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What Is a Predicative Verb?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 17, 2024
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A predicative verb is typically one of two things: either a verb that is part of the predicate in a sentence, or a verb in predicate form that is used as an adjective. These are two very distinct and different meanings, yet the word “predicate” can make this term refer to either of them within a given context. The predicate of a sentence is the part of a sentence that indicates the action being taken by, or other information about, the subject. A predicative verb can also be a non-finite verb in the predicate form, which means that it is used as an adjective in a sentence to describe something else.

There are two very different possible meanings for a predicative verb, and so it is important to determine which form is being considered within a given context. One of the most common ways in which this term is used is to refer to a verb that is part of or acts as the predicate in a sentence. Sentences are composed of two basic elements, which are the subject and the predicate. The subject of a sentence is the person or thing that is the major focus for the point that a sentence makes.

A predicate in a sentence, which can be just a predicative verb, is the rest of the sentence that provides information about what the subject is doing. For example, in the sentence “I slept,” the word “I” is a noun and is the subject of the sentence. “Slept” is a predicative verb that indicates the action the subject took and is the entire simple predicate.

In more complex sentences, the verb may only be part of a predicate. For example, in the sentence “I can juggle a dozen tennis balls with only one hand,” the word “I” is the subject and everything else is the predicate. Only the word “juggle” is a verb within the complete predicate.

The term “predicative verb” can also refer to a verb that is in the predicate form. This is not the same as a verb that is part of the predicate in a sentence, which can make this distinction quite confusing. Instead, a verb in the predicate form is used within a sentence in the same function as an adjective, to describe a particular object or noun.

In the sentence, “Hand me the red shoes,” the word “red” is an adjective that describes the object “shoes.” A predicative verb can be used in much the same way and usually includes the suffix “-ing” to indicate that it is acting as a predicate. This can be seen in a sentence like “Hand me the running shoes,” in which “running” is a verb in the predicate form.

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