Test for identifying subjects in English
- Agreement: In a finite sentence, the main verb agrees with the subject.
Pat writes/*write letters to his friends.
- Tag question: The pronoun that occurs in a tag question refers to the subject.
John wrote a letter to his sister, didn't he/ *she/ *they?
- Subject-auxiliary inverions: In forming a yes/no question, an auxiliary is placed directly before the subject.
Will Pat write a letter?
Categories and structural position
- Only an NP or an S' can be the subject of a clause.
- The subject of a clause S is the NP or S' that is immediately dominated by that S node and that precedes the VP (or AuxP) of the clause.
_S__ / \ subj \ / \ NP ______AuxP________ /__\ /__________________\ Pat will write a letter.
Read further on other grammatical functions:
- The Predicate
- The Direct Object
- The Indirect Object
- The Predicative Complement
- The Oblique Complement
- The Modifier