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Subject and Predicate

Sentences normally have two parts – a subject and the predicate. In any sentence, we name a person or a thing and then say something about him/it. Simply put, we have a subject to talk about, and we say or predicate something about him. To predicate means to state, affirm or assert. So, every sentence has two parts. The subject is generally the first part and the predicate the second. In some cases, this sequence may change, and the subject may be in the middle or near the end of the sentence. The part in which we name a thing or person is the subject part, and the part in which we say something about the subject is the predicate part.

For example, Sam went to New York. Sam is a person and so he is the subject. The rest of the sentence, ‘went to New York’ is what we are saying about him or the predicate.

In Imperative sentences, the subject may be omitted. For example: Go back. Come here. Sit down or Take it. In these sentences the subject is a second person or ‘You’.

More examples (including Wren & Martin) :


In the following sentences separate the Subject and the Predicate:

The cackling of geese saved Rome.

Here the predicate is placed before the subject. The subject we are talking about is Rome, a place and the rest is our statement about Rome. Subject: Rome; Predicate: The cackling of geese.

The boy stood on the burning deck.

Here the subject is the boy. We are talking about the boy and the predicate is what the sentence says about him -‘ stood on the burning deck’

Tubal Cain was a man of might.

The subject is the name of a person in this sentence. Tubal Cain is a person and the subject. Rest is the predicate: ‘was a man of might’.

Stone walls do not make a prison.

Sometimes to identify the subject, you can just add who or what before the verb. Ask who/what makes…? The answer is stone walls. ‘Stone walls’ is the subject and rest the predicate. Predicate: do not make a prison.

The singing of the birds delights us.

Again just add who/what before the verb and find out the subject. What delights…? The answer is singing…So, ‘singing of the birds’ is subject and ‘delights us’ predicate.

Miss Kitty was rude at the table one day.

Here the subject is clear because it is a name the sentence is talking about. Miss Kitty is the subject. Predicate: ‘Was rude at the table one day.’

He has a good memory.

He is the subject and rest the predicate. Subject – ‘He’ and Predicate – ‘has a good memory’.

Bad habits grow unconsciously.

Again ask the question and apply who/what before the verb grow..? ‘Bad habits’ – subject; Grow unconsciously- predicate.

The earth revolves round the sun.

The subject can also be understood as the performer or doer. Who does? – The earth. Or you can ask who/what revolves..? Subject – The Earth. Predicate – ‘Revolves around the sun’.

Nature is the best physician.

Apply who/what before the verb ‘is’. Who is …? Nature – The subject. Predicate – “is the best physician.

Edison invented the phonograph.

Edison is a name. Invent is a verb. You can apply who/what before the verb to know the subject. Subject- Edison. Predicate- ‘Invented the phonograph’.

The sea hath many thousand sands.

The sentence says something about the sea. Hath is the old form of has. Who/what has…? Subject – The sea. Predicate – ‘Hath many thousand sands.’

We cannot pump the ocean dry.

Subject – we. Predicate – cannot pump the ocean dry. ‘We’ answers the ‘who/what’ can pump.

Borrowed garments never fit well.

The verb is ‘fit’. Apply who/what before it to know the subject. Who/what fits..? Subject ‘borrowed garments’. Predicate – ‘never fit well’.

The early bird catches the worm.

Here the verb is ‘catch’. Ask who/what catches and you will know the subject – ‘The early bird’. Predicate – ‘Catches the worm’.

All matter is indestructible.

Who/what is…..? Subject – All Matter. Rest of the sentence is the predicate – ‘is indestructible’.

Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan.

Who/what is..? Subject Islamabad. Rest is the predicate – ‘is the capital of Pakistan’.

We should profit by experience.

who/what should profit? The subject – ‘We’. Rest of the sentence is the predicate – ‘Should Profit by experience’.

All roads lead to Rome.

Who/what leads…? Subject – All roads. Predicate – ‘Lead to Rome’.

A guilty conscience needs no excuse.

Who/what needs? Subject: A guilty conscience. Predicate – Needs no excuse.

The beautiful rainbow soon faded away.

