Nouns of incomplete predication.

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"The report proved false.". In this sentence,

1: The verb "proved" has been used intransitively.
2: Despite of this, its meaning doesn't complete without the adjective "false".So
3: "False" is a predicative object and it is a subjective complement because it is describing the subject "The report".

Am I right?

  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    I agree that the verb here is intransitive. Here's a definition from M-W* that explains the statement: intransitive verb : to turn out especially after trial or test <the medicine proved to be salutary>; also : to turn out to be <the report of the war's end proved false>

    You are quite right that the meaning is incomplete without an adjective (not a noun in this example) to finish the predicate. I view "false" as completing the meaning of the subject (the report) rather than being a predicative object. Reading "proved" to mean "turned out to be" leads me to that conclusion.
    "prove." Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002.
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    There is another question related to the verb of incomplete predication.

    While I was studying the Higher School Grammar and composition by Wren & Marting, the following passage crossed me:

    "When the Subjective Complement is a Noun it is in the same case as the Subject, i.e, in the Nominative case."

    Apparently, it seems that the writers are differentiating between the noun being used as a subject complement and the adjective being used as such, with regard to the case.

    If this is correct, then what will be the case of adjective being used as a subjective complement?



    Senior Member
    Adjectives aren't inflected for case in English, Muhammad. Therefore, we really can't speak of "case" when we talk about an adjective like "false". The only words that are normally inflected for case are pronouns and nouns when they are inflected for possession: John's house. I gave her the book.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    We don't mark the case of adjectives in English. We mark the case of nouns only in the possessive, if you want to think of it as a case.

    We do mark the case of pronouns. That is the only situation (I think) in which you would notice the effect of the rule you mention. And even then, it is a rule that is falling out of use. Traditionally, you were advised say something like:
    "I am he"
    and to avoid saying "I am him."
    Now "I am he" sounds overly stiff and formal, while "I am him" is considered acceptable.

    Added: Cross-posted with Owlman.
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    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Just to add that it might be more helpful to think of prove as a linking verb (intensive verb or copula) like be. There are a number of verbs that function this way, as we as transitive or intransitive verbs, for example smell.

    • You should stop and smell the roses. TRANSITIVE
    • Something smells in this room. INTRANSITIVE
    • Your curry smells lovely. LINKING
    Other linking verbs include appear, become, seem, feel and grow.
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