Consider the below sentences, all of which contain a subject, a verb, and a predicative.

The door felt cold.

He is tall.

She's got taller.

What is the semantic role of the subjects in these sentences? Is there a name for it?

(For more information on semantic roles, see the Wikipedia page on Thematic relation.)

  • 1
    This is clearly an advanced topic. It would help if you included your prior research (which must have been considerable). How have you studied semantic roles (and thematic relations). Is there a particular text that you are working with? What kind of semantic roles have you considered and rejected?
    – James K
    Mar 21, 2022 at 17:48
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    Most of my knowledge about semantic roles comes from CGEL (of which you have doubtless heard before) and a book called The Linguistic Structure of Modern English.
    – Eric
    Mar 21, 2022 at 20:27

1 Answer 1


In these sentences the subject has the affected role. In particular, it is characterised by the predicate formed of a linking verb and complement.

Subjects in this type of sentence may be also be identified by the predicate. Compare.

Jane is a woman. (this characterises Jane)

Jane is my mother. (this identifies Jane)

As can be shown by the fact that the second sentence can be reversed "My mother is Jane". The first cannot.

Source English Grammar 4, University of Basrah

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