Everything from an atom to a zucchini has parts. And a sentence is no exception. Any complete sentence has two main parts, called the subject and the predicate.
The subject of a sentence is simply what or whom the sentence is about. It usually comes before the predicate. For example, consider this sentence:
This sentence is about a person with an unusual hobby—Samantha. Samantha is therefore the subject of the sentence. Here's another example:
What is this sentence about? It's about my girlfriend's boa constrictor. The boa constrictor is therefore the subject of the sentence.Some sentences that give commands might look as if they don't contain a subject:
In the example above, there is no visible subject. But don't be fooled: the subject in such a sentence is the pronoun you. Normally, the subject in a command is left out, or invisible.
When we do express the subject you in a command, it's most often a sign of strong irritation:
The predicate is the part of the sentence that makes a statement about the subject. The main part of the predicate is the verb.
The predicate usually comes after the subject. Once you find the subject, you can easily find the predicate. Just ask yourself what the sentence is telling you about the subject.
The predicate might tell you what the subject did (or does, or will do). Let's take another look at our first example:
In this sentence, as you know, the subject is Samantha. The predicate collects reptiles tells you what Samantha does. The verb here is the action verb collects.
The predicate might also give a description of the subject, as in our second example:
Here, seems restless this morning gives a description of the subject boa constrictor. The verb is the linking verb seems, which merely links the description to the subject, without expressing any action.
The predicates we have seen have all been two or more words long. But sometimes, the predicate is simply a verb by itself:
No, the subject isn't always first. There are three situations in which the subject appears after the verb instead of before it.
1. In most questions:
2. In many sentences beginning with here or there:
3. In some sentences beginning with one or more prepositional phrases:
Being able to recognize subjects and predicates is a useful skill, because they are the building blocks of complete sentences.