1. What is a Predicate?
Predicates are used every day, both in writing and speaking. However, we generally don’t think about them as we form our sentences. The predicate is the part of the sentence that contains the verb. Along with the subject, the predicate helps create a complete thought. It is the active part of the sentence, letting us know what the subject is doing.
Without the predicate, we would not know what is happening, so it is an essential part of the sentence. There are simple predicates, compound predicates, and complete predicates. To find the predicate, simply ask, “What is the subject doing?” Once you find the verb, you have found the predicate.
2. Examples of Predicates
Some examples of predicates are:
- When she got home, Amy found her toys scattered across the room. The predicate starts with the verb “found”
- My mom enjoys cooking and feeding us our favorite foods. The predicate starts with the first verb ”enjoys”
- The cat slept on the bed. The predicate starts with the verb “slept”
- Mark was happy with his gift. The predicate starts with the helping verb “was”
- At the party, Jose’s gift was the best. The predicate starts with the to-be verb “was”
3. Parts of a Predicate
A verb is a word that shows some kind of action, such as thinking, saying, doing, feeling, and being (see “to-be” verb below). Its function is to show what action the subject is committing. If there is no verb, then the predicate does not exist.
Some types of action include:
- thinking (worried, thinking)
- saying (exclaimed, says)
- doing (jumping, building)
- feeling (liking, hurting)
- being (is, are, were)
b. “to-be” verb
A “to-be” verb shows some state of existence. The subject may not be doing any specific action, simply the state of being. The “to-be” verbs are bold below.
- The cat was sleepy
- I am
The “to-be” verb may also indicate a value or quality of the subject, such as
The book was an interesting but long story about relationships.
Along with the verb, the predicate may contain the object if there is one. The object (in purple) is the item or person that is receiving the action (bold) done by the subject.
- My cat played with the toy mouse.
- Mom roasted the turkey.
4. Types of Predicates
There are three basic types of a predicate: the simple predicate, the compound predicate, and complete predicate.
a. Simple predicate
The simple predicate is only the verb, not the modifiers that go with it. The verb will always be a part of the predicate, but there may be times that we only consider the verb itself, thus the simple predicate. We don’t notice the object, other ideas, concepts, or modifiers involved with the verb or the subject.
The boy was running.
The simple predicate would be was running. The helping verb “was” combined with the verb “running” make up the predicate.
- Last night, two girls were singing at the talent show. Helping verb “were” and “singing” makes up the simple predicate.
- My mom is cooking our dinner. Helping verb “is” and verb “cooking” makes up the simple predicate.
- The book fell. The verb “fell” makes up the simple predicate.
- My family and I moved to Louisiana last month. The verb “moved” makes up the simple predicate.
b. Compound predicate
The word compound indicates a joining of two items, so a compound predicate would join two verbs with a conjunction. But the verbs should be done by the same subject, or, “share” the subject. A compound predicate is used when we want to make a sentence more interesting, add details, or convey additional ideas and concepts. It also helps to avoid repetition of the subject by combining actions into one sentence.
The boy was running around and jumping over all the obstacles.
The two verbs are was running and jumping, so the predicate would be was running around and jumping over all the obstacles. The subject is The boy. Other examples include:
- Last month, my family and I moved to Louisiana and made new friends.
- Moved, made = verbs
- The book fell of the table and broke its spine.
- Fell, broke = verbs
- My mom is cooking but hates all the mess involved.
- Is cooking, hates = verbs
- Two girls were singing and dancing at the talent show.
- were singing, dancing = verbs
c. Complete predicate
The complete predicate will be the part of the sentence that contains the verb and all its modifiers (whereas the simple predicate is only the verb). The modifiers impact the verb and explain how the verb is affecting the object and/or subject.
My father became very angry when I came home late.
The verb is became. The adjective angry describes how his feeling changed or became; the adverb very is showing how angry he is, and when I came home late explains what caused the anger. The complete predicate is therefore: became very angry when I came home late. Other examples include:
- The tiger was pacing up and down in its cage while waiting for its dinner.
- My brother and I always race each other up the stairs at bedtime.
- When I get home, I fix dinner and relax in front of the TV.
- After getting lost, Susan decided to learn how to read maps.
5. How to Write a Predicate
a. Identify the time of the predicate
To write a simple predicate, you must first determine what action you want the subject to be doing. Once you know what type of action the subject will be taking, then write the sentence using past, present, or future tense, depending on the situation.
- Past tense would be something that happened before:
The boy talked to his mom.
- Present tense would be something that is happening now:
The boy is talking to his mom.
- Finally, future tense would be something that will happen later:
The boy will be talking to his mom when she gets home.
You must also be sure to have subject-verb agreement, which is ensuring that you are using singular verbs for single nouns and plural verbs for plural nouns.
- A singular verb would be:
The cat likes to sleep.
- A plural verb would be:
The cats like to sleep.
b. Identify the actions in a Compound Predicate
To write a compound predicate, you need to decide what two actions your subject is completing. Many times, we write two separate sentences, but because we need the subject in each, they sound repetitive. Combining the two thoughts into one sentence makes it more interesting and easier to follow.
In the examples above, we combined two thoughts into one by adding the conjunctions “and” or “but.”
- Last month, my family and I moved to Louisiana. My family and I made new friend. = Last month, my family and I moved to Louisiana and made new friends.
- The book fell off the table. The book broke its spine. = The book fell of the table and broke its spine.
- My mom is cooking. My mom hates all the mess involved. = My mom is cooking but hates all the mess involved.
- Two girls were singing at the talent show. The girls were also dancing. = Two girls were singing and dancing at the talent show.
c. Predicate Must-haves
When writing a complete predicate, be sure to have:
- subject-verb agreement (singular verbs with single nouns; plural verbs with plural nouns)
- the correct tense, such as past, present, or future
- any prepositions, adverbs, objects, and any other modifiers to show what the subject is doing
- the two verbs joined with a conjunction