The subject of a sentence is the thing or person carrying out the main action. It is usually the noun, pronoun, or noun phrase of the sentence and is the thing that acts on the verb and object.
Most sentences follow the subject + verb + object structure, although this is not always the case.
While all of this may sound easy enough to follow, sentences can be complex, and naturally, so can their subjects! Below are examples of different subject types and where you might encounter them.
What are the three main types of Subjects?
There are three main types of subjects that we need to know about: simple subjects, compound subjects, and noun phrases.
1) Simple Subjects
Simple subjects in a sentence structure are usually the most easily recognizable since they only form one word or noun.
One example of a simple subject is the following phrase:
“The child threw the ball.”
The subject is the word ‘child,’ as this is the thing that is affecting, through the verb ‘threw,’ the object, which is, in this case, the ‘ball.’
While simple subjects usually feature just one word, they can encompass groups of people or things, such as ‘troops’ or a ‘herd.’
2) Compound Subjects
In a similar vein to simple subjects, compound subjects also feature a noun being acted upon by a verb and object.
However, in this case, pronouns and noun phrases may be added to the noun to facilitate more than one subject.
For example, we can see an example in this sentence:
“Tom and his mum went to the market.”
Here, the two subjects are ‘Tom and ‘his mum.’ It differs from a simple subject, as not only is there more than one subject, but there is also an inclusion of the pronoun ‘his.’ In addition, the conjunction ‘and’ connects the two subjects.
3) Noun phrases
So, what happens if we want to add more information to a subject in a sentence? It is where noun phrases come in.
With noun phrases, a selection of different words, such as pronouns, verbs, and modifiers, come together to form a singular noun.
Let’s look at an example:
“Everyone is loudly talking and will need to be quiet.”
While it may be tempting to label ‘everyone’ as the singular subject, it would not be suitable in this case. It is because more description is added, which changes the nature of the subject from simply ‘everyone’ to everyone talking loudly.
As a result, a noun phrase is formed.
Subject and object in a sentence
While we’re already familiar with a subject, the object in a sentence is very different. Rather than acting upon a verb, the object is the thing, person, or place involved in or receives the action. While all complete sentences must have a subject, not all require an object.
The subjects and objects in a sentence get talked about a lot about one another, so it’s essential to look at how they interact. So let’s read on to take a look at examples of how these sentence components interact with each other.
“The student ate a healthy salad lunch.”
From this example, we can see that The student is the subject because they act upon the verb, ‘ate’ in this case. Meanwhile, the salad lunch is the object.
When looking at the subject and object in a sentence, it’s important to note that the object that a subject acts upon can either be direct or indirect. But what does this mean?
To help us understand direct and indirect objects, let’s take a look at a couple of examples:
“The basketball player threw the ball into the hoop.”
This sentence features a direct object (the hoop), where the thing directly receives the action of a verb carried about by the subject (the basketball player). These objects are easy to spot because they typically answer the questions “who” or “what.”
“The football player passed the ball to Jack.”
From looking at the subject and object in a sentence like this, we can see that they’re slightly different. The object (Jack) is an indirect object which answers the questions “to whom” or “for whom.” They only appear in sentences with a direct object (the ball).