Adjective complement masterclass

This lesson helps you understand what an adjective complement is and how to use it in a sentence correctly.

What is an Adjective complement?

An adjective complement is a phrase or a clause that completes the meaning of an adjective by giving more information about it. The information helps the readers or listeners to understand the situation better. So, the information it provides is necessary in order to complete the meaning of the adjective.

Points to note:

  1. An adjective complement is more than a word: a phrase or a clause.
  2. It comes right next to an adjective.
  3. It sits right next to an adjective.

Types of adjective complement

The following 3 things can function as an adjective complement in a sentence:

  1. Prepositional phrase
  2. Infinitive phrase
  3. Noun clause
Adjective complement infographics
Adjective complement infographics

Prepositional phrase as an adjective complement

A prepositional phrase often functions as an adjective complement in a sentence. As an adjective complement, it sits next to an adjective and provides more information about the adjective. This piece of information it provides helps the readers or listeners to understand the context in a better way.

Prepositional phrases are formed by using a preposition and its object (noun, noun phrase, noun clause, pronoun).

I am not happy with your performance.

Here, ‘with your performance’ is a prepositional phrase that’s working as an adjective complement. It’s coming next to the adjective ‘happy’ and giving useful information about it. If we ended the sentence with the adjective happy, we wouldn’t have more clarity about the sentence. We wouldn’t know what the speaker is unhappy with.

Examples:

  • I am concerned about your health.
  • We are happy about what happened last night.
  • Sam is dedicated to this project.
  • The management is disappointed with your actions.
  • Sneha is scared of dogs.
  • Some of them are still mad at you.
  • It is dark in the dining room.
  • He is great at public speaking.
  • You should never be satisfied with what you have. 
  • We are really excited about Jon’s wedding.
  • Jon is very kind to all of us.

Note: Taking the prepositional phrases out of these sentences changes the meaning of the sentences as the sentences, now, have less information (necessary).

Infinitive phrase as an adjective complement

When an infinitive phrase functions as an adjective complement, it talks about the reason for the adjective (state).

An infinitive in English is ‘TO + V1’ form of a verb that functions as a noun, adjective, or adverb. An infinitive phrase has an Infinitive and its object, or modifier, or both.

I am happy to see you again.

‘To see you again’ is an infinitive phrase that’s coming next to the adjective ‘happy’ and telling us the reason for this state of existence. It completes the meaning of the adjective by telling us why the speaker is happy. 

If it weren’t there, we wouldn’t know why the speaker is happy. This completely changes the meaning of the sentence.

Examples:

  • We are excited to attend the party.
  • His family and friends were devastated to hear the news of his death.
  • I am delighted to see you again.
  • They were shocked to see me alive.
  • Nancy was scared to lose me.
  • I was not hesitant to leave the job for my values.
  • It is absolutely silly to argue with them.
  • We aren’t eager to be invited to the show.
  • I am very fortunate to know you.

Noun clause as an adjective complement

A noun clause is a dependent clause that functions as a noun in a sentence. Noun clauses often start with the following subordinating conjunctions: what, who, whom, that, where, why, when, and how.

But note that noun clauses, here, do not function as a noun; they just give information about an adjective and complete its meaning.

It is evident that she is angry with us.

Here, the noun clause is giving more information about the adjective ‘evident’ and telling us what is evident. It actually shouldn’t be called a noun clause here as it’s functioning as a noun; it is functioning as a modifier: giving information about an adjective.

Examples:

  • It is disappointing that you are still working there.
  • It is evident that she is dying.
  • I am delighted that all my students have passed the exams.
  • We were shocked when he came back to our team.
  • It is amazing how you communicate with snakes.
  • We are excited that Virat is back on the team.
  • She is curious what her gift will be.
  • Ron seemed disappointed when the results came out.
  • It is shocking how she survived the onslaught.
  • Tina is so happy that she is back home.
  • You seem confident that colleges will be closed tomorrow.

Modifier vs Adjective complement

A regular modifier (adverb) that modifies an adjective is a little different from an adjective complement. An adverb that modifies an adjective simply intensifies or mitigates the meaning of an adjective, whereas an adjective complement provides more details about the adjective and completes its meaning with essential information. An adjective complement is important to render the correct meaning.

  • I am very happy.  (very = modifier)

The adverb ‘very’ is modifying the adjective ‘happy’ and intensifying its meaning. Its presence does make a huge difference in the sentence.

  • I am happy to see you again (to see you again = adjective complement)

The adjective complement is giving information about the adjective ‘happy’ and completing its meaning by telling us the reason for the state of the subject.

Adjective complement lesson

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