Subject complement or object complement

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Sarp84224

Senior Member
Hindi
In the book “Understanding English Grammar: A Linguistic Introduction” on page 208, the following is classified as a subject complement:

The NHS was for all of us.

Is that correct?
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In that sentence, “for all of us” can only be a subject complement since there’s no object for it to be an object complement of.
     

    Sarp84224

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    In that sentence, “for all of us” can only be a subject complement since there’s no object for it to be an object complement of.
    Can you give me an example of a subject pronoun being used within an object complement?

    I think if you do that then I may understand this better.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Can you quote from the article directly please?
    In grammar, a subject complement or predicative of the subject is a predicative expression that follows a linking verb (copula) and that complements the subject of the sentence by either (1) renaming it or (2) describing it. It completes the meaning of the subject.[1] In the former case, a renaming noun phrase such as a noun or pronoun is called a predicative nominal. An adjective following the copula and describing the subject is called a predicative adjective. In either case the predicative complement in effect mirrors the subject. Subject complements are used with a small class of verbs called linking verbs or copulas, of which be is the most common. Since copulas are stative verbs, subject complements are not affected by any action of the verb. Subject complements are typically not clause arguments, nor are they clause adjuncts. A predicative complement can be either a subject complement or an object complement.

    An expression may contain within it, its own subjects and/or objects that are NOT related to the linking verb or the requirements of the complement itself. Their example :
    That is what my point is. – Predicative clause as subject complement
    illustrates how we can have an object pronoun (him) as the object of another verb (told)- i.e. not the linking verb). "That is what I told him."
     
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    Sarp84224

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    An expression may contain within it, its own subjects and/or objects that are NOT related to the linking verb or the requirements of the complement itself. Their example : illustrates how we can have an object pronoun (him) as the object of another verb (told)- i.e. not the linking verb). "That is what I told him."
    “That is what I told him.” - “what I told him” = the subject complement.

    Is that right?
     

    Sarp84224

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    That looks like a simple passive verb construction.
    The local hospital was created for all of us to use.

    The problem is always working overtime for him.

    Are those two better examples?

    In the second sentence, is “the problem” the subject or “he”? Is the clause after the second “is” a complement?
     

    tunaafi

    Senior Member
    English - British (Southern England)
    The local hospital was created for all of us to use. Passive construction,

    He was sitting next to me about thirty minutes ago. Progressive/continuous construction.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    (0) The problem is always working overtime for him.
    This sentence is badly constructed and it is not clear what you want it to mean.
    Do you mean (1) "always working overtime is a problem for him", or (2) "working overtime for him is always a problem"?
    In case (2), "him" is not the person doing the work, but the person for whom the work is being done.
    If you mean (1), then (0) is wrong.
    is “the problem” the subject or “he”?
    There is no "he". The subject is "the problem", and the subject complement is the noun phrase "always working overtime for him".
    But when the subject complement is a noun phrase, it can be inverted so that their roles are swapped:
    Always working overtime X is a problem Y. There are two possible places X and Y where "for him" could go, depending on whether you want meaning (2) or meaning (1), but in either case the subject complement "a problem" can be turned into an adjective "problematic".
    Is the clause after the second “is” a complement?
    There is only one "is", but yes, if you don't invert it, then "the problem" is the subject and "always working overtime for him" is the subject complement, and the meaning is (2).
     

    Sarp84224

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    From the same sentence on different thread, “I will give the prize to whoever arrives first at the finish line.”

    I = subject
    Give = verb
    Prize = object
    To = preposition
    Whoever arrives first at the finish line = Object of the preposition “to”

    Am I right? Does it matter that the object as a noun phrase has a subject pronoun? Also, am I right in thinking that there is no complement in that sentence?

    With regards to complements, I am a little bit confused about a subject complement vs an object complement.

    For example:

    All I can think about is him struggling tonight during the darts match.

