What Is a Compound Predicate? (with Examples)

Compound Predicate

A compound predicate is when two (or more verbs) share the same subject.

compound predicate examples

Note: The predicate is the part of the sentence that makes a statement about the subject. The predicate usually tells us what the subject is doing or what is happening to the subject.

Here is an example of a simple predicate. (The predicate is shaded and the verb is in bold.)
  • Adam lives in Bangor.
  • (Here, there is one subject (Adam) and one verb (lives). This is not a compound predicate.)
This is a compound predicate:
  • Adam lives in Bangor and speaks Welsh.
  • (Here, there is one subject (Adam) and two verbs (lives and speaks). This is a compound predicate.)

Easy Examples of Compound Predicates

Here are some easy examples of compound predicates:
  • The telegram was late but contained exciting news.
  • The wolves ran away and never returned.
  • The bottle toppled and fell off the table.
  • They need to absorb nitrogen and keep above 20 degrees.

Real-Life Examples of Compound Predicates

Here are some real-life examples of compound predicates:
  • Woman begins by resisting a man's advances and ends by blocking his retreat. (Playwright Oscar Wilde)
  • Leaders in all spheres who are living with HIV must lead by example and disclose their HIV status. (South African President Nelson Mandela)
  • In Hollywood, brides keep the bouquets and throw away the groom. (Comedian Groucho Marx)

There Is One Subject in a Compound Predicate

A compound predicate tells us at least two things about one subject. So, the following sentence is not an example of a compound predicate:
  • Adam lives in Bangor, and he speaks Welsh.
  • (This is a compound sentence. It has two subjects (Adam and he). Each subject has one simple predicate.)
The following sentence is an example of a compound predicate:
  • Adam and his brother live in Bangor and speak Welsh.
  • (The predicate tell us two things about the subject (Adam and his brother). Even though it has two elements, this is one subject. It is called a compound subject.)

Why Should I Care about Compound Predicates?

Here are two good reasons to care about compound predicates.

(Reason 1) Be clear on when to use a comma before "and."

Writers are often unsure when to use a comma before words like "and," "or," and "but" (called conjunctions).

Let's look at some examples:
  • John likes chicken and loves Nando's.
  • John likes chicken but hates turkey.
  • (These are both examples of compound predicates. There is one subject and two verbs. Note that there is no comma before the "and" or the "but.")
Compare the two examples above with these sentences:
  • John likes chicken, and he loves Nando's.
  • John likes chicken, but he hates turkey.
  • (These are not examples of compound predicates. There are two subjects (John and he), each with its own verb. Note that there is now a comma before the "and" and the "but." These are examples of compound sentences not compound predicates.)
Here's the rule: Use a comma before an "and" that joins two independent clauses (i.e., clauses that could stand alone as sentences).

With a compound predicate, the second half of the predicate cannot stand alone as a sentence because it doesn't have its own subject. Here's a graphic to help explain this point:

compound predicate and commas

Read more about using commas with compound sentences.
Read more about using commas with conjunctions.

(Reason 2) Avoid using too many short, repetitious sentences.

When two adjacent sentences have the same subject, consider merging them into one sentence with a compound predicate. For example:
  • John likes chicken. John loves Nando's.
  • (This example features two sentences with the same subject (John). The sentences are too short, and they're repetitious.)
  • The stegosaurus was around 9 metres in length. The stegosaurus had 17 plates along its the back that arose from the skin rather than being attached to the skeleton.
  • (This example features two sentences with the same subject (The stegosaurus). Even though the second sentence isn't short, the two sentences are still unnecessarily repetitious.)
Here are better versions that feature compound predicates:
  • John likes chicken and loves Nando's.
  • The stegosaurus was around 9 metres in length and had 17 plates along its the back that arose from the skin rather than being attached to the skeleton.
  • (Both of these examples are simple sentences, each with a compound predicate. They are sharper.)
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited and printed to create exercise worksheets.

See Also

What is a predicate? What is a sentence? What is a subject? What is a compound subject? What is a complex sentence?> What is a compound sentence?> What is a simple sentence?> Glossary of grammatical terms