EDUCE Overview Copyright 2009 Nikolas S. Boyd.
All rights reserved.

Complete Predicate


Verify that all thematic semantic roles of a transitive verb have actants.


A verb relates a subject to some clausal object(s), or it expresses the action of a subject in relation to some clausal object(s). A transitive verb often relates multiple objects to the sentence subject. However, when discussing problems and requirements informally, stakeholders often use incomplete sentences. They leave out important elements through simplification or oversight.


Use complete predicate when


Typically, transitive verbs have actants that play thematic semantic roles.

Once you've identified the thematic roles associated with a transitive verb you can identify whether any clausal objects are missing from a sentence and which roles they play in the action expressed by the verb.

Sentences with missing objects reduce opportunities for object discovery. However, you can recover the missing objects by requesting them from a stakeholder, or by inferring them directly from the thematic roles entailed by a verb.


For those transitive verbs with more than two actants, the associated prepositions are considered part of the verb for the purposes of conceptual modeling, object-oriented analysis, and method signature design.

For example, consider the following archetypal transitive verbs and their thematic roles:

a predator captures a prey
a giver gives a gift to a recipient
a sender sends a message to a recipient through a medium
a surgeon cuts a portion from a body using a knife
a carpenter fastens a plank to a wall with a fastener (nail)

Completing a predicate with its appropriate prepositions will provide a more complete conceptual model. Complete predicates also support the identification of stable concepts.