Who/what faded..? Subject – The beautiful rainbow.

No man can serve two masters.

Who/what can serve..? Subject: No man. Predicate – ‘Can serve two masters.

A sick room should be well aired.

Who/what should be…? Subject – ‘a sick room’.

The dewdrops glitter in the sunshine.

Who/what glitters…? Subject – ‘the dewdrops’. Predicate : ‘Glitter in the sunshine’.

I shot an arrow into the air.

Who/what shot….? Subject – I. Predicate – ‘shot an arrow in the air’.

A barking sound the shepherd hears.

Verb – hears. Who/what hears…? Subject- The shepherd. Predicate. A barking sound hears. To make it simpler, try changing the form of the sentence (The shepherd hears a barking sound).

On the top of the hill lives a hermit.

Verb – lives. Who/what lives..? Subject – A hermit. Predicate – On the top of the hill lives.

Before the party, Sam and Rosy went to buy a gift.

Verb – Went (past form of go). Who/what went..? Sam and Rosy. Sometimes a sentence can have more than one or compound subject. Subject- Sam and Rosy. Rest of the sentence is the predicate- Before the party, went to buy a gift.

His hunger for money caused his friend’s death.

Who/What caused….? Subject – Hunger for money where the simple subject is ‘Hunger’. Rest of the sentence is the predicate.

The video game will cost you twenty dollars.

Who/what will cost…? ‘The video game’ is the Subject and rest of the sentence is the predicate – ‘will cost you twenty dollars’.

There will be three plays at the town-hall tonight.

Who/what will be…? Three plays – subject. Rest of the sentence is predicate.

His dreams will never come true.

Who what will….? ‘His dreams’. The simple subject is ‘dreams’ and ‘His’ is only modifying it. Rest of the sentence is the predicate.

All her fears were unfounded.

Who what were…? The simple subject is ‘fears’. All her is merely modifying the simple subject and rest of the sentence is predicate.

Your aunt was here last night for dinner.

Who/what was..? The answer is ‘your aunt’ where the simple subject is ‘aunt’. Rest of the sentence is the predicate.

There is a temple beside the river.

Who/What is …? Temple is. Subject is ‘temple’. ‘There’ signals that the subject will follow.

In this way, you can easily identify the Subject and the Predicate in a sentence. Mostly, the subject can be found in the beginning of the sentence and the verb follows it. However, that is not the case with every sentence and you will come across a large variety of sentences that have subject in the middle of the sentence or near the end. Sometimes, a sentence can have a compound subject like Superman and Batman. In other cases, you can identify the subject by applying who/what before the verb in the sentence.

If you would like to practice, try picking the subject and predicate in the following sentences: (Answers are given at the bottom.

  • If I were an eagle, I could fly.
  • Dreams can be fulfilled through hard-work.
  • Ducks swimming in the pond can be seen from my house.
  • You have a task to complete.
  • Check through these files carefully.
  • Have a nice day!
  • Rome was not built in a day.
  • Once her teacher was upset at her performance.
  • She played her part in the drama well.
  • Her vanity upsets me.
  • There are no cures for greed and lust.

Answers:

Who/what was an eagle/could fly? The answer is I. It means ‘I’ is the subject in this statement and the rest of the statement is the predicate.

What can be fulfilled through hardwork? The answer is dreams. Dreams are the subject and the erst of the statement is the predicate.

Who/what swimming in the pond can be seen….? The answer is Ducks. So, it is the subject and the rest of the sentence is the predicate.

Who/what has a task to complete. The answer is you. So, it is the subject and the rest, the predicate.

Who check through the files carefully? The answer is the hidden subject You. The sentence itself is the predicate.

Who/what was upset? The answer is her teacher, which is the subject in the statement and the rest of the statement is the predicate.

Who played her part in the drama well? The answer is she. She is the subject and the rest of the statement is the predicate.

Whose vanity upsets? The answer is her vanity. She (her) is the subject and the predicate is: vanity upsets me.
We are talking about greed and lust in the last statement. They are the subject. ‘There are no cures for’ is the predicate.

Written by Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.

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