What Is a Predicate in English Grammar? Learn with Examples

The word “predicate” might sound technical, but it’s actually quite simple – it refers to the action or state in a sentence. A predicate plays a crucial role in constructing sentences in the English language. In this article, you will learn about the different types of predicates, how they work together with subjects, and how to identify them in sentences. You will also see some examples that will make predicates easy to understand.  

What is a Predicate?

In English grammar, a predicate is the part of a sentence that tells us what the subject does or is. For example, in the sentence “Olivia sings beautifully”, the subject is “Olivia” and the predicate is “sings beautifully”. The predicate can have two components: the verb and the complement. The verb is the main action or state of being of the subject, such as “sings”, “runs”, “is”, or “has”. The complement is the additional information that modifies or completes the verb, such as “beautifully”, “fast”, “happy”, or “a dog”. Not every predicate has a complement, but every predicate has a verb.

Parts of a Predicate

In a sentence, the predicate has two main parts: simple and complete. Once you understand the difference between the simple and complete predicate, you’ll get a better idea of how sentences are put together and how each part adds to the overall meaning.

Simple Predicate

The simple predicate is the basic form of the predicate that expresses the action of the subject. It can only be the main verb, or auxiliary verb + main verb, telling us what the subject is doing.  For example:

  • She dances.
    In this sentence, “dances” is the simple predicate (the main verb), expressing the action performed by the subject “she.”
  • He is sleeping.
    Here, “is sleeping” (auxiliary verb + main verb) serves as the simple predicate, conveying the state of the subject “he.”

Complete Predicate

The complete predicate includes the main verb (simple predicate), and all the words that modify or complete its meaning. It provides more detailed information about the action in a clause or sentence. For example:

  • Lisa runs every morning to stay fit.
    Here, “runs” is the simple predicate because it’s the main action, while the phrase “runs every morning to stay fit,” is the complete predicate, providing more details about the action
  • The old book on the shelf is falling apart.
    In this example, “is falling apart” forms the complete predicate, and it includes details about the condition of the old book.

How to use a Predicate in a Sentence?

When you use a predicate in a sentence, you are basically talking about what the subject is up to. To use a predicate effectively, pair it with a subject to create a complete thought. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  1. Identify the Subject: Determine who or what the sentence is about. The subject can be a person, place, thing, or idea.
  2. Choose a Verb: Decide on the action or state that you want to convey. The verb is a key component of the predicate and often reflects the action performed by the subject.
  3. Combine Subject and Verb: Connect the subject and verb to form the basic structure of your sentence. This combination constitutes the core of the predicate.
  4. Add More Information: To provide additional details about the action or state, you can include objects, adverbs, or other elements in the predicate.

Let’s break down each step with examples:

  1. Identify the Subject: “The cat” is the subject.
  2. Choose a Verb: “is sleeping” is the verb.
  3. Combine Subject and Verb: The cat is sleeping. (Combining the subject and verb forms the core of the predicate, expressing what the cat is doing.)
  4. Add More Information: The cat is sleeping soundly. (Including “soundly” provides additional information about how the cat is sleeping.)

Types of Predicates

Predicate Adjective

An adjective that follows a linking verb and describes the subject of a sentence is referred to as a predicate adjective. Predicate adjectives modify the subject by providing more information about its state or characteristics.

Linking verbs, such as “be,” “seem,” “appear,” “become,” and others, connect the subject of a sentence to a subject complement, which can be a noun, pronoun, or adjective. When the subject complement is an adjective, it is referred to as a predicate adjective.

Here’s an example:

  • The flowers are beautiful.

In this sentence, “are” is the linking verb “be,” and “beautiful” is the predicate adjective that describes the subject “flowers.” The predicate adjective provides additional information about the state or quality of the flowers.

Here are more examples of sentences with predicate adjectives:

  • The cake smells delicious.
  • The movie seems interesting.
  • The room appears tidy.
  • The watermelon tastes sweet.
  • The weather became unpredictable.

