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How to Find the Subject in a Sentence


A sentence must contain a subject and a verb. The verb represents the action or state of being, and the subject is the noun performing that action or state. To find the subject, first find the verb and then ask yourself "who" or "what" is followed by the verb.

Regular Sentence Structures

Nouns and pronouns function as subjects. Nouns are people, places, things and concepts such as house, Steve and anger. Subjective pronouns include I, she, he, it, we and they. Use the verb to find the subject. In the sentence, "Sally walked home," "walked" is the action. Who walked home? The answer, "Sally," gives you the subject. The same tactic works with sentences using linking verbs, such as, "The sock is green." What is green? "Sock," the answer, indicates the subject of the sentence. Most sentences follow subject-verb order, so look before the verb most often to find the subject.

Alternative Sentence Structures

Commands, such as, "Pick up the pencil," have an understood "you" as the subject. Other sentences may be inverted, meaning the verb appears before the subject. Sentences beginning with "there" and "here" typically follow this inverted structure. There and here do not function as subjects. For example, in the sentence, "There are three students," the verb is "are." When looking for the subject, include "there" or "here" in your question when it appears in such sentences. Ask yourself, "What are there?" The answer is "students," giving you the subject. Other commonly inverted constructions include questions, such as, "Are you prepared?" Who is prepared? The subject here is "you."

About the Author

Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.

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