Grammar-QuizzesVerb Phrases › Verb Complements

Verb Complements

Complete the meaning expressed by the verb

X structure diagram
We walk the dog.
‹ diagram ›
► What is a verb complement?▼ Explanation of term

A verb complement:

  • expresses the rest of what the subject and the verb require in order to make sense. He raised___. She treats him___. We like___.
  • functions as the verb complement or "what must follow the verb" in the clause.
  • takes form as:
    • a noun phrase which functions as the direct object  or the indirect object. We walk the dog. (direct object, transitive verbs) He handed me the dog. (indirect object, ditransitive verbs)
    • a prepositional phrase which functions as the recipient of the object (He gave the dog to me.) or as a location (The dog is on the grass. ) or as a verb expression. (It consists of five parts. He refers to the book.)
    • an adjective which expresses a state. He is healthy
    • a participle which expresses source or receiver of a feeling.  Walking is tiring. We are tired.
    • an adverb  which completes a few expressions:  The only way to lead is confidently. He treats his dog remarkably well.
    • a clause which completes the meaning of the verb:
      • a content clause that expresses a comlete idea, having a subject and a predicate (He said that he was a good walker.)
      • a gerund clause that expresses opinion about a second activity. We enjoy walking everyday.
      • an infinitive clause that expresses intent about a second activity. We plan to walk this evening.


Verb Complements

Summary of Practices




States of Being: express existence and changes in states

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

a sleepwalker

He is tired.

He seems upset.

He appears lost.

 ("Be" + Adjective or Participle Modifier)

Verb + [Noun + Adj] Complement: indicate resulting states of actions (object complements)

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

 car being fixed

Larry washed the car clean

Larry wiped the car dry

Larry pushed the door open.


She wants her car cleaned(service) 

She wants her car clean(state) She found her car clean(unexpected state)

Verb + Gerund : express opinion or comment on activities

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Pac Bell Park

Fans enjoys seeing a good game.

They don't mind sitting in the cold night air.

They hate seeing their team lose.

Gerund Cls w/Subj: express opinion or comment on the activities of others

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Fixing door

I thanked him for fixing my door.

I appreciate his fixing my door.

Verbs w/Infinitive Complements: express desire or intent to do an activity

Beginning– Intermediate ESL

Art image - man screaming - Edvard Munch

Edward needs to get help. (infinitive clause)

Ed needs [Ed get some help]. (subclause)

He helped [to] get the work done.

Ed doesn't want us to help.

Ed wants us not to help. 

Infinitive Cls w/Subj: take action vs. express desire for someone else to do an activity

Beginning– Intermediate ESL

Brummer Man sitting

Ed needs [for Ed] to get some help.

Ed needs [(for) me to get some help.

Ed intended [Frida to do the portrait].

Ed persuaded Frida [to do the portrait].

Ed made Frida do the portrait.

Ed helped Frida (to) do the portrait.

Order + Obj + Infinitive: Impose will on (command) other people to do things


The judge ordered [for] John to leave.  

The judge ordered that John leave.  (Verb uses base form, no -s.)

Transitive Verbs: (verb + direct object) indicate the person or thing ("patient") affected by the action

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Jason studies

Jason rises.

Jason raises the blinds.

Jason studies.

Jason studies English.

The glass broke.

Jason broke the glass.

The baby weighs 10 lbs.

The doctor weighed the baby.

Ditransitive Verbs: (verb + indirect object) indicate the "recipient" or "beneficiary" of the action

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

A letter

My friend is bringing me a letter.

My friend is bringing a letter to me.

My friend is bringing me it.

Verb Complement—None(Intransitive Verbs)

Intransitive Verbs (Never Passive) recognize verbs that do not take objects

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Building destroyed in earthquake

The earthquake happened on April 3, 2009 in Italy.

*The earthquake was happened on April 3, 2009 in Italy.

The baby weighed 7 lbs.

*The baby was weighed 7 lbs.


*not used

Verb + Preposition: complete the idea expressed by the subject and predicate

Intermediate–Advanced ESL

He put out the fire.

He put out the cat.

He put out the fire.

The company put out a fine product.

I don't want to put you out.

Verb + Prep + Gerund: express opinion or comment on activities

Beginning–Advanced ESL


He talks about leaving.

He accused us of complaining.

He keeps on making trouble.

He puts off and worries about making deadlines.

Participle Modifiers 1:  contrast the receiver vs. the source of the experience

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

 clown juggling

The act was entertaining

We were entertained.


Participle Modifiers 2: contrast an on-going process or a completed state

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

roasted chicken 

It is a roasting chicken. (still cooking!) 

It is a  roasted chicken. (done)


Participle w/ Prep: express reaction to circumstances or things

Intermediate–Advanced ESL


The children were interested in hearing his story.

The press was excited about the President's speech.

The President is pleased with the response.

The President is pleased with how the people responded.

He is interested in and excited about his new project.


That–Clause: package information into a content clause ("noun clause")

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

John Glenn NASA

That we need more people in math and science is clear to all.  (subject)

We know that we need more people in math and science.  (complement or "object")

Statement Clauses: restate quoted speech within a clause (reported or indirect speech)

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Couple under umbrella

She said, "It's raining here."

She said that it was raining there.

Said Synonyms: explore other words for reporting speech (Indirect Speech)

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers


She said to me that it is nearby.

She told me that it is nearby.

She added that it is nearby.