Teacher called these students difficult to control.

In this sentence, there is no "to be" between difficult and students, which somehow so strangely led me to thinking that using adjective complement "to control" after adjective "difficult" is wrong. Is it OK to use adjective complement when there is no "to be"?

Another example.

Students were called difficult to control.

So, are those sentences grammatically correct? Thank you so much in advance.

2 Answers 2


If you consider "difficult to control" as a label describing the students, then it is OK.

The/My teacher called these students "difficult to control".

Quotes added to define the phrase, but not required.

  • Thank you so much for the answer. But there is one thing that I do not quiet get... what do you mean by label?
    – crate
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 19:54
  • See label - "3. a descriptive word or phrase applied to a person, group, theory, etc. as a convenient generalized classification"
    – user3169
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 19:56
  • Thank you! Also, is it OK to use this adjective complement with other adjectives even if there is no "to be"? For example: He made the program difficult to understand.
    – crate
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 19:57

You correctly identify the adjectivals as complements. Many verbs besides BE take obligatory or optional complements of this sort, both adjectival and nominal.

I consider him honest.
The company named her president.
John painted the door red.
I declare this meeting open.
Let's make this an option.

Other verbs—often called linking verbs—take complements which describe the subject.

I feel sick.
He seems an honest man.

And it is often possible to add a 'secondary' subject complement to ordinary intransitive verbs.

The wolf's teeth shone white in the moonlight.
Night settled dark and silent over the forest.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .