English Subject


The subject is the person or thing about which something is being stated.

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"Joe is a good boy."

The subject

Who is a good boy?

Joe is.

So "Joe" is the subject.

Examples (the subject is in bold):

  1. Ronnie finished his homework.

  2. She was hit by a ball.

  3. Spain is in Europe.

  4. Pigs and cows can't fly.

  5. Traveling is fun.

  6. War is a terrible thing.

  7. There is a mouse in the room.

  8. Stand up! (The subject is understood to be you.)


How can you identify the subject?

To identify the subject of the sentence, first find the verb. Then ask, "Who or what (verb)?"

The answer is your subject.

Examples for the above sentences:

  1. Who finished his homework? Ronnie.
    Subject
    = Ronnie

  2. Who was hit by a ball? She.
    Subject = she

  3. What is in Europe? Spain.
    Subject = Spain

  4. Who can't fly? Pigs and cows.
    Subject = pigs and cows

  5. What is fun? Traveling.
    Subject = traveling

  6. What is a terrible thing? War.
    Subject = war

  7. Who is in the room? A mouse.
    Subject = a mouse

  8. Who should stand up? You.
    Subject = you

Simple subject

The subject can be a single word: 
  • She is home.
Or, it can be a KEY word and some additional words around it:
  • The nice old lady from across the street is home.
That KEY word is called a simple subject.

In the above example the subject is built around the noun lady. The other words around it (the, nice, old, from, across, the, street) simply describe the noun "lady."

Old lady

Examples (the subject is in bold, the simple subject is in bold and red):

  • The cat is asleep.

  • Many good people are leaving.

  • The best student in the class only got a B+.


Compound subject

A compound subject is a subject that is made up of two or more simple subjects, connected by conjunctions such as and, but, or.

Note that the simple subjects can have additional words describing them.

The important thing is that when you can find more than one simple subject in the subject of a sentence – you have a compound subject.

Example 1 (the subjects are in bold, the simple subjects are in bold and underlined, and the compound subject is in bold and purple):

  • Bob knows what to do.

  • Daniel knows what to do.

    When we combine these two sentences we get:
  • Bob and Daniel know what to do.
"Bob and Daniel" is a compound subject.

How do we know it's a compound subject?

Well, it's because we have two simple subjects: Bob, Daniel.

Example 2 (the subjects are in bold, the simple subjects are in bold and underlined, and the compound subject is in bold and purple):

  • The fat cat is on the couch.

  • The small dog is on the couch.

    When we combine these two sentences we get:
  • The fat cat and the small dog are on the couch.
"The fat cat and the small dog" is a compound subject.

How do we know it's a compound subject?

Well, it's because we have two simple subjects: cat, dog.

Some more examples (the subjects are in bold, the simple subjects are in bold and underlined, and the compound subject is in bold and purple):

  • Mom and Dad visited us yesterday.

  • Jack and Bonnie are getting married next month.

  • My brother Kevin and my sister Jane are out of the country.

  • A tall guy, a nice-looking girl and a black cat were sitting on the couch.

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