You cannot go ahead without Subjects! So, go slow!

Every sentence must have a verb, and every verb must have a subject. In the examples below, the subjects are shown in bold and the verbs are in italics.

  • The hospital accommodates only children and mothers.
  • The new born of Ms Sarah is quite well.
  • All butterflies taste with their feet.
  • Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older.
  • Paracetamol relieves pain.

More clearly, the subject of a sentence is the person or thing doing the action or being described.

Sentence Subject Action / Description
Mr Lee complained of chest pain. Mr Lee complained
My wife is a doctor. My wife is a doctor.

The subject of a sentence is a noun or a pronoun and all the modifiers that go with it (you will have a lesson on modifiers later).

A sentence has one main subject, which is the subject of the main verb. However, a sentence can include other subjects that are the subjects of other verbs.

Look at these examples:

  1. Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system.
    (Venus is the main subject. It is the subject of the main verb is.)
  2. Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise.
    (Venus is still the main subject. It is still the subject of the main verb is, but the sentence contains another subject and another verb.)
  3. It is the second brightest object in the night sky.
    (Remember that subjects can be pronouns too.)

There are three common terms related to subjects:

  1. Simple subject
  2. Complete subject
  3. Compound subject.

Simple Subject

  1. Pierre puts a lot of garlic in his food.
    (Pierre is the subject. This is an example of a simple subject. A simple subject is just one word without any modifiers.)

Complete Subject

  1. That boy puts a lot of garlic in his food.
    (That boy is an example of a complete subject. It is the simple subject (in this case, boy) plus all modifiers.)
  2. The world’s youngest pope was 11 years old.
    (The world’s youngest pope is the complete subject. Pope is the simple subject. The, world’s and youngest are modifiers.)

Compound Subject

  1. Pierre and Claudette put a lot of garlic in their food.
  2. That new boy from Paris and the tall girl with the long hair put a lot of garlic in their food.

NB: A complete subject will be a noun phrase or a noun clause.

How to identify subjects?

Method 1 – To identify the subject of a sentence, ask one of the two questions:

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. Which?


  1. Dr Wills prescribed this medicine.
    Q. Who prescribed?
    Ans. Dr Wills.
  2. Metformin was prescribed.
    Q. What was prescribed?
    Ans. Metformin.

Method 2 – The subject is linked to a verb:

  1. Mr Parker experiences (verb) chest pain.
  2. Ms Lee walks (verb) three miles everyday.
  3. My dog bites (verb) strangers.
  4. Mr Parker is admitted (verb).
  5. Ms Lee has (verb) a horse.

Method 3 – The subjects is described with is, am, are, was and were.

  1. Mr Parker is diabetic.
  2. The dog is energetic.


The subject of a sentence is one of the basic parts of a sentence. The other basic part is the predicate. The predicate tells us something about the subject (i.e., it tells us what action the subject is performing, or it describes the subject).

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Written by Biju John

Love for English begins with understanding its unknown rules. Biju John lives on the internet, teaching OET, IELTS and PTE. More than a million students have thanked him from their heart.


Vocabulary – Adjectives without Very