Sunday, 19 October 2014

What Is a Subject in English Grammar?

What Is a Subject in English Grammar?
In English grammar, a subject is one of the two main parts of a sentence. (The other main part is the predicate.)
The subject is sometimes called the naming part of a sentence or clause. The subject usually appears before the predicate to show (a) what the sentence is about, or (b) who or what performs the action.
As show below, the subject is commonly a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase.
Types of Subjects
A subject may be one word or several words.

(1) The subject may be just a single word: a noun or a pronoun. In this first example, the proper noun Felix is the subject of the sentence:

Felix laughed.
In the next example, the personal pronoun he is the subject:
He laughed.
(2) The subject may be a noun phrase--that is, a word group made up of a head noun and any modifiers , determiners (such as the, a, her ), and/or complements. In this example, the subject is The first person in line :
The first person in line spoke to the television reporter.
(3) Two (or more) nouns, pronouns, or noun phrases may be linked by and to make a compound subject . In this example, the compound subject is Winnie and her sister:
Winnie and her sister will sing at the recital this evening.
A Note about Subjects in Questions and Commands
In a
 declarative sentence, as we've seen, the subject usually appears before the predicate:
Bobo will return soon.
In an interrogative sentence , however, the subject usually appears after a helping verb (such as will ) and before the main verb (such as return ):
Will Bobo return soon?
Finally, in an imperative sentence , the implied subject you is said to be "understood":
 Come back here.
Examples of Subjects
In each of the following sentences, the subject is in italics.
1.      Time flies.
2.     We will try.
3.     The Johnsons have returned.
4.     Dead men tell no tales.
5.     Our school cafeteria always smelled like stale cheese and dirty socks.
6.     The children in the first row received badges.
7.     The birds and the bees are flying in the trees.
8.     My little dog and my old cat play hide-and-seek in the garage.
9.     Could you carry some of these books?
10. [You] Go home now.

To learn more about subjects, see our glossary entry for subject along with the following articles:
What is a subject?
The subject is one of the main two parts of a sentence. According to traditional grammar, a sentence consists of two parts:
·         a subject,
·         a predicate which modifies the subject.
consider the following sentence:
·         Leila loves painting.
Leila is the subject and likes soccer acts as the predicate
The subject relates its constituent (a noun phrase) by means of the verb to any other elements present in the sentence (objects, complements and adverbials.)
Examples of subjects
  • Nurses are on strike. (subject with no determiners)
  • The big man hurt him. (a noun phrase introduced by a determiner)
  • Driving is what I like most. (Gerund)
  • To write poems is difficult. (Infinitive)
  • That he worked hard is a fact. (a clause)
  • I/ soccer. (subject pronouns)
  • It rains often here. (dummy subject)

There used as a dummy subject

In English, the word there can be used as a pronoun, functioning as a dummy subject.


  • There is hope.
  • There are some students.
  • There occurred a terrible accident.
  • There exist two major factors.
As in the examples above, there can be used with the verb to be in existential clauses, clauses that refer to the existence or presence of something. It can also be used with verbs like exist or occur.
It is noteworthy that the logical subject of the verbs mentioned above appears as a complement.
  • Hope is there.
  • Some students are there.
  • A terrible accident occurred there.
  • Two major factors exist there.


The dummy subject agrees in number with the logical subject:
  • It takes a plural verb if the complement (the logical subject) is plural.
  • It takes a singular verb if the complement (the logical subject) is singular.
In colloquial English, however, the contracted form there's is used for singular and plural complements.
  • There's two of them
  • There's one of them.

Questions with there

When making questions, the dummy subject is inverted:
  • There is a nice restaurant.
  • Is there a nice restaurant?

Deictic or pronoun?

The word there can be a deictic adverb, referring to a place. For this reason, some uses of there can be ambiguous.
  • There is a restaurant.
This sentence may have two meanings:
  1. There is a restaurant.
    A restaurant exists. (There is used here as pronoun)
  2. There is a restaurant.
    A restaurant is in that place. (There is deictic referring to a place - it is adverbial)
In speech, the deictic there is given stress. However, when there is used as a pronoun, it is not stressed.

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