Grammatical Functions: Complement Clauses

Complement Clauses


What is a complement clause?

In some sentences, the complement is not a single word or short phrase but is rather an entire clause. Such complements are referred to as complement clauses. Complement clauses can be thought of as a complement which does not fit into any of the other complement categories.

As with other kinds of complements, complement clauses are closely linked to the verbs they follow and, in general, are required for the verb’s meaning to be complete. For instance, the phrase, “I asked,” is grammatical, but without further information or context, its meaning is incomplete. We can add a clause to give the sentence full meaning:

“I asked whether Samantha would be attending the event.”

Complement clauses to do not need to immediately follow a verb. We can reword the previous example so that the complement clause comes after the object instead:

“I asked Samantha whether she would be attending the event.”

This concludes our discussion of complements. The next (and final) article in this series will discuss non-complement predicates, which are known as adjuncts.

Jake Magnum, author of the Magnum Proofreading Tips blog, is dedicated to helping writers perfect their work. In addition to giving free advice on his blog, Jake helps writers by offering very affordable proofreading services at

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