Grammar 5



Identifying the Subject

You have already learned that clauses are made up of smaller units called subjects, verbs, objects, and complements, and these "building blocks" always appear in a prescribed order. (That is, there are rules regarding the order). For example, a typical clause looks like this:

subject verb object

Being able to identify these elements is important, because it's the only way to know for sure that you have found a "clause".

Imagine, for example, that you're searching for "an animal." How can you be sure that you have found an animal? Well, perhaps you have a checklist:

If it has all three of these things, you can be fairly sure that you have indeed found "an animal." In fact, if it has a head and a body, that's good enough. Some animals also have tails, but not all of them.

It's the same thing with clauses. If you've found a subject and a verb, then you know you've found a clause. And some clauses also have an object or a complement, just like some animals have a tail.

So let's start by learning how to identify the subject:

Step 1: Look at the sentence, and mentally (or physically, on a piece of paper) cross out all the non-essential words and phrases.
Step 2: Examine what's left. Now put your finger on the first "thing" (noun). That is the subject of the sentence.

In other words, the subject always comes first (assuming that you have already canceled out everything that can be canceled).

Study the following examples:

Subject Predicate
Carol found a diamond ring.
Bob's car sped around the corner.
My cat loves fish.

Is it true that the subject always come first?

Yes, 99% of the time.

What happens if you don't put the subject first?

Three things might happen. (In the following examples, the subject of each sentence has been highlighted)

The important thing to remember is that these are exceptions, not the rule.

Instructions for the Quiz

Identify the subject of the sentence.

Hint: This quiz should be ridiculously easy, because all the sentences have already been reduced to their simplest form. Therefore, all you have to remember is this: