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Predicative vs. Attributive: Know the Difference

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By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 27, 2023
Predicative adjectives follow a verb and describe the subject, while attributive adjectives precede a noun and directly modify it.
Predicative vs. Attributive

Key Differences

Predicative adjectives are used after a verb, such as "be," "seem," or "look," and provide information about the subject of the sentence. Attributive adjectives, however, are placed directly before a noun and modify the noun directly.
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In a predicative position, the adjective typically follows a linking verb and describes the state or quality of the subject. For instance, in "The sky is blue," "blue" is predicative. In contrast, attributive adjectives are part of the noun phrase, as in "The blue sky," where "blue" directly describes "sky."
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Predicative adjectives can provide a broader range of information since they are linked to the subject via a verb. Attributive adjectives, on the other hand, are more limited to describing inherent qualities or characteristics of the noun they modify.
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A predicative adjective often gives more subjective or temporary information about the subject, like feelings or states. In contrast, attributive adjectives tend to describe more permanent, inherent qualities of a noun.
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Comparison Chart

Position in Sentence

Follows a verb
Precedes a noun
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Relation to Noun

Describes subject via verb
Directly modifies the noun
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Example

"The flowers are beautiful."
"Beautiful flowers bloom here."
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Type of Information

Subjective, temporary states or feelings
Permanent, inherent qualities
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Usage in Sentence

Provides broader information
More limited, direct description
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Predicative and Attributive Definitions

Predicative

Describes the subject.
The cat seems sleepy.
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Attributive

Directly linked to a noun.
She read a thrilling book.
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Predicative

Often subjective information.
He feels happy today.
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Attributive

Precedes and modifies a noun.
A red apple was on the table.
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Predicative

Reflects a temporary condition.
The windows are open.
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Attributive

Part of the noun phrase.
The noisy crowd cheered.
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Predicative

Following a linking verb.
The soup is hot.
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Attributive

Describes inherent qualities.
A wooden table is sturdy.
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Predicative

Expresses state or quality.
The answer is correct.
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Attributive

A word or word group, such as an adjective, that is placed adjacent to the noun it modifies without a linking verb; for example, pale in the pale girl.
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Predicative

To base or establish (a statement or action, for example)
I predicated my argument on the facts.
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Attributive

(Grammar) Of, relating to, or being an attributive, as an adjective.
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Predicative

To state or affirm as an attribute or quality of something
The sermon predicated the perfectibility of humankind.
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Attributive

Of or having the nature of an attribution or attribute.
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Predicative

To carry the connotation of; imply.
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Attributive

Modifying another word, typically a noun, while in the same phrase.
In "this big house", "big" is attributive, whereas in "this house is big", it is predicative.
In "this tiger is a man-eater," "man" is an attributive noun.
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Predicative

(Logic) To make (a term or expression) the predicate of a proposition.
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Attributive

Attributing; characterized by attributing; effecting attribution.
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Predicative

To proclaim or assert; declare.
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Attributive

(grammar) An attributive word or phrase (see above), contrasted with predicative or substantive.
In "this big house," "big" is an attributive, while in "this house is big," it is a predicative.
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Predicative

To make a statement or assertion.
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Attributive

Attributing; pertaining to, expressing, or assigning an attribute; of the nature of an attribute.
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Predicative

(Grammar) One of the two main constituents of a sentence or clause, modifying the subject and including the verb, objects, or phrases governed by the verb, as opened the door in Jane opened the door or is very sleepy in The child is very sleepy.
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Attributive

A word that denotes an attribute; esp. a modifying word joined to a noun; an adjective or adjective phrase.
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Predicative

(Logic) That part of a proposition that is affirmed or denied about the subject. For example, in the proposition We are mortal, mortal is the predicate.
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Attributive

Of adjectives; placed before the nouns they modify;
`red' is an attributive adjective in `a red apple'
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Predicative

(Grammar) Of or belonging to the predicate of a sentence or clause.
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Attributive

Provides specific description.
Tall buildings dominate the skyline.
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Predicative

Stated or asserted; predicated.
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Predicative

Modifying a noun while in a predicate phrase, which predicate phrase is other than the noun phrase and occurs after a verb, as a predicate; contrasted with attributive.
In the sentence, ‘This house is big’, ‘big’ is predicative, whereas in ‘This is a big house’, it is attributive.
Compound adjectives are typically hyphenated in attributive position (for example, 'a high-quality scan is a must'), whereas in predicative position, many house styles specify open styling (for example, 'this scan is high quality.'
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Predicative

(grammar) An element of the predicate of a sentence which complements the subject or object by means of the verb. Predicatives may be nominal or adjectival.
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Predicative

(grammar) In some languages, a special part of speech used as a predicate and denoting a state of being.
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Predicative

Expressing affirmation or predication; affirming; predicating, as, a predicative term.
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Predicative

Of adjectives; relating to or occurring within the predicate of a sentence;
`red' is a predicative adjective in `the apple is red'
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What does predicative mean?

Refers to adjectives following a verb to describe the subject.
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Can predicative adjectives be subjective?

Yes, they often convey subjective information.
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Do predicative adjectives describe permanent states?

They usually describe temporary states or feelings.
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Where are attributive adjectives placed?

Before the noun they modify.
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Can a predicative adjective follow any verb?

It typically follows linking verbs like "is," "seem."
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Are attributive adjectives part of the noun phrase?

Yes, they form part of the noun phrase.
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Are predicative adjectives essential for the sentence's meaning?

They provide additional but crucial information.
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What do attributive adjectives describe?

Inherent qualities or characteristics of a noun.
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Do attributive adjectives change the noun’s meaning?

They specify and often enhance the meaning.
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Do predicative adjectives agree in number with the subject?

They agree in terms of relevancy but not in number.
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How do attributive adjectives affect a sentence?

They directly modify and specify the noun.
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Do predicative adjectives come after the subject?

Yes, they follow the verb after the subject.
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Can attributive adjectives be used predicatively?

Some can, depending on the context.
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Are predicative adjectives always adjectives?

Yes, they function as adjectives in the sentence.
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Can a sentence have multiple predicative adjectives?

Yes, linked by a verb.
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Is the use of predicative adjectives common?

Yes, especially in descriptive language.
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Can an attributive adjective be moved?

It usually stays before the noun it modifies.
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How do attributive adjectives interact with nouns?

They closely describe and are linked to the noun.
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Can attributive adjectives be plural?

No, they remain singular to modify singular or plural nouns.
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Are attributive adjectives used in every sentence?

Not every sentence, but they are common in description.
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Shumaila Saeed
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