    I - subject
    Is - linking verb
    Him struggling tonight during the darts match - subject complement

    Is that right?

    I hate the colour that they painted my room.

    I - subject
    Hate - verb
    Colour - object
    That they painted the room - object complement

    Is that right?

    I’m trying to learn the more formal aspect of English grammar so at first I thought automatically that any object pronoun after a linking verb was automatically grammatically wrong, but then I came across the complement.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You seem to be confusing the verb to be as an auxiliary (helping verb) and as a copula (linking verb).

    As an auxiliary, it forms part of an inflected/finite verb form, which may be either active or passive:


    He sat next to me (simple aspect, active voice)
    He was sitting next to me (progressive aspect, active voice)
    The local hospital was created for all of us to use (simple aspect, passive voice)
    A new maternity wing was being built (progressive aspect, passive voice)

    As a linking verb, it introduces a subject complement that relates to the subject itself:

    She is a doctor / We are ready [to start the operation]
    A complement can also relate to the object of a transitive verb already used in the sentence, in which case it can be described as an object complement:

    It is essential to keep the instruments sterile
    The patient called the surgeon a hero
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    For example:

    All I can think about is him struggling tonight during the darts match.
    Technically, although commonly heard, this is wrong, and it should be "All I can think about is his struggling tonight during the darts match." because "struggling" is a gerund and requires a possessive. "his struggling tonight during the darts match." is a gerund phrase.

    However, "All I can think about is him." is correct. The use of "him" in the object case reflects the objective case following the preposition. "All about whom I can think is him."
     
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    Sarp84224

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    Technically, although commonly heard, this is wrong, and it should be "All I can think about is his struggling tonight during the darts match." because "struggling" is a gerund and requires a possessive. "his struggling tonight during the darts match." is a gerund phrase.
    Does that mean It is correct to say, “Do you mind my asking you a few questions?” I think most people would say “me” instead of “my”.

    However, "All I can think about is him." is correct. The use of "him" in the object case reflects the objective case following the preposition. "All about whom I can think is him."
    I know that the word “him” is the object of the preposition “about”. But, what is the function of the word “is” in the sentence? Is the word “is” functioning as a linking verb in the sentence? Or, is it a helping verb demonstrating the tense (present)?

    Subject + preposition + linking verb + object (of the preposition).

    The word “him” is after “is”, but “him” is neither an adjective nor a noun (subject complement).
     
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    Sarp84224

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    You seem to be confusing the verb to be as an auxiliary (helping verb) and as a copula (linking verb).

    As an auxiliary, it forms part of an inflected/finite verb form, which may be either active or passive:


    He sat next to me (simple aspect, active voice)
    He was sitting next to me (progressive aspect, active voice)
    The local hospital was created for all of us to use (simple aspect, passive voice)
    A new maternity wing was being built (progressive aspect, passive voice)

    As a linking verb, it introduces a subject complement that relates to the subject itself:

    She is a doctor / We are ready [to start the operation]
    A complement can also relate to the object of a transitive verb already used in the sentence, in which case it can be described as an object complement:

    It is essential to keep the instruments sterile
    The patient called the surgeon a hero
    What about “the local hospital was always there for us”?

    What about, “I hate the colour that they painted my room.”?

    What is after “that” complements the object “colour” so functions as an object complemebt
     

    Sarp84224

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    You seem to be confusing the verb to be as an auxiliary (helping verb) and as a copula (linking verb).

    As an auxiliary, it forms part of an inflected/finite verb form, which may be either active or passive:


    He sat next to me (simple aspect, active voice)
    He was sitting next to me (progressive aspect, active voice)
    The local hospital was created for all of us to use (simple aspect, passive voice)
    A new maternity wing was being built (progressive aspect, passive voice)

    As a linking verb, it introduces a subject complement that relates to the subject itself:

    She is a doctor / We are ready [to start the operation]
    A complement can also relate to the object of a transitive verb already used in the sentence, in which case it can be described as an object complement:

    It is essential to keep the instruments sterile
    The patient called the surgeon a hero
    All I can think about is him.

