English Grammar

Objective Complements

by Eugene R. Moutoux

1. An objective complement is a noun or an adjective (or the equivalent of a noun or an adjective, like a pronoun or a participle) that completes a verb with respect to a direct object. The verb in a sentence with an objective complement is often factitive; that is, it makes someone or something someone or something else. For example, verbs like elect, appoint, choose, render, name, call, entitle, color, dye, and the verb make itself (but not when it means "to create") are factitive verbs. Here are some sentences containing factitive verbs and objective complements:

- They called their mascot Herbie. (The noun Herbie is an objective complement.)

- The summer job will make him strong. (The adjective strong is an objective complement.)

- The shock of standing in front of the class has rendered the poor boy speechless. (The adjective speechless is an objective complement.)

- The parents named their daughter Aphrodite. (The noun Aphrodite is an objective complement.)

- One of my classmates dyed his hair purple. (The adjective purple is an objective complement.)

Like predicate nominatives, objective complements can be introduced by the expletive as. Here is an example: The European travelers chose a bilingual woman as their spokesperson.

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2. Objective complements appear only in active sentences. To change a sentence with an objective complement into its corresponding passive sentence, one takes the direct object of the sentence and makes it the subject (by the way, the word subject in this sentence is an objective complement). The passive factitive verb acts as a linking verb, and the objective complement of the original sentence becomes a subjective complement (either a predicate nominative or a predicate adjective). To see how this works, letís change the sample sentences above into their corresponding passive forms:

- Their mascot was called Herbie. (Herbie is a predicate nominative.)

- He will be made strong by the summer job. (Strong is a predicate adjective.)

- The poor boy has been rendered speechless by the shock of standing in front of the class. (Speechless is a predicate adjective.)

- Their daughter was named Aphrodite. (Aphrodite is a predicate nominative.)

- The hair of one of my classmates was dyed purple. (Purple is a predicate adjective.)

- A bilingual woman was chosen as spokesperson by the European travelers. (Spokesperson is a predicate nominative.)

This rule holds when the objective complement is a noun, a pronoun, or an adjective. It does not apply when the objective complement is an infinitive.

- from the teacher's enlarged edition of my book Diagramming Step by Step: One Hundred and Fifty-one Steps to Diagramming Excellence

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