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What is a Predicate

Learn What a Predicate is and Improve Your Knowledge of Grammar

What is a predicate? What role does it play in the formation of a grammatically correct sentence? Let's find out.
Penlighten Staff
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
If there's one thing that can earn you some good grades in school, it's English grammar. All you have to know are the basic rules, understand them (which is not all that difficult) and apply them, not only in your tests, but also in daily life, so that you have a sound knowledge of the rules and you know exactly when and how you can improve on your mistakes. One of the most common parts of English grammar that causes some confusion, is the distinction between the parts of a sentence. We know that the main 'subject' being spoken about, is the 'subject'. But what is a predicate? And how do we get to know the difference between the two? Well, this article will try to solve these queries. Use them and you'll excel in grammar and composition like never before.

Definition of a Predicate

In order to facilitate an easy and better comprehension of what a predicate is, given here is a definition that might help you out.

A predicate is that part of a sentence, which tells us more about the subject of the sentence. A predicate always contains the verb in the sentence and describes the action of the subject or the subject itself.

What is a Predicate in a Sentence

In order to understand the definition of a predicate better, here is an example of a predicate in a sentence.

Example: The girl picked up the flowers.

Now, in the above example, the sentence will be broken up into two parts: the subject and the predicate. First let us see what is the subject. In order to find that out, we must ask the questions 'what' or 'who'. In this case, we will ask the question 'who' is this sentence about. The sentence is about the girl. So, the girl becomes the subject of the sentence. Now, to find out what the predicate is in this sentence, we know that the predicate is something that tells us more about the subject and also contains the verb. So, in this case, we'll ask the question, 'what'. What did the girl do? She 'picked up the flowers'. Since this part tells us more about the 'action' that the girl performed, it is the predicate of the sentence.

Types of Predicates

Given below are some of the most basic types of predicates. They are fairly easy to understand. They are accompanied by examples, so you needn't worry at all.

Simple Predicate
This is the most basic type of predicate. When, in a sentence, a single predicate modifies or describes the subject (whether simple or compound), it is a simple predicate.

Example: The girl with the blue hat rode the bicycle.

In this sentence, the subject is 'the girl'. There is another part describing her, 'with the blue hat'. However, this does not qualify as the predicate. Why? Because it does not contain the verb of the sentence. The latter half, 'rode the bicycle' is the part that actually completes the sentence. Such a simple completion, which is done with the use of the verb of the sentence is called a simple predicate.

Compound Predicate
A compound predicate has more than one verb in a sentence, and they both describe the same subject or subjects.

Example: The cat and the mouse ran across the fields and then rested under the tree.

In the above sentence, 'the cat' and 'the mouse' are the two subjects. The latter half, 'ran across the fields and then rested under the tree', as you can see contains two verbs. Both these verbs are telling us about the subjects of the sentence. Hence, this type of predicate is called a compound predicate.

Predicate Adjective
A predicate adjective, as the name suggests, has something to do with the predicate and an adjective. So, a predicate, when it contains an adjective describing the verb is called a predicate adjective or a predicative adjective.

Example: We ran to the tall lighthouse.

In this sentence, the subject is 'we'. What did we do? We ran to the lighthouse. But 'which' lighthouse? The 'tall' lighthouse. So, within the predicate, the word 'tall' complements the verb that links the subject and the predicate.

Predicate Nominative
A predicative nominative or a nominal predicative occurs when, in a sentence, the linking verb is followed by a noun or a pronoun. If the predicate contains a noun after the verb, it is a predicative nominative.

Example: They gave him his hat.

In this sentence, the subject is 'they'. What did they do? They 'gave him his hat'. As you can see, there occurs a noun after the linking verb 'gave'. It is complementing the verb in the predicate using a noun, and hence is a predicate noun.

The English language is fascinating for those who wish to learn its intricacies. We hope this article has helped you understand the predicate. Now you can find a new confidence in implementing the simple rules of identification given above.