If I take the sentences "The sky grew dark" and "They made him captain", the last word of each of these sentences is an object complement (adjective and noun, respectively).

If a similar sentence is made but with a clause attached at the end instead of one word, how could one tell how that clause functions?

Take for instance this sentence:

Books and words have made me what I am.

Here again the part "what I am" is an object complement that describes the object "me".

Is the clause an adjective clause or a noun clause?

Both an adjective as well as a noun would fit well at the end of this sentence (Books and words have made me smarter/a poet), so how can one tell in case of a clause appearing in such sentences?



1 Answer 1


[1] The sky grew dark.

[2] They made him captain.

[3] Books and words have made me what I am.

In [1] "dark" is PC (predicative complement), but it refers to the subject "the sky", so it is subjective, not objective.

In [2] "captain" is objective PC, as you say.

In [3] "what I am" is not a clause but a noun phrase in a 'fused' relative construction, where the meaning is "that which I am" (or, depending on context, "the person that I am").

The NP functions as objective PC, just as "captain" does in [2].

  • Thank you for answering. BTW, I noticed now that I have wrongly mentioned DARK as being object complement instead of subject complement.Surely, it is subject complement. But this one bounced off of my head: "What I am" is a phrase instead of a clause? Don't we call any such group of words that has a subject and verb of its own as clause? Here WHAT begins the clause and "I" and "Am" function as subject and predicate respectively of the clause (or maybe, an elliptical clause) How is it a phrase? Please clarify.
    – user392924
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 11:03
  • And moreover, it didn't help me much with my basic query, I.e., How does one decide if a phrase/clause acting as a subjective complement or an objective complement (as in this case) is an adjective or a noun? With such words as DARK, CAPTAIN, one can readily make out which is which but with phrases and clauses one cannot say one from the other.I mean why is "WHAT I AM" a noun phrase instead of an adjective phrase? I might be asking something very silly but I hope you clear it further , 🙂
    – user392924
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 13:08
  • @user392924 Re your first comment: As I said in my answer, "what I said" is an NP in a fused relative construction. "What" is an NP meaning "that which" followed by "I am". If it helps, think of "what" as "the person that ...", which can only be an NP with "that", modified by a relative clause. If you're still not clear, see here:link
    – BillJ
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 14:15
  • @user392924 Re your second comment: Clauses can only be subject complements, not object complements. They only occur in the reversible specifying construction, as in for example "The funniest thing was Kim trying to hide in the coal-box".
    – BillJ
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 14:17

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