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In the sentence "He became captain of the team", 'captain' (noun) is the subject complement of 'became' and 'of the team' (a PP) is the object complement of 'captain'. Since complements function either as nouns or adjectives, is the PP acting as a noun or an adjective in the given sentence? Also, why can't we say that the PP modifies 'captain' here (For instance, 'captain' of what? --'captain' OF THE TEAM)?

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    So I guess you are 'Stockfish' on ELU? The subject complement is "captain of the team", where the PP "of the team" is complement of "captain". 'Complement' is a function that may be realised by an NP, AdjP clause etc. The PP is a complement, not a modifier, because the choice of preposition is specified by "captain", i.e. it can only be "of".
    – BillJ
    Aug 17 '20 at 6:57
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He became [captain of the team].

The subject complement of "became" is the whole NP "captain of the team", in which the PP "of the team" is complement of "captain".

Complements don't "function either as nouns or adjectives", as you put it -- it's the other way round. Complement is a function that may be realised by an NP, AdJP clause etc.

The PP "of the team" is a complement, not a modifier, because the choice of preposition is specified by "captain", i.e. "of".

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  • Thanks. If I add some modifier, say "winning" before the "captain", does " of the winning team", while acting complement of "captain", also modify it (captain) unlike in the previous case, where it served merely as complement, @BillJ?
    – user120390
    Aug 20 '20 at 6:16
  • @Userabc I'm not sure if you want "winning" to modify "captain" or "team".
    – BillJ
    Aug 20 '20 at 10:28
  • "winning" modifies "team". I am asking if " of the winning team" modifies "captain"? Like which " captain" ? --"captain of the winning team". Sorry, I should have written -- If I add some modifier, say "winning" before the "team"... in my previous comment.
    – user120390
    Aug 20 '20 at 10:37
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    Yes, but a complement not a modifier, so The PP "of the winning team" is complement of "captain".
    – BillJ
    Aug 20 '20 at 10:51
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    The PP is always complement (not modifier) of "captain".
    – BillJ
    Aug 20 '20 at 12:46

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