Some verbs are followed by an adjective phrase. The adjective phrase is called the complement:


Noun phrase (Subject) Verb phrase Adjective phrase (complement)
This soup
The milk
am feeling
has gone
very happy

This pattern is N + V + Adj (noun + verb + adjective phrase).

These verbs are called link verbs.

Some link verbs (for example be; become; seem) can have a noun phrase as a complement:


Noun phrase (Subject) Verb phrase Noun phrase (complement)
Our neighbour
a strange man
a geologist
a nice girl

This pattern is N + V + N (noun + verb + noun).




Why "The sun was shining" is N+V? Isn't it N+V+Adj?

Thank you!


Hello Tina,

'was shining' is a past continuous verb form. 'shining' can indeed be an adjective, but is not in this case. The way to test this is to see if 'The sun shines' makes sense, which it does – this shows that 'shine' is a verb.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk, same question than Tina, thanks

Hello sir, As you explained that a linking verbs were followed by a complement in the form of an adjective phrase or a noun phrase. Sometimes it put me in dilemma. Concerning complements and linking verbs, could you please clear some doubts?

1. The man has fallen asleep (here, asleep is an adverb as a complement)

2. The boy is of ill manner. ( here, "of ill manner" is a complemet followed by a prepositional phrase)

3. Who is at the door? It is I. ( here, pronoun "I" as a complement)

If I am right then my question is . . . What can the complements be in a sentence from the view of parts of speech?

And if I am wrong, could you please explain the forms and the types of complements with examples?

A learner
Arafat Akbar (India)

Hello Arafat,

In 1, 'asleep' is an adjective. I wouldn't really call 'fall' a link verb here – rather what we have is the quasi-idiom 'fall asleep'. We don't 'fall tired' or 'fall happy', for example, though we do 'fall ill'.

In 2, the prepositional phrase 'of ill manner' is itself the complement. Although it's not explained above, prepositional phrases are grammatically correct after link verbs (cf. the Wikipedia entry on Linking verbs).

In 3, yes, 'I' is the complement, though please note that while 'It is I' is certainly used, 'It's me' is far more common. 'It is I' is an example of a hypercorrection.

Complements can be adjectives, prepositional phrases and nouns.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team



Thank you, Kirk.
Your explanations helped me very much, indeed. I would be more than happy if you point out the differences between "asleep" as an adjective and "asleep" as an adverb. Please give some examples.

I honestly love this site. Thank you again.

Hello Arafat,

The Oxford dictionaries show 'asleep' as an adverb and adjective, whereas the Cambridge dictionaries show it as only an adjective. It makes more sense to me as an adjective, though as you can see in the examples in the Oxford entry, they identify it as an adverb after 'fall' and as an adjective after the verb 'be'. To be honest, I don't think it makes much of a difference either way.

By the way, we check all comments before they are published – that's why your first comment did not appear immediately and why the others did not appear, as they were repeated.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, Kirk.

Best regards
Arafat Akbar

The sun was shinning, isn't ( N+V+adj )

Hello Sarah,

That's correct, 'was shining' is not a verb + adjective, but rather the verb 'shine' in the past continuous. Please see our past continuous page for an explanation of this form.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team