English Predicate


The predicate is the part of a sentence that tells something about the subject.

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The predicate always includes a verb.

("Predicate" is also a verb that means, "to state something.")

"Joe is a good boy."

The predicate

The subject is Joe.

Now, what about Joe?

He is a good boy.

So "is a good boy" is a predicate.

Examples (the predicate is in bold):

  1. Ronnie finished his homework.

  2. She was hit by a ball.

  3. Spain is in Europe.

  4. Pigs and cows can't fly.

  5. Traveling is fun.

  6. War is a terrible thing.

  7. There is a mouse in the room.

  8. Stand up!
 

How can you identify the predicate?

To identify the predicate of the sentence, look for the statement about the subject.

For example, let's look at the sentence "John went home."

John is the subject. What is said about John? That he went home!

So "went home" is the predicate. And as always, it contains a verb (went).

Examples for the above sentences:

  1. What about Ronnie? He finished his homework.
    Predicate
    = finished his homework

  2. What about her? She was hit by the ball.
    Predicate = was hit by the ball

  3. What about Spain? It is in Europe.
    Predicate = is in Europe

  4. What about pigs and cows? They can't fly.
    Predicate = can't fly.

  5. What about traveling? It is fun.
    Predicate = is fun

  6. What about war? It is terrible.
    Predicate = is terrible

  7. What about the mouse? It is in the room.
    Predicate = is in the room

  8. What about you? Stand up.
    Predicate = stand up

Simple predicate

The predicate can be a single word: 
  • Jack left.
Or, it can be a KEY word and some additional words around it:
  • Jack left the house.
That KEY word is called a simple predicate.

In the above example the predicate is built around the verb left. The other words around it (the, house) simply describe the verb "left."

Examples (the predicate is in bold, the simple predicate is in bold and red):

  • The cat is asleep.

  • Many people found this book helpful.

  • The best student in the class only got a B+.

Compound predicate

A compound predicate is a predicate that is made up of two or more simple predicates, connected by conjunctions such as and, but, or.

Note that the simple predicates can have additional words describing them.

The important thing is that when you find more than one simple predicate in the predicate of a sentence – you have a compound predicate.

Example 1 (the predicates are in bold, the simple predicates are in bold and underlined, and the compound predicate is in bold and purple):

  • Sarah baked some cookies.

  • Sarah made some coffee.

    When we combine these two sentences we get:
  • Sarah baked some cookies and made some coffee.
"Baked some cookies and made some coffee" is a compound predicate.

How do we know it's a compound predicate?

Well, it's because we have two simple predicates: baked, made.

Example 2 (the predicates are in bold, the simple predicates are in bold and underlined, and the compound predicate is in bold and purple):

  • George will choose the color.

  • George will paint the wall.

    When we combine these two sentences we get:
  • George will choose the color and paint the wall.
"Will choose the color and paint the wall" is a compound predicate.

How do we know it's a compound predicate?

Well, it's because we have two simple predicates: will choose, paint.

Some more examples (the predicates are in bold, the simple predicates are in bold and underlined, and the compound predicate is in bold and purple):

  • Martin lives in Italy and works in a school.

  • She knew the truth but refused to talk about it.

  • They waited for a while and then returned home.

  • We all watched, listened and asked questions.

Writing tips

A comma is not needed with a compound predicate.

Correct: Jack saw Kelly and offered her a drink.

You usually wouldn't write, "Jack saw Kelly, and offered her a drink."

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