What Is a Subject Complement?
A subject complement is a word or group of words that follows a linking verb or verb phrase such as is, am, are, was, were, smell, feel, taste, look, sound, have been, and did seem. The two subject complement types are predicate adjectives and predicate nominatives. Each subject complement either describes or renames the subject or subjects in a sentence.
Predicate adjectives describe a sentence’s subject by giving more information about its characteristics.
Subject Complement Examples (Predicate Adjective):
(How does the pie look? It looks lovely and delicious. Lovely and delicious are each a predicate adjective; they describe pie.)
(How does Dad seem? He seems tired. Tired is the predicate adjective; it describes Dad.)
(What were we? We were sad. Sad is the predicate adjective; it describes We.)
(How does the ham taste? It tastes salty. Salty is the predicate adjective; it describes ham.)
(What was Monica? She was sore. Sore is the predicate adjective; it describes Monica.)
(How does the baby rabbit feel? It feels soft and furry. Soft and furry are the predicate adjectives; they describe rabbit.)
Predicate nominatives rename, identify, or define a subject. Unlike predicate adjectives, they always take the form of a noun or pronoun.
Subject Complement Examples (Predicate Nominative):
(Who was Nikola Tesla? He was an important inventor. Inventor is the predicate nominative; it identifies Nikola Tesla.)
(What is breakfast? It is my favorite meal. Meal is the predicate nominative; it identifies breakfast.)
(What are crystals? They are minerals. Minerals is the predicate nominative; it identifies crystals.)
(Who is Julie Taymor? She is a director and designer. Director and designer are the predicate nominatives; they identify Julie Taymor.)
(What have Jane Addams, Nelson Mandela, and Jimmy Carter been? They have been recipients. Recipients is the predicate nominative; it identifies Jane Addams, Nelson Mandela, and Jimmy Carter.)
(Who was Ms. Williams? She was my teacher. Teacher is the predicate nominative; it identifies Ms. Williams.)
Why is a Subject Complement Important?
A subject complement provides important details to the reader, such as by describing certain aspects of a subject or explaining what that subject is.