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Subjects, Verbs and Objects

Subjects, verbs, predicates and objects are the building blocks of any sentence. To be able to identify and use them correctly is one of the first steps to writing and speaking good English.

A sentence is the conventional unit of connected speech and writing. It is a group of words that together makes sense as a statement, question, command or exclamation.


Begin with a capitalised letter,

Conclude with a full stop, a question mark or an exclamation mark,

And are, at the most basic level, comprised of a subject and a predicate.

The subject is the word that is the main component of the sentence, it can be defined as the ‘who’ or the ‘what’ of the sentence. A subject is always required in a sentence in the English language; it can be a noun or a noun phrase or a pronoun.

The dog barked. - Here there is a single noun as the subject

The five dogs barked. - Here there is a noun phrase as the subject

It started barking. - Here there is a pronoun as the subject

The next thing you must know is the predicate which is a phrase in the sentence, which tells us what exactly is the subject doing. The predicate informs us about the relation between the subject and the action performed; it always contains the verbs which are the words that show the action being performed.

The dog was barking. - Here the predicate containing the verb is ‘was barking’ and the verb is ‘barking’

The ball was kicked by the boy. - Here the subject is ‘the boy’ and the predicate is ‘was kicked by’ and the verb is ‘kicked’

The next building block is the object which is not a necessity in a sentence. The object is the thing that is directly or indirectly receiving the action that was performed by the subject. For example

The dog barked at the postman. - Here we see that the object is ‘postman’ who is the person who is being barked at by the ‘dog’ which is the subject.

The ball was kicked by the boy. - Here the object is ‘the ball’ which is being ‘kicked’ by the subject ‘the boy’

To conclude, let us analyse another sentence and see if we can identify the subject-predicate-object pattern:

Rita was furious with me.


1. The subject is ‘Rita’ as she is the one who is performing the action

2. The predicate is ‘was furious with’ which is connecting the subject ‘Rita’ with the verb

3. The verb is ‘furious’ which is describing a state of anger

4. The object is ‘me’ as it is the word that is receiving the subject ‘Rita’s verb action ‘furious’ .

Also see

Tenses in English

English Grammar