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How to master predicates [infographic]

  • May 28, 2013
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A predicate is the part of a sentence that is not the subject. Though this sounds simple, there are types, techniques and rules for predicates. Along with the infographic, the following should shed some light on crafting a good predicate.



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What is a Predicate?

A sentence is formed of two parts: subject and predicate. This arrangement can be quite simple.

“Bob ate.”

“Bob” is the subject and “ate” is the predicate. This can become as complex as the writer desires, including as much information as he feels the reader needs (and more).

“Bob ate like a swarm of locusts at a nearby restaurant, spending several hours devouring everything from cheeseburgers to pizza, eventually cleaning out the entire dessert section (including the ice cream bar).”

The subject of the sentence is still “Bob,” and everything else is the predicate. The main noun only needs a verb, or action word, to be a complete sentence, so this entire sentence could be boiled down to “Bob ate.”

What is a Simple Predicate?

The first example, “Bob ate,” is an example of a simple predicate. One verb is used, and it is free of modifiers.

What is a Complete Predicate?

In some cases case, the verb by itself may not be enough to complete the sentence.

“Bob’s appetite frightened his waiter.”

In this example, “Bob’s appetite” is the subject, and the complete predicate is everything else.

What is a Predicate Adjective?

Predicate adjectives modify the subject and are connected to it with a linking verb.

“The pizza smelled delicious.”

“The pizza” is the subject, and “smelled” is a linking verb that connects to the adjective “delicious.” A few examples of linking verbs are turn, feel, stay, is, become, were and be.

What is a Compound Predicate?

A compound predicate simply combines multiple predicates.

“Bob ate some pizza and drank a soda, and then he raided the desserts.”

What is a Predicate Complement?

When a predicate seems incomplete with just the verb, a complement is needed. Predicate complements can be composed of one word or a group of words. Keep the similarity of the words “complement” and “complete” in mind.

“Bob was starving.” The predicate adjective “starving” describes Bob.
“The waiter poured some soda.” This object complement completes the sentence by telling what was poured.
“The pizza was on the table.” This is a prepositional complement; “on” is a preposition, and “on the table” is a prepositional phrase.

What is Predicate Nominative?

Through the use of a linking verb, predicate nominative (or a “predicate noun”) tells what the subject is. It defines the subject and completes the verb; subject and predicate are basically the same thing, and this can be double-checked by replacing the linking verb with the word “equals.”

“Phil is the waiter.” The subject is completed through the verb.
“Bob was the hungriest person in town.” Only one person is “hungriest.”

English is famous (or infamous) for words that do double-duty. Depending on how they are used, some verbs may or may not need helpers to complete a predicate, such as “thawed.”
“The steaks thawed.”
“Myrtle thawed the steaks.”

Can you think of any others?

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