As in all languages, English sentences are necessary for communication. Hence, it is important that everyone—doctors, cooks, architects, housewives, firemen—no matter what lot in life, must have good writing and speaking abilities. Without a doubt, a person’s ability to effectively write and speak all depends on how good they are in forming sentences.

Indeed, all English sentences follow a basic pattern. In other words, every sentence always has two main parts. In this lesson, we will be exploring these two parts: the subject and the predicate.

Subjects in English Sentences

First of all, what comprises the subject of a sentence? Basically, in English sentences, the subject is either a noun, pronoun, or group of words acting as a noun. It is always a name of a place, a person, an animal, or an object. The subject is what the sentence is all about.

The following are examples of words used as subjects:

  • Christine, elephant, Japan, Caspian Sea, baguettes, orchids, New York City

Basically, there are three types of subjects: simple, complete, and compound.

Complete Subjects

Basically, the complete subject includes the noun, pronoun, or group of words acting as a noun that the whole sentence is about. In general, the complete subject often consists of more than one word. However, it may also consist of only one word.

Take a look at the following examples showing complete subjects.

  • She prepared a lot of dishes.
  • The little girl in the red dress is my niece.
  • Tired students came trooping in.
  • Six of the puppies were declared healthy and ready to be rehomed.
  • Two of his friends attended medical school.

Simple Subjects

Next, are simple subjects. The simple subject is the essential noun, pronoun, or group of words acting as a noun. Essentially, they cannot be left out of the complete subject.

Take a look at the following English sentences showing simple subjects.

  • A friend of mine sent me a letter.
  • The little girl in the red dress is my niece.
  • Tired students came trooping in.
  • Six of the puppies are healthy.
  • Two of his friends attended medical school.

Compound Subjects

Finally, some English sentences can have two or more subjects. When two or more subjects have the same verb, they are called compound subjects. Most compound subjects are joined by a conjunction like and or or.

The following are examples of compound subjects.

  • Tegan and Sara are part of a popular band.
  • Heat, light, and water are used in certain physical therapy.
  • Either the writer or the film director will talk on our career day.
  • Snow and rain have made the roads treacherous to drive on.
  • Lions and hyenas are well-known predators.
english sentences basic parts
These are the basic parts of a simple sentence. The subject, made up of a noun, and the predicate which contains a verb (encircled).

Predicates in English Sentences

The next part of English sentences is the predicate. If the subject contains a noun, the predicate contains a verb. Verbs are words that describe an action. Predicates include verbs that tell something about the subject. Together with the subject, these two basic parts express a complete thought.

The following are examples of words that can be used as predicates:

  • jumped, vanished, plays, had studied, will arrive

Just like subjects, there are three types of predicates in English sentences: simple, complete, and compound.

Complete Predicates

Firstly, are complete predicates. The complete predicate includes the verb or verb phrase that tells something about the subject. In general, the complete predicate—like the complete subject—would often consist of more than one word. And just like complete subjects, it may also just consist of one word.

To demonstrate, the following are examples of complete predicates.

  • A friend of mine will visit this weekend.
  • People have disappeared near the Bermuda Triangle.
  • The RMS Titanic sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in April 1912.
  • Julianne had missed her job interview.
  • Warm baths could relax stiff muscles.

Simple Predicates

Second, are simple predicates. The simple predicate is the essential verb, or verb phrase present in English sentences. Again, just like simple subjects, simple predicates cannot be left out of the complete predicate.

The following are examples of simple predicates.

  • A friend of mine will visit this weekend.
  • People have disappeared near the Bermuda Triangle.
  • The RMS Titanic sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in April 1912.
  • Julianne had missed her job interview.
  • Warm baths could relax stiff muscles.

Compound Predicates

Finally, just as a sentence can have two or more subjects, it can also have a compound predicate. Compound predicates are also known as compound verbs that are usually joined by a conjunction such as and or or. In other words, a compound verb is two or more verbs that share the same subject.

To illustrate, the following are examples of compound predicates.

  • Some people leave their country and work abroad.
  • I no longer want or need you back in my life.
  • Luke jumped, skipped, and hopped until he grew tired.
  • My sister creates and designs original furniture.
  • Guests were also dancing and drinking until the morning.

