Monday, February 15, 2010



A sentence consists of a subject and a predicate.

The part about which the sentence speaks - somebody/something/topic - is the subject. What is spoken about the subject is the predicate.

The subject of the sentence defines the boundary for the predicate. The predicate has to speak about the subject-- its state/action.

Sentences opening with "subject" draw the attention of the listener/reader to the subject. Subject is the face and head of the sentence. Predicate is the body of the sentence. We get drawn to the face of a person first and later we move to the other body-parts later normally, unless the body-parts are conspicuous and extra-ordinary enough to pull us away from face. Skillful construction of subject of a sentence is, hence, very important.

The simplest way to build a subject in a sentence is to straight-away use a noun and start the sentence with it.

Some examples:

I like tea.
REM: The speaker is telling about himself/herself and affirming his/her own likes. 'I' is, hence, the subject. 'Like' is the transitive verb. Like what? Ans. 'tea'. Tea is the object. The sentence structure used is 'SVO' (subject, verb, object).

Please take tea.
REM: The subject here is 'You'. Imperative sentences (commands, entreaties, requests etc.) have their subjects in second person i.e. 'you'.
We have to infer the existence of 'you'; hence the full sentence becomes:
You, please, take tea..
REM: 'You' is the subject. 'Please' is a courtesy adverb, describing the verb 'take'. The sentence 'Please take tea' is the predicate part.

Adding attributes to subject.
A subject, need not be a bare noun. It can have some attributes (special characteristics, embellishments). We can place the attributes before the subject. We can also place embellishments after the subjects, depending on convenience.

The tall girl drew everybody's attention.
REM: 'Girl' is the subject. 'The' is a demonstrative adjective, an attribute of the girl, meaning 'that girl'. 'Tall' is another attribute of the girl, which describes the height of the girl.

Elizabeth, the tallest girl in the party, drew everybody's attention.
REM: 'Elizabeth' is the subject here. 'The tallest girl in the party' is her embellishment. The phrase is placed after the subject.
Another observation: Elizabeth is one noun. 'The tallest girl in the party' is another noun (noun-phrase used as noun). These two are placed side by side. We can call this side-by-side position of two nouns as juxtaposition.

Example of a sentence, which does not start with 'subject'
Sweet are the uses of adversity.
REM: We can get a better picture by rewriting the sentence as:
The uses of adversity, are sweet.
'The uses of adversity' is the subject here. 'Sweet' is the adjective complement for the subject. 'Are' is the verb of incomplete predication.

Example, where the subject is embellished with an adjective clause.
Uneasy lies the head, that wears the crown..
REM: We can get a better picture by rewriting the sentence as:
The head that wears the crown, lies, uneasy.. 'That wears the crown' is the clause used as adjective (adjective clause) to embellish the subject 'head'.

'Whether US will invade Iran' is a hypothetical question.
REM: 'Is' the verb of incomplete predication. 'A hypothetical question' is the adjective complement which describes the subject: "Whether US will invade Iran".
To identify the subject, we can use the following question:
What is a hypothetical question?
Ans: "Whether US will invade Iran".

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