I am a mathematician and have a somewhat troublesome relationship with the English language!

I need to find/construct two simple sentences which include subject, predicate, object, adverbial and complement. Ideally it should be a quote taken from a book but I am finding that even harder.

I have started with:

“The pig is looking at me with sad droopy eyes.”

The subject is "the pig", but beyond that, I am lost.

Can anyone help me out!


closed as too broad by anongoodnurse, Ellie Kesselman, Chenmunka, aedia λ, Hellion Nov 4 '14 at 17:42

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    The first thing that you need to realise is that the terms are used differently by different people (even different authorities). You need to find how the person causing your need to submit the two sentences is choosing to use the terms. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 2 '14 at 23:49

The pig is looking at me with sad droopy eyes.


The Subject is the grammatical phrase that changes places with the auxiliary verb when you make a yes/no question. The auxiliary verb is the first verb that appears in the question. In the Original Poster's example, the Subject, as correctly identified, is the pig:

  • Is the pig looking at me with sad droopy eyes?

Here we see the pig inverted with the auxiliary verb BE.


The Predicate is that part of a simple sentence that isn't included in the Subject. In this case:

  • is looking at me with sad droopy eyes

Complement and Object

Let's deal with the Complement and Object together. A complement at the most basic level is a word which fills some kind of 'slot' specifically set up by another word or phrase. So for example, the adjective good often sets up a slot for a preposition phrase headed by the preposition at:

  • good at chess
  • good at swimming
  • good at charming turtles

Here at chess, at swimming, at charming turtles are all complements of the adjective good.

However, when used loosely - as would seem to be the case in the Original Poster's assignment - Complement is often used to describe a complement of the verb, in particular.

Now the function Object, is a special case of complementhood. An Object in this sense, is a specific type of complement of the verb. Typically, Objects have some special properties, apart from the very important property of being a complement of the verb:

  • They will become the Subject of the verb if the sentence is passivised.

  • They usually, but not always, have the role of patient in an active sentence. This means they usually represent the thing that some action is being done to.

It is important to note that not all verbs take objects, and many verbs that do take objects do not take them all the time.

Now in the Original Poster's example, me seems to be a good candidate for Object. We need to change the case of the pronoun, but, essentially, we can make it the subject of a passivised sentence:

  • I am being looked at with sad droopy eyes by the pig.

In addition, me seems to have the role of patient in the sentence. Me is the thing or person that is the receiver of the looking at action.

However, there is one fundamental problem here, which is that me is not the complement of the verb. The complement of the verb here is the preposition phrase at me! Within that preposition phrase, me is the complement of the preposition at. It is not a complement of the verb looking.

We can test at me to see if this phrase is the Object. However, it clearly is not:

  • At I am being looked with sad droopy eyes by the pig . (wrong)

Unfortunately, the Original Poster's sentence, very good though it is, doesn't have an Object, although it does have a Complement. We can remedy this by changing the verb for one that takes an Object:

  • The pig is watching me with sad droopy eyes.

Here me is the complement of watch. Me also has the thematic role of patient. Here's the passive to round this test off:

  • I am being watched with sad droopy eyes by the pig.


Adverbial is a term often used in old-fashioned grammar to refer to an adjunct in the verb phrase or sentence. Adverbials are said to give information about where, when, how or why and so forth something happened, and are often phrases headed by a preposition. The term adverbial, however, is used very loosely, usually sloppily and never in a way that makes clear whether it is meant to be a type of phrase or a function. For example, many people will refer to any prepositional phrase as an adverbial, regardless of its function in the sentence.

However, we have a clue here as to what's required: the Original Poster has been given a list of functions to identify. We can therefore assume that the task requires an adjunct in the verb phrase. Adjuncts have some specific qualities. Firstly, they are not complements of any other parts of the sentence. Secondly, because of this, if we remove them from the sentence, the sentence will still make sense.

In the Original Poster's example we see a prepositional phrase headed by with functioning as an Adjunct of Instrument. This means it is giving us extra information about what the pig was watching us with. We could use other Adjuncts of Instrument instead:

  • The pig is watching me with sad droopy eyes.
  • The pig is watching me with a telescope.

We can show that with sad droopy eyes is an Adjunct. If we take it away, the sentence will still be perfectly well formed:

  • The pig is watching me.


  • Subject: the pig
  • Predicate: is watching me with sad droopy eyes
  • Complement and Object: me
  • Adverbial: with sad droopy eyes
  • Wouldn't: "I am being watched by the pig with sad droopy eyes" make more logical sense? It seems the "sad droopy eyes" is an instrument, something physically detached from the pig (who knew pigs had sad droopy eyes!?). Our brains tells us that this is impossible, but, out of curiosity, would you agree that in the passive voice, placing the owner before the adjective phrase sounds better? The homework was written by the boy with the burnt hand. And not The homework was written with the burnt hand by the boy. – Mari-Lou A Jul 20 '15 at 6:13
  • @Mari-LouA That sounds reasonable to me, but I'd need to think about it a bit :) – Araucaria Jul 20 '15 at 13:32

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