Subject and Predicate
The most familiar grammatical function is the SUBJECT. In notional terms, we can think of the Subject as the element which performs the "action" denoted by the verb:
In , the Subject David performs the action of playing the piano. In , the Subject the police performs the action of interviewing all the witnesses. In these terms, this means that we can identify the Subject by asking a wh-question:
Having identified the Subject, we can see that the remainder of the sentence tells us what the Subject does or did. In , for example, plays the piano tells us what David does. We refer to this string as the PREDICATE of the sentence. In , the Predicate is interviewed all the witnesses.
Here are some more examples of sentences labelled for Subject and Predicate.
In each of these examples,
the Subject performs the action described in the Predicate. We've seen,
however, that there are problems in defining verbs as "action" words,
and for the same reasons, there are problems in defining the Subject as
the "performer" of the action. The Subject in John seems unhappy
is John, but we would hardly say he is performing an action. For
this reason, we need to define the Subject more precisely than this. We
will look at the characteristics of the Subject on the next page.
copyright The Survey of English Usage 1996-1998
Supported by RingJohn
Online Marketing UK