How to Find Subjects

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Courtesy of Oestara Publishing LLC

1996 Cynthia Joyce Clay Please respect the copyright of the author by only reproducing for non-commercial purposes.



To find the subject of a sentence, you need to find the verb first. Once you have found the verb, ask "Who or what is doing (whatever the verb is).

To make it easer to find the subject, cross out all the prepostional phrases.

Also cross out any appositives (An appositive word or phrase that defines or restates the subject) that are set off in commas; cross out any statements of negation that are set off in commas; and cross out any phrase that is set off in commas!


For instance:

Alice landed the spaceship safely. "Who landed?" "Alice did." So, "Alice" is the subject.

Alice, the astronaut, used the warp drive. "Who used the warp drive?" "Alice did." So, "Alice" is the subject. The phrase "the astronaut" is an apositive and should be crossed out.

Alice, not Mark, knew how to avoid meteors. "Who knew how to avoid meteors?" "Alice did." So, "Alice" is the subject. The statement of negation that is set off in commas, "not Mark" should be crossed out.

Alice, as well as Mark, could not wait to explore Mars. "Who could not wait?" "Alice could not wait." The phrase in commas, "as well as Mark," should be crossed out. "Alice" is the subject.

Both of them were the first artists to be sent into space. "Who were the first artists?" Cross out prepostional phrase "of them" and you know "both" were the first artists, so "both" is the subject.


In these sentences, find the verb first and then find the subject by asking "Who does the verb?"

1. Joarra mixed up a magic ointment.

2. The ointment had lots of herbs and floral oils.

3. Joarra put the ointment in a small, blue bottle.

4. Joarra set the bottle on the shelf.

In these sentences, cross out any appositives, any statement set off in commas, and any prepositional phrases.

1. Detra, her sister, wanted to tell her a secret.

2. Martinique, Joarra's other sister, found the little bottle.

3. Martinique, who was very curious, opened the bottle.

4. The aroma from the bottle smelled wonderful.

5. Martinique, a perfume maker, thought the bottle contained perfume.

6. The ointment, though it smelled good, was not perfume.

7. The curious perfume maker put some of the ointment on her hands.

8. A lotion, not a perfume, came out of the blue bottle.

9. So, Martinque, ever curious, put the lotion on her hands, arms, face, back, and legs.

10. The lotion, which was a magical ointment, made Martinique levitate!

11. Martinique, who was very surprised, flapped her arms and legs.

12. The flapping of her limbs made her fly!

13. She decided to fly and show Joarra.

14. Joarra, as well as Detra, was astonished to see Martinique flying towards them.

15. Both of them waved at Martinique.

16. Joarra, not Martinique, should have been the first to fly.

17. "I, not you guys, can fly!"

18. Joarra, as well as Detra, said, "Oh?"

19. Detra, as well as Joarra, pulled out little purple bottles.

20. Each of them rubbed the lotion from their bottles on their bodies.

21. Detra, the herbalist, took Joarra's hand.

22. Both of the sisters rose into the air.

23. Martinique, who know she should not take other people's things, felt guilty and tried to fly away from her sisters.

24. Joarra and Detra's ointment, which had a secret ingrediant, made them be able to fly faster than Martinique.

25. Joarra, as well ad Detra, easily caught up with Martinique.

26."This purple bottle, not that blue one, is for you Martinique."

27. "Now you, not us, will have to make another batch of magical ointment."

28. "The blue ointment, not the purple, is for the baby."

29. "Flying fast, but not slow, would scare the baby."

30. Martinique, who was sorry that she had taken what was not hers, apologized to her sisters.

31. Joarra and Detra, herbalists and sorceresses, agreed to help Martinique make more magical ointment.


There is an answer key available. There are also more web pages on subjects. Just go to the Grammar Table of Contents to find them.