Predicate Nominative – Definition and Examples

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

Grammar has a lot of names for how language is structured, and it can get confusing very quickly. The important thing to remember is not necessarily the label grammarians put on word use and organization, but that you know how to structure your words for clarity and understanding. 

Predicate nominatives can help you do that, even if you never label or say the words “predicate nominative” ever again in your life. This type of noun helps to complete your sentence and relabel a subject so you can provide your audience with the details they need. Take a look at the definition and examples below. 

What is a Predicate Nominative?

A predicate nominative can also be called a predicate noun and is a word or group of words that follow a linking verb. It is always a noun or pronoun, refers to the subject of the verb, and renames it to add further information about the sentence subject. 

What is a Predicate?

Sentences are broken into two parts: the subject and the predicate. The predicate contains the verb and a form of the direct or indirect object. 

For example:

  • The dog is a beast. 

The dog is the subject in this sentence, while “is a beast” is the predicate. 

It is essential to understand there is more than one type of predicate: a nominative or an adjective. As mentioned above, a predicate nominative is a noun that renames the subject. In this example, “a beast” renames the subject “the dog”. 

A predicate adjective uses words that work to modify the subject. For example, the dog is large and fast. 

Types of Predicate Nominatives

Predicate nominatives always follow a linking verb. Linking verbs “link” together information rather than express action. Commonly used linking verbs include is, be, are, was, am, were, been, being, become, and seem. There are other verbs as well that occasionally double as linking verbs. 

The predicate nominative is located in the predicate of a sentence. It will be a noun or pronoun and works to provide an alternate description of the subject. Because of this, they are sometimes called subject complements.

There are two different types of predicate nominatives: simple and compound. 

Simple Predicate Nominative Examples

A simple predicate nominative is only the noun or pronoun, not the linking verb or any possible modifiers. We don’t pay attention to any other ideas or concepts involving the word or words renaming the original subject. In the examples below, the simple predicate nominative is underlined. 

For Example:

  • Jennifer is a good dancer.
  • The dog is a large bulldog. 
  • Emmett is a baseball player. 

Compound Predicate Nominative Examples

Compound predicate nominatives join two or more items that share the same subject. This is used to make the sentence more detailed or interesting, convey additional ideas, and avoid repetition. In the example below, the compound predicate nominatives are underlined. 

For Example:

  • Jennifer is a nursing student, dancer, and dog owner. 
  • Emmett is a baseball player and a third-grade student. 

Predicate Nominative Phrases

You may remember that it is mentioned above that predicate nominatives can also be noun phrases. A phrase is two or more words used together functioning as a single unit. These are underlined in the examples below.

For Example:

  • In the dance, Jennifer is the fairy.  
  • The bulldog is man’s best friend. 
  • In the play last night, Wyatt was the ballplayer.

How are Predicate Nominatives Used in a Sentence?

Predicate nominatives are used regularly to clarify sentence subjects. They are easy to spot in all publications and are likely used in your writing without awareness of their purpose. 

Roberts is a guitarist who often collaborates with Nolte at festivals and clinics and even virtually. [Lubbock Avalanch-Journal]

They are the men who fans pay to watch and that the TV cameras and journalists love to focus on. [Aljazeera]

She is a former member of the U.S. Soccer Federation Under-15 Women’s National Team … [ESPN]

He believes he is who his reputation says he is … [Astrochicks]

Let’s Review

A predicate nominative is located within the predicate of a sentence and is a noun or pronoun following a linking verb. They work to define and add information about the subject. They can be simple or compound, relate directly back to the subject, and provide an alternative description for the reader’s interest and understanding.