Complete sentences are composed of a subject and predicate. The predicate identifies and describes the action of the sentence. Predicates complete the thought of the sentence, and provide the substance of the idea that is being communicated.
The predicate modifies the subject of the sentence. It is composed of at least a verb that tells the action of the sentence's purpose. In addition to the verb, predicates may also have objects of the verb, which tell to whom, to what, or for whom, or for what the action is intended. Predicates can also have phrases, as groups of words that further describe the action or the object mentioned in the predicate.
The significance of predicates is that they tell us what the subject does, and this can be accomplished in various ways. Predicates can be composed of a combination of their typical elements to bring a descriptive palate to what is being discussed. Some sentences have predicates that are only composed of their verbs. For example, "Jane runs." Predicates can include more elements, along with their basic verbs. In "Tom drives the car," a direct object is used. Predicates can also have a prepositional object, an object complement, an indirect object and adverb combinations.
Predicates function to identify what the subject is doing and why it is doing it. "The cat." "The cat, what?" "The cat drank the milk." "Oh, I see." From the predicate, we can identify what is important to know. It allows the complete communication of ideas associated with the subject at hand. The predicate also completes proper speech and language, as it makes the communications logical and intellectual.
In traditional English grammar, there exist two main categories of predicates. Predicate nominals contain nouns that name the state of being or identify characteristics of the subject. For example, "Karen is a girl from Queens." The other category is the predicate adjective; a descriptive predicate that contains an adjective acting like the predicate. It describes the characteristics or features of the subject matter of the sentence. For example, "Karen is kind." Predicates have also been divided into subclasses by Greg N. Carlson, that of stage-level, individual-level and kind-level. Stage-level predicates identify the current or temporary action of the subject. For example, "Julie is tired." Individual-level predicates describe an action or feature of the subject that is permanent. For example, "Matthew is Irish." Kind-level predicates describe the general actions or characteristics of a collective subject, but may or may not apply to its individual members. For example, "Roller coasters are scary."
"Essential to language expression is the use of words to describe what occurs and how it occurs. Predicates allow us to communicate complete ideas and thoughts, through the descriptions we give of the subject matters we communicate. What does the subject do? What is the subject like? How is the subject? What is its characteristics and qualities? The predicate adds the flavor of language description to the nominal things in our lives.
Naima Manal's articles on health, diet, nutrition, alternative medicine, education, parenting, crafts, travel, home and garden and home improvement have appeared on various websites. Manal received her Bachelor of Science in biology/pre-medical studies from Molloy College in 1994 and has been a freelance writer, teacher and homeschooling mom since 1993.