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Predicative Adjectives

The use of predicative adjectives in academic writing

Unlike attributive adjectives, predicative adjectives do NOT precede the nouns they modify. There are two roles for predicative adjectives: subject predicatives and object predicatives.

Subject Predicatives

Subject predicatives complement a copular verb See the glossary definition and give information about the subject.

  • Sneezes subject noun are powerful predicative adjective for a reason! (Sorg 2021)

  • The noun "sneezes" is the subject, "are" is a copular verb, and "powerful" is a predicative adjective. The adjective is complemented with a prepositional phrase, "for a reason".


  • Some languages subject noun seem harder predicative adjective (comparative) than others. (Sorace 2023)

  • The noun "Some languages" is the subject, "seem" is a copular verb, and "harder" is a predicative adjective . The adjective is complemented with a comparative phrase, "than others".


  • After age 30, people subject noun start to become a little bit shorter predicative adjective . (Bogin 2020)

  • The noun "people" is the subject, "become" is a copular verb, and "shorter" is a predicative adjective . The adjective is modified by the adverb phrase, "a little bit".



Object Predicatives

Object predicatives follow a direct object and describe or classify it.

  • It can make them object noun worse object predicative (comparative) .(Grov√© 2019)

  • The pronoun "them" is a the object of the verb, "make", and "worse" is an object predicative.


  • This is another adaptation to keep them object noun warm object predicative . (Younger 2019)

  • The pronoun "them" is a the object of the verb, "make", and "warm" is an object predicative.


  • But perhaps having a partner with a compatible adjective personalitynoun makes all these things object noun phrase slightly easier object predicative modified by the adverb "slightly" to manage. (McCully 2023)

  • The noun phrase "all these things" is a the object of the verb, "makes", and "easier" is an object predicative postmodified by a to-clause, "to manage".


  • Things such as the structure of a compound and its stability can make it object noun more complex and difficult object predicative to make. (Addicoat 2023)

  • The pronoun "it" is a the object of the verb, "make", and "more complex and difficult" is an object predicative (comparative with two adjectives) postmodified by a to-clause, "to make".


As you can see from the last two examples, predicative adjectives often have complements of their own such as to-clauses, prepositional phrases, that clauses or than comparative phrases or clauses.


Adjectives which are predominantly predicative

Almost all adjectives can be used either attributively or predicatively but many adjectives with the prefix a- occur predominantly in the predicative position: alike, alive, alone. Adjectives which take complementation also occur predominantly in the predicative position: able, afraid, answerable, anxious, asleep, averse, aware, clear, conscious, essential, difficult, important, impossible, likely, loath, necessary, possible, ready, responsible, subject, sure, unlikely, worse.

You can see more examples of predicative adjectives See the glossary definition in the glossary.

 
 
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