Predicate Nominative

More than one name can identify people, animals, or things.

Lewis Carroll is a famous British author.

"Author" is another name for "Lewis Carroll."

A predicate nominative is a noun that follows the verb and renames the subject person, animal, or thing. It explains or defines the subject and is identical with it. The subject and the predicate noun are joined by a linking verb such as am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been, become, or seem. We remember that a linking verb does not show action, nor does it "help" the action verb. Its purpose is to connect the person, animal, or thing (the subject) to its new name, the predicate noun.

Examples are circled in the sentences below.

If we reverse the subject and the predicate nominative, as in the sentences below, the meaning of the sentence is not affected.

Identifying the Predicate Nominative

Reversing the subject and predicate noun in this manner helps us to determine how the predicate functions. If the linking verb is not a "to be" verb, we replace it with a "to be" verb to determine whether there is a p. n. that renames the subject. 

John Adams became president after George Washington.

Alice in Wonderland became a popular story for children.

Rufus King remained  a U.S. senator for twelve years.

Now we reverse the nouns in the subject and predicate, and we see that the predicate does indeed rename the subject. The meaning is the same, so we have identified a predicate noun.

  • The president after George Washington was John Adams.
  • A popular story for children was Alice in Wonderland.
  • A U.S. senator for twelve years was Rufus King.

The p. n. might be more difficult to identify in an interrogative sentence. Turning the question into a statement will help.

  • Question: Is Lewis Carroll the author of Alice in Wonderland?
  • Statement: Lewis Carroll is the author of Alice in Wonderland.

In the statement above, we see that "author" renames "Lewis Carroll." Therefore, "author" is a predicate noun.


Expressions may be compound, as in the sentences below.