complement

colum4

Senior Member
China-Chinese
Hi,
I have a thought about grammar.

There are three sentences:
I paint the wall white.
I reveal him to be wrong.
You make me happy.

I consider "white" , "to be wrong" and "happy" as complement.

In my opinion, what can be complement is noun(just like white), "to be adjective"(just like "to be wrong") or "adjective" ; and the reason why "adjective" can follow "noun" directly is that "to be" is omitted according to grammar.

Am I right?

Thank you.
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    In your first sentence, 'white' is not a noun, but an adjective.

    I would not use this construction: I reveal him to be wrong.
    I might say: I reveal his errors, or I reveal the fact that he is wrong.
    In these sentences, I would call 'his errors' and "the fact that he is wrong" objects of the verb reveal.

    I am not sure how you use the term 'complement'. Possibly your rule is correct for other sentences.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The word complement is used in different ways by different grammarians, so I would hesitate to try to give a single meaning to it.

    I think there may be general agreement that an object complement is an adjective, a noun, or a pronoun, added on to the object of a verb to give it a more precise meaning.

    In your three sentences, white, to be wrong and happy, are all object complements, as you suggest.

    Like Cagey, I couldn't say I reveal him to be wrong, but I could say I show him to be wrong, and in that sentence the noun phrase to be wrong is an object complement, in my view.
     
    Last edited:

    Jim2996

    Senior Member
    American English

    I consider "white" , "to be wrong" and "happy" as complement.
    OK, it depends on what you mean by complements. Not everyone uses grammar terms like this consistently.

    I use complement, or better predicate complement to mean the noun/noun phrase that comes after linking verbs like to be.
    That boy is my brother. "He" is the subject, and "my brother" is the complement. These 'linking' sentences can often be turned around, here to "My brother is that boy."

    "White" is an adjective. I would call it a predicate adjective. This means that it is an adjective that is in the predicate, the verb-phrase part of the sentence, that refers to the subject.
    When I looked at YourDictionaryGrammar I see that it can also be called a subject complement. I'm sure others have even more terms for this.

    No native would think that "to be" is omitted in your sentences—"to be" is not omitted. I'm not even sure what you are trying to express with your second sentence. (Reveal is an odd verb to use) Some guesses:
    "I revealed to him that he was wrong."
    "I am showing him that he is wrong."
    "I am showing that he is wrong."
    The noun-phrases, "that he is wrong", are direct objects. Grammatically, they could be replaced with "it."

    I hope this helps.
     
    Last edited:

    colum4

    Senior Member
    China-Chinese
    The word complement is used in different ways by different grammarians, so I would hesitate to try to give a single meaning to it.

    I think there may be general agreement that an object complement is an adjective, a noun, or a pronoun, added on to the object of a verb to give it a more precise meaning.

    In your three sentences, white, to be wrong and happy, are all object complements, as you suggest.

    Like Cagey, I couldn't say I reveal him to be wrong, but I could say I show him to be wrong, and in that sentence the noun phrase to be wrong is an object complement, in my view.
    Hi,
    Can I think that those "adjective" can follow "noun" as complement without "to be" because "to be" is omitted ?

    Thank you.
     

    colum4

    Senior Member
    China-Chinese
    OK, it depends on what you mean by complements. Not everyone uses grammar terms like this consistently.

    I use complement, or better predicate complement to mean the noun/noun phrase that comes after linking verbs like to be.
    That boy is my brother. "He" is the subject, and "my brother" is the complement. These 'linking' sentences can often be turned around, here to "My brother is that boy."

    "White" is an adjective. I would call it a predicate adjective. This means that it is an adjective that is in the predicate, the verb-phrase part of the sentence, that refers to the subject.
    When I looked at YourDictionaryGrammar I see that it can also be called a subject complement. I'm sure others have even more terms for this.

    No native would think that "to be" is omitted in your sentences—"to be" is not omitted. I'm not even sure what you are trying to express with your second sentence. (Reveal is an odd verb to use) Some guesses:
    "I revealed to him that he was wrong."
    "I am showing him that he is wrong."
    "I am showing that he is wrong."
    The noun-phrases, "that he is wrong", are direct objects. Grammatically, they could be replaced with "it."

    I hope this helps.
    I'm afraid I'm not quite clear what you are asking.

