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What Is a Predicate?

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What Is a Predicate?

In English grammar, a predicate is one of the two main parts of a sentence. (The other main part is the subject.)

A predicate is usually defined as a word group that comes after the subject to complete the meaning of the sentence or clause.

Types of Predicates
A predicate may be one word or many words.

(1) A predicate may be just a single word: the verb. In this first example, the verb laughed is the predicate of the sentence:

Felix laughed.
(2) A predicate may be a word group made up of a main verb and any helping verbs. In the next example, will sing is the predicate:
Winnie will sing.
Notice that the helping verb (will) comes before the main verb (sing).

(3) A predicate may also be a complete verb phrase: that is, a main verb and all the words related to that verb except the subject. In this last example, the predicate is the verb phrase is always greener on the other side:
The grass is always greener on the other side.
Whether it's just one word or many words, the predicate usually follows the subject and tells us something about it.

Examples of Predicates
In each of the following sentences, the predicate is in italics.

  1. Time flies.

  2. We will try.

  3. The Johnsons have returned.

  4. Bobo has never driven before.

  5. We will try harder next time.

  6. Hummingbirds sing with their tail feathers.

  7. Pedro has not returned from the store.

  8. My brother flew a helicopter in Iraq.

  9. My mother took our dog to the vet for its shots.

  10. Our school cafeteria always smelled like stale cheese and dirty socks.

To learn more about predicates, see our glossary entry for predicate along with the following articles:

  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Grammar & Composition
  4. English Grammar
  5. Grammar Questions & Answers
  6. What Is a Predicate?

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