    “him” is the object of the preposition “about” so it’s definitely and can be shortened to “I think about him”.

    But, in that sentence is the verb “is” a helping verb or linking verb?
     
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    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    What about “the local hospital was always there for us”?

    What about, “I hate the colour that they painted my room.”?

    What is after “that” complements the object “colour” so functions as an object complement
    Does it? Or would it normally just be described as a relative clause that functions adjectivally?

    A subject and a verb are the only elements that are essential in order to make a viable sentence.

    Where the main clause of a sentence uses a linking verb, a direct object is not possible. So instead, it’s a subject complement that’s added to the subject+verb to convey the meaning of the statement.

    Where the main clause uses a transitive verb, its basic structure is subject+verb+object (SOV) – but that object does not normally need a complement. However, sometimes the intended meaning cannot be conveyed by the verb alone, or the verb alone conveys the wrong meaning. Only in that case is an object complement essential – as in the examples I gave in #20.

    It is essential to keep the instruments :confused:
    It is essential to keep the instruments sterile :thumbsup:
    The patient called the surgeon :confused:
    The patient called the surgeon a hero :thumbsup:

    Another grammar website (Object Complements in English Grammar) enlarges on this by stating that the verbs whose object might need an object complement are those that express “a perception, judgement, or change”. These include: call, like, leave, keep, want, find, consider, declare, prefer, make, paint, name, think, get, send, turn, vote, elect.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    It is correct to say, “Do you mind my asking you a few questions?” I think most people would say “me” instead of “my”.
    Please do not confuse "what most people say" with what is correct. In prescriptive grammar, “Do you mind my asking you a few questions?” is grammatically and demonstrably correct. "my asking you a few questions" is a substantive phrase that can be replaced by "it" as the object of "mind."

    “Do you mind me asking you a few questions?” Should be “Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?” "asking you a few questions" cannot be replace by "it".

    I must emphasise at this point that “Do you mind me asking you a few questions?” can also be used to indicate that the person may not mind someone else asking the question, and yet this meaning can be carried by the "my" version if the "my" is emphasised.

    “Do you mind me asking you a few questions?” is indeed common and accepted.
     

    Sarp84224

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    Does it? Or would it normally just be described as a relative clause that functions adjectivally?

    A subject and a verb are the only elements that are essential in order to make a viable sentence.

    Where the main clause of a sentence uses a linking verb, a direct object is not possible. So instead, it’s a subject complement that’s added to the subject+verb to convey the meaning of the statement.

    Where the main clause uses a transitive verb, its basic structure is subject+verb+object (SOV) – but that object does not normally need a complement. However, sometimes the intended meaning cannot be conveyed by the verb alone, or the verb alone conveys the wrong meaning. Only in that case is an object complement essential – as in the examples I gave in #20.


    It is essential to keep the instruments :confused:
    It is essential to keep the instruments sterile :thumbsup:
    The patient called the surgeon :confused:
    The patient called the surgeon a hero :thumbsup:

    Another grammar website (Object Complements in English Grammar) enlarges on this by stating that the verbs whose object might need an object complement are those that express “a perception, judgement, or change”. These include: call, like, leave, keep, want, find, consider, declare, prefer, make, paint, name, think, get, send, turn, vote, elect.
    In grammar, a subject complement or predicative of the subject is a predicative expression that follows a linking verb (copula) and that complements the subject of the sentence by either (1) renaming it or (2) describing it. It completes the meaning of the subject.

    How is the object of a preposition after a linking verb the subject complement of “I” (the subject)?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The object of a preposition obviously can’t be a subject complement on its own. It can’t even be the object of a preposition unless preceded by that preposition, making a prepositional phrase.

    I am in France
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish/AE
    All I can think about is him.

