What is a Subject in English Grammar?
What is a Subject?
A subject is the part of the sentence that performs the action or it is a person or thing that is being described. Every verb must have a subject. Without a subject, it is impossible to make a complete sentence. Every sentence contains a subject, which is either explicit or implicit. For example, the highlighted words in the first four sentences are explicit subjects, while the fifth sentence contains an implicit subject:
- He is writing a book.
- They play cricket.
- She is reading a novel.
- Dogs are barking.
- (You) Come here.
How to Identify Subjects?
You might be wondering how to identify a subject in a given sentence. Don’t worry about that! I’m going to tell you how to identify the subject of a sentence. A subject answers the questions WHAT and WHO. Thus, we use the formula WHAT+VERB or WHO+VERB to find out the subject. Ask some questions using the above formula, and the answer you get is the subject. For example:
- Ahmad is writing a book.
- The book is on the table.
Ask the question, “Who is writing a book?” The only answer you get is Ahmad. That’s why; it is a subject. Similarly, when you ask the question, “What is on the table?” you get the answer, book. Thus, book is the subject of the sentence.
In the second sentence, there is a linking verb is, which connects the table to the book. That’s why; book is a subject.
Types of Subjects
There are three kinds of subjects: Simple, Complete and Compound Subjects
A simple subject is the most important word of a sentence. It is a kind of subject, which consists of only one word and has no additional describing words. For example, the highlighted words in the following sentences are simple subjects:
- The car collided with a truck.
- Ahmad got injured in the accident.
- The king will address the nation tomorrow.
- She was a paragon of virtue.
A complete subject is a kind of subject, which consists of a simple subject along with describing words. It is a combination of many words describing the simple subject. Look at the following sentences:
- The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
- The big man is coming.
- The pleasant weather in Dubai is a blessing in disguise.
- The undaunted captain will win the match for us.
In the above-mentioned, sentences, the highlighted words are complete subjects, while the words, fox, man, weather and captain are simple subjects. The additional words used with the simple subjects are describing words.
A compound subject is a kind of subject, wherein more than one subject is used. When there are two or three persons, places, things, nouns or pronouns doing the action, then such a combination of words in a sentence is called a compound subject. Look at the following sentences:
- Ahmad and Farooq will attend the seminar.
- The dog and mice will play with each other.
- The King and Queen will jointly address the nation.
- One car and two pickups will accompany us to the station.
In the above-mentioned sentences, each verb has got two subjects instead of one. That’s why; such like subjects are called compound subjects.
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© 2015 Muhammad Rafiq