I'm currently studying the "Sentence Structure" for the English language. I've found varied information in this regard.

Some sources says that the sentence consist of five components: Subject + Predicate + Object + Complement + Modifier

Some other sources say that it consist of only two components: Subject + Predicate.

Now, I'm confused, whether predicate actually includes the object, complement, and modifier in itself or not. If yes, why some sources mention them separately from the "Predicate"?

  • If you are taking a course, you must ask a tutor for the terminology they use, or you will get hopelessly confused. But be aware that there are conflicting terminologies in use. Feb 28, 2017 at 22:35

3 Answers 3


A sentence may have a subject and predicate, only:

I know.

The predicate 'know' does not include other elements, because that sentence needs no more. The statement is complete. Only if the sentence continues can we see object, complement, modifier.

A verb is called intransitive when it makes sense (like the verb know) without an object. That is why there is no object in the sentence "I know." Only a transitive takes an object (which may have modifiers).

Note there are even sentences with one word, like when grandma calls you.


Then, we say that the subject 'You' is understood -- we know who she is addressing.


Predicate is a term from Logic which gets used in talking about language. On the other
hand, Verb, Subject, Complement, Modifier, and Object are terms about language.
Naturally they don't compute together very well.

In a normal English declarative sentence, there is a subject (which is a noun phrase), and there is a verb phrase, which is the predicate of the sentence.

The prototypic kind of predicate is a verb; if the predicate is a predicate noun
or a predicate adjective, we have to use an auxiliary verb be:

  • Bill ran.
  • Bill is tired.
  • Bill is a runner.

All non-auxiliary verbs are the heads of predicates. That's why there are "predicate nouns" and "predicate adjectives" but not *predicate verbs.

Loosely speaking, we could say that the predicates in the preceding examples are run, tired, and runner; strictly speaking, they would be the full Verb Phrase.


I don't know if there's a universally accepted definition, but the one I've seen most often is that "predicate" includes the verb and object. This is also the convention used by Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, at least if section 5 of this summary is correct. (I don't have CGEL in front of me, but the summary agrees with what I can remember.) "Complement" is used for the "object" of a linking verb, as in Oswald was the assassin or she looked stunning. Adjuncts and such are options.

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