In this lesson, you’ll learn about a part of a sentence known as the predicate nominative. The predicate nominative, sometimes called a subject complement, is a noun that follows a linking verb and is equal to the subject.

Predicate Nominative

A predicate nominative is a noun that comes after a linking verb and has the same meaning or value as the subject of a sentence.

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Let’s break those terms down. The subject of a sentence is usually a noun that identifies what the sentence is about or who or what is doing an action. A linking verb connects the subject of a sentence to an adjective, noun, or prepositional phrase.

It is not an action verb. Linking verbs most often include forms of the verb ‘to be,’ like:

  • am
  • is
  • are
  • was
  • were

They can also include other verbs such as ‘remain’ and ‘became.’ Other linking verbs refer to the five senses, like:

  • look
  • feel
  • taste
  • smell

So the predicate nominative is another noun that is equal to the subject in a sentence. In the following examples, the subjects and the predicate nominatives are shown in red:

Predicate Nominative

Identifying Predicate Nominatives

It’s important to remember that predicate nominatives are nouns. Not every sentence with a linking verb will have a predicate nominative because linking verbs can connect subjects to adjectives that describe them.

These examples have linking verbs but not predicate nominatives:

  • ‘The nuts taste salty.’ Here, ‘salty’ is an adjective that describes the nuts.
  • ‘The sunset was beautiful.’ In this sentence, ‘beautiful’ is an adjective that describes the sunset.

To find the predicate nominative in a sentence, start by identifying the verb.

If the verb is doing something, the sentence doesn’t have a predicate nominative. If the verb can be exchanged for a form of ‘to be,’ it is probably a linking verb. See if the sentence still makes sense. If it does, then you have a predicate nominative.

For example, take a look at this sentence:

  • Even after his break from the sport, he remained a leader.

Here the verb is ‘remained.’ Let’s try replacing it with a form of ‘to be’ and see if the sentence still works:

  • Even after his break from the sport, he was a leader.

The sentence has the same meaning as before, so ‘remained’ is a linking verb. ‘Leader’ is a noun and equal to the subject, ‘he.

‘ ‘Leader’ is a predicate nominative.

Examples

The following sentences all have predicate nominatives. See if you can pick out the linking verbs and the subjects.

  • Jeremy was president of the club.

  • Susan is the favorite to win first place in the science fair.
  • The mistakes were an embarrassment to the team.

This next set of examples might look like they have predicate nominatives, but they do not.

  • Jill felt sick after she ate dessert.

‘Sick’ is not a predicate nominative.

It’s an adjective that describes the subject. The sentence includes a linking verb: felt.

  • Joshua was in Paris for the summer.

‘Was’ does not link the subject ‘Joshua’ to an equivalent noun. Joshua and Paris are not the same, so there is no predicate nominative in this sentence.

Lesson Summary

The predicate nominative is a noun that comes after a linking verb and is equal to a subject of a sentence. The subject of a sentence is usually a noun performing an action, while a linking verb connects the subject to an adjective, noun, or prepositional phrase. A predicate nominative typically follows a version of the verb ‘to be.’ If a verb can be exchanged for a form of ‘to be,’ it’s probably a linking verb. However, if a verb is doing something, the sentence does not have a predicate nominative.

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