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.
ate the food.
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
(subject) think it out.
Over the wall appeared a
familiar face (subject).
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).
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
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
The thing handed over is
"the papers" (direct object) and the indirect object is "me".
The officer made the cake
The officer made me a cake.
The thing made is "the
cake" (direct object) and the receiver of this object is "me".
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.