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Any complete sentence has two main parts, called the subject and the predicate.

The predicate is the part of the sentence that contains the verb, along with its modifiers and complements (direct object, indirect object, subject complement). The predicate makes a statement about the subject and usually comes after the subject.

The predicate may consist of a verb alone or may be several words in length. In the following sentences, the bolded part of the sentence is the predicate:

  • Samantha sneezed.
  • Jean-Marc quickly tore open the letter.
  • Erik always gives his wife Marie jewellery for her birthday.
  • The house next door has been vacant for several months, since the owner moved away.

Action verb

If the verb is an action verb, the predicate tells you what the subject did (or does, or will do), as in the example below:

  • Samantha collects reptiles.

In this sentence, the subject is Samantha. The predicate collects reptiles tells you what Samantha does. The verb here is the action verb collects. Reptiles is the direct object of the verb.

Linking verb

If the verb is a linking verb, the predicate might give a description of the subject, as in the following example:

  • My girlfriend’s boa constrictor seems restless.

Here, seems restless gives a description of the subject boa constrictor. The verb is the linking verb seems, which merely links the subject complement restless to the subject, without expressing any action.

The information after a linking verb may also rename the subject.

  • Juan became a cardiologist.

Here, the predicate became a cardiologist contains the subject complement cardiologist, which is another way of naming the subject Juan. The verb is the linking verb became, which merely links the subject with the subject complement, without expressing any action.