English grammar

Module 4, Sentence Parts, Lesson 3:

Challenging Subjects

English grammar

Challenge 1: Questions

In questions, the subject is often either after the verb or between parts of the verb phrase.

Where are my slippers?
Will we be going to the mall?
Keep all the words and turn the sentence into a declarative sentence.
We will be going to the mall.

Challenge 2: Commands

In commands, the subject of the verb is always the unstated you.

Raise your hand. = (You) Raise your hand.

Challenge 3: Inverted order

Sometimes for emphasis, writers will switch around the parts of the sentence. In those sentences, the subject is usually after the verb.

Behind the bookcase is the door to the secret room.
Find the verb first and ask yourself who did it. You can also turn the sentence back to the usual order.
What is? The door is.
The door to the secret room is behind the bookcase.

Challenge 4: Sentences that begin with here/there

If a sentence begins with here or there, here or there is never the subject.

Sometimes here or there are adverbs telling where the subject is. Often, though, the words here or there are considered expletive constructions - words that are expressions we use that have no real meaning in the sentence.
Here are your missing earrings.
There goes the four o'clock train.
Find the verb first and then ask yourself who did it. You can also rearrange the sentence to the usual order.

What are here? Earrings.
Your missing earrings are here. (In this case, here works as an adverb.)

What goes there? Train.
The four o'clock train goes there. (In this case, there is an explicative expression.)

Challenge 5: Subjects followed by prepositional phrases

Sometimes a noun is followed by a prepositional phrase explaining more about the noun. It is easy to confuse the subject with the object of the preposition.

The box of books belongs in the library.
The members of the committee worked hard to come up with a plan.
Think of the prepositional phrase in parentheses.
The box (of books) belongs in the library.
The members (of the committee) worked hard to come up with a plan.

Practice What You've Learned

English grammar
Use the toolbar above to underline the subject of each sentence once and the verb of each sentence twice. The subject may be the understood you included at the end of each sentence.
Are you going to the mall with me? (you)
The bag of groceries needs to be put away. (you)
Give me that book. (you)
Beneath the bed were hiding the timid kittens. (you)
There will be twenty-two students in the class next year. (you)
When will that box be delivered? (you)
Here was the location of the original schoolhouse in our town. (you)
Will our friends be eating dinner with us? (you)
The trees beside the river are poplar trees. (you)
Form a straight line. (you)