I am looking at this kind of French sentences:

  • Le directeur de la banque
  • Un directeur de banque
  • Le livre de l'élève
  • Le livre de français

Having done some research about English grammar terminology on Wikipedia and using my own knowledge, I seem to understand that "Le directeur de la banque' is a noun phrase, and "de la banque" is a dependent, and more specifically a prepositional phrase. In French, we call this "complément du nom" as it is an expansion of the noun, it gives us more information about the noun. Generally speaking, "compléments" are introduced by prepositions and do not necessarily give information about the noun, they could also give information about the verb. In Italian grammar, we give each "complemento" an actual name depending on its function. For example, in the sentence "he ate with a fork", "with a fork", introduced by preposition "with", is a "complemento di mezzo" (literally: complement of instrument/tool, as it clarifies with what tool the action is performed).

So my two questions are:

  1. what do you call a "complément du nom" in English?
  2. what do you call "compléments" in English, as a general term? Does a term for this exist?
  • Undoubtedly there are several terms for it that exist in one or another description of English grammar. I hesitate to suggest which one would meet your criteria; you seem to be asking for a traditional term rather than a linguistic one.
    – jlawler
    Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 22:03
  • Hi there - I would welcome any terms that you are aware of. They could be a starting point for another research that could lead to what I am looking for. What terms were you thinking of? Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 22:29
  • The objects of a verb are also compléments, aren't they, as in complément d'objet direct. I'm not sure there's an English term that would apply to both sushi and with a fork in he ate sushi with a fork, but not to anything else in that sentence.
    – rchivers
    Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 22:59
  • @rchivers exactly. Traditionally in Italian grammar we call all « complementi » introduced by a preposition « indirect » - it is the same in French, although we talk about « compléments d’objet indirect» more for « compléments » introduced specifically by preposition « à » (to), although technically speaking any preposition introduces a « complément indirect ». Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 23:14
  • Just going out on a limb here, but would you describe Latin grammar in the same way? If so, it may be worth asking the question on Latin stack exchange - obviously there will have been a lot written about Latin grammar in English, and it may use the same framework. You may find though that the term complement is used in that context, but not in discussions of English grammar.
    – rchivers
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 10:53


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