A complement is a word, phrase, or clause that completes the meaning of the verb in the predicate, and thus the sentence. The complements can be broken into the following: 

Those following action verb: direct object, indirect object, and object complement
Those following linking verb: subject complement (predicate nominative/predicate noun, and predicate adjective) completes a subject.
An object complement completes an object.



Direct object
A direct object is a noun or pronoun that comes after a verb to complete the meaning of the verb, which must be a transitive verb. A verb that takes an object is known as a transitive verb. The direct object receives the action of the transitive verb.



The following examples show the direct object in bold.

  • The dog followed Don. 
  • Mary ate the chicken pie.
  • Someone stole the donation box and the call bell.   




Indirect object
An indirect object is either a noun (person, thing or animal) or a pronoun that appears in a sentence after the verb and before the direct object. It can only be found in a sentence that has a direct object. The indirect object shows to whom or for whom something is done, and who receives the direct object.



The indirect object (in bold) comes before the direct object (underlined) in the sentence.

  • She showed her friends her new pet lizard. 
  • We are happy he has come out of a coma.
  • The father drew his son a picture of a dinosaur’s face.  

When the sentences are rewritten as in the following, the indirect object becomes the object of a preposition. It is the person or thing to whom or for whom something is done.

  • She showed her new pet lizard to her friends.  
    (The lizard is shown to whom? To her friends, an indirect object that is now the object of the preposition to.) 
  • The father drew a picture of a dinosaur’s face for his son.  
    (The picture is drawn for whom? For his son, an indirect object that is now the object of the preposition for.)  



Indirect object (pronoun) 



The following examples show the pronouns (in bold) acting as indirect objects.

  • Grandma showed him her new pair of dentures.
  • Uncle Joe gave us fivers.
  • He showed his new tattoo of a dragon’s head to her.
  • Their mother roasted a chicken for them.  




Object complement
An object complement can be a noun, a pronoun or an adjective. It comes immediately after a direct object and adds to the direct object by renaming or describing it. Certain verbs are used when there is an object complement. The verbs include callcreateelectmake, and name. 



The following examples show the object complements in bold.

  • His villagers hailed them heroes after their rescue mission. (them = heroes)

  • They called the local policeman a small-time crook. (policeman = a small-time crook)  

    (The object complements are a noun and a noun phrase.) 

  • His stare made her angry.

  • He painted the doghouse colourful as a rainbow.  

    (The object complements are an adjective and an adjective phrase.)

  • The sales assistant caught him shoplifting.

  • I heard his three dogs barking. 

  • The driver watched the ducks waddling across the road.

    (The object complement in the last sentence is a participial phrase.) 

Subject complements
A subject complement is a predicate noun or a noun phrase, or a predicate adjective or an adjective phrase, or a pronoun. It follows a linking verb, a state verb, or a verb of the senses. The noun, adjective, or pronoun which is the subject complement describes, renames, or identifies the subject of a sentence. Some examples of linking verbs that are followed by subject complements are amis, arewaswerehas beenare beingbecome, look, and seem.  



A subject complement can be a pronoun that identifies the subject.

  • I still remember the hearse driver is he

  • It was they, those boys there, who laughed loudly at me when I fell down.

    (The pronoun that follows a linking verb must be in the subjective case.)




Predicate noun


A predicate noun is a word or a group of words that renames the subject.

  • The country's new head of state is Mr. Superb Super.

  • She said her mother-in-law was a silly old witch.

    (The linking verbs are is and was.)




Predicate adjective
A predicate adjective is an adjective that describes the subject.
That fly settling on your pizza looks big.
His story about witnessing two UFOs colliding was simply unbelievable to me.
(The linking verbs are looks and was.)




A predicate adjective is an adjective that describes the subject.

  • That fly settling on your pizza looks really big.

  • His story about witnessing two UFOs colliding was simply unbelievable to me.

    (The linking verbs are looks and was.)