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A secondary predicate is a (mostly adjectival) predicative expression that conveys information about the subject or the object but is not the main predicate of the clause. This structure may be analysed in many different ways.

These may be resultative, as in (1) and (2) or descriptive (also called "depictive") as in (3).

(1) She painted the town red
(2) The film left me cold
(3) Susan walked around naked. (Depictive over the subject, or "subject-oriented depictive")
(4) John ate the meat raw. (Depictive over the object, or "object-oriented depictive")
(5) All men are created equal.

Alternative viewsEdit

Optional depictive secondary predicates are viewed as "predicative adjuncts" by some linguists. (Huddleston & Pullum 2002) Within the Role and Reference Grammar framework secondary predicates are not not considered adjuncts because by definition of predication they cannot appear in a periphery. They are treated as connected to the primary predicate via a core juncture with a cosubordinate nexus. (Ullrich 2018)


  • Monica-Alexandrina Irimia (2005) "Types of secondary predication". Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics 25: 20–29
  • *Huddleston, R. and G. K. Pullum (2002). The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43146-8
  • *Ullrich, Jan (2018). Modification, Secondary Predication and Multi-verb Constructions in Lakota, Bloomington: The Language Conservancy. ISBN 978-1-941461-27-3

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