Object Complement

Consider the highlighted phrases in the following examples. How do they contribute to the clauses?

  • She found the maths incredibly hard. [S1A-054#137]
  • I found the changeover a trying time. [W2B-012#101]

These phrases describe the thing picked out by the Direct Object. The maths is described as incredibly hard (for her). The changeover is described as a trying time (for me).

These phrases function as Object Complements, because they relate to the Direct Object in the same kind of way that Subject Complements relate to the Subject: they add information about the Direct Object.

This is the basic clause pattern:



Direct Object

Object Complement



the maths

incredibly hard



the changeover

a trying time

This can be compared with the basic clause pattern for Subject Complement: Subject + Predicator + Subject Complement. We can also compare these examples:

  • She found the maths incredibly hard. [Object Complement]
  • The maths was incredibly hard. [Subject Complement]
  • I found the changeover a trying time. [Object Complement]
  • The changeover was a trying time. [Subject Complement]

Object Complements, like Subject Complements, can take the form of an adjective phrase (like incredibly hard) or a noun phrase (like a trying time).

Key points

The Object Complement typically:

  • adds information about the person or thing picked out by the Direct Object
  • typically takes the form of an adjective phrase or noun phrase
  • comes after the Direct Object

These are further examples of adjective phrases as Object Complements:

  • Our Fran who’s fourteen actually finds us so boring. [S1A-054 #6]
  • A. C. Denison’s Phantom Phone could drive your friends crazy. [W2B-032 #2]
  • You must keep them moist. [S1B-025 #78]
  • And it also makes you so aware of your own ability and other people’s abilities. [S1A-002 #27]

In some examples you may notice that other elements have been added to the basic clause pattern. These are typically optional Adverbials which occur in various positions within the clause (e.g. actually, also in the examples above).

These are further examples of noun phrases as Object Complements:

  • In fact I consider this a success. [S2A-044 #55]
  • The Armed Officers Minister Archy Hamilton called it a freak accident. [S2B-011#91]
  • The Gulf War also made the defensive Patriot missile a household name. [S2B-034 #87]
  • In the meantime Keith Joseph had appointed me a part time Special Adviser to him at the Department of Education. [W2B-012 #142]

Note that 'Object Complement' is not a statutory term in the National Curriculum, i.e. it does not have to be taught at KS1 and KS2.


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