Predicate adjectives are defined as adjectival grammatical forms that perform the grammatical function of subject complement. Subject complements are words, phrases, and clauses that follow a copular, or linking, verb and refer back to modify, describe, or complete the grammatical subject of the clause. Subject complements are grammatical constituents embedded in the predicate of a clause. The only grammatical form that can function as predicate adjectives is the adjective phrase.
Adjective Phrases as Predicate Adjectives
The only grammatical form that performs the grammatical function of predicate adjective is the adjective phrase. An adjective phrase is a phrase that consists of an adjective plus any modifiers or complements such as adverb phrases, verb phrases, and prepositional phrases. For example, the following italicized adjective phrases function as predicate adjectives:
- My ice cream sundae tastes nasty.
- Mom feels ill today.
- Dad is very angry.
- The soup cooking on the stove smelled rather unpleasant.
- The teacher grows tired of your antics.
- That young baseball player is afraid of the ball.
- Our student workers are happy to oblige.
- His boss appeared pleased to receive the letter.
Although five grammatical forms (noun phrases, adjective phrases, noun clauses, verb phrases, and prepositional phrases) function as subject complements in the English language, only adjective phrases function as predicate adjectives.
Predicate adjectives in English grammar are adjectives and adjective phrases that perform the grammatical function of subject complement. Subject complements are words, phrases, and clauses that follow a copular or linking verb and refer back to modify, describe, or complete the grammatical subject of the clause.
Predicate adjective is a grammatical function.
The grammatical form that can function as the predicate adjective in English grammar is the adjective phrase.
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Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.