Subject and Object

SUBJECT

Definition: The subject of a sentence is the noun, pronoun or noun phrase that precedes and governs the main verb. The subject is the part of the sentence that performs an action or which is associated with the action.

Simple Subject: A simple subject is composed of a single pronoun, noun or noun phrase.

For example:

He is a really nice guy.
* “He” is the subject of the sentence, controlling the verb and the complement.

My dog attacked the burglar.
* “My dog” is the subject, controlling the verb and the rest of the sentence.

David plays the piano.
* The subject “David” performs the action of “playing the piano”.

The police interviewed all the witnesses.
* The subject “the police” performs the action of interviewing all the witnesses.

To determine the subject of a sentence, first isolate the verb and then make a question by placing “who?” or “what?” before it. Having identified the Subject, we can see that the remainder of the sentence tells us what the Subject does or did. We refer to this string as the “predicate” of the sentence.

For example:

David plays the piano.
Who plays the piano?
* “David” (Subject)
* “plays the piano” (Predicate) tells us what David does.

The police interviewed all the witnesses.
Who interviewed all the witnesses?
* “The police” (Subject)
* “interviewed all the witnesses” (Predicate) tells us what the police did.

Complex Subject: A complex subject consists of a noun phrase and any words, phrases, or clauses that modify it.

For example:

The man who had followed us inside walked over to the telephone.
* simple subject: man
* complex subject: the man who had followed us inside

The superior performance of La Traviata pleased the wealthy audience.
* simple subject: performance
* complex subject: the superior performance of La Traviata

Compound Subject: A compound subject consists of two or more noun phrases (and their modifiers if any) joined together with a coordinating conjunction.

For example:

The man and the woman walked over to the telephone.
* The compound subject here is the whole phrase, “the man and the woman.”

Neither the superior performance of La Traviata nor the excellent wine at intermission pleased the wealthy audience.
* Again, the whole phrase, “neither the superior performance of La Traviata nor the excellent wine at intermission,” is the subject. The phrase answers the question, “What pleased the wealthy audience?”

OBJECT

Definition: The object is the person or thing affected by the action described in the verb. A verb may be followed by an object that completes the verb’s meaning.

For example:

He wrote the book.
* “book” is the object, created by the action of writing.

I saw the film.
* “film” is the object, sensed by the subject seeing it.

To determine the object of a sentence, first isolate the verb and then make a question by asking whom or what the action was done to.

For example:

He wrote the book.
He wrote what?
* He wrote the book (object).

I saw the film.
I saw what?
* I saw the film (object).

Complex Objects

Like subjects, objects can be complex, consisting of the simple object and all the words which modify it.

For example:

I finally bought the dress I had tried on at least thirty times.
* Simple object – dress
* Complex object – the dress I had tried on at least thirty times

He chose the mangy puppy shivering over in the corner of the cage.
* Simple object – puppy
* Complex object – the mangy puppy shivering over in the corner of the cage

Not all verbs are followed by objects.

For example:

The guest speaker rose from her chair to protest.

After work, Randy usually jogs around the canal.

Types of Objects

Direct object: Refers to a person or thing affected by the action of the verb.\

For example:

He opened the door.
*Here the door is the direct object as it is the thing being affected by the verb to open.

Indirect object: Refers to a person or thing who receives the direct object.

I gave him the book.
* Here him (he) is the indirect object as he is the beneficiary of the action.

Source: http://www.englishlanguageguide.com/english/grammar/

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