In the sentence fragment "The black dog" black is clearly in adjective.

In the sentence "The dog is black" is black an adjective or a noun? More generally speaking, in sentences of the form "X is Y" is Y considered a noun, adjective, or is it context sensitive?

  • 1
    Partly answered here: “The sky is blue” - Is it a clause? The verb "be" is not transitive: although it takes a complement, its complement is not categorized as a direct object. Incidentally, this is the reason why nominative case is possible (some prescriptivists would say "proper") in some circumstances for a pronoun that comes a form of "be".
    – herisson
    Jun 21, 2017 at 4:58
  • "Predicative adjectives" are a recognized class of adjectives. They are not nouns. They are described in the answers to this post: Non verbal predicates in English
    – herisson
    Jun 21, 2017 at 5:00
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    It depends on the word category (part of speech) of the complement. A predicative complement may be either a noun or an adjective. In your example, "black" is clearly an adjective. But in "The dog is a nuisance", the complement "nuisance" is a noun.
    – BillJ
    Jun 21, 2017 at 5:32

1 Answer 1


1) "Dog is black "

Dog = Subject

is = Linking verb

black = subject complement

the subject complements always describes the subject. It can be adjective or noun. Here, Dog = black [adjective ]

2) I will be a footballer.

I = subject

will be = Linking verb

a footballer = subject complement

Here the subject complement is a noun. I = a footballer.

That's why in the format of "X is Y", Y could be considered to be a noun or adjective.

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