Some sentences do not take objects or adverbs (or adverbial phrases) after the verbs. Instead, they take complements. A complement is the part of the sentence that gives more information about the subject (subject complement) or about the object (object complement) of the sentence.
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Subject complements normally follow certain verbs like be, seem, look, etc.
He is British. (British gives more information about he)
She became a nurse. (nurse gives more information about she)
Object complements follow the direct objects of the verb and give more information about those direct objects.
They painted the house red. (red is a complement giving more information about the direct object house)
She called him an idiot. (an idiot is a complement giving more information about the direct object he).
The complement often consists of an adjective (e.g. red) or a noun phrase (e.g. an idiot) but can also be a participle phrase.
Example: I saw her standing there.
(Standing there is a complement telling more about her).
Pick out the complements in the following sentences and indicate whether subject, object or participial complements.
- The tourist is a German citizen.
- She seems a very arrogant lady.
- You look tired.
- They painted the car green.
- James nicknamed Lucy the queen.
- I saw him stealing the mango.
- They beat the thief senseless.
- The priest looks a kind person.
- We left her crying.
- Job left her trembling.
- A German citizen – subject complement
- A very arrogant lady – subject complement
- Tired – subject complement
- Green – object complement
- The queen – object complement
- Stealing the mango – participial complement
- senseless – object complement
- A kind person – subject complement
- Crying – participial complement
- Trembling – participial complement