Subject Complement

A subject complement is a noun or an adjective that follows a linking verb.

A subject complement, also known as a predicative adjective or a predicate nominative, functions to complete the meaning of a sentence by providing additional information about the subject. It typically follows a linking verb, which connects the subject to the complement and doesn't express an action.

Position of Subject Complement

Subject complement always comes immediately after the linking verb. The sentence structure is: Subject + Linking Verb + Subject Complement

Linking Verb
Subject Complement
The sky
aremy friends.

Forms of Subject Complement

Subject complements can come in different forms. They can be nouns, pronouns, adjectives, or even phrases (noun phrase and adjective phrase).

1. Adjective: An adjective subject complement describes the subject's qualities. [An adjective after a linking verb is also called predicative adjective.]

  • The flowers are very beautiful[Adjective Phrase]

    • The leaves turned brown in the fall. [Adjective]
    • My favorite color is purple[Adjective]
    • The weather today feels hot and humid[Adjective Phrase]
    • The painting looks magnificent. [Adjective]

    2. Noun: A noun subject complement renames the subject by providing another identity. It tells who or what the subject is. [noun after a linking verb is also called predicate nominative.]

    • My sister is Sarah[Noun]
    • Mary is the captain of the ship[Noun Phrase]
    • The tastiest fruit was a mango. [Noun Phrase]
    • The winner of the competition is he[Pronoun]

    3. Adverb: In rare cases, adverb can function as subject complements, usually describing the state or condition of the subject.


    • The sun is up.
    • I am here.
    • The meeting is now.

    Subject Complement or Object?

    How can we know whether the noun that follows a verb is a Subject Complement or an Object? We can do it in two different ways:

    1. Identify the Verb:

    Linking verbs: Subject complements follow linking verbs. These verbs don't express an action. Examples of linking verbs include: be (am, is, are, was, were, been), become, seem, smell, taste, feel, remain.

    Action verbs: Objects typically follow action verbs. These verbs express an action that the subject performs. Examples of action verbs include: run, jump, eat, cook, read, write, paint, sing, talk, watch, open, close.

    2. Insert Equal to [=] and Not Equal to [≠] Signs

    Place an equal sign [=] or not equal sign [] between the subject and the noun or pronoun that follows the verb. Equal to sign [=] indicates the subject complement, whereas Not Equal to sign [≠] the object.

    Let's illustrate this with an example:

    Sentence 1: She is a doctor.

    • She = a doctor. ["a doctor" is the subject complement]
    Sentence 2: She baked a cake.
    • She  a cake.  ["a cake" is the object] 

    Remember, subject complements only follow linking verbs. So, learn linking verb well before you want to know what a subject complement is.