complete predicate (grammar)

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

fox - complete subject
In the pangram "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog," the complete predicate is jumps over the lazy dog.". (Yves Adams/Getty Images)


In traditional English grammar, a complete predicate is made up of a verb or verb phrase along with its objects, complements, and/or adverbial modifiers.  

A verb by itself is sometimes called a simple predicate. Complete predicates are all the words in a sentence that are not part of the complete subject.

Examples and Observations

"The four boys in the back row of the classroom giggled helplessly.

"Dr. Mabel stood up and blushed and giggled and looked flustered." -(Robert A. Heinlein, Time for the Stars. Scribner's, 1956)

"The engineers struck oil."

"He sat down and struck a match to light his pipe." -(Paul Goodman, The Empire City, 1942) 

"Exactly at six, Martha struck a small silver bell with a silver fork and waited until its clear note had died away." -(Pam Durban, "Soon." The Southern Review, 1997)

"The telescreen struck fourteen. He must leave in ten minutes. He had to be back at work by fourteen-thirty.

"Curiously, the chiming of the hour seemed to have put new heart into him."
(George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1949)

"Department stores, with their escalators and clouds of perfume and ranks of nylon lingerie, were like Heaven itself." -(John Updike, Self-Consciousness, 1989).

"Momma opened boxes of crispy crackers and we sat around the meat block at the rear of the Store. I sliced onions and Bailey opened two or even three cans of sardines and allowed their juice of oil and fishing boats to ooze down and around the sides." -(Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1969) 

"After exercising, Stuart would slip on his handsome wool wrapper, tie the cord tightly around his waist, and start for the bathroom, creeping silently through the long dark hall past his mother's and father's room, past the hall closet where the carpet sweeper was kept, past George's room and along by the head of the stairs until he got to the bathroom." -(E.B. White, Stuart Little, 1945)   

Testing to Find the Complete Predicate

"To figure out which words make up the complete predicate: (1) Examine the sentence: 'The pain from a headache generally persists for about a day.'
(2) Ask yourself what the subject ( The pain) does.
The answer is the pain 'generally persists for about a day.' That is the complete predicate.
(3) Make up a sentence with a subject and a complete predicate." (Pamela Rice Hahn and Dennis E. Hensley, Macmillan Teach Yourself Grammar and Style in 24 Hours. Macmillan, 2000)


"In some alternatively ordered sentences, the subject is not the first element to appear in the sentence. Some element of the complete predicate is fronted or placed at the beginning of the sentence in front of the subject. Fronting shifts emphasis from the subject to the fronted element in the sentence: At the beach, I always feel content.

Never could I have imagined the horrors that awaited us. The first sentence begins with the adverbial at the beach. Though the phrase precedes the subject I, it is still a part of the complete predicate. At the beach modifies the verb feel. . . . The second sentence begins with the adverb never and the modal auxiliary verb could. Though it precedes the subject, could is still a part of the verb phrase could have imagined." —(Michael Strumpf and Auriel Douglas, The Grammar Bible. Owl Books, 2004)

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Nordquist, Richard. "complete predicate (grammar)." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Nordquist, Richard. (2023, April 5). complete predicate (grammar). Retrieved from Nordquist, Richard. "complete predicate (grammar)." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).