    “him” is the object of the preposition “about” so it’s definitely and can be shortened to “I think about him”.

    But, in that sentence is the verb “is” a helping verb or linking verb?
    No, "him" is not the object of "about," not according to the structure of the sentence All I can think about is him. By contrast, "him" is the object of "about" in I think about him, but this is a different sentence, with different structure. All I can think about is him and I think about him have the same meaning, but they differ syntactically. Now,

    (a) All I can think about is him

    is the equivalent of

    (b) He is all I can think about

    This is what happens when your main verb is auxiliary be ("is"); you can switch things around. In (b), the pronoun is "He" because the pronoun appears before the finite verb. In (a), the pronoun is "him" because there is no finite verb associated with it. In (a), the finite verb "is" has as its subject the clause "All I can think about."

    You can call "is" a "helping verb" or a "linking verb." It makes no difference to the function of "is." Keep in mind that many linguists prefer the term auxiliary verb. And it is auxiliary be which appears in progressive constructions (She is singing ), passive constructions (He was found), with predicate nouns (She is the boss), and predicate adjectives (I am happy). One term (auxiliary be) across the board.
     
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    Sarp84224

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    The object of a preposition obviously can’t be a subject complement on its own. It can’t even be the object of a preposition unless preceded by that preposition, making a prepositional phrase.

    I am in France
    So what is the function of “him” in the sentence then?

    No, "him" is not the object of "about," not according to the structure of the sentence All I can think about is him. By contrast, "him" is the object of "about" in I think about him, but this is a different sentence, with different structure. All I can think about is him and I think about him have the same meaning, but they differ syntactically. Now,

    (a) All I can think about is him

    is the equivalent of

    (b) He is all I can think about

    This is what happens when your main verb is auxiliary be ("is"); you can switch things around. In (b), the pronoun is "He" because the pronoun appears before the finite verb. In (a), the pronoun is "him" because there is no finite verb associated with it. In (a), the finite verb "is" has as its subject the clause "All I can think about."

    You can call "is" a "helping verb" or a "linking verb." It makes no difference to the function of "is." Keep in mind that many linguists prefer the term auxiliary verb. And it is auxiliary be which appears in progressive constructions (She is singing ), passive constructions (He was found), with predicate nouns (She is the boss), and predicate adjectives (I am happy). One term (auxiliary be) across the board.
    So, in the sentence, do you think that “is” is acting as an auxiliary verb? If so, which type?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    So, in the sentence, do you think that “is” is acting as an auxiliary verb? If so, which type?
    Did you read this?
    Keep in mind that many linguists prefer the term auxiliary verb. And it is auxiliary be which appears in progressive constructions (She is singing ), passive constructions (He was found), with predicate nouns (She is the boss), and predicate adjectives (I am happy). One term (auxiliary be) across the board.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish/AE
    So what is the function of “him” in the sentence then?
    What to call "him" is up to you. Some use the term "subject complement" for whatever comes after "be." Others argue that "him" is the actual "subject" of the sentence, analyzed as a "noun phrase," which has been put at the end of the sentence through extraposition (a syntactic transformation) so that the clause "All I can think about" appears first in the sentence, where it gains greater focus.
     

    Sarp84224

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    In which sentence?
    All I can think about is him.

    Did you read this?
    Yes.

    It’s not progressive. It’s not passive. It’s not a predicate noun.

    This is why I’m confused because “him” is not being governed by the linking verb, but by the preposition “about”, but it appears after the linking verb so it has to be regarded as something.


    What to call "him" is up to you. Some use the term "subject complement" for whatever comes after "be." Others argue that "him" is the actual "subject" of the sentence, analyzed as a "noun phrase," which has been put at the end of the sentence through extraposition (a syntactic transformation) so that the clause "All I can think about" appears first in the sentence, where it gains greater focus.
    Well it’s not a subject complement because it’s got nothing to do with the subject, the word “him” is being governed by the preposition “about”. It is neither renaming nor describing the subject “I“.

