Verb patterns | Subject + copular verb + subject complement

English sentences do not have the same form or structure. While some sentence patterns are simple, others can be quite complicated. As someone preparing for the IELTS, you should be familiar with various sentence patterns in English. An ability to use a variety of patterns will impress your reader and improve your score.

Subject + copular verb + subject complement

Copular verbs are a special kind of verbs. Examples are: be (is, am, are, was, were), seem, appear, look, sound, smell, taste, feel, become, get

Copulas do not make complete sense. You need to add a word or phrase to the sentence to make it complete. Such words and phrases that follow a copular verb are called subject complements.

Study the examples given below.

  • The milk turned sour. (Here the subject complement ‘sour’ completes the sentence.)
  • She is an architect.
  • He became an engineer.
  • That book is mine.
  • He looks upset.
  • My father grew angry.
  • The fish tasted awful.
  • The soup smells funny.
  • She looks intelligent.
  • That sounds strange.

Note that the subject complement can be a noun or an adjective. It cannot be an adverb because copular verbs are followed by adjectives, not adverbs.

  • The stew smells good. (NOT The stew smells well.)
  • She looks intelligent. (NOT She looks intelligently.)

Complete the following sentences using an appropriate adjective or adverb.

1. She spoke ………………….

a) eloquently
b) eloquent

2. She looks ………………..

a) anxious
b) anxiously

3. They worked …………………

a) tireless
b) tirelessly

4. She became ………………..

a) angry
b) angrily

5. The situation appeared …………………

a) difficult
b) difficultly


1. She spoke eloquently.

2. She looks anxious.

3. They worked tirelessly.

4. She became angry.

5. The situation appeared difficult.

Manjusha Nambiar

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

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