Complement vs Adjunct: Difference and Comparison

The correct understanding of English grammar is essential to get proficient in the language and using its different parts ideally for good communication.

Some of the significant elements in a sentence are subject, object, verb, complement, and Adjunct, and all have their place in conveying the right message through the sentence.

Adjunct and complement are two essential terms of the English grammatical theory. So, it is vital to know the difference between these two.  

Key Takeaways

  1. Complements are words or phrases that complete the meaning of a verb, providing necessary information; adjuncts are optional words or phrases that provide additional information without being required for grammatical correctness.
  2. Removing a complement may result in an incomplete or ungrammatical sentence while removing an adjunct leaves the core meaning intact.
  3. Complements answer questions like “who” or “what” regarding the verb, while adjuncts provide information about “when,” “where,” “how,” or “why.”

Complement vs Adjunct

Complement and adjunct are grammatical terms with distinct roles in a sentence. A complement is a word or phrase necessary to complete the meaning of a sentence, providing additional information about the subject or object. An adjunct, however, is an optional element that adds information but isn’t required for the sentence to be grammatically complete.

Complement vs Adjunct

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Adjunct and complement are similar in appearance, but their functionalities have relative differences. The line to separate Adjunct and addiction can be a little vague.

In general usage, an adjunct is an appendage. It can be something attached to something else in a secondary capacity. When used as a noun, a complement is used as a counterpart, something that is added that makes a sentence whole.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonComplementAdjunct
DefinitionA complement is a word or a set of words which alters a subject, verb, or object.An adjunct is a word or a set of words that can give extra information about functionaries within a sentence.
SignificanceA complement is crucial in a sentence to give it a proper meaning and grammatical correctness.An adjunct is not essential in a sentence to give it meaning and make it grammatically correct.
RoleA complement provides a specific meaning to the sentence.An adjunct provides a descriptive image to the sentence.
EffectRemoval of complement will harm the meaning and construction of the sentence.Removal of adjuncts does not harm the overall meaning and construction.
Sentence completionComplement is mandatory for the completion of a sentence.Adjunct is not mandatory for the completion of a sentence.


What is Complement?

Complement is part of a sentence that constitutes a word or a group of words that modifies the subject, verb, or object.

Complements are needed in a sentence, and one should be aware of the correct usage of it in a sentence and the various forms in which a supplement can be used in a sentence.

Complement is the element that gives a specific meaning to a sentence. When it is removed, the penalty will lose its meaning. Usually, one cannot write or speak complete sentences without a compliment.

There are various types of complements commonly used in a sentence, such as

  1. Subject complements
  2. Object complements
  3. Verb complements
  4. Adverb complements
  5. Adjective complements, etc.

For Example, in the sentence ‘John is a carpenter’, the word carpenter denotes a complement and belongs to the group of subject addition. If the word ‘carpenter’ is removed from the sentence, it will lose meaning and correctness.

There are different forms for using a complement in a sentence, and the sentence needs to be identified with a particular message. 


What is Adjunct?

An adjunct is part of a sentence that constitutes a word or set of words that can give extra information on the functionaries of a sentence. These functionaries can be different sentence parts, such as subject, object, or predicate.

In English Grammar, adjuncts are one of the five significant elements of clause structure which is not a necessary phrase to the system but a word or words that can provide some additional meaning to the sentence.

In the sentence, I kept a copy of the document on my shelf; the phrase on my shelf adds extra meaning to the ruling. It tells where, and that is an adjunct.

Without an adjunct, sentences can be a little dry and sometimes unable to convey answers to questions like how, where, why, etc. An adjunct can be detached from a sentence without making the sentence wrong or grammatically imprecise.

Even after removing an adjunct from a sentence, it can still provide meaning. Therefore, the role of an adjunct is secondary in constructing a sentence.

An adjunct is not essential for sentence construction. Most adjuncts are adverbs used to assist the description of a verb. An adjunct can describe the place, time, reason, manner, frequency, etc.

For Example, in the sentence, ‘I completely forgot about her arrival’, the word is an adjunct. When the Adjunct is removed from the sentence, it can still convey the meaning. It only affects the magnitude or strength of the action.

Main Differences Between Complement and Adjunct

  1. The main difference between Complement and Adjunct is that an adjunct is not an essential part of the sentence, whereas a compliment is an integral part.
  2. Adjuncts are unnecessary in the sentence to give it meaning, but without a complement, the sentence will not convey the proper meaning.
  3. A complement is essential for sentence completion, whereas an adjunct is not necessary to complete a sentence.
  4. Complements are structurally indispensable, whereas adjuncts are structurally dispensable in a sentence.
  5. Adjuncts are always adverbial, but complements can be nouns or adverbs.

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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23 thoughts on “Complement vs Adjunct: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The post was insightful in illustrating how complements and adjuncts provide necessary information in sentence structure.

  2. The post did a great job of highlighting the significance of complements and adjuncts in sentence construction.

  3. Avatar of Isabella Roberts
    Isabella Roberts

    The examples and explanations provided a comprehensive understanding of complements and adjuncts in sentence construction.

  4. The post effectively captured the distinctions between complements and adjuncts, providing detailed information on their roles in sentence construction.

    1. The importance of identification of a complement’s message in a sentence was well-articulated in the post.

  5. The explanation provided a comprehensive understanding of complements and adjuncts and their impact on sentences.

  6. It was very informative to learn about the differences between complements and adjuncts in English grammar, and the significance of each in a sentence’s structure.

  7. Avatar of Richardson Sean
    Richardson Sean

    The examples provided for the usage of complements in sentences were highly beneficial in grasping the concept.

    1. I found the post to be very informative, especially in understanding the role of complements in sentence completion.

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