Grammar Simple Predicates |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Simple Predicates

The basic building blocks of an English sentence are the subject and the predicate. Together, the subject and the predicate form a clause.

A Quick Review

The complete subject is the main part of the sentence that contains at least one noun (or noun equivalent) and all of its modifiers.

The complete predicate contains at least one verb and its auxiliaries, modifiers, and completing words if they are present. It explains all that is being said about the subject.

If you remove the subject and its modifiers from a sentence, everything that remains is the predicate.

Examples
Josefina (complete subject) reads (complete predicate).
“Reliable” Ricky (complete subject) scored the winning basket (complete predicate).
Everyone at the concert (complete subject) will love the show even if it rains (complete predicate).

The Simple Predicate

Our quick review of the complete subject and predicate helps us understand the role of the simple predicate. 

The simple predicate is the verb or verb phrase that identifies solely the action in a sentence. It does not include modifiers and completing words, but it does include auxiliaries.

Examples
Josefina reads. (The simple predicate is reads.)
“Reliable” Ricky scored the winning basket. (The simple predicate is scored.)
Everyone at the concert will love the show even if it rains. (The simple predicate is the auxiliary will and the main verb, love.)

Let’s look at a few more examples of simple predicates including compound verbs as well as different tenses:

Alyssa worked a full day and then met her friends for dinner. (Worked and met are both simple predicates.)
Helmut has been a student at the university for three years. (Has been is the simple predicate in the present perfect tense.)
They will have been in line for three hours by the time they can ride the rollercoaster. (Will have been is the simple predicate in the future perfect tense.)

Note also that the simple predicate can be separated by modifiers that are not a part of the predicate.

Beth Ann will always be my sweetheart.
Nathan has often said he wants to run for county treasurer.
That information had not previously been known.

 

Pop Quiz

Using what you’ve learned in this article, identify the simple predicates in the following sentences.

1. I want to be an astronaut someday.

2. Helen often tends to her garden and, because of her care, attracts many people to it.

3. Will you have at least read through the manual by the time the project begins?

4. They are debating whether to install the new fountain in the town square.

5. If you want to get the best price at the flash sale, leave now.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1. I want to be an astronaut someday.

2. Helen often tends to her garden and, because of her care, attracts many people to it.

3. Will you have at least read through the manual by the time the project begins?

4. They are debating whether to install the new fountain in the town square.

5. If you want to get the best price at the flash sale, leave now.


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4 Comments on Simple Predicates

4 responses to “Simple Predicates”

  1. Travis says:

    In the sentence “They will have been in line for three hours by the time they can ride the rollercoaster,” wouldn’t “ride” be part of the simple predicate?

    Also, in the sentence, “Nathan has often said he wants to run for county treasurer,” wouldn’t “to run” be part of the simple predicate?

    • GrammarBook.com says:

      In the first sentence, the word “ride” would not be part of the simple predicate because it does not identify the action in the main clause; rather, it is the verb in a subordinate (dependent) clause with an omitted, understood “when”:
      Main clause: They will have been in line for three hours
      Adverbial prepositional phrase: by the time
      Subordinate clause modifying the prepositional phrase: (when) they can ride the rollercoaster

      In the second sentence, the infinitive phrase “to run for county treasurer” is likewise not a part of the simple predicate in the main clause; rather, it is the direct object of a subordinate clause with an omitted, understood “that”:
      Main clause: Nathan has often said
      Subordinate clause: (that) he wants to run for county treasurer

  2. Shawna says:

    This may be good information, but I’m not sure how it helps me be a better writer. Thank you. I do read and like your posts.

    • GrammarBook.com says:

      This website focuses on fundamental grammatical principles as much as it does writing style. The topic of predicates is foundational to the building blocks of English. This discussion can be of particular benefit to non-native speakers and those readers who are still learning basic grammar.

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