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What are objective complements?

Elizabeth O'Brien

Hello! I'm Elizabeth O'Brien, and my goal is to get you jazzed about grammar. 

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What are objective complements?

We're tackling a grammar topic that you've probably never heard of: objective complements. 

Let's start with an example! Can you identify the function of all of the words in the following sentence?

We named our daughter Alice.

We = pronoun & subject

named = transitive active verb

our = possessive pronoun/adjective

daughter = noun & direct object

Alice = ?

David O'Brien and baby Alice

This was taken right after Alice was born.

You were probably able to identify Alice as a noun, but were you able to figure out what function Alice is serving in the sentence? Alice is something called an objective complement

What is an objective complement?

An objective complement is a noun or adjective that completes the meaning of the verb and modifies, names, or renames the direct object.

Since these modify, name, or rename direct objects, you'll only find them in sentences that have direct objects. (That also means the sentence will have a transitive active verb.) 

We named our daughter Alice.

They elected my uncle mayor.

This music makes me happy.

We consider you good friends.

  • Named, elected, makes, and consider are transitive active verbs. 
  • Daughter, uncle, me, and you are direct objects. 
  • Alice, mayor, happy, and friends are objective complements. They are completing the meaning of the verb, and they either describe or rename the direct object.

Sentence Diagramming

Sentence diagrams are pictures of sentences. These pictures show us the structure of the sentence.

To diagram an objective complement (OC), extend the horizontal line that holds the subject, verb, and direct object. Draw a slanted line between the direct object and the OC.

objective complement sentence diagram
objective complement sentence diagram

We named our daughter Alice.

Psst! There is another way that objective complements have been diagrammed, and I wanted to show you that as well. (I prefer the method above, but if you've already learned to diagram them this way, it's fine too!)

It's Your Turn


Identify each word in the following sentence. If you've already learned how to diagram sentences, you should also diagram them. You'll find the answers just below this section. 

1. I painted my room red.

2. The students kept the room tidy.

3. His family calls him Dave. 

4. My dad made the chili very spicy.

5. Margo dyed her hair pink.



objective complement sentence diagram

I painted my room red.

I = pronoun & subject

painted = transitive active verb

my = possessive pronoun/adjective

room = noun & direct object

red = adjective & OC


Sentence Diagram

The students kept the room tidy.

students = pronoun & subject 

The = adjective 

kept = transitive active verb

the = adjective

room = noun & direct object

tidy = adjective & OC


objective complement sentence diagram

 His family calls him Dave. 

family = noun & subject 

Hispossessive pronoun/adjective

calls = transitive active verb

him = pronoun & direct object

Dave = noun & OC


objective complement sentence diagram

My dad made the chili very spicy!

dad = noun & subject 

My = possessive pronoun/adjective

made = transitive active verb

chili = noun & direct object

the = adjective

spicy = adjective & OC

very = adverb


Sentence Diagram

Margo dyed her hair pink. 

Margo = noun & subject 

dyed = transitive active verb

her = adjective

hair = noun & direct object

pink = adjective & OC

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Elizabeth O'Brien

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