He's married to the director.

You should be proud of your progress.

He's really good at English.

She's excited about the new job.

What part of speech do the bolded words play? Are they prepositional phrases? If they are necessary to the core meaning of the sentences, are they complements? Can I say that they are complements AND adverbial prepositional phrases?

Thank you!

  • They are all PPs functioining as complements. Adjuncts (adverbials) deal with circumstances such as time, place, means, cause and result etc., while complements are licensed (selected) by the head word, as here. The selection has nothing to do with meaning, but is a grammatical process whereby phrases which are specified by a head word are complements not adverbials.
    – BillJ
    Jul 19, 2022 at 14:52

2 Answers 2


[1] He's married [to the director].

[2] You should be proud [of your progress].

[3] He's really good [at English].

[4] She's excited [about the new job].

Yes, they are all PPs. They cannot be both complements and adverbials at the same time since those are distinctly different functions.

In your examples, the PPs are complements because in each case the preposition is selected by the adjective in question.

  • Oh! So if the preposition used is selected by the preceding adjective, then it makes the PP a complement? You said that complements and adverbials cannot be together at the same time, but what about adverbial complements? I agree that the definition of adjuncts (unnecessary modifiers) contradicts that of complement, but what if the complement is not an adjunct, but a "necessary modifier". I don't mean modifier as in the modifier that's unnecessary. For instance, in "I am happy." happy is a subject complement that modifies "I", isn't it?
    – Kwan Hui
    Jul 20, 2022 at 13:07
  • Just found this website about adverbial complements
    – Kwan Hui
    Jul 20, 2022 at 13:18
  • @KwanHui There is no such thing as an adverbial complement. They are entirely different functions. Don't believe everything you read! In "I am happy", "happy" is a complement of "be", not a modifier of "I".
    – BillJ
    Jul 20, 2022 at 13:59
  • 1
    I described why I am confused and gave reasons for them. What is your reasoning and source, which I asked for but you didn't provide. Am I supposed to just take your word for it? Doesn't "Don't believe everything you read!" apply to my reading of your words too?
    – Kwan Hui
    Jul 21, 2022 at 0:11
  • The word "adverbial" is used in different ways by different sources. It sometimes involves syntactic dependency on a verb(like) element, and other times refers to semantic functions. For syntactic terms, probably safer to stick to complement vs. adjunct and clause structure vs. other contexts. For the kinds of meanings often represented by modifiers in clause structure (time/place/manner/reason...), a useful term is "circumstantial".
    – nschneid
    Dec 31, 2022 at 4:55

Yes, they are prepositional phrases, with "to", "of", "at", and "about" being the prepositions. They are definitely necessary to convey the meaning of your full sentence examples, although the sentences would technically be "complete" without them, just as the following descriptive sentence

"The big brown cow crossed the shallow muddy creek."

would be a complete sentence without any adjectives. The only sentence which would feel incomplete without the prepositional phrase is this one

He's really good at English.

Incidentally, that is also not the best way to express the sentence, as "English" is not a verb. Other forms of this sentence would be

They are great at running.

He is good at giving presentations.

She is good at playing the piano.

All of which express being exceptional at doing an action. For our English example, a better way to arrange the sentence would be the following:

His English is really good.

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