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Verbs Of Complete And Incomplete Predication

1. The boy walks. 2. The rain falls.

In these sentences each of the verbs walks and falls, is of itself the complete predicate of the sentence.

Verbs which may be used as predicates, without the aid of other words, are called verbs of complete predication.

1. The boy is sick. 3. The dog seems cross.

2. The man looks tired. 4. Hungry wolves are voracious.

Here the verbs is, look, seems, and are, require the use of other words in order to form complete predicates.

Verbs which thus require the help of other words to form predicates are called verbs of incomplete predication.

The words sick, tired, cross, and voracious are the complements of the verbs with which they are used.

Words used with a verb of incomplete predication to complete the predicate are called the complement of the verb.

1. We are happy. 2. Mary became a scholar.

Here, happy, the complement of the verb are, is an adjective modifying we, the subject; and scholar, the complement of the verb became, is a noun meaning the same as Mary, the subject.

Adjectives like happy, used to complete the predicate, are called predicate adjectives.

Nouns like scholar, used to complete the predicate, are called predicate nouns.

1. The cross dog bit me. 2. The cook cut the bread. 3. The hungry cat caught the mouse.

In these sentences the word me tells whom the dog bit, the word bread tells what the cook cut, and the word mouse tells what the cat caught.

Me, bread, and mouse are the complements of the verbs bit, cut, and caught, as they denote the things that received the actions expressed by the verbs.

Nouns and pronouns used in this way are called the objects of the verbs.

Thus it appears that there are two kinds of verbs of incomplete predication:

1. Those whose complements are predicate adjectives or predicate nouns.

2. Those whose complements are objects of the verb.

1. The dog was in the house.

2. He seems to be well.

3. I think you told the truth.

In these sentences, the phrases in the house and to be well, and the clause you told the truth, are complements of the verbs was, seems, and think.

It thus appears that not only adjectives, nouns, and pronouns, but phrases and clauses, may be the complements of verbs of incomplete predication.

Point out the complements of the verbs in the following sentences, and tell whether they are words,phrases, or clauses:

1. The book was interesting.

2. John was in the country.

3. The cloud seems to be moving.

4. The old blacksmith bought a horse.

5. Did you call me?

6. He wanted to make himself useful.

7. The girl tries to learn.

8. The apple tastes sweet.

9. He explained how the machine was made. 10. Straws show which way the wind blows.

Write two sentences using verbs of complete predication. Write five sentences using verbs of incomplete predication; use a predicate adjective, a predicate noun, an object, a phrase, and a clause, as complements of the verbs.


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