Definition & Examples of Simple Predicates

Every complete sentence has a subject and a predicate. The predicate always includes the main verb and any auxiliary verbs. Sometimes, the predicate is easy to spot. You can probably identify the verb phrase in the sentence below without much trouble. 

The dog can run. 

In this example, “can run” is the predicate, and “the dog” is the subject. 

Some sentences have complicated predicates with modifiers, objects, and complements.

The dog can run faster than me. 

In the example above, the complete predicate is “can run faster than me.”

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What Is a Simple Predicate?

When we talk about the simple predicate, we’re stripping the sentence down to its most fundamental components. Every sentence must contain a subject and a verb, and the simple predicate consists of only the main verbs and any auxiliary verbs. Any modifiers, objects, or complements don’t make the cut. 

The dog can run faster than me.

Returning to the previous example, the simple predicate is “can run.” Those words are essential to the predicate, and, without them, the sentence would be incomplete. “Faster than me” simply gives you more information about how the subject of the sentence performs the action. 

Avoid Modifiers in Simple Predicates

Sometimes, modifiers can appear in the middle of a verb phrase. This makes the verbs a bit harder to spot. 

She has often wondered about that. 

Even though the word “often” is placed between the auxiliary verb and the main verb, it does not form part of the simple predicate. “Has wondered” is the simple predicate in the sentence above.

Didn’t you ask him?

In the sentence above, you might assume that “didn’t ask” is the simple predicate. In reality, the word “not” is an adverb that acts as a negative modifier, so it’s not included in the simple predicate. Instead, the simple predicate is made up of only the verbs: “did” and “ask”.

Other Types of Predicates

In addition to simple predicates, you can also come across other types of predicates in English grammar. A complete predicate refers to the entire predicate, including any modifiers, objects, and complements. Plus, a compound predicate describes a two-part predicate, where the subject of the sentence engages in two different actions.

Complete Predicates

Let’s look at some sentences and distinguish between complete and simple predicates. In the following examples, the complete predicate is marked with parentheses while the simple predicate is underlined. 

She (wishes that the doors would open earlier). 

They (have sometimes asked too many questions). 

Michael (wondered about his choices but decided nothing). 

In the last example, you may notice that there is more than one part to the simple predicate. Michael is doing two different things; he’s wondering and deciding. Both verbs could stand alone as the predicate of the sentence. 

Michael wondered. 

Michael decided. 

Together, these verbs form a compound predicate.

Compound Predicates

Compound predicates consist of two or more verb phrases that share the same subject and are joined together with a conjunction.

Here are some examples: 

She walked and talked at the same time.

Katrina lives in Russia but speaks three languages. 

Patrick drove to the Grand Canyon and flew to the airport.

In a grammar lesson, an English teacher might ask students to identify the complete compound predicate, including the parts of the predicate consisting of modifiers, objects, and complements. Alternatively, a student may need to identify a simple predicate that is also compound.

In the example below, the complete compound predicate of the sentence is marked with parentheses. The simple predicates are underlined. 

She (changed her mind and moved the dryer from the garage to the utility room).

Examples of Simple Predicates in Context

In the examples below, taken from contemporary news articles, we’ve identified the simple predicates with bold typeface.

“In the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh, at least 42 people were killed in lightning strikes on Saturday and Sunday, officials said.”
CBS News, “Lightning strikes kill 76 people in India; some victims were taking selfies”

“Nicholas strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall overnight in the eastern part of Texas’ Matagorda Peninsula with 75 mph winds, according to the National Hurricane Center.”
NBC News, “250,000 without power as Nicholas soaks Texas and Louisiana”

“Despite her growing baby bump, Beatrice grabbed a shovel and helped bury a time capsule to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Russell House.”
People, “Royal Mom-to-Be Princess Beatrice Gets a Gigantic Grin from a Bowtie-Bedecked Baby During Charity Outing”

“A recent power outage that disrupted half of New York City’s subway system for several hours and stranded hundreds of passengers was likely caused by someone accidentally pressing an “Emergency Power Off” button, according to investigations released Friday.”
ABC News, “NYC subway breakdown blamed on ‘power off’ button being hit”

“Backpacks should be durable—because nobody can stand a pack that only lasts a single semester—and should fit everything you need.”
Newsweek, “10 Epic Backpacks That Your Kids Will Brag About”

Subjects vs. Predicates

The subject of the sentence describes the actor or the focus of the sentence. Like the predicate, the subject can also be described as simple, complete, or compound. A simple subject is usually a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase. The complete subject includes the simple subject, along with all modifiers that describe the subject. 

In the examples below, the simple subjects are underlined and the complete subjects are marked with parentheses. 

(The shiny guitar) sits on the guitar stand. 

(Even the most simple sentences) can sometimes be hard to diagram. 

Identifying Predicates

To conclude, in a declarative sentence, you can look at the complete subject and the complete predicate as two halves of the whole. The complete subject consists of the actor or main topic of the sentence, along with parts of speech that modify it. The complete predicate describes the action of the sentence, and it also contains the parts of a declarative sentence that don’t make up the subject.   

The simple subject and simple predicate both strip the sentence down to the bare necessities. For a simple subject, you’re often looking for the main noun or pronoun that acts as the sentence topic. The simple predicate consists of the main verb phrase. Although it won’t contain any modifiers, a simple predicate may include an auxiliary verb, such as a linking verb or helping verb.


  1. What Is a Predicate? | Your Dictionary
  2. The parts of the sentence | The Writing Centre | University of Ottawa
  3. Identifying Subject & Predicate in Sentences  |