Predicate Noun

A predicate noun, also known as a predicate nominative, is a noun or pronoun that follows a linking verb and renames or identifies the subject of a sentence. Unlike direct objects, which receive the action of the verb, predicate nouns are used to provide more information about the subject by renaming or identifying it.

Here’s an example to illustrate this concept:

  • She is a doctor.

In this sentence, “is” is the linking verb “be,” and “doctor” is the predicate noun. The predicate noun “doctor” renames or identifies the subject “she.”

Here are more examples of predicate nouns:

  • His suggestion was a great idea.
  • The challenge seems an opportunity.
  • The building appears a historical landmark.
  • The city became a bustling metropolis.

In each case, the linking verb connects the subject to the predicate noun, providing additional information about the subject.

Compound Predicate

A compound predicate happens when one subject does more than one action or is described by multiple verbs in a sentence. So, when two or more verbs or verb phrases are connected by a conjunction, it is referred to as a compound predicate.

Here’s an example:

  • She danced and sang at the concert.

In this sentence, the subject is “She,” and the conjunction “and” connects two verbs, “danced” and “sang.” This creates a compound predicate, “danced and sang,” highlighting that the subject “She” was engaged in both dancing and singing during the concert.

Here are more examples:

  • The cat climbed the tree and caught a bird.
  • They laughed, cried, and cheered during the performance.
  • The chef prepared a delicious meal and baked a cake.

How to identify the predicate in a sentence?

To find the predicate in a sentence, you just need to look for the part that tells us what the subject is doing or what state it’s in. The predicate usually has the verb and might also have objects or modifiers that help explain the verb’s meaning.

Let’s use the sentence “The curious dog chased the ball in the backyard” as an example.

  1. Find the Verb:
    • Identify the main action or state of being. In this sentence, the verb is “chased.”
  2. Determine the Subject:
    • Identify the one performing the action or being described. The subject is “The curious dog.”
  3. Ask What or Whom:
    • Ask “what?” or “whom?” to find the direct object, if there is one. In this case, “the ball” is the direct object.
  4. Consider Modifiers and Additional Information:
    • Look for modifiers that provide more details about the action. In this sentence, “in the backyard” is an adverbial phrase providing additional information about where the chasing occurred.
  5. Look for Complete Thoughts:
    • Ensure that the subject and predicate together form a complete thought. “The curious dog chased the ball in the backyard” conveys a complete idea.

Putting it all together:

  • Verb: “Chased”
  • Subject: “The curious dog”
  • Direct Object: “The ball”
  • Modifiers/Additional Information: “In the backyard”
  • Predicate: “chased the ball in the backyard”

So, in this example, the predicate is “chased the ball in the backyard,” encompassing the verb, subject, direct object, and additional information.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Predicate in English Grammar

What is a predicate in a sentence?

A predicate in a sentence is the part that gives information about the action or state of the subject. It typically includes the verb and may have objects, modifiers, or other elements.

What is a predicate adjective?

A predicate adjective is an adjective that comes after a linking verb and explains the subject of a sentence. It provides more information about the subject’s state or characteristics.

What is a predicate noun?

A predicate noun, or predicate nominative, is a noun or pronoun that follows a linking verb and renames or identifies the subject of a sentence.

What is a simple predicate?

A simple predicate is the main verb or verb phrase in a sentence, expressing the action or state of the subject without including any objects or modifiers.

What is a complete predicate?

A complete predicate includes the main verb along with all its objects, modifiers, and other elements that complete the meaning of the verb in a sentence.

What is a compound predicate?

A compound predicate occurs when a single subject is connected to two or more verbs within the same sentence.

Can you provide predicate examples?

Examples of predicates include “ran quickly,” “is a talented musician,” and “has been studying for hours.”

Can a predicate have more than one verb?

Yes, in a compound predicate, a single subject is connected to two or more verbs within the same sentence.

What is the difference between a simple predicate and a compound predicate?

A simple predicate has one verb, while a compound predicate has two or more verbs connected by a conjunction, and they share the same subject.

Are modifiers part of the predicate?

Yes, modifiers, such as adverbs or adverbial phrases, can be part of the predicate as they provide additional information about the action or state described by the verb.

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