    An example might help.
    Hi,
    Let us forget all things we discuss early and discuss this structure: "verb" + "noun" + "adjective" or "to be adjective" (we only fixate on the structure and don't care which usage is better to say).

    There are two sentences:
    First. I paint the wall white.
    Sencond. I reveal him to be illiterate.

    The two sentences' common feature is "adjective" behind "noun" ; but one has "to be", and the other does not.

    I think that "to be adjective" can follow "noun" only ; but there is a sentence(first sentence) in which "adjective" follows "noun" without "to be".

    Why can "adjective" follow "noun" without "to be" ?

    I think that the reason why "adjective" can follow "noun" without "to be" is just that "to be" is omitted for some reason.

    Am I right?

    Thank you.
     

    colum4

    Senior Member
    China-Chinese
    I don't know why you persist with a sentence using reveal, when two of us have said that we wouldn't use the verb in such a sentence.
    Hi,
    Ok. I replace it with this sentence: We discovered him to be untrustworthy. Others remain unchanged.
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    This is a delicate point in syntax and different grammarians would offer different explanations.
    I believe that "I paint the wall white" is the result of a transformation of a "sentence" in which the verb is a "complex verb" (ie, to paint white, or to paintwhite):

    1. I paintwhite the wall —> I paint the wall white

    As for the sequence "to discover + NP + to be + Adj" I don't think it is at all common in English. If you don't mind I'd change the verb and use "to find".
    In that case we'd be able to explain the genesis of the sentence "We found him untrustworthy" by the same token:

    2. We founduntrustworthy him —> We found him untrustworthy

    GS (sorry for the monster-looking past tense :) )
     

    Jim2996

    Senior Member
    American English
    1) We can use "to be" or 'to-be phrases as nouns. Actually any infinitive can be used as a noun—but it's not done that much. Usually there are far better options. I suspect some people would say that this is wrong.

    "To go fast is what I want" is a valid sentence, but most people would say "Speed is what I want.

    2) There are many adjectives that are defined in dictionaries as 'to be, or to be characterized by, etc <the noun>.
    We all feel that these are just adjectives. Again, there is no "no be" missing.

    3) I find that you want to add a "to be" that is totally unnecessary and seldom added Then you want to insist that we omit it.

    4) Some verbs, like found and discover, are transitive, they need a direct object, a noun, to follow. This could be a infinite phrase, but most often it is a 'that phrase.'
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    GS brings up a great example.
    2. We founduntrustworthy him —> We found him untrustworthy
    These sentences are both possible:

    We found him untrustworthy.
    We found him to be untrustworthy.

    These sentences, however, are not both possible:

    We painted the wall white. :tick:
    We painted the wall to be white. :cross:

    Neither are these:

    We rendered him speechless. :tick:
    We rendered him to be speechless. :cross:

    Neither are these:

    We ordered him quiet. :cross:
    We ordered him to be quiet. :tick:

    Neither are these:

    We edited the document more readable. :cross:
    We edited the document to be more readable. :tick:

    In other words, we are not dealing with the elision of "to be" in any of these structures. Instead, we have three different patterns:

    verb + noun + adjective (painted, rendered, etc.)
    verb + noun + to be + adjective (ordered, directed, edited, etc.)
    verb + noun (+ optional "to be") + adjective (found, liked, etc.)

    You just have to memorize which verb fits in with each pattern. All are equally grammatical; all do not necessarily mean the same thing.
     

    colum4

    Senior Member
    China-Chinese
    1) We can use "to be" or 'to-be phrases as nouns. Actually any infinitive can be used as a noun—but it's not done that much. Usually there are far better options. I suspect some people would say that this is wrong.

    "To go fast is what I want" is a valid sentence, but most people would say "Speed is what I want.

    2) There are many adjectives that are defined in dictionaries as 'to be, or to be characterized by, etc <the noun>.
    We all feel that these are just adjectives. Again, there is no "no be" missing.

    3) I find that you want to add a "to be" that is totally unnecessary and seldom added Then you want to insist that we omit it.

    4) Some verbs, like found and discover, are transitive, they need a direct object, a noun, to follow. This could be a infinite phrase, but most often it is a 'that phrase.'
    Hi,
    I am sorry, but I feel what you said has little relationship with my question. Maybe I am wrong.

    Thank you.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top