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).



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


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

Please explain the difference between a complement and an adverbial... I am little bit confused in detecting those.

Hello vnchaithanya,

A complement in grammar is any word or phrase which completes the meaning of a subject, object or verb. There are subject complements, object complements and verb complements. You can find more information on these here.

Adverbials are words or phrases which have an adverbial function in the sentence, telling us how, where, when (etc) an event took place, or giving us information about the speaker's attitude to what they are describing. You can find more information on these here.

Note that these are not mutually exclusive concepts. An adverbial phrase can function as a complement in the sentence.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I wanted to ask about adjectives which are past participle form. I do not know when and how they are used.
Thank you.

Hello MCWSL,

As far as I know, there is no special rule or guideline that explains how they are used in general. I'm afraid that's not much help, but let me suggest looking them up in the Cambridge Dictionary, where you can see example sentences to get an idea of how they are typically used. 

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team