What is a predicate nominative? Examples, tips and quiz

In this lesson, we learn everything about a predicate nominative in English.

What is a predicate nominative?

A predicate nominative is a word or a group of words that identifies the subject of a sentence and renames it. It comes after a linking verb.

predicate nominative explanation
predicate nominative explanation

NOTE: a predicate nominative is a type of a subject complement. A subject complement identifies the subject and completes its meaning using a noun or an adjective.

To be able to identify a predicate nominative in a sentence, you must know the linking verbs we have in English.

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

Examples of predicate nominative

  • Jon Jones is my favorite fighter.

Subject = Jon Jones
Linking verb = is
Predicate nominative = my favorite fighter (giving a name to the subject)
Jon Jones = my favorite fighter

  • Alicia was my girlfriend in college.

Subject = Alicia
Linking verb = was
Predicate nominative = my girlfriend (giving a name to the subject)
Alicia = my girlfriend

More examples:-

  • You have been an amazing friend.
  • We can be friends.
  • Conor will be a cricketer soon.
  • Life is a mystery.
  • Susan must be the captain of the team.
  • I could have been the first man to walk on water and fly in the air.
  • Mohit was not a solid fighter. He was nobody when he entered into the fighting game.
  • Your experience is your best friend. It never leaves you.

In these examples, the predicate nominative is a noun or a noun phrase. But a predicate nominative can also be a noun clause.

Predicate nominative as a noun clause

Generally, a predicate nominative is a noun or a noun phrase, but it can be a noun clause too. Here are some examples of a predicate nominative as a noun clause:

  • The award is that you get a chance to go to London with your family.
  • Your problem is that you don’t listen to anyone.
  • His crush is whom you are looking at.
  • The loser is whoever takes more than 20 minutes to finish this task.

Predicate nominative and predicate adjective

Don’t confuse a predicate adjective as a predicate nominative!

What comes after a linking verb is not a predicate nominative always; it can be a predicate adjective (a subject complement). A predicate adjective is an adjective or an adjective phrase that comes after a linking verb and modifies the subject of a sentence.

Examples:

  • You have been very helpful. (nominative adjective)
  • You have been a great teacher. (nominative nominative)
  • She may be nervous right now. (nominative adjective)
  • She may be our best choice. (nominative nominative)
  • Jane is beautiful. (nominative adjective)
  • Jane is a beautiful singer. (nominative nominative)

Predicate nominative as a gerund or an infinitive

A gerund or an infinitive can also function as a predicate nominative as both gerunds and infinitives function as a noun.

  • My love is teaching English. (The predicate nominative is a gerund phrase: teaching English)
  • His passion is to teach. (The predicate nominative is an infinitive: to teach)
  • The only thing he wants to do is singing. (The predicate nominative is a gerund: singing)
  • Her dream was to sing before A.R Rahman. (The predicate nominative is an infinitive phrase: to sing before A.R Rahman)

Note that both infinitives and gerunds function as nouns in English.

Compound predicate nominative

A predicate nominative can be a compound noun: a combination of two or more nouns.

Examples:-

  • The goal was to buy that car, park it in front of her house, and give the keys to her. (giving a name to the subject ‘the goal‘)
  • His friendship is a blessing and a curse.
  • This job can be a turning point, a never-ending pain, or a blessing in disguise.

Predicate nominative as a pronoun

When a predicate nominative renames the subject, it’s usually a noun, but it can also be a pronoun. When it is a pronoun, some people use a subjective pronoun, and some use an objective pronoun.

  • It was me who saved her.
  • It was I who saved her.

Now, which one is correct to use?

A subject complement refers back to the subject, which can only be a noun or a subjective pronoun. So with this logic, we should use I. But people have been using an objective pronoun (me) in this case for so long that it has almost become acceptable. So, there’s no loser; everyone wins.

Though, you should note that a subjective pronoun in the case is grammatically sound. But you can use either.

Subjective pronoun: I, we, you, he, she, it, they
Objective pronoun: me, us, you, him, her, it, us

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