Can the verb "be" have a complement?

Jawel7

Senior Member
Turkish
Hello everyone.
There is something making no sense to me.
According to some English grammar websites, Whatever comes after a linking verb must be the subject complement.
So let's think of the following examples.

1-) I was at the party.

According to that definition, "at the party" must be the subject complement, but how? Because it seems to be an adverbial prepositional phrase expressing where I was.

If it is a subject complement, what is the following one?

2-) I want to be at the party.

At the party is the subject complement of what? It is really interesting and hard to understand. I think "at the party" is the complement of the verb "be".

3-) I was happy.

If the adjective "happy" is the subject complement, does it mean that the verb "be" has no complement here?

I hope that you understood my problem.
Even if "at the party", "happy" give more information about the subject, they theoretically seem to be the complements of the verb "was"..

What do you think? Thanks.
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    3-) I was happy.

    If the adjective "happy" is the subject complement, does it mean that the verb "be" has no complement here?
    Where did you get these two different terms: "subject compliment" and "verb compliment"?

    I thought sentences with linking verbs had one compliment, not two compliments.

    Can you give an example sentence that has two compliments (one for the subject, one for the verb)?
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    1-) I was at the party.

    That sentence uses the past tense ("was") of "I/me to be at the party".

    2-) I want to be at the party.

    That takes the whole sentence "me to be at the party", and says it is something you want.

    So the object of "want" is the whole phrase "me to be at the party". This is a sentence with another sentence embedded in it. I don't know the set of grammar rules you are using, but it must have rules for this kind of sentence, which is common in English.
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    According to some English grammar websites ...
    1) I was at the party.
    2) I want to be at the party.
    3) I was happy.
    It is true that different Grammars analyse the underlined phrases in different ways. I can explain how CGEL (the Cambridge Grammar) classifies them.

    In all three cases, the underlined phrase is a complement (of the verb "be", in fact). That is because the sentence either makes no sense without the phrase or else has a radically different meaning. In (3), CGEL classifies "happy" as a subject-oriented predicative complement, whereas in (1) and (2) it classifies "at the party" as a subject-oriented locative complement. In (2), the complement of "want" is a to-infinitival clause which inherits its subject ("I") from the subject of the main verb ("want").
     
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