Hard-to-Find Subjects in English Sentences

Once in a while, it would appear that the sentence lacks a subject. And most of the time, this is apparent in sentences that give directions or orders. Subjects in these sentences are not stated, but they are supposed to be understood.

In sentences that give orders or directions, the subject is understood to be you. 

  • Enjoy the scenery. (You enjoy the scenery.)
  • Look at the pretty sunset. (You look at the pretty sunset.)
  • During the summer, don’t forget to water the plants. (During the summer, you don’t forget to water the plants.)
  • Dress her wound with a bandage. (You dress her wound with a bandage.)
  • Sing the baby a lullaby. (You sing the baby a lullaby.)
Read a book, it helps with vocabulary building. (You read a book, it helps with vocabulary building.)

Inverted English Sentences

Of course, the subject always comes before the verb in most sentences. However, sentences that ask questions usually have the subject come after the verb. Because of this, these sentences are called inverted sentences.

Interrogative sentences—sentences that ask questions—will generally begin with a verb, a helping verb, or either of the following words: what, when, where, who, whose, why, which, or how.

  • Why is there no thirteenth floor?
  • Do you work here?
  • Have you collected the donations?
  • Are you afraid of the dark?
  • Is dinner ready?

Some inverted sentences begin with here or there. Therefore, sentences that begin with here or there usually have the subject come after the verb.

  • There is the abandoned mansion.
  • Here are some photographs of the wedding last week.
  • There goes the old dog.
  • Here is your plane ticket to Hawaii.

Meanwhile, sentences that show importance have the subject come after the verb to show emphasis.

  • High above the mountain lived an old hermit.
  • Soon after the sound of the drums came the soldiers.
  • But in her hand was a beautiful butterfly.

In Conclusion

To summarize, for a sentence to show a complete thought, it must always have a subject and a predicate. In fact, this lesson has just covered the tip of the iceberg, regarding sentence patterns. Actually, believe it or not, there is still a lot to cover and a lot to learn. So, what did you think about this lesson?

Read: Determinants of the Noun: Countables and Uncountables

Moreover, do you think you can identify the subject and the predicate on your own? Do not forget to share your thoughts with us in the comments.

So, how well did you understand this lesson? Check your level of comprehension by answering the short test.

“Alice fell down the rabbit hole.” The simple subject is?

Correct! Wrong!

In English sentences, the subject is either a noun, pronoun, or group of words acting as a noun. It is always a name of a place, a person, an animal, or an object. The subject is what the sentence is all about. This sentence is all about 'Alice.'

TRUE or FALSE: The 'complete subject' always consists of more than one word.

Correct! Wrong!

The complete subject includes the noun, pronoun, or group of words acting as a noun that the whole sentence is about. In general, the complete subject often consists of more than one word. However, it may also consist of only one word.

TRUE or FALSE: Compound predicates are nouns that modify the same verb.

Correct! Wrong!

FALSE! Compound predicates are two or more verbs or verb phrases that describe the same subject.

"Archaeologists must use various tools of digging and research." The simple predicate is?

Correct! Wrong!

The predicate is a verb or verb phrase that describes the subject. In the sentence, the complete subject is 'Archaeologists' while the complete predicate is 'must use various tools of digging and research.' The simple subject is still 'Archaeologists' while the simple predicate is the verb phrase 'must use'.

Which of the following is 'TRUE' regarding the 'subject' of a sentence?

Please select 2 correct answers

Correct! Wrong!

None of these. Subjects are made up of nouns, not verbs. In inverted sentences, they always come after the verb. To show emphasis, subjects are placed after the verb. Lastly, it is imperative sentences (sentences that orders or directs) that have implied subjects, not interrogative sentences (sentences that asks questions).

English Sentences: Subjects and Predicates
NOOB

Are you sure you really understood the article? Maybe you should read it again, in case you missed some things.
MAGE

You definitely understood the article, good job! Now, why don't you give it another run through and try to perfect the quiz?
MASTER

Wow! You definitely took this article by the horn and crushed it! Way to go, amigo!

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