Subject (grammar)

subjectsubjectsgrammatical subject(subj.)Ssubjecthood
The subject in a simple English sentence such as John runs, John is a teacher, or John was run over by a car is the person or thing about whom the statement is made, in this case John.wikipedia
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Clause

clausesfinite clauseclausal
Traditionally the subject is the word or phrase which controls the verb in the clause, that is to say with which the verb agrees (John is but John and Mary are). The subject (glossing abbreviations: or ) is, according to a tradition that can be traced back to Aristotle (and that is associated with phrase structure grammars), one of the two main constituents of a clause, the other constituent being the predicate, whereby the predicate says something about the subject.
A typical clause consists of a subject and a predicate, the latter typically a verb phrase, a verb with any objects and other modifiers.

Verb

verbssubject-verb agreementv.
Traditionally the subject is the word or phrase which controls the verb in the clause, that is to say with which the verb agrees (John is but John and Mary are).
A verb may also agree with the person, gender or number of some of its arguments, such as its subject, or object.

Sentence (linguistics)

sentencesentencesdeclarative sentence
The subject in a simple English sentence such as John runs, John is a teacher, or John was run over by a car is the person or thing about whom the statement is made, in this case John.
Typically a sentence contains a subject and predicate.

Nominative case

nominativenom.NOM
In languages such as Latin or German the subject of a verb has a form which is known as the nominative case: for example, the form 'he' (not 'him' or 'his') is used in sentences such as he ran, he broke the window, he is a teacher, he was hit by a car.
The nominative case (abbreviated ), subjective case, straight case or upright case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments.

Noun

nounssubstantiveabstract noun
But there are some languages such as Basque or Greenlandic, in which the form of a noun or pronoun when the verb is intransitive (he ran) is different from when the verb is transitive (he broke the window).
Linguistically, a noun is a member of a large, open part of speech whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition.

Greenlandic language

GreenlandicKalaallisutWest Greenlandic
But there are some languages such as Basque or Greenlandic, in which the form of a noun or pronoun when the verb is intransitive (he ran) is different from when the verb is transitive (he broke the window).
Verbs are inflected for one of the eight moods and for the number and person of its subject and object.

Ergative–absolutive language

ergativeergativityergative–absolutive
In these languages, which are known as ergative languages, the concept of subject may not apply at all. Many languages (such as those with ergative or Austronesian alignment) do not do this, and by this definition would not have subjects.
Ergative–absolutive languages, or ergative languages are languages that share a certain distinctive pattern relating to the subjects (technically, arguments) of verbs.

Intransitive verb

intransitiveintransitive verbsintransitively
But there are some languages such as Basque or Greenlandic, in which the form of a noun or pronoun when the verb is intransitive (he ran) is different from when the verb is transitive (he broke the window).
The sentence can be made passive with the direct object "Mary" as the grammatical subject as follows:

Transitive verb

transitivetransitive verbstransitivity
But there are some languages such as Basque or Greenlandic, in which the form of a noun or pronoun when the verb is intransitive (he ran) is different from when the verb is transitive (he broke the window).
Verbs that accept only two arguments, a subject and a single direct object, are monotransitive.

Predicate (grammar)

predicatepredicatespredication
The subject (glossing abbreviations: or ) is, according to a tradition that can be traced back to Aristotle (and that is associated with phrase structure grammars), one of the two main constituents of a clause, the other constituent being the predicate, whereby the predicate says something about the subject.
In grammar, a predicate is one of the two main parts of a sentence, which modifies the subject and usually starts with a verb.

Topic and comment

topictopic–commenttopic-comment
If there is no verb, as in John - what an idiot!, or if the verb has a different subject, as in John - I can't stand him!, then 'John' is not considered to be the grammatical subject, but can be described as the topic of the sentence.
Topic, which is defined by pragmatic considerations, is a distinct concept from grammatical subject, which is defined by syntax.

Phrase structure grammar

phrase structureconstituencyconstituency grammar
The subject (glossing abbreviations: or ) is, according to a tradition that can be traced back to Aristotle (and that is associated with phrase structure grammars), one of the two main constituents of a clause, the other constituent being the predicate, whereby the predicate says something about the subject.
The constituency relation derives from the subject-predicate division of Latin and Greek grammars that is based on term logic and reaches back to Aristotle in antiquity.

