On this day in 1987, the film Wall Street opened in theaters. The film follows an ambitious young Wall Street broker named Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen, and a rich corporate raider named Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas, who won the Oscar for best actor in the role.
In one of the movie’s most powerful scenes, Gordon addresses a stockholders’ meeting of Teldar Paper, a company he is planning to take over. In the speech, Gordon attempts to change the audience’s perception of him from corporate raider to company savior by targeting the wastefulness of the company’s management. The core of his message is that“greed is good,” and that he is a liberator rather than a destroyer of companies (1).
The essence of Gordon’s claim in his speech is the sentence, “Greed is good.” Syntactically speaking, this sentence is a classic example of a predicate adjective, a type of sentence in which a subject is linked with an adjective. With predicate adjectives, a linking verb acts as a kind of equal sign to connect the subject and the adjective, as in Greed = good. Most of the time linking verbs are forms of the verb to be (am, is, are, was, were, will be); however, there are other verbs that also serve to link the subject and the adjective, such as the verbs appear, become, feel, look, sound, and taste.
Here are some other examples of predicate adjectives:
Life is not fair.
Love is blind.
The students were angry.
The students look confused.
Infanticide is rampant among prairie dogs.
Today’s Challenge: Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Predicate Adjectives Are Nothing New
One caveat for using predicate adjectives is to watch out for making unsupported subjective claims. For example, notice that in addition to stating his claim that “greed is good,” Gordon Gekko also varies his syntax and supplies additional evidence and explanation to support his claim. Sometimes writers or speakers think that stating something with authority, such as “This is boring,” makes it true. On the contrary, the validity of any stated claim rests on its backing, its support, and its explanation.
What is a claim that you could state in the form of a predicate adjective, and how would you support it?
Use the list of subjective adjectives below to construct a claim about a topic you feel strongly about:
good, bad, boring, exciting, beautiful, ugly, awesome, awful, nice
Make sure that your claim is a predicate adjective and that it is an opinion, not a fact. For example, if you say,“The house is red,” you would be stating a fact. In contrast, if you say, “The house is ugly,” that’s an opinion. Follow up your claim with specific details that support your claim. Make sure to vary your syntax and go beyond just linking verbs that state what “is.” (Common Core Writing 1 -Argument)
1-American Rhetoric. Movie Speech Wall Street (1987). http://www.americanrhetoric.com/MovieSpeeches/moviespeechwallstreet.html.