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    The Object Complement in English Grammar

    The Object Complement in English Grammar

    Object complements are defined as words, phrases, and clauses that directly follow and describe or complete the direct object. Object complements are grammatical constituents embedded in the predicate of a clause. Although noun phrases and adjective phrases most frequently function as the object complement of clauses, five grammatical forms can perform the grammatical function of object complement in English grammar:

    • Noun phrases
    • Adjective phrases
    • Noun clauses
    • Verb phrases
    • Prepositional phrases

    The following sections define and exemplify the five grammatical forms that can function as the object complement in English grammar.

    Noun Phrases as Object Complements

    The first grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of object complement is the noun phrase. Noun phrases are defined as phrases formed by a noun or pronoun plus any determiners, modifiers, or complements. For example, the following italicized noun phrases function as object complements:

    • The American people have elected Barack Obama president.
    • The local children consider our elderly neighbor another grandmother.
    • My coworkers often call our boss an idiot.

    Adjective Phrases as Object Complements

    The second grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of object complement is the adjective phrase. Adjective phrases are defined as phrases formed by an adjective and any modifiers or complements. For example, the following italicized adjective phrases function as object complements:

    • Christians, Jews, and Muslims consider Jerusalem holy.
    • The evidence proved the accused innocent.
    • My husband and I painted our living room lime green.

    Noun Clauses as Object Complements

    The third grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of object complement is the noun clause. Noun clauses are defined as subordinate clauses formed by a clause preceded by a subordinating conjunction. For example, the following italicized noun clauses function as object complements:

    • The judges will announce the winner whoever brought the red velvet cake.
    • Most critics consider one theme of the story what you wrote about in your final paragraph.
    • I declare the problem that you do not want to learn about grammar.

    Verb Phrases as Object Complements

    The fourth grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of object complement is the verb phrase in the form of present participles and infinitives. Verb phrases are defined as phrases formed by a verb and any modifiers, complements, particles, or infinitive markers. For example, the following italicized verb phrases function as object complements:

    • My supervisor considers his least favorite duty dealing with customers. (present participle)
    • The game show host will announce the final challenge scaling the rock wall. (present participle)
    • The teacher declared the extra credit homework to write a report. (infinitive)

    Traditional grammars generally use the term gerund to refer to verb phrases in the form of present participles functioning as object complements.

    Prepositional Phrases as Object Complements

    The fifth grammatical form that can perform the grammatical function of object complement is the prepositional phrase. Prepositional phrases are defined as phrases formed by a preposition directly followed by a prepositional complement. For example, the following italicized prepositional phrases function as object complements:

    • The guidebook has announced the best place to swim along the north beach.
    • The Provost named the cleanest restrooms in the education building.
    • Students declare the best time of year during the summer.

    The five grammatical forms that can function as the object complement in the English language are noun phrases, adjective phrases, noun clause, verb phrases, and prepositional phrases.

    Summary

    Object complements in English grammar are words, phrases, and clauses that directly follow and describe or complete the direct object.

    Object complement is a grammatical function.

    The grammatical forms that can function as the subject complement in English grammar are noun phrases including pronouns, adjective phrases, prepositional phrases, verb phrases, and noun clauses.

    Object complements are constituents of the predicate.

    Sentences with object complements must also have direct objects.

    References

    Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
    Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
    Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    O’Dwyer, Bernard T. 2000. Modern English structures: Form, function, and position. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press.

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