Subjects and Predicates
Sentences must always include both a subject and a predicate.
The subject of a clause or sentence is the noun (a person, place, or thing) that performs, controls, or is responsible for the action of a verb.
The predicate is made up of at least one finite verb, the action of which is performed or controlled by the subject.
The subject usually appears before its verb and is made up of at least one noun, any grammatical element functioning as a noun, or a pronoun standing in place of a noun.
Type of subject
“Computers can process numbers very quickly.”
“A boy I know owns a motorcycle.”
“Someone ate my cake!”
“Swimming is great exercise.”
There are several other types of grammatical constructions that can be used as the subject of a sentence or clause, as well as instances in which the subject’s position in relation to the verb changes. To learn more, continue on to the next section in this chapter, The Subject.
In addition to a finite verb, the predicate can also (but does not always) include participles, objects, complements, and modifiers. In most cases, the predicate comes after the subject in a sentence or clause, although some parts of the predicate (especially adverbial modifiers) can sometimes appear before the subject.
Here are some examples, with the predicate in bold:
Parts of the predicate
refuse — intransitive finite verb in the present simple tense
“My family loves going to the beach each summer.”
loves — transitive finite verb in the present simple tense; its direct object is the entire gerund phrase going to the beach each summer
going — gerund, a non-finite verb form that functions as a noun
to the beach — adverbial complement modifying the gerund going
each summer — adverbial phrase modifying the gerund phrase going to the beach
“In school we are learning about the American Revolution.”
in school — adverbial prepositional phrase acting as a modifier of the present participle learning
To learn more about forming and identifying the predicate, as well as the various grammatical elements that can be included in it, go to the section in this chapter called The Predicate.