English Glossary Index

Predicates :

A predicate is the completer of a sentence. The subject names the "do-er" or "be-er" of the sentence; the predicate does the rest of the work. A simple predicate consists of only a verb, verb string, or compound verb:

  • The glacier melted.

  • The glacier has been melting.

  • The glacier melted, broke apart, and slipped into the sea.

A compound predicate consists of two (or more) such predicates connected:

  • The glacier began to slip down the mountainside and eventually crushed some of the village's outlying buildings.

A complete predicate consists of the verb and all accompanying modifiers and other words that receive the action of a transitive verb or complete its meaning. The following description of predicates comes from The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers (examples our own):

With an intransitive verb, objects and complements are included in the predicate.

  • The glacier is melting.

  • With transitive verb, objects and object complements are said to be part of the predicate.

  • The slow moving glacier wiped out an entire forest.

  • It gave the villagers a lot of problems.

  • With a linking verb, the subject is connected to a subject complement.

  • The mayor doesn't feel good.

  • A predicate adjective follows a linking verb and tells us something about the subject:

    • Ramonita is beautiful.

    • His behavior has been outrageous.

    • That garbage on the street smells bad.

    A predicate nominative follows a linking verb and tells us what the subject is:

    • Dr. Couchworthy is acting president of the university.

    • She used to be the tallest girl on the team.

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