Almost every sentence has a subject and a verb. 

        John and I               study at night.
          subject                       verb

Imperatives or commands are exceptions to this rule. Commands do not have subjects, but they ARE complete sentences!  Look at these examples of imperatives.

Stop it!
Come in. Sit down. Be quiet.
Play with me. 


Don't fall!
Get off that wall!
Watch out!
Be careful!

In the imperative sentence, we understand that the subject is always YOU.  

In other sentences, the subject is named, and you need to remember that the verb must "agree" in number with that subject. This means that when the subject of the sentence is singular, the verb is singular, too. When the subject is plural, the verb is plural. The following subjects and verbs are conjugated correctly in the present tense.  

Look at these sentences.  There is a subject and a verb in each one.

You read the paper every day, don't you

Mathew seems frustrated with his computer.   

David finally hit the ball!

Jane and I are going to watch the soccer game together.  

Do you want some soda or a snack?


Exercise 1

Instructions:  Look at the pictures and the subjects for each sentence.  Write a creative sentence for each picture using the subjects that are given.

Look at me!
1) I...
2) I...
3) I... 
Little toy:
4) You...

Baby Jane:
5) You...

The father:
6) He...

The boat:
7) It...

The mother:
8) She...

My dog and I
9) We...

10) We...

11) We...

Sally and her puppy
11) They...

12) They...

13) They...  

Subjects and Objects

The subject of the sentence tells who does the action in a sentence.  The object receives the action of the verb.  Easy, right?  Let's look at the difference between the COMPLETE SUBJECT the SIMPLE SUBJECT and the OBJECTS.  This idea is important because in order to make sure that you have correct subject-verb agreement in the sentence, you have to make sure that the SIMPLE subject agrees with the verb.  But sometimes, the simple subject is inside of a very long COMPLETE subject with lots of adjectives and prepositional phrases around it and it is hard to find.  Here are the definitions:

A Complete Subject is a noun or a group of words such as "My brother, John, who studies with his best friend at the University of Miami" or "The man over there on the corner in the yellow hat".  The complete subject includes all of the words that describe the simple subject of the sentence.  

A Simple Subject is one or more nouns (car, John Brown) or pronouns (he, it).   It is the the subject of the verb.  To help you write sentences that have correct subject-verb agreement, it is necessary to identify the simple subject of a sentence.  

The other important element of most sentences is the OBJECT.  The Object often comes after a verb.  The object of a verb is a noun.  


To find the direct object of a verb, you can use this process:  1) find the subject, 2) find the verb, 3)  ask "subject + verb + WHAT?"  The answer to that question will give you the object.  Here is an example:

Sentence:  My brother studies English with his friends.

subject = brother        verb = studies        question = brother studies WHAT?
answer=  English (the object)


Exercise 2

Instructions:  Identify the subject (s), verb (v), and object (o) of the verb in these sentences.

  1. The students over there are studying English.
  2. Both of us raised our hands in class.
  3. All of the people in this room came to the play.
  4. The boy in the hall ate lunch later.
  5. Most cats climb trees.
  6. Almost all of my friends watch MTV.


Exercise 3

Instructions:  Answer these questions in complete sentences.  When you finish, circle all of the subjects. Underline the verbs.

1.  What is your favorite sport?  Why do you like this sport?  Where do you play it?

2.  Who is the most famous person in your country?  Why is he famous?  Do you admire him?  Why or why not?

3.  What is the title of your favorite book? What is the book about?

4.  Who is the strangest person you know? Why do you consider this person strange?

5.  Who is your best friend? Where does s/he live? work


When you are locating subjects, BE CAREFUL with prepositional phrases.  The noun that comes after the preposition in a prepositional phrase is NEVER the subject of the sentence.

Exercise 4:

Identify the simple subject in these sentences.  Then read the explanation that follows to see if you were correct. 

1. After many years of study, both of my daughters became professionals.

Notice that the subject here is "BOTH". The first part of the sentence "after many years of study" is only a prepositional phrase. To find the subject of a sentence, ask "WHO" is performing the action. The simple subject is usually only ONE word.  "Of my daughters" is a prepositional phrase and you will almost never find the main subject inside of a prepositional phrase.

2. After we finish washing the dishes, you can watch the movie with your friends in the living room.

Notice that the subject here is "YOU". The first part of the sentence is only a prepositional phrase. To find the subject of a sentence, ask "WHO" is performing the action ("can watch" is the action.). The simple subject is usually only one word.

3. The third chapter in the book really helps me understand English verbs.

The subject here is "CHAPTER". To find the subject of this sentence, look at the verb and then ask "WHAT" or "WHO" + that verb. In this case, "What HELPS me understand English verbs?". The answer is "chapter". (The simple subject is usually only ONE word.) In this sentence "the third" are modifier words; not the simple subject.  Adjectives are never the simple subject of a sentence.

4.  Trust is an important ingredient for a good relationship.

The subject in this sentence is "TRUST". Remember that the simple subject of a sentence is only the noun that performs the action -- not the adjectives or articles that describe that noun. Simple subjects can be nouns such as "John Brown" or "car" or a pronoun such as "he" or "it".  

5. Who is going to teach the class when the teacher goes to the conference?

In this sentence, the subject is the interrogative pronoun, "WHO". This pronoun is always singular. This sentence would be incorrect if it had a plural verb: "Who are to teach the class ..."

6. That  is not what the professor said during the review session yesterday.

The subject in this sentence is "That". Remember that subjects go in front of the main verb in a sentence. The main verb here is "is".

7. The house on the corner with all of the flowers in front and the strange doorknob is for sale.

The simple subject in this sentence is "house". Remember that descriptions that are made with prepositional phrases like "with all of the flowers"  are almost never the simple subject of a sentence. Prepositional phrases only give additional information or description in a sentence.


Exercise 5:

Instructions:  Circle the simple subject in these sentences. Underline the prepositional phrases.  Remember that you will not find the simple subject inside of a prepositional phrase.

1. One of the team captains called you this morning.

2. When I think about when I first came to the United States, my thoughts remind me of many things that I can never forget.

3. By that time, I didnít know when I was going to see my family again.

4. Once outside the airport, I was impressed with all that I saw.

5.  Special rooms and clothes are used to protect patients from hurting themselves.  (this sentence has a compound subject:  2 words)