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What Is an Adjective Complement? (with Examples)An adjective complement is a phrase or a clause that completes the meaning of an adjective. For example:
- Anna was angry about your comment. (The highlighted phrase is an adjective complement. It completes the meaning of the adjective "angry.")
- Anna was angry that you commented. (The highlighted clause is an adjective complement. It also completes the meaning of the adjective "angry.")
Types of Adjective ComplementAn adjective complement can take one of three forms: (1) a prepositional phrase, (2) an infinitive phrase, or (3) a clause.
(1) Examples of Adjective Complements as Prepositional Phrases
- John is happy with his test results.
- I am worried about her attitude.
- Sarah felt alone in the world.
(2) Examples of Adjective Complements as Infinitive Phrases
- We were happy to be of service.
- The crew were relieved to reach dry land.
- Are you ready to go?
(3) Examples of Adjective Complements as Clauses
- I am unsure why you raised this point.
- She was suspicious how you passed the test.
- John seems certain who contacted the media.
- Anna was disappointed that you promoted Sarah.
- An interrogative pronoun (e.g., "who," "what," "which," "whose")
- An interrogative adverb ("why," "where," "when," "how")
Note: If the clause modifies the verb, it is not an adjective complement. In these two examples, the clauses are not adjective complements because they modify verbs (underlined).
- I was wrong when I predicted the weather.
- The CEO was anxious when the tax inspector called.
Traits of an Adjective Complement
- An adjective complement is a phrase or a clause, not a single word.
- An adjective complement follows immediately after the adjective it completes.
- An adjective complement modifies a predicate adjective.
- An adjective complement is necessary to complete the meaning of its adjective.
- John was angry about my promotion. (In this example, "was" is a linking verb. It links the subject "John" to the predicate adjective "angry." The phrase "about my promotion" is an adjective complement modifying "angry.")
- Sarah seems unconcerned that she was overlooked. (Here, "seems" is a linking verb. It links the subject "Sarah" to the predicate adjective "unconcerned." The clause "that she was overlooked" is an adjective complement modifying "unconcerned."
Why Adjective Complements Are ImportantComplements are important because they are essential for meaning. This is the difference between complements and normal modifiers. (Modifiers can be removed from a sentence without breaking the meaning.) Looks at these examples:
- I am extremely satisfied on my own. (In this example, "extremely" an adverb modifying the adjective "satisfied." If it is removed from the sentence, the meaning is not lost. "On my own," however, is a prepositional phrase that complements "satisfied." If it is removed, the reason for saying the sentence is lost.)
- We are a little unsure why you are here. (Here, "a little" is an adverbial phrase modifying the adjective "unsure." If it is removed, the meaning is not lost. The clause "why you are here " is an adjective complement. If it is removed, the essence of the sentence is lost.)
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