Predicate Nominatives | Definition & Examples

Nouns and Pronouns updated on  February 5, 2024 4 min read
All complete sentences have a subject and a predicate. The predicate is the part of the sentence that contains the verb and tells us about the subject, such as what it’s doing or what it is.

A predicate nominative (also called a predicate noun) is a noun or pronoun that identifies, describes, or redefines the subject within the predicate.

Predicate nominatives always follow linking verbs. Unlike action verbs, linking verbs (e.g., “be,” “become,” or “seem”) indicate conditions or states of being.

Predicate nominative examples
Ramesh was a student.
Her dream became reality.
The bird with the largest wingspan is the wandering albatross.

What is a predicate nominative?    

Predicate nominatives are also known as predicate nouns. They are nouns or pronouns that identify or redefine the subject within the predicate of a sentence.

A subject is the person or thing the sentence is about. It’s often performing an action or being described, but it can also be the recipient of an action.

A predicate is the part of the sentence that tells us what the subject does or is. It includes the verb and any objects or subject complements.

Examples: Subjects, predicates, and predicate nominatives
I became a ballerina.
The scientist was a great mother.
The dinner you left in the oven is a charred mess.

Subject complements

A predicate nominative is a type of subject complement.

Subject complements always follow linking verbs (e.g., “be,” “become,” or “seem”), and linking verbs are always followed by subject complements.

To complement something means to improve it or make it complete, and subject complements complete linking verbs to describe, identify, or redefine the subject.

Note
A linking verb describes or redefines the subject, while an action verb describes something the subject does or has done to it.

Some verbs, such as sense verbs (e.g., “taste,” “smell,” “sound”), can be either linking verbs or action verbs depending on the context. To determine whether a verb is a linking verb, you can replace it with a conjugated form of “be” to see if it still makes sense. If so, even if the meaning is slightly different, it’s probably a linking verb.

I feel sad → I am sad.
Fiona felt a sharp pain → Fiona was a sharp pain.

Other types of subject complements are adverb phrases, prepositional phrases, or predicate adjectives.

Examples: Other types of subject complement
The meeting was last week.
The vase is on the table.
This tea is hot.

Predicate nominatives vs predicate adjectives

Predicate nominatives are also known as predicate nouns. As the name suggests, they are always nouns or pronouns. They always follow linking verbs and redefine or rename the subject of the sentence.

Predicate adjectives are another type of subject complement. They also follow linking verbs and describe the subject, but they are adjectives or adjectival phrases rather than nouns or pronouns.

Examples: Predicate nominatives vs predicate adjectives
My research was a success.
My research was successful.

I could be a famous writer.
I could be famous.

The building was a tall, gray structure.
The building was taller than those around it.

Predicate nominative examples

Predicate nominatives always follow the same pattern of a noun or pronoun following a linking verb, but there are a few different kinds.


Simple predicate nominatives

Simple predicate nominatives contain a single noun.

Examples: Simple predicate nominatives
The highest grossing movie worldwide in 2022 was Avatar: The Way of Water.
My greatest strength is adaptability.

Compound predicate nominatives

Compound predicate nominatives are made up of multiple nouns.

Examples: Examples: Compound predicate nominatives
The three highest grossing movies worldwide in 2022 were Avatar: The Way of Water, Top Gun: Maverick, and Jurassic World Dominion.

My greatest strengths are adaptability and attention to detail.

Gerunds as predicate nominatives

Predicate nominatives are nouns or pronouns, and gerunds are verbs that function as nouns (e.g., “running”). You can use gerunds as predicate nominatives just as you would a regular noun or pronoun.

Examples: Gerunds as predicate nominatives
My favorite hobby is swimming.
His most annoying habit is chewing with his mouth open.

Pronouns in predicate nominatives

We use nominative case (also known as subjective case) for the subject of a sentence (e.g., I, he, she, we) and objective case for the object (e.g., me, him, her, us).

Examples: Nominative and objective case
I called him.
He called me.

As predicate nominatives are not objects (they are subject complements) and are equal to the subject (they redefine, identify, or rename the subject), nominative case is the grammatically correct case for predicate nominative pronouns.

However, using objective case for predicate nominatives has become very common in spoken and casual English, so this will sound more natural to many people.

Examples: Predicate nominative pronouns in nominative and objective case
It is I.
It is me.

The primary researcher was I.
The primary researcher was me.

The culprit might have been he.
The culprit might have been him.

In spoken and casual English, you can use whichever one feels more natural to you; in formal and academic writing, it’s best to stick to the nominative case or rephrase the sentence so the pronoun is the subject. Rephrasing is often preferable.

Examples: Pronouns as the subject rather than the predicate nominative
I was the primary researcher.
He might have been the culprit.

Predicate nominative quiz

Test your understanding of predicate nominatives by answering these practice quiz questions.

Do you want to know more about commas, parts of speech, email, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


US vs UK

Commas

Commonly confused words

Modelling vs modeling

Comma before or after so

Into vs in to

Defence vs defense

Comma before or

Awhile vs a while

Favourite vs favorite

Comma before while

A vs an

Theatre vs theater

Comma before which

Its vs it’s

Organisation vs organization

Comma splice

Use to or used to


Frequently asked questions about predicate nominatives

What is a predicate noun?

A predicate noun is another term for a predicate nominative. It’s a noun or pronoun that follows a linking verb and identifies, describes, or redefines the subject.

For example, in the sentence “you are my best friend,” “you” is the subject and “my best friend” is the predicate nominative describing the subject.

What is nominative case?

Nominative case (also known as subjective case) is used for personal pronouns when they are the subject of a sentence (e.g., I, he, she, we) and objective case is used for pronouns when they are the object (e.g., me, him, her, us).

A pronoun in the nominative or subjective case is known as a subject pronoun or nominative pronoun (e.g., “she emailed my teacher”).

A pronoun in the objective case is known as an object pronoun (e.g., “my teacher emailed her”).

Tags

Sophie Shores

Sophie has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Publishing, and a passion for great writing. She’s taught English overseas and has experience editing both business and academic writing.

Great! You've successfully subscribed.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.