Sentence patterns with subject complements

If you want to add variety to your writing, you should have a decent understanding of word forms, function and possible sentence structures.

A common sentence pattern is given below.

Subject + verb + subject complement

Study the examples given below:

  • Reading is my hobby.
  • The night grew dark.
  • The woman looks impressed.
  • The milk turned sour.
  • She became a well-known writer.

Subject complements follow ‘be’ and other copular verbs.

The verb ‘be’ has several forms: is, am, are, was, were, being and been.

Consider the sentence given below:

  • Alice is an architect.

Here the noun ‘an architect’ is not the object of the verb ‘is’. It merely describes the subject. ‘Is’ is a linking verb and does not take an object.

The word or phrase that goes after a linking verb is called its complement. The complement describes the subject and makes the sentence complete.

In this case, the noun ‘an architect’ says something about the subject Alice and therefore it is a subject complement.

The copular verbs look, seem, appear, turn, grow, become, sound, smell, taste and get are also followed by subject complements.

Note that after copular verbs we use adjectives, not adverbs.

  • He spoke intelligently. (Here we use the adverb ‘intelligently’ to modify the verb spoke.)
  • He looks intelligent. (Here we use the adjective ‘intelligent’ to modify the copular verb ‘looks’.)

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Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I'm Manjusha. This is my blog where I give IELTS preparation tips.

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