I have read this sentence in a newspaper

Reality Winner pleaded guilty in June to a single count of transmitting national security information.

[Handout via Reuters]

Why is an adjective "guilty" following a verb "plead"?

  • 1
    There's no reason an adjective can't follow a verb: I saw red, I heard loud music, I thought hard, etc.
    – stangdon
    Aug 24, 2018 at 11:44
  • Ex: A right sentence, I saw a red pen
    – Maika
    Aug 25, 2018 at 2:33

1 Answer 1


In this context, guilty is effectively a noun, the object of "plead". Historically it (or at least "not guilty" - "plead guilty" came later) was the name of a plea, so the phrase was really:

plead 'Not Guilty'

The noun can be used in a very limited set of contexts: beside "plead guilty" you can say "a verdict of guilty".

  • Would it not be analogous to All those in favor say aye? Aug 24, 2018 at 11:44

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