Examples of the Process for
Identifying the Types of Complements

     These examples are based on modified sentences from Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates, by Mary Mapes Dodge. The illustration is by Edna Cooke.

   The directions will be: Underline verbs twice, their subjects once, and label complements ("PA," "PN," "IO," or "DO").



Example # 1: A Dutch wagon with its funny little crooked pole, is a perfect mystery of mysteries.

Step # 1. Find and underline the subject and verb:

A Dutch wagon with its funny little crooked pole, is a perfect mystery of mysteries.
Step # 2. Find the complement by making a question with the subject, verb, and "whom" or "what."
The wagon is whom or what?
In this sentence, the answer to that question is ""mystery." Thus "mystery" is the complement.

Step # 3. Find the type of the complement "mystery." 

a.) Is it a predicate adjective? "Mystery" is not an adjective, so it does not describe "wagon." Therefore it is not a predicate adjective.
b.) Is it a predicate noun? "Is" can mean "equals," and the sentence means that the wagon equals a mystery. Therefore "mystery" functions as a predicate noun.
We have found the type of the complement, so we are finished with this sentence.
A Dutch wagon with its funny little crooked pole, is a perfect mystery (PN) of mysteries.


Example # 2: On a bright December morning long ago, two thinly clad children were kneeling upon the bank of a frozen canal in Holland.

Step # 1. Find and underline the subject and verb:

On a bright December morning long ago, two thinly clad children were kneeling upon the bank of a frozen canal in Holland.
Step # 2: Find the complement by making a question with the subject, verb, and "whom" or "what."
The children were kneeling whom or what?
Nothing in this sentence answers that question. Indeed, the question does not make any sense. Many linguists -- people who study language -- would say that we have a "zero" complement. In KISS, we do not need to worry about that. We have here a simple subject/verb pattern.


Example # 3: The pure morning air was very delightful.

Step # 1. Find and underline the subject and verb:

The pure morning air was very delightful.
Step # 2: Find the complement by making a question with the subject, verb, and "whom" or "what."
The pure morning air was whom or what?
The answer to this question is "delightful," so "delightful" is the complement of "air was."

Step # 3. Find the type of the complement.

a.) Is it a predicate adjective? "Delightful" is an adjective, and in this sentence it describes the subject "morning." Therefore "delightful" is a predicate adjective.
We have found all the subjects, verbs, and complements in this sentence, so we are finished with it:
The pure morning air was very delightful (PA).


Example # 4: The expression on her face gave our boys little promise of a kind reception.

Step # 1. Find and underline the subject and verb:

The expression on her face gave our boys little promise of a kind reception.
Step # 2: Find the complement by making a question with the subject, verb, and "whom" or "what."
The expression gave whom or what?
In this sentence, two words answer this question -- "boys" and "promise." Thus there are two complements. Since there are two of them, take them one at a time.

Step # 3. What type of complement is "boys"?

a.) Is it a predicate adjective? "Boys" is not an adjective, so it does not describe the subject "expression." Therefore it cannot be a predicate adjective.
b.) Is it a predicate noun? "Boys" and "expression" name different things, and "gave" in no way means "equals," so "boys" cannot be a predicate noun.
c.) Is it an indirect object? The sentence means that the expression gave little promise to the boys. Thus "boys" in an indirect object to "gave."

What type of complement is "promise"?

a.) Is it a predicate adjective? "Promise" is not an adjective, so it cannot describe the subject "expression." Therefore is cannot be a predicate adjective.
b.) Is it a predicate noun? "Promise" does not in any way equal the subject "expression," and "gave" does not mean "equals," so "promise" can not be a predicate noun.
c.) Is it an indirect object? The sentence does not mean that anything was given to or for the promise, so "promise" cannot be an indirect object.
d.) The only option left is direct object, so "promise" has to be a direct object of "gave."

Nothing else in the sentence answers the "whom" or "what" question, so we have finished finding the complements and their types:
The expression on her face gave our boys (IO) little promise (DO) of a kind reception.