Some clauses consist of a subject, the verb be and an expression that either modifies the subject or denotes something identical to the subject.
- Jane is a journalist.
- The children were very excited.
- Susie is in the shower.
The expression that modifies the subject in clauses like these is often called a subject complement. Subject complements can also follow other copular verbs like become, seem and look.
- Alice became a doctor.
- She looks depressed.
An object complement is a phrase which follows a direct object and either modifies that object or denotes something identical to it.
- She called me a liar.
- They made her a star.
- I consider hang-gliding dangerous.
Complements of verbs, nouns and adjectives
Words and expressions which complete the meaning of a verb, noun or adjective are also called complements.
- I am fond of children. (of children is the complement of the adjective fond.)
- I am sorry to tell you this. (to tell you this is the complement of the adjective sorry.)
- Let us get a bottle of wine. (of wine is the complement of the noun bottle.)
- She wants to find a new job. (to find a new job is the complement of the verb wants.)
It is important to know what kinds of complements can come after a particular word. For example, interested can be followed by in … -ing or by an infinitive; want can be followed by an infinitive, but suggest cannot; on the other hand suggest can be followed by a that-clause, but want cannot.
- I am interested in learning to fly.
- I want to take a long holiday.
- The doctor suggested taking a long holiday.
- The doctor suggested that I should take a long holiday.