    Why would “him” be the subject? It’s the object of the preposition “about” and there is already a subject (“I”) in the sentence.

    Is it a predicate expression as a second complement?

    “In grammar, a complement is a word, phrase, or clause that is necessary to complete the meaning of a given expression.”

    It comes after the copular verb “is” and that one word completes the sentence.
     

    Sarp84224

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    No, "him" is not the object of "about," not according to the structure of the sentence All I can think about is him. By contrast, "him" is the object of "about" in I think about him, but this is a different sentence, with different structure. All I can think about is him and I think about him have the same meaning, but they differ syntactically. Now,

    (a) All I can think about is him

    is the equivalent of

    (b) He is all I can think about

    This is what happens when your main verb is auxiliary be ("is"); you can switch things around. In (b), the pronoun is "He" because the pronoun appears before the finite verb. In (a), the pronoun is "him" because there is no finite verb associated with it. In (a), the finite verb "is" has as its subject the clause "All I can think about."

    You can call "is" a "helping verb" or a "linking verb." It makes no difference to the function of "is." Keep in mind that many linguists prefer the term auxiliary verb. And it is auxiliary be which appears in progressive constructions (She is singing ), passive constructions (He was found), with predicate nouns (She is the boss), and predicate adjectives (I am happy). One term (auxiliary be) across the board.
    Well if it’s not the object of the preposition “about”, what the hell is it? That’s very confusing.

    If in the sentence the verb “is” is acting as a finite verb then is it just an auxiliary verb rather than a linking verb? Because it’s giving the information about the tense of the sentence i.e. that the thought is present.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    All I can think about is him.
    Well if it’s not the object of the preposition “about”, what the hell is it? That’s very confusing.
    It's not. "Him" is the object of the verb "is". But since is is a copular verb and since grammarians claim that a copula cannot have an object, they call it a subject complement. Ergo, him is the subject complement.

    Let's analyze the subject "all I can think about":
    "All" is a pronoun meaning everything and "(that) I can think about" is a defining subclause. It restricts the meaning of 'everything' to 'everything I can think about'.
    To analyze the syntactical structure we can remove that defining subclause and we get:
    All is him.

    Of course, the meaning of this sentence has changed now, but that's normal whenever you remove a defining subclause. I just did this to make the syntax analysis easier since you seem to get easily confused when a sentence uses so many different words. ;)
    In this simplified form, it's clear that all is the subject and him is the subject complement, simply because it follows the copula (linking verb as you call it) is.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    This is why I’m confused because “him” is not being governed by the linking verb, but by the preposition “about”, but it appears after the linking verb so it has to be regarded as something.
    That is incorrect.
    In sentence (B) "I can only think about him", "him" is indeed governed by the preposition "about".
    But your sentence is (A) "All I can think about is him.", and here "him" is not governed by "about".
    (A) is essentially a straightforward <subject> <linking verb> <subject complement> sentence in which the subject is "all I can think about". As manfy points out, "I can think about" is a reduced relative clause ("reduced" because the relative pronoun "that" has been omitted). The meaning of (A) is the same as (B) or as (C) "The only thing (that) I can think about is him" or (D) "He is the only thing (that) I can think about", except that we don't usually call people things, so "the only thing" becomes "all" so that (C) becomes (A) and (D) becomes (E) "He is all I can think about".

    Often the role of "is" is to equate two things, and that's what's happening here: "All I can think about" is equated to "him", and when two things are equal there is symmetry. If X=Y then Y=X, and you can see that (A) and (E) are mirror images of each other, as indeed are (C) and (D). The only difference is that "him" becomes "he" when it occupies the subject position, while it appears in the objective case when in the subject complement position.

    You may wish to ask what "about" governs in (A) and (E). In effect, it governs the missing relative pronoun "that".
     
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