What is the "Subject" in a sentence?
The subject is a grammatical term used to describe the nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases that occur before the verb in a sentence. Thus, the subject describes a position in the sentence. When the verb is in the active form, the subject of the sentence is the "do-er" or agentwho or whatthat causes the action.
Subject Verb (ACTIVE) Object (noun) The dog was chasing
a cat. (pronoun) We found
a badly scratched dog.
(noun phrase) Chasing cats can increase
a cat's blood pressure.
However, when the verb is in the passive form, the subject of the sentence is the "target" or result of the action.
Subject Verb (PASSIVE) Object (noun) A cat was being chased
by the dog. A badly scratched dog was found
(by our family).
(noun phrase) The blood pressure of a cat can be increased
by chasing cats.
Not all verbs express an action. Some verbs simply serve a linking function. Such verbs include be (is, are, was, were), seem, and become. Linking verbs connect the subject to something that is said about the subject by either defining or adding extra information.
Subject Linking Verb Complement (noun) The cat is
afraid. (pronoun) It (= the cat) is
tired of being chased.
(noun phrase) Chasing cats is
a favourite pastime of dogs.
In English, all sentences must always have a subject, either a noun or noun phrase, or a pronoun, even if there is no natural subject. This is why verbs like rain must carry a "subject" such as it, even if nothing is actually "doing" the raining. "It" is in this case a "dummy" pronoun. Another common dummy subject is there.
It is raining
cats and dogs. It is important
to keep cats away from dogs. It is likely
that the dog will get badly scratched. It is known
that dogs can live in peace with cats. It appears
that cats may dislike dogs.
a number of critical issues. There is
a very wide range of disciplines contributing to developments in nanostructure science. There has been
considerable research activity in molecular electronics and bioelectronics.
Can you find the grammatical subjects for each sentence in this text? Click on the word(s) in the text below that you feel would make a better topic and unify these three sentences.
1A high potassium / manganese ratio is generally responsible for a rise in total cholesterol levels following the switch to a vegetarian lifestyle. 2Similarly, a rise in zinc and a decrease in iron are common when switching to vegetarianism, which can also result in raised total triglyceride levels. 3At the same time, lower protein and/or phosphates are known to cause higher levels of VLDL triglycerides, as can occur in a vegetarian diet due to increased intake of calcium and simple carbohydrates (sugar, honey, sweet fruits).
Finnish Virtual University / © 2006 Ken Pennington