predicate nominative or subject complement

ingarten

Senior Member
Ukrainian - Russian
Hi!
I am studying noun clauses (aka that-clauses aka nominal clauses) right now. I thought I've understood something. It appears I didn't.
Take a look at this sentence.
A new computer is what Matthew needs. [predicate nominative identifying the subject computer]
I thought that the noun clause in this sentence is a subject complement. I am confused.
Thank you for your explanation!
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Predicate nominative' is not a term I use, but websites seem to agree it is a subject complement: it is one that is a noun phrase, rather than an adjective phrase.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    As I understand it (and I open to other comments):

    A predicate is what is said of the subject:
    1. He died -> died is the predicate
    2. He eats the pie -> eats the pie is the predicate; “the pie” is the object and the complement of the verb “eats” It is the object because “eats” acts upon it, and it is the complement because we now know what is eaten and the meaning of the sentence becomes apparent by completion.

    You will note that the verb is included in the predicate.

    However, in your example, as the verb to be is a copula, it is lexically empty, it thus requires further words to complete its meaning and thus “what Matthew needs” is the complement to the verb “to be/is”. In this case I would say that the whole predicate is “is what Matthew needs”.

    A complement completes the sense of a verb in a sentence to the extent that the full meaning of that verb is necessary to make the sentence usefully comprehensible – it is not the same as an object. Although the complement may also be an object of the verb, a predicate may be a verb alone - see 1. above.

    If I adapt an example from “Sentence & its Parts 2” by R. B. Long

    3.
    His sister…is buying.....antiques

    …..NP………….V………….....….N
    Subject…..predicate..complement [of verb]

    4.
    His hobby……..is…………….............buying antiques

    …..NP………….V……………….…................….NP
    Subject…..predicate…..[predicate] complement
    Subject…[…..…….........predicate……….…..………]
    NB all text in red is my interpretation, not R.B.Long’s.
     
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