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Writing: Grammar: Parts of Speech

Main Page: Parts of Speech
Page Contents

  1. Subjects, Objects and Predicates
      1. Subjects and Predicates
      2. Objects

Subjects, Objects and Predicates

Subjects and Predicates

A simple sentence has a subject and a predicate. The subject tells us who or what the sentence is about, and the predicate tells us about the subject. In the table below, the simple sentences are divided into subject and predicate.
Subject Predicate
I sneezed.
Martin ate the food.
Cecile likes fish and chips.
The man in the iron mask was in jail.
Thinking too much makes you miserable.
The subject of a sentence functions as a noun. A word, phrase or clause that functions as noun can be replaced by a pronoun. This fact can sometimes help us to identify the subject of a sentence. In the sentences above, we can replace the subject with a pronoun, and it still makes sense (with a possible change in the person of the verb).

Another approach is to ask, Who or what before the verb, and the answer is the subject of the sentence. For instance:
Down into the depths went the old steamer.
Ask, 'What went (down into the depths)?', and the answer is the subject: the old steamer.

Her work on the new virus brough her instant fame.
Ask Who or what brought (her instant fame)? and we have the subject: Her work on the new virus.

The subject does not have to come first in the sentence:
To succeed in maths (object) the student (subject) needs to study for many years.
What is important (object) is that the scientists (subject) think it out.
Over the wall appeared a familiar face (subject).


Objects

A verb may have a direct object or an indirect object, or no object at all. Verbs that have an object are called transitive verbs, and those which do not are called intransitive. (See also, linking verbs).
Example Alternative Comment
The parson gave a sermon to the congregation. The parson gave the congregation a sermon. The thing given is a sermon (the direct object) and it was given to the congregation (the indirect object).
Jo said it was late. (Only a direct object) The thing said is "it was late", and is the direct object.
They handed me the papers. They handed the papers to me. The thing handed over is "the papers" (direct object) and the indirect object is "me".
The officer made the cake for me. The officer made me a cake. The thing made is "the cake" (direct object) and the receiver of this object is "me". (indirect object).
I gave her them. I gave them to her. The direct object is "them" and "her" is the indirect object.
The indirect object can sometimes be identified because it can be preceded by to or for. In the above examples, the indirect object is either preceded with to or for, or it comes before the direct object.
Note: In "Can you attend to this for me?", the to is part of the verb, and the direct object, the thing attended to, is this. The indirect object is me.












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