Finite verb

finitefinite formsfinite form
All of these positions see the subject in English determining person and number agreement on the finite verb, as exemplified by the difference in verb forms between he eats and they eat.
A finite verb is a form of a verb that has a subject (expressed or implied) and can function as the root of an independent clause; an independent clause can, in turn, stand alone as a complete sentence.

Pronoun

pronounspronominalpronominal system
But there are some languages such as Basque or Greenlandic, in which the form of a noun or pronoun when the verb is intransitive (he ran) is different from when the verb is transitive (he broke the window).
Subject pronouns are used in subject position (I like to eat chips, but she does not).

Agreement (linguistics)

agreementagreegrammatical agreement
Traditionally the subject is the word or phrase which controls the verb in the clause, that is to say with which the verb agrees (John is but John and Mary are). All of these positions see the subject in English determining person and number agreement on the finite verb, as exemplified by the difference in verb forms between he eats and they eat.
This is because the grammar of the language requires that the verb and its subject agree in person.

Latin

Latin languageLat.la
In languages such as Latin or German the subject of a verb has a form which is known as the nominative case: for example, the form 'he' (not 'him' or 'his') is used in sentences such as he ran, he broke the window, he is a teacher, he was hit by a car.

Agent (grammar)

agentagentiveagents
The stereotypical subject immediately precedes the finite verb in declarative sentences in English and represents an agent or a theme.
The agent is a semantic concept distinct from the subject of a sentence as well as from the topic.

Austronesian alignment

patient focustrigger systemagent trigger
Many languages (such as those with ergative or Austronesian alignment) do not do this, and by this definition would not have subjects.
Oblique arguments are promoted directly to subject.

Gerund

English gerundgerundsfused participle
The entire clause eating this cake is then used as a noun, which in this case serves as the subject of the larger sentence.

Subject–auxiliary inversion

subject-auxiliary inversioninversioninversion of subject and auxiliary
In the second sentence, which involves the subject-auxiliary inversion of a yes/no-question, the subject immediately follows the finite verb (instead of immediately preceding it), which means the second criterion is flouted.
Subject–auxiliary inversion (also called subject–operator inversion) is a frequently occurring type of inversion in English, whereby a finite auxiliary verb – taken here to include finite forms of the copula be – appears to "invert" (change places) with the subject.

Copula (linguistics)

copulato becopular
In linguistics, a copula (plural: copulas or copulae; abbreviated ) is a word that links the subject of a sentence to a subject complement, such as the word is in the sentence "The sky is blue."

Subject–verb inversion in English

Subject-verb inversionlocative inversionsubject–verb inversion
The following subsections briefly illustrate three such cases in English: 1) existential there-constructions, 2) inverse copular constructions, and 3) locative inversion constructions.
Subject–verb inversion in English is a type of inversion where the subject and verb (or chain of verbs, verb catena) switch their canonical order of appearance, so that the subject follows the verb(s), e.g. A lamp stood beside the bed → Beside the bed stood a lamp.

Pro-drop language

pro-dropdroppedomitted
This dropping pattern does not automatically make a language a pro-drop language.
The term "pro-drop" stems from Noam Chomsky's "Lectures on Government and Binding" from 1981 as a cluster of properties of which "null subject" was one (for the occurrence of pro as a predicate rather than a subject in sentences with the copula see Moro 1997).

List of glossing abbreviations

abbreviatedglossing abbreviationglossing abbreviations
The subject (glossing abbreviations: or ) is, according to a tradition that can be traced back to Aristotle (and that is associated with phrase structure grammars), one of the two main constituents of a clause, the other constituent being the predicate, whereby the predicate says something about the subject.

Constituent (linguistics)

constituentconstituentssyntactic constituents
The subject (glossing abbreviations: or ) is, according to a tradition that can be traced back to Aristotle (and that is associated with phrase structure grammars), one of the two main constituents of a clause, the other constituent being the predicate, whereby the predicate says something about the subject.
The object of the active sentence is changed to the subject of the corresponding passive sentence: