Identifying the nouns and pronouns that are the subject and object of a sentence is an important facet of learning the parts of speech of English grammar. Grammar is the way in which language is structured, the rules that are the foundation of that structure and the study of those rules. At the most basic level, grammar is the way words are used together to form sentences. When a baby learns his native language, those grammar rules are absorbed effortlessly; languages learned later in life take a bit more conscious effort. We will examine how to identify the subject of a sentence, the object of a sentence, and some examples of these parts of speech in sentences.
The subject of a sentence is the noun that the sentence is talking about, the noun that is doing something. Every sentence must have a subject. Subject nouns may be proper nouns, personal nouns, pronouns, or noun phrases. The subject of a sentence nearly always appears before the predicate verb or main verb:
The dog chewed the bone. (Dog is the subject–he performs the action.)
He broke his tooth. (He is the subject.)
The oldest man in the world died today. (Man is the subject.)
The subject may appear after the predicate if the sentence is a question or begins with the words here or there:
Is it cold today? (Today is the subject.)
Are fish slimy? (Fish is the subject.)
There were three avocados on the shelf. (Avocados is the subject.)
Here comes trouble. (Trouble is the subject.)
The subject must agree with the predicate, which means that the subject and the verb, known as the predicate verb, must agree in number. If the subject is plural, the predicate verb must also be plural.
The turtle eats the lettuce. (singular)
The turtles eat the lettuce. (plural)
The object of a sentence is a noun that is receiving the action, or is having an action performed upon it. or is the one for whom the action is performed. The object of a sentence may be a direct object or an indirect object.
The direct object receives the action:
The monkey ate the bananas. (Bananas is the direct object.)
Judy sewed the hole in the sack. (Hole is the direct object.)
An indirect object is the person or thing that receives the direct object, or is the person or thing for whom the action is performed:
Sylvia gave the present to Lydia. (Lydia is the indirect object.)
Irving threw Charlene the ball. (Charlene is the indirect object.)
Remember: the subject performs the action, the object receives the action.