Explanation

The Subject of a verb is normally the noun, noun phrase or pronoun that names the ‘do-er’ or ‘be-er’. The Subject’s normal position is:

  • just before the verb in a statement
  • just after the auxiliary verb, in a question.

Unlike the verb’s Object and Complement, the Subject can determine the form of the verb (e.g. I am, you are).

  • Rula’s mother went out.
  • That is uncertain.
  • The children will study the animals.
  • Will the children study the animals?

'Subject' is a function label for an element in the clause which often identifies the agent that carries out the action expressed by the main verb. However, not all Subjects denote agents (e.g. in Linda felt tired, Linda is not really a 'do-er' - she is not carrying out an action), so the Subject is better defined in terms of grammatical properties. These include its typical position in the clause, and the way it shows agreement with the verb in person and number.

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