skip navigation

Adjective Complements to Verbs

Indicating resulting states 

car wash
 

 

Adjective Complements 

PRE-POSITION MODIFIER

The object noun that follows most verbs is (optionally) modified with an adjective. The adjective is placed before the direct object.

MODIFIES EXISTING STATE

Larry washed the car.  It is a clean car now. 

Larry wiped the car.  It is a dry car now.

Larry painted the car.  It is a blue car now.

Larry pushed the door.  It is an open door now.

POST-POSITION MODIFIER

The object noun after this particular group of verbs is modified by an adjective that indicates the resulting state of the action taken The adjective is placed after the object.

MODIFIES RESULTING STATE

Larry washed the car clean.  
move right  move forward

Larry painted the car blue.   red, white, green, etc.

Larry painted the car blue.   red, white, green, etc.

Larry pushed the door open. closed, ajar    *Larry pushed the open door. (?)

 

tornado (n) – a violent, high-speed, spinning storm
Adjective complements — also called verbal NP complements, or object complements
? questionable or borderline usage

(Huddleston 4 5.4 "complex transitives with resultives")

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjective Complement

Verb List

 

 

 

Pattern list: verb + NP + adjective

The thief blew the safe open

They bored us stiff.

The pirate buried his treasure deep

She cropped the picture small.

He drained the bathtub dry.

He filled the bottle full. to the top

He frightened us silly.

He hammered the nail flat/ down.

They knocked him senseless.

Let's paint the table white / red.

They pulled the door open / closed.

She rubbed the cat dry.

He washed his clothes clean/ spotless.

He boiled the egg hard.hard yolk

She brushed the tablecloth flat.

Ted cracked the nut open.

She cut my hair short.

They filed her nails smooth.

The cold weather froze the water solid.

I must get my house clean/ warm/ ready.

They jerked the door open / closed.

His parents named him George.

The carpenter planed the wood smooth.

They pushed the door open / closed.

They shot him dead.

She wiped the table dry / clean.

 

NP (noun phrase) – a noun with determiners and modifiers: He washed the big, blue car clean.
The above is different from "He likes his steak (to be) medium rare." (CAGEL 265)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjective Position

Modifier vs. Verb Complement

 

 

 

Pre- vs. Post Position

MODIFIER TO THE NOUN

The pre-nominal adjective (modifier before the noun) describes the existing state of the noun.

EXISTING STATE

Larry wiped the clean car.   (Clean describes the car.)
move rightmove forward

The wind blew his dry hair.

Harry boiled the hard egg. (an ostrich egg?)

He cracked the open egg(?)

COMPLEMENT OF THE VERB

The post-nominal adjective (modifier after the noun) describes the resulting state of the noun after performing the activity.

RESULTING STATE

Larry wiped the car clean. (Clean is the resulting state.)
move rightmove forward

The wind blew his hair dry.

She boiled the egg hard.

He cracked the egg open.
 

 

(?) questionable usage

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verb Complements

Adjective vs. Adverb

 

 

 

Adjective vs. Adverb

ADVERB

The adverb complement to the verb is placed after the object.  It indicates how the action was performed.

IN THIS MANNER

move rightmove forward
He washed the car thoroughly. completely

Larry wiped the car carefully

He painted the car expertly.

He pushed the door gently.

He got the car cleverly (got — came to own it, took possession of)

ADJECTIVE

The adjective complement to the verb is placed after the object. It expresses how the noun resulted or ended up.

TO THIS RESULTING STATE

move rightmove forward
He washed the car clean.   It is a clean car now.

Larry wiped the car dry It is a dry car now.

Larry painted the car white.    It is a white car now.

Larry pushed the door open It is an open door now.

Larry got the car ready It is a ready car now.

 

Also see Get Passives

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjective Complements

Special Verbs

 

 

 

Want vs. Find

WANT A SERVICE

The verbs want, like, would like, and prefer can be used to express a desire for a service with a resulting state.  The modifier is often a past participle modifier. 

A  DESIRE FOR AN END STATE

She wants her car cleaned / clean.   She wants her car to be cleaned.

She would like her car repaired.  She wants her car to be repaired.

She prefers the windows rolled down. She wants them to be down.

EXPERIENCE A STATE

The ver found expresses the state that is experienced or encountered by the person.  (The item already exists in this state.)

EXPERIENCE OF AN EXISTING STATE

She found the car clean.  She found that the car was clean. (in a clean state)

She found the car ready.  She found that the car was ready, (in a ready-for-use state)

She found the engine noisy.   She found that the engine was noisy.

