What is a Subject? Definition, Examples of Subjects in English

What is the definition of subject? The subject of a sentence is the person, place, thing, or idea that is performing the action.

What is the Subject?

On the most basic level, a sentence contains two parts: a subject and a predicate. The subject includes the noun that is performing the action described in the predicate.

Examples of Sentence Subjects

Let’s look at some examples of sentences in English sentences.

  • Janet washed the car.
    • Janet = subject
    • Washed = action performed
  • Chris worked from sunrise to sunset.
    • Chris = subject
    • Worked = action performed.

Simple Subject, Complete Subject, Compound Subject

Simple subjects refer to just the noun that is performing the action and no other words that are describing that noun:

  • The blue-eyed girl played on the jungle gym.
    • Girl = simple subject that performs the action = played

Complete subjects include the noun that is performing the action and any descriptors of that noun:

  • The hairy, three-eyed monster scared the young boy.
    • The hairy, three-eyed monster = complete subject that performs the action = scared

Compound subjects are ones in which two nouns perform the action:

  • Chris and Janet love to read comic books.
    • Chris, Janet = compound subject that perform the action = read

Subjects Are Not Part of a Prepositional Phrase

One thing to be careful with is to not include any prepositional phrases with your subject. These phrases are used to provide extra information and are not part of the subject of the sentence.

  • The tree in the park was very tall.
    • Tree = subject
    • Was very tall = predicate
    • In the park = prepositional phrase

Subject in Different Sentences

Here are some examples of subjects being used in various ways.

The subject performs an action:

  • Garcia sold used cars.
    • Garcia = subject
    • Sold = action

The subject is described:

  • Jennifer was tall and slender.
    • Jennifer = subject
    • Tall, slender = descriptions

The subject is identified.

  • The boy who was the valedictorian applied to several universities
    • Boy = subject
    • Who was the valedictorian = identifier

The subject has an action done to it.

  • The boy was accepted into the police academy.
    • Boy = subject
    • Was accepted = action done to subject by the police academy

Usual Sentence Format

The usual sentence format includes a subject, verb, and object.

  • The teacher taught the students.
    • Teacher = subject
    • Taught = verb
    • Students = object
  • Jennifer dusted the blinds.
    • Jennifer = subject
    • Dusted = verb
    • Blinds = object

Summary: What Are Subjects?

Define subject in English: The subject of a sentence is that noun that is doing or being something. It is important to identify the verb in the sentence and ask yourself what noun it is connected to.

Final example:

  • Public university tuition rises every year.
    • Tuition = subject
    • Rises = verb