. When he woke up in the morning, he would go to his workshop and work all day and night. Finally, he would show his father what he had created. Chase’s work made his father proud. He exclaimed, “Look at what my son has accomplished!” The two walked home together to show Chase’s mother the saddle he had expertly crafted.
The revised version of this paragraph is more interesting because it uses both subject and object complements. Plus, it has sentences of varying lengths.
That’s today’s Grammar Time. Check in next month for our next quick grammar refresher.