What do we call those words which are adjectives used as objective complements and nouns/pronouns used as objective complements

See the terms that describe adjectives or nouns/pronouns used as subjective complements is used appropriately, but I've never come across the corresponding terms for objective complements, despite the obvious parallel that they have with their subjective counterparts.

  • objective complements sounds French to me: complément d'objet direct or complément direct. We just say Direct Object in English. Please provide some examples of what you mean because I cannot understand your questions. Especially the objective and subjective bits.
    – Lambie
    Nov 19, 2016 at 16:59
  • You're wrong if you are saying that 'we just say direct objects' if you mean that they are synonyms for objective/subjective complements because they are different things. Infact you can't have objective or subjective complements without a direct object. Furthermore, that's the technical term used, it doesn't matter if they 'sound French'. Nov 19, 2016 at 17:02
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    They are all called predicative complements (PCs), more specifically subjective PC in "Ed is a friend / useless", and objective PC in "I consider Ed a friend / useless". In the former, the property of being "a friend/useless" is ascribed to the subject, and in the latter to the object.
    – BillJ
    Nov 19, 2016 at 17:36
  • Ah, right, In the book am reading it subsumed the two types under 'subjective complements', but not under 'objective complements', which came before subjective complements adding to the confusion. I think that was a poor move. Anyway, thanks for the help :) Nov 19, 2016 at 17:40
  • @BillJ: Really? 50 years an English grammarian and I haven't heard that one yet. A very bad choice of terminology indeed, confusing main and subordinate clause functions like that. Clearly a better book is needed. I recommend McCawley. Nov 19, 2016 at 19:34

1 Answer 1


Oh, dear.

Predicate nominative is an old-fashioned term, derived from Latin grammar, where it contrasted with the predicate accusative employed with causatives. It's really out of place in English-as-we-have-now-come-to-understand-it, since English adjectives have no case; English nouns have only 'base' and 'possessive' cases; and even those English pronouns which distinguish 'subject' and 'object' cases do not employ these in the same way as the Romans employed the nominative and accusative cases in predicate complements.

Terminology is varied, but I think you will be understood if you call those predicate complements which describe or identify the subject subject PCs and those which describe or identify an object object PCs. If you hunger for more adjectival forms, try subject- and object-oriented; the -ive affix, to my mind, just confuses the issue and the reader.

  • Is this what the question was about? Just wondering.
    – Lambie
    Nov 19, 2016 at 19:14
  • @Lambie I think so--the title suggests that OP assumes "predicate nominative" applies only to subject complements and is looking for the equivalent term for object complements. Nov 19, 2016 at 19:21
  • I'm asking because I was told to stop by the OP, and another light (John Lawler) has confirmed that there is confusion. So, I would still like to know what the question is.....Now, with subject subject PC and object object PC, I feel like I am entered a Moebius strip....:)
    – Lambie
    Nov 19, 2016 at 19:50
  • @Lambie - I think BillJ's comment pins down what is at issue. Nov 19, 2016 at 20:00
  • What do you mean, @StoneyB? Other than the bit about the -ive affix that you mentioned, we said the same thing, didn't we?
    – BillJ
    Nov 19, 2016 at 21:09

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