The Farlex Grammar Book > English Grammar > Syntax > Subjects and Predicates

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

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.
For example:
Example sentence
Type of subject
Computers can process numbers very quickly.”
Noun
A boy I know owns a motorcycle.”
Noun phrase
Someone ate my cake!”
Pronoun
Swimming is great exercise.”
Gerund
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.

The Predicate

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:
Example sentence
Parts of the predicate
“I refuse.”
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
going to the beachgerund phrase acting as the direct object of the verb loves
each summer — adverbial phrase modifying the verb phrase loves 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
are — finite auxiliary verb used with the present participle learning to create the present continuous tense
learningpresent participle (a type of non-finite verb) used with the auxiliary finite verb are to form the present continuous tense
about the American Revolutionprepositional phrase functioning as the direct object 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.

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