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What's the Subject of a sentence?

What's the Subject of a sentence?

Ever wondered what makes a sentence a sentence? Just like a well-built house, a sentence needs a few essential elements to make it complete. A house without a roof isn't much of a house, and that goes for sentences without subjects or verbs.

In this article, we'll be taking a closer look at the star of every sentence, the subject, as well as other key elements that make a complete sentence.

Basic Elements Of A Sentence

Think of every sentence as a mini-story within a larger story.

First, you've got the Subject, which tells us who or what the sentence is about. Then, there's the Verb, which shows what the subject is doing or the action it's taking. You might also have an Object, which is the thing that the action is happening to. These three parts - subject, verb, and object - are the basic building blocks of a sentence. 

If you like, you may throw in a few adjectives or adverbs here and there for some flavours and add colours. But remember, the core elements must be present for a sentence to make sense.

[Subject + Verb]

While most sentences we encounter contain a subject, an object, and a verb, the most basic complete sentence, also known as Simple Sentences, only requires a subject and a verb. The subject tells us who or what the sentence is about, and the verb refers to the action by or state of being of the subject.

Eg. Peter sprinted.

In this sentence, Peter is the subject, and sprinted is the verb.

[Subject + Verb + Object]

In most cases, a sentence also contains an object. An object is a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase affected by the action of a verb. They can be either direct or indirect objects.

Eg. Susan lent Michael some money. (direct)
Eg. Susan lent Michael some money (Indirect)

The direct object is the thing that receives the action of the verb directly. An indirect object, on the other hand, is a noun or pronoun that receives the direct object or is affected by the action indirectly.

To easily identify an indirect object, simply ask yourself ‘who or what is receiving the direct object?' In this case, Michael is the indirect object as he’s receiving the direct object (money) from Susan (subject).

What Is The Subject Of A Sentence

The subject of a sentence is a key element that serves as the main focus or doer of the action within a sentence. However, at times, subjects can be the recipient of the action. It’s important to note that the subject of a sentence is always a noun, pronoun, or a noun phrase.

To find the subject, you can ask yourself: ‘Who or what is performing the action?’

Eg. The cat chased the mouse across the yard.

In this example, the cat is the subject as it’s the one carrying out the action of chasing the mouse.

How Are Subjects Used In A Sentence

Subjects can be used in many different ways. While they’re often the ‘doer’ of the action, this isn’t always true for every sentence. Let’s take the sentence below for example.

Eg. My parcel was shipped last weekend.

In this instance, the parcel is the subject, but it’s not carrying out the action. Instead, the action of ‘being shipped’ is done to it. This makes the subject a recipient of the action, and is often the result of writing in a passive voice.

Types Of Subjects

#1 Simple Subject

A simple subject is the main noun (or pronoun) in a sentence that performs the action or is the focus of the sentence. It's a single word, without any modifiers.

Eg. The flowers are blooming in Spring.
Eg. The snake hid in the hole.
Eg. As promised, Lily will be coming to the party.

#2 Complete Subject

The complete subject consists of the simple subject and the words that modify or describe it. It provides readers with additional details and context.

Eg. The curious little girl with braided hair and bright blue eyes read her favorite book in the cozy corner of the library.
Eg. During the thunderstorm, the tall oak tree at the edge of the field swayed dangerously in the strong wind.

Eg. Our school’s best sprinter got into the nationals.

#3 Compound Subject

A compound subject happens when a sentence has two or more subjects that are often connected by a coordinating conjunction (usually ‘and’ or ‘or’).

Eg. Sarah and Emily are best friends.
Eg. Either pizza or burgers satisfy my cravings for fast food.
Eg. My parents and my aunt will be attending the family reunion next weekend.

Subject-Verb Agreement

As always, subject-verb agreement is important as it helps us convey our ideas accurately, regardless of whether the subject is singular or plural.

For example, if we have a singular subject like the cat, we need to use a singular verb like jumps. On the other hand, if the subject is plural, like the cats, we use a plural verb, like jump.

This agreement keeps our sentences clear and avoids misunderstandings. Whether our subjects are simple (just one noun) or complex (with extra words describing them), getting the subject and verb to match in number ensures that our communication is correct and easy to follow.

FAQs For Subject

What is a subject in a sentence?

The subject in a sentence is the main noun, pronoun, or noun phrase that the sentence is about. It typically indicates who or what is performing the action or is the focus of the sentence.

What is the difference between a simple subject and a complete subject?

A simple subject is the core noun or pronoun in a sentence, while a complete subject includes the simple subject along with all the words and phrases that modify or describe it, providing a broader context.

What is a compound subject?

A compound subject is a sentence structure in which two or more subjects are connected by a coordinating conjunction (such as "and" or "or"). This allows multiple subjects to share the same predicate in a sentence.

Why is subject-verb agreement important in English grammar?

Subject-verb agreement is vital because it ensures that the verb in a sentence matches the number (singular or plural) of the subject, enhancing clarity, correctness, and effective communication.

Can a sentence have more than one subject?

Yes, some sentences can have more than one subject. These are called compound subjects and are formed when two or more nouns or pronouns share the same predicate in a sentence.

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