Subjects and Predicates: Breaking Down Sentences

We’ve covered a lot of the minutiae of grammar on the Write Practice, but today we’re taking it back to the basics and breaking apart sentences to get at some of the most fundamental parts of speech.

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What is a part of speech? A part of speech is a category of words that serve the same basic function in a sentence, and today, we’re covering the most basic of the basics: subjects and predicates.

Subjects

Sentences must have a subject and a predicate. Subjects are most commonly nouns, which, in the immortal words of the writers of Schoolhouse Rock, indicate a person, place, or thing. As long as your sentence is in the active voice, the subject is the person, place, or thing performing an action.

For example:

Carl cried. Chris ran. Ann sat.

Carl, Chris, and Ann are the subjects.

Predicates

Predicates always include a verb, and sometimes include additional phrases, but the job of the predicate is to modify the subject.

For example:

Carl cried. Chris ran. Ann sat.

Cried, ran, and sat are the predicates.

That’s a lot of fancy words and terminology, but a sentence essentially boils down to a noun and a verb.

PRACTICE

Write about Carl crying, Chris running, and Ann sitting.

Put the subject of each sentence into ALL CAPS. You can either do this as you write or after you finish.

Write for fifteen minutes, then, post your practice in the comments section.

Good luck.

About Liz Bureman

Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she's not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.

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