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In a sentence, every verb needs a subject. Once you have found a verb in a sentence, you can identify its subject if you know the typical relationships between verbs and subjects. Recognizing the subjects of your sentences makes it easier for you to clari fy and develop your ideas in writing.

In Chapter 3, you will learn that


Recall an experience from your past (for instance, the time you met someone important to you, the first time you left home, an accident, a surprise, or an adventure). Concentrate on just one incident. Picture yourself as you were then, and try to remember how you felt. Recall the people and things around you, the smells , the sounds, the weather, and so on. On scrap paper, jot notes and freewrite, getting down all that you can remember about that experience. (Click
HERE for a review of the technique of freewriting)

this was a work gif, dont knowwhy it is here Arrange what you've written into the first few sentences of a paragraph, selecting the details you think are most important. Use the word I at least three times in your story. For example:

When I was ten, I met my grandparents from Italy for the first time. I was so excited and scared about their coming that I could hardly eat for a week in advance.
Now imagine that someone else is telling this same story about you. Delete I wherever you've used it, and substitute either your name or he or she. Make any other changes necessary for the story to sound as if someone else is telling it. For example, the sentences above would become like this (notice the underlined changes):
When Monica was ten, she met her grandparents from Italy for the first time. She was so excited and scared about their coming that she could hardly eat for a week in advance.
Most of the words that you change will be subjects.

If your teacher or study group would like you to develop this exercise into a longer narrative paragraph, decide whether to tell the story from your own point of view or from somebody else's, and stick with that point of view throughout. Revise the paragr aph double-spaced on a word processor or on your class bulletin board.

"WHO OR WHAT (verb)?"

Once you've found the verb of a sentence, you can identify the subject by putting the question "Who or what?" in front of the verb.

Bronson hates jazz.
In this sentence, hates is the verb. You ask, "Who or what hates jazz?
The answer is Bronson, so Bronson is the subject.
Enchiladas AREn't always hot. (What aren't hot? Enchiladas)
A friend of mine in San Diego MAKES them without peppers. (Who makes them ? friend)
Even your picky niece WOULD EAT that kind. (Who would eat them? niece)
{You} BRING her over on Friday for the big test. (Who brings her? you)
Notice that the last sentence is a command in which the subject is not stated, but it's understood. Asking "Who or what . . .?" reveals that the subject must be you:
{You} GIVE me a bite.
{You} DOn't PUT chili sauce on it.

Application 1


In most statements, the subject comes before the verb.
You HAVE BEEN DREAMING about socks again.
That HAS some deep significance.
In most questions, you can find the subject after the first part of a split verb.

(Remember that to split a single-word verb, you must add do, does, or did.)

HAVE you BEEN DREAMING about socks again?
DOES that image HAVE some deep significance?
When am, is, are, was, or were stands as a single-word verb, it doesn't split for a question, but it does move to the front of the subject in a question:
That IS a good-luck sign. -- IS that a good luck sign?
You ARE superstitious. -- ARE you superstitious?

Application 2


The role of subject is often played by a noun. Sometimes a pronoun can stand in the place of a noun.

A noun labels or names a person, a place, a thing, or an idea. The words in italics below are nouns:

The message came from Harold Durum in Illinois, where the sky is broad and the farmers cherish their freedom.
A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun.

Gary can't find his polka-dotted shoelace because Gary he dropped the shoelace it behind the bathtub in the dark.
The pronoun it takes the place of the noun shoelace and refers to an earlier mention of that same noun. The pronoun he replaces and refers to Gary. Some other pronouns that replace and point backward to nouns are they, them*, she, her*, he, and him* .
Those shoelaces cost Gary $3.50 and Gary he washed the shoelaces them every night. The shoelaces they meant a lot to Gary him.
Several other pronouns don't have to point backwards to the words they replace because everyone knows what they stand for:
  • I, me*, = the person speaking
  • we, us*, = the people speaking
  • you = the person or people listening
The pronouns with an asterisk (*) beside them cannot be used as subjects.
Chapter 13 examines pronouns in more detail.

Application 3

Not all nouns and pronouns are subjects. Some play other roles in their sentences:
You shouldn't tease Gary about his shoelaces.
Give him a break.
In this pair of sentences there are several non-subject nouns (Gary, shoelaces, break) and a non-subject pronoun (him). Remember that the pronoun you is understood to be the subject in a command.

Application 4


When a subject is stripped of all the words that describe it, the simple subject is left.
The girls LAUGHED.
The tough girls LAUGHED.
The rowdy, tough girls LAUGHED.
The rowdy, tough girls in the roller derby LAUGHED.
The rowdy, tough girls in the roller derby on TV LAUGHED.
In each of these sentences, the simple subject is girls. A simple subject is only one word.

Application 5

Go back and look carefully at the sentences in Application 5. Notice the following words: in, of, about, for. These four words are prepositions (discussed in more detail in Chapter 4). Th e first noun or pronoun that appears after one of these words cannot be the simple subject:
The kids in my family LOVE the African Stone Game.
The pattern of the stones IS always changing.

Application 6

Chapter 4 describes in more detail how modifiers expand subjects, and Chapter 12 offers more practice with sentences where groups of words come bet ween the simple subject and the verb. Throughout the rest of this book, the word subject refers to the simple subject, the one-word subject without any describing words.


A verb can take more than one subject.
The padlock and chain on his refrigerator door SPEAK louder than words.
Compounding is the process of joining similar parts. Joining separate subjects to go with one verb results in a compound subject. The words that can join subjects are: and, but, yet, or, nor. These words are conjunctions.
Sugar and insulin ARE always CHANGING their levels in human blood.
Sometimes these conjunctions work in partnership with other words:
either . . . or. . .
neither . . . nor . . .
both . . . and . . .
not only . . . but also . . .

Not only sweets but also starches MAY STIMULATE the pancreas to produce excess insulin, reducing the blood su gar level.
When more than two subjects are compounded, the conjunction may appear between only the last two, while the others are separated by commas.
Muffins, potatoes, and spaghetti ARE CONVERTED to sugar during digestion.
A brief spurt of energy after eating, a sudden attack of fatigue, and then sustained low spirits| CAN FOLLOW eating orgies.

Application 7




Read aloud the paragraph you wrote at the beginning of this chapter. Find several verbs and then find their subjects by asking "Who/what (verb)?" Most subjects will come before their verbs, but that is not always the case. Mark at least four verb-subject combinations in your paragraph. Trade papers with a classmate, and check each other's work. Wherever you disagree, give reasons for your opinions. Take your questions to a tutor or teacher.

Complete your work on Subjects by taking the Mastery Test for this chapter.

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