What is a Predicate Nominative?

So what is a predicate nominative?

They are nouns or pronouns that appear in the predicate part of a sentence, which is the part of a sentence that comes after the subject and verb. They serve the essential function of renaming or identifying the subject. 

In simpler terms, a predicate nominative gives us more information about the subject of a sentence, making our expressions clearer and more detailed.

Grammar Rules for Predicate Nominatives

Typically, a sentence with a predicate nominative follows this pattern:

Subject + Linking Verb + Predicate Nominative (noun/noun phrase)

He became the manager

The subject is the noun or pronoun that the sentence is about. The linking verb connects the subject to the predicate nominative, which, as mentioned earlier, renames or identifies the subject. 

In the example above, "the manager" is the predicate nominative that identifies and renames the subject "He."

Linking Verbs and Predicate Nominatives

Linking verbs are essential in the context of predicate nominatives as they create the connection between the subject and the predicate nominative. These are common linking verbs in English:

  • is
  • am
  • are
  • was
  • were
  • seem
  • become
  • appear
  • feel
  • sound
  • taste
  • smell
  • look
  • become
  • remain

Though these are linking verbs, predicate nominatives are most commonly used with the verb 'to be'. 

Example Sentences:

  • She is a teacher.
  • The animal at the zoo was a giraffe.
  • The team captain is Lily.
  • John appears to be a talented person.
  • The car is a red convertible.
  • The painting remains a masterpiece.
  • A dog is a loyal companion.
  • The cat remains an enigma.

Noun Phrases as Predicate Nominative

As you may have observed from the above examples, predicate nominatives can be noun phrases as well.

A noun phrase is a group of words that functions as a noun, consisting of the noun itself along with modifiers like adjectives, articles, and more. 

Noun Phrases:

  • She is an experienced doctor.

  • The movie turned out to be a masterpiece of cinematic art.

  • The winner is the talented student from our school.

  • My dream is to become a successful writer.

  • Her goal is a fulfilling and happy life.

Two Types of Predicate Nominatives: Simple and Compound

Predicate nominatives can also be categorised as simple and compound.

A simple predicate nominative consists of a single noun or pronoun that renames or identifies the subject. 

Simple Predicate Nominatives

  • She is a factory worker.
  • He became the leader of the group.
  • The book remains a classic.

A compound predicate nominative involves two or more nouns or pronouns separated by conjunctions (such as "and" or "or") that collectively rename or identify the subject. 

Compound Predicate Nominatives

  • She is a fantastic teacher and a wonderful mentor.
  • The team captains are Lily and John.
  • Some of the largest mammals on earth are elephants, giraffes, and hippos.

In these sentences, the predicate nominative consists of multiple identifiers for the subject.

So the primary difference between simple and compound predicate nominatives is the number of nouns or pronouns used. While simple predicate nominatives consist of a single noun or pronoun, compound predicate nominatives involve multiple nouns or pronouns.

Distinguishing Predicate Adjectives from Predicate Nominatives

It's common to confuse predicate nominatives with another grammatical concept – predicate adjectives. They are both subject complements and both follow linking verbs but let's clarify the differences between them:

Predicate Nominatives:

  • are nouns or pronouns.
  • rename or identify the subject.
  • provide additional information about the subject's identity.

Predicate Adjectives:

  • are adjectives.
  • describe or modify the subject.
  • provide additional information about the subject's characteristics or attributes.

Learn more about predicate adjectives.

Summing Up

In summary, predicate nominatives identify or rename the subject. Now that you've unraveled the mystery of predicate nominatives, you're well-equipped to use them effectively in your English writing and conversations.

These versatile elements of grammar add clarity and depth to your expressions, making your language more precise and engaging. Keep practicing, and soon, you'll be a master of this essential linguistic tool.

Happy learning!

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