What is a predicate adjective? Examples and rules

In this post, we learn what a predicate adjective is, how to identify it, and how to use it in sentences.

What is a predicate adjective in English?

Predicate adjective definition: a predicate adjective, as the name hints, is an adjective or an adjective phrase that sits next to a linking verb and modifies the subject of a sentence.

A predicate adjective is a type of a subject complement as it identifies the subject and completes its meaning by giving information about it. It’s different from an attributive adjective. An attributive adjective sits before the noun it modifies.

Predicate adjective: This car seems expensive for us.
Attributive adjective: This
expensive car is not for us.

So, unlike an attributive adjective, a predicate adjective comes next to a linking verb and modifies the subject. Before we take examples of predicate adjectives, we must know what linking verbs are, and what common linking verbs are in English.

What is a linking verb in English?

A linking verb is a type of a main verb that links the subject of a sentence to something called subject complement.

A subject complement is a word or a group of words that identifies the subject and completes its meaning by either renaming it or modifying it. A noun as the subject complement (predicate nominative) renames the subject, and an adjective as the subject complement (predicate adjective) modifies the subject.

  • Jon is an excellent teacher. (A noun phrase that’s giving the subject a new name)
  • Jon is extremely nice. (An adjective phrase that’s modifying the subject)

In both examples, the subject complements are coming after the linking verb: IS.

A list of linking verbs in English

TO BE
TO BE: is, am, are, was, were, may be, might be,
should be, would be, can be, could be, must be, will be, shall be,

BEING: is being, am being, are being, was being, were being, has been, have been, had been,

BEEN: may have been, must have been, could have, should have been,
will have been, shall have been, might have been
To be form of verbs
TO SEEMseem, seems, seemed
TO LOOKlook, looks, looked
TO FEELfeel, feels, felt
TO SOUNDsound, sounds, sounded
TO TASTEtaste, tastes, tasted
TO SMELLsmell, smells, smelt
TO STAYstay, stays, stayed
TO BECOMEbecome, becomes, became
TO GOgo, goes, went, gone
TO REMAINremain, remains, remained
TO TURNturn, turns, turned
TO GETget, gets, got
TO APPEARappear, appears, appeared
A list of linking verbs

Predicate adjective examples using the verbs TO BE (is, am, are, was, were)

  • Ashish is polite to everyone.
  • Your friends are really supportive.
  • I am scared of dogs.
  • Our head teacher was rude to everyone in the class.
  • Most people were afraid to lose their jobs in the lockdown.

Predicate adjective examples using the verbs TO BE + BEING

  • You are being extremely rude to us.
  • I am not being reasonable about the prices.
  • The shopkeeper is being very smart.
  • Last night, your girlfriend was being flirty with me.
  • Your friends were being sarcastic at the party.

Predicate adjective examples using the modal verbs (modals + be)

  • The doctors may be wrong about your conditions. Let’s not lose hope.
  • We should be very careful with how to approach this situation.
  • Your mother might be upset with you.
  • His new book that he launched last month should be less expensive.
  • The match can be exciting.
  • Let’s get some food. The flight could be late.
  • I’ll meet her, but she must not be taller than you.
  • She will be late to work today. Don’t wait for you.
  • The boss would be upset with you if you didn’t complete it in time.

Predicate adjective examples using the modal verbs (modals + have + been)

  • Jon might have been high when he stole his house.
  • The food would have been tasty if I had cooked it.
  • We could have been more reasonable about the deal.
  • She is not going to talk to you again. You should have been respectful toward her.
  • I may have been busy at that time.

Predicate adjective examples using other linking verbs

  • You seem unhappy with your job.
  • She seemed drunk at the party.
  • Ross and Monica look beautiful together.
  • You looked confident in the meeting.
  • This cake tastes heavenly.
  • The food in the party last night tasted extremely awful.
  • She always smells nice.
  • Your parents appear mad at me.
  • When Tony was called for his speech, he appeared lost.
  • Most people stayed motivated through the pandemic.
  • I felt terrible about his loss.
  • After you left the party, Jim went crazy and started dancing with the waitress.
  • She goes mad if someone touches her bag.
  • The students got very emotional thinking of leaving the school.
  • He turned red after hitting the pads.

Predicate adjective and predicate nominative

Both predicate adjectives and predicate nominatives come right after a linking verb. The key to identify them is to look at what’s coming after the linking verb.

If what comes after a linking verb is an adjective or an adjective phrase, it’s a predicate adjective, and if it’s a noun, a noun phrase, or a noun clause, it’s a predicate nominative.

Examples:-

  • We will be extremely happy if she comes back to our team. (Adjective phrase)
  • We will be the winner if she comes back to our team. (Noun phrase)
  • The reason for closing the office is stupid. (Adjective)
  • The reason for closing the office is that we didn’t have enough money. (Noun clause)

Compound predicate adjective

A compound predicate adjective is a combination of two or more adjectives or adjective phrases. Here are some examples of compound predicate adjectives:

  • She is smart and good-looking.
  • That guy looked skillful, calculated, and reasonable in his approach.

Don’t use an adverb after a linking verb!

Don’t make the mistake of using an adverb after a linking verb.

  • It tasted strongly. ❌
  • It tasted strong. ✔️
  • You smell nicely. ❌
  • You smell nice. ✔️

NOTE: adverbs are not used right after linking verbs, but, sometimes, they can be used before linking verbs.

  • You always look pretty.
  • Jon never goes mad.

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