 

 

 

 

 

Have/ Get/ Make

ARRANGED IT

Verbs have and get are used for having someone else do something.  have/get + obj + participial adjective

ARRANGED A SERVICE

She had her car cleaned.   Someone else caused it to happen. (service)

She got her car repaired.  Someone else causes it to happen.  (service)    

DID IT

Verbs get and make are used for causing something to happen.  make/get + obj + adjective

WORKED TO ACHIEVE A  STATE

She got her carpet clean.  She worked until it was done. It was difficult. (self)

She made/got the kids ready for bed.  She caused it to happen.  (self) 

 

Related pages   Get-Passives  |   Make vs. Do

 

 

 

Slang — Do

EXPRESSION

These expressions (and other similar ones with good, bad, wrong and right) appear to include adjective complements. 

He done her wrong.   informal

She done him goodvery informal

Do it rightinformal 

You did us proud informal

MEANING

The adjective state results from the action of the verb on the direct object.

He did it so that it wronged her.  unjustly treated

She did it so that it pleased him. sexually, as in John Lennon's "Don't Let Me Down."

Do it so that it is right. (Do it correctly / morally.) 

You did it so that it made us proud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

*She heated the milk warm.

*He sang the song beautiful.

 

*They named him, he's George.

 

SOLUTION

She heated the milk until it was warm.

Because this verb does not follow this pattern, use a "result phrase" such as until it ___, so that it ___.

He sang the song beautifully in a manner that was beautiful

He sang the song so that it was beautiful. (result)

Use an adverb to express how the action was done (instead of an adjective for resulting state.)  

They named him George. Remove the extra subject pronoun.

They named him. He is George. Or rewrite it as two sentences.

 

 

*Yellow highlighting indicates example of incorrect usage.

pop QPop-Q Beautiful

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Nail Care

 

 

Complete the sentence with a resulting state.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or "check 1-10" button.

 

1.
long nails  

2.
short nails

3.
red nails

4.
striped nails

5.
dirty nails

6.
cleaning nails

7.
nails being cut

8.
nails being clipped

9.
nails chewed up

10.
hands drying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

A DIY Guy   (do it yourself)

A do it yourselfer
 

 

Read for errors

Jamal rented a new office for his accounting business. However, the office needed some work before he could move in.  First, he painted the white walls because he prefers them to be white.  Next, he picked out new light fixtures and hung them secure from the ceiling. Then, he found some pictures that he liked at a garage sale. They were dusty so he wiped them cleanly with a cloth. The frames were old, so he had the pictures reframed.  When he hung them on the wall, he liked them.  His work made him proudly.  Next, he added window treatments.  Next, He ordered some new blinds and installed them carefully.  He hung the blinds straightly.  Jamal went to the nursery and bought two tall plants and two brass pots. He polished the pots brightly, and carefully placed a plant inside each pot.

Then, Jamal went to a flea market and found a wonderful old wood desk with a chair.  He refinished them and replaced the hardware. Then, he made a seat cushion for the chair and tied it on securely.  He stood back and looked contentedly. Jamal found the floor empty in appearance. It needed something like a rug. He made a deal with the storekeeper next door. He agreed to do his accounting for a year in exchange for a rug. Jamal laid the rug flatly and admired its colors. Finally, Jamal washed the windows cleanly and hung up his sign proudly. He was ready for business. When the first customers arrived, Jamal pulled the door open and welcomed them warmly.  He worked hard and managed his business good.

DIY – a do-it-yourself person prefers to do things without employing services

garage sale(n.) – a small one or two day sale of low-priced, used household items

reframed (v.) – make a new structure made of wood, metal, plastic etc that surrounds something such as a picture or window

 

 

 

 

Edit for errors.

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or "check 11-20" button.

 

11.
Jamal rented a new office for his accounting business. However, the office needed some work before he could move in.  First, he painted the white walls because he prefers them to be white.


12.
Next, he picked out new light fixtures and hung them secure from the ceiling.


13.
Then, he found some pictures that he liked at a garage sale. They were dusty so he wiped them cleanly with a cloth.


14.
The frames were old, so he had the pictures reframed.  When he hung them on the wall, he liked them.  His work made him proudly.


15.
Next, He ordered some new blinds and installed them careful.  He hung the blinds straightly. 


16.
Jamal went to the nursery and bought two tall plants and two brass pots. He polished the pots brightly, and carefully placed a plant inside each pot.


17.
Then, Jamal went to a flea market and found a wonderful old wood desk with a chair.  He refinished them both. Then, he made a seat cushion and tied it on securely.  He stood back and looked contentedly.


18.
Jamal found the floor empty in appearance. It needed a floor covering. He made a deal with the storekeeper next door. He agreed to do his accounting for a year in exchange for a rug. Jamal laid the rug flatly and admired its colors.


19.
Finally, Jamal washed the windows cleanly and hung up his sign proudly. He was ready for business.


20.
When the first customers arrived, Jamal pulled the door open and welcomed them warmly.  He worked hard and managed his business good.


 

Related page Word Form Exceptions   hard, fast, good, loud, etc.