Basically, a sentence is a combination of two grammatical units—the Subject and the Predicate.
The subject of a sentence refers to what the sentence is about, often the person or thing that carries out the action of the verb. The subject usually gives a clear idea of what the sentence is about.
The subject can be a noun—either a common noun or a proper noun or a verbal noun; a noun phrase; a pronoun; a subordinate clause; an infinitive.
In the following sentences the underlined words form the subject of the sentence and the subjects are Nouns:
- Dogs need a lot of exercise.
- Children play in the park.
- Money is extremely important to him.
- Marriage is not for him, he says.
- Accommodation is expensive in that area.
- People are beginning to leave.
- Jane is giving a party.
- Jim has resigned.
- Paris is the capital of France.
- Mountaineering can be dangerous.
- Dancing is her favourite pastime.
- Painting can be a form of relaxation.
In the following sentences the underlined words form the subject of the sentence and the subjects are Noun phrases:
- A heatwave has been forecast.
- Several unhappy employees have complained to the management.
- The large black dog bounded up to the child.
- Those terrible floods affected many people.
- Representatives from the firm have issued a statement to staff.
- James, my brother-in-law and dear friend, has just died.
In the following sentences the underlined words form the subject of the sentence and the subjects are Pronouns:
- They were found guilty.
- We won the battle.
- You have passed the exam.
- He denied the charge.
- She lost her wedding ring.
- It has broken down again.
In the following sentences the underlined words form the subject of the sentence and the subjects are Subordinate clauses:
- Who she was remained a mystery.
- Why he left has not yet been revealed.
- What he says is not true.
- When he will go has not yet been decided.
In the following sentences the underlined words form the subject of the sentence and the subjects are Infinitives:
- To do that would be unforgivable.
- To get there is going to be very difficult.
- To marry young is her main aim.
- To get through your exams should be your principal concern.
Dummy Subject – A dummy subject sometimes has no intrinsic meaning but is inserted to maintain a balanced grammatical structure.
In the sentences i) It has started to rain and ii) It is nearly midnight; the word ‘It’ is a dummy subject.
In the sentences i) There is nothing else to say and ii) There is no reason for his behaviour; the word ‘There‘ is a dummy subject.
Imperatives / Directives
In sentences which are directives the subject often does not appear, but is implied, as in: i) Get this out of here and ii) Lend me that pen for a minute, please The implied subject is ‘you’.
The predicate refers to the part of a sentence or clause that gives information about the subject. It is basically all the parts of a clause or sentence that are not contained in the subject. It can either be a single verb or a number of elements.
Thus in the sentence
The little girl fell; the word ‘fell’ is the predicate of the sentence.
Similarly, in the sentence
The tired old man slept soundly; the words ‘slept soundly’ form the predicate of the sentence.
And in the sentence
The tired old man slept like a log; The words ‘slept like a log’ form the predicate of the sentence.
In the following sentences the underlined words form the predicate of the sentence:
- Jane fainted.
- Peter was rich and powerful.
- Children screamed loudly.
- The lights went out all of a sudden.
- Workers protested long and loudly at the factory gates.
- They are leaving at the end of next week.
- We took the stray kittens home.
- The students celebrated their exam results all night long.
- The child threw the red ball to the dog in the park.