Every sentence is composed of two parts: the subject and the predicate. Being able to differentiate the two is very important. Many people can’t point out the subject or predicate in a sentence. So what do the subject and predicate entail? To understand this better, let’s first define what a predicate is.
What is a Predicate?
A predicate is a sentence or clause that modifies a subject. A predicate can either be a verb or a verb phrase plus any other modifier. If a predicate contains only a verb or a verb phrase, it’s known as a simple predicate. If it contains either a verb or a verb phrase plus any other modifier, it is known as a complete predicate. To identify a predicate in a sentence is very simple since you only need to find out what the subject does or what the subject is.
Here is an example where the predicate is a single verb
- John walked.
Here “John” is the subject and “cried” is the verb. “walked” is the predicate of the sentence.
A predicate may also include modifiers that modify a subject (complete predicate)
- John walked quickly.
In this example, “quickly” is an adverb that describes how john walked.
- John walked faster than James.
In this sentence, “walked faster than James” is the predicate.
- Joan recited a poem to her classmates.
Here “recited a poem to her classmates” is the predicate.
Predicate Examples in Sentences
- Ann cried.
- Ann cried loudly.
- Ann cried loudly on her birthday.
The predicate in these examples all describe what the subject did.
Predicate Examples in Clauses
Let’s look at the examples of predicates in a dependent clause.
Here is an example:
- Because she hadn’t cleared her school fees, Ann was not allowed to sit for her final exam.
In this sentence, there are two predicates. The independent clause comes after a comma and contains the predicate “was not allowed to sit for her final exam.”
“Because she hadn’t cleared her school fees” is the dependent clause and contains the predicate “hadn’t cleared her school fees.” The subject here is “her school fees.”
Types of Predicates
A simple predicate contains a single verb or verb phrase without any modifiers. It can be used in a sentence as a single word. In this case, the word is a verb.
- Jason laughed.
Here the predicate is a single word “laughed,” which is a verb.
Verb Phrase Predicates
A verb phrase can also be a simple predicate if it has no modifiers nor objects.
- Jason has laughed.
In this example, “has laughed” is a simple predicate even though it’s a verb phrase since it has no modifiers nor objects.
A predicate can also be more than one word. This will least include at least one verb or verb phrase.
A predicate can also comprise multiple words, including a verb or a verb phrase.
- Jason laughed at her sister’s birthday.
In this example, “laughed” is the verb (predicate) and “at her sister’s birthday.” is the prepositional phrase.
- Jason has laughed at her sister’s birthday.
Here we have a verb phrase “has laughed,” which is also the predicate and “at her sister’s birthday.” is the prepositional phrase.
A compound predicate comprises of two or more verbs. It can take different variations of predicates already discussed above, apart from the simple predicate as long as it’s composed of two or more verbs.
- Jason laughed and disappeared.
Here we have two verbs.
- Jason has laughed and disappeared.
Here we have more than one verb and a verb phrase.
- Jason laughed and walked away from her sister’s birthday.
Here we have more than one verb and multiple words.
A predicate adjective tells more information about the subject of a verb. It comes after a linking verb in a sentence.
- Joyce is anxious.
Here, “Joyce” is the subject, and “is” is the linking verb. “Anxious” is an adjective that modifies the subject “Joyce” and comes after the linking verb.
- Abraham is handsome.
Here, the subject is “Abraham,” and the “is” is the linking verb. “Handsome” is an adjective that modifies the subject “Abraham” and comes after the linking verb.