Humanities › English Defining Object Complements Share Flipboard Email Print Juan Reed / EyeEm/Getty Images English English Grammar An Introduction to Punctuation Writing By Richard Nordquist English and Rhetoric Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester B.A., English, State University of New York Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. our editorial process Richard Nordquist Updated February 12, 2020 In English grammar, an object complement is a word or phrase (usually a noun, pronoun, or adjective) that comes after a direct object and renames, describes, or locates it. Also called an objective complement or an object(ive) predicate. "Generally," notes Bryan Garner, "a verb expressing a perception, judgment, or change can allow its direct object to take an object complement" (Garner's Modern American Usage, 2009). These verbs include call, like, leave, keep, want, find, consider, declare, prefer, make, paint, name, think, get, send, turn, vote, and elect. Examples and Observations of Object Complements Meredith HallI paint the plaster walls white, except for the little nook under the sloping roof where my bed fits just perfectly. There, I paint the walls and sloping ceiling black.Mark TwainThe widow she cried over me, and called me a poor lost lamb, and she called me a lot of other names, too.Stephen HarriganIn some places the process was so intense that clouds of expelled algae turned the water brown and turbid.Anita Rau BadamiBheema joined Gandhi in his struggle for India's independence and called his father a traitor.Meta K. TownsendWhile [Patricia Harris] was working at Howard, President John F. Kennedy appointed her chairperson of the National Women's Committee for Civil Rights. Object Complements and Adverbs Barbara Goldstein, Jack Waugh, and Karen LinskyBe careful not to confuse sentences that look alike. Consider these two sentences:He called the man a liar.He called the man yesterday.Man is the direct object in both sentences. In the first sentence, liar renames the man, so it is the object complement. In the second sentence, yesterday is an adverb that tells when he called the man. This sentence does not contain an object complement. Verbs With Direct Objects and Object Complements Michael PearceObject complements characterize or specify the referent of the direct object. Only a few verbs in English (known as complex transitive verbs) can take a direct object and an object complement. In the following examples, the direct object is [in bold] and the object complements are [italicized]: I've painted the picture black; She called me a liar. Object complements are typically adjective phrases and noun phrases. Occasionally, wh-clauses function as object complements: Our childhood experiences have made us what we are. Functions of Object Complements Laurel J. Brinton and Donna M. BrintonThe object complement characterizes the object in the same way as the subject complement characterizes the subject: it identifies, describes, or locates the object (as in We chose Bill as group leader, We consider him a fool, She laid the baby in the crib), expressing either its current state or resulting state (as in They found him in the kitchen vs She made him angry). It is not possible to delete the object complement without either radically changing the meaning of the sentence (e.g. She called him an idiot ⇒ She called him) or making the sentence ungrammatical (e.g. He locked his keys in his office ⇒ *He locked his keys). Note that BE or some other copula verb can often be inserted between the direct object and the object complement (e.g. I consider him to be a fool, We chose Bill to be group leader, They found him to be in the kitchen). Agreement With Object Complements Angela Downing and Phillip LockeThere is typically number agreement between the Direct Object and the Nominal Group realising the Object Complement, as in:Circumstances have made the brothers enemiesBut there are occasional exceptions, [notably with] expressions of size, shape, colour, height, etc. . . .:You haven't made the sleeves the same length.