Key for

How to Find Subjects

Courtesy of oestara Publishing LLC

copyright 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, the verb has been underlined and the subject is in italics.

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, the appositives, any statement set off in commas, and any prepositional phrases ahve been removed. The subject has been underlined.

1. Detra wanted to tell her a secret.

2. Martinique found the little bottle.

3. Martinique opened the bottle.

4. The aroma smelled wonderful.

5. Martinique thought the bottle contained perfume.

6. The ointment was not perfume.

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

8. A lotion came out of the blue bottle.

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

10. The lotion made Martinique levitate!

11. Martinique flapped her arms and legs.

12. The flapping made her fly!

13. She decided to fly and show Joarra.

14. Joarra was astonished to see Martinique flying towards them.

15. Both waved at Martinique.

16. Joarra should have been the first to fly.

17. "I can fly!"

18. Joarra said, "Oh?"

19. Detra pulled out little purple bottles.

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

21. Detra took Joarra's hand.

22. Both rose into the air.

23. Martinique felt guilty and tried to fly away from her sisters.

24. Joarra and Detra's ointment made them be able to fly faster than Martinique.

25. Joarra easily caught up with Martinique.

26."This purple bottle is for you Martinique."

27. "Now you will have to make another batch of magical ointment."

28. "The blue ointment is for the baby."

29. "Flying fast would scare the baby." (This sentence has a participle used as a noun for the subject.)

30. Martinique apologized to her sisters.

31. Joarra and Detra agreed to help Martinique make more magical ointment. (This sentence has a compound subject.)


There are more web pages on subjects. Just go to the Grammar Table of Contents to find them.