Subject and object

By Geraldine Woods

Subjects and objects have opposite jobs in a sentence. Briefly, the subject is the doer of the action or whatever is in the state of being talked about in the sentence.

When you say, “He and I are going to the mall,” you use the subject pronouns he and I. Objects receive; instead of acting, they are acted upon. If you scold him and me, those two pronouns resentfully receive the scolding and thus act as objects.

Verbs have objects, and so do some other grammatical elements, such as prepositions.

One more complication: If a pronoun follows a linking verb — a verb expressing state of being — and completes the meaning of the subject-linking verb pair, you need a subject pronoun when you’re writing in formal English. The logic is that a linking verb acts as a sort of giant equal sign, and the subject and its complement must match. Here are the contents of the subject- and object-pronoun baskets:

  • Subject pronouns include I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who, and whoever.
  • Object pronouns are me, you, him, her, it, us, them, whom, and whomever.

Some pronouns, such as you and it, appear on both lists. They do double duty as both subject and object pronouns. Don’t worry about them; they’re right for all occasions. Other one-case-fits-almost-all pronouns are either, most, other, which, and that. Another type of pronoun is a reflexive, or -self pronoun (myself, himself, ourselves, and so forth).

Use these pronouns only when the action in the sentence doubles back on the subject. (“They washed themselves 50 times during the deodorant shortage.”) You may also insert the -self pronouns for emphasis. (“She herself baked the cake.”) You can’t use the -self pronouns for any other reason. A sentence such as “The cake she gave myself was good” is wrong.

Opt for “The cake she gave me.”

Don’t unnecessarily buddy up a pronoun and the noun it replaces. “My brother he goes swimming” is fine in many languages, but in English it’s wrong because the pronoun (he) is meant to replace the noun (brother). “My brother goes swimming” or “He goes swimming” are both correct.

Practice questions

In the following sentences choose the correct pronoun from the parentheses, if — and only if — a pronoun is needed in the sentence. (If no pronoun is needed, select “no pronoun.”) Take care not to send a subject pronoun to do an object pronoun’s job, and vice versa.

  1. Codebusters may contact Matt first, or the company may wait until Matt realizes that (he/him/himself/no pronoun) needs help.
  2. (I/me/I myself/no pronoun) think that the parchment is a fake.

Answers to practice questions

  1. he. The verb needs must have a subject, and the subject pronoun he fills the bill.
  2. I or I myself. The first choice is an ordinary subject pronoun; the second is emphatic. Do you want to scream this phrase or just say it? Your call.

Subjects and Objects

In our last blog post we looked at subjective and objective pronouns, but what do we mean when we refer to the ‘subject’ or ‘object’ of a sentence? Read on to find out!

What does the term ‘subject’ mean?
The subject of a sentence is the person or thing that the sentence is about. All verbs have a subject, and the subject is usually the person or thing doing whatever action the verb indicates.

Here are some examples of subjects (bold) and verbs (underlined) in sentences:

  • Katie threw the ball.
  • My mum and dad almost missed the party.
  • Thomas and I love action films.

Sometimes, the subject of a sentence is implied. For example:

  • ‘Throw me the ball!’ vs. ‘Katie, throw me the ball!’

What does the term ‘object’ mean?
Some verbs also have objects – the person or thing that the action of the verb is being done to.

Here are some examples of objects (bold) and verbs (underlined) in sentences:

  • Katie threw the ball.
  • My mum and dadalmost missed the party.
  • Thomas and I love action films.

Can a sentence have more than one ‘object’?
Some sentences have direct objects and indirect objects. In the above example sentences, all the objects are directly impacted by the verbs and so are called direct objects. An object that benefits from the action of the verb, but isn’t what the verb is directly referring to, is called an indirect object.

Here are some examples of direct objects (bold), indirect objects (italics) and verbs (underlined) in sentences:

  • Katie threw the ball to Thomas.
  • Thomas loves watching action films with me.
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  • 10 May 2017
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Subjects, Verbs, and Objects: The Basic Parts of a Sentence

As seen in our review of the basic parts of speech, you don't need a thorough knowledge of formal English grammar to become a good writer. But knowing a few basic grammatical terms should help you understand some of the principles of good writing. Here, you'll learn how to identify and use subjects, verbs, and objects—which together form the basic sentence unit.

A sentence is commonly defined as “a complete unit of thought.” Normally, a sentence expresses a relationship, conveys a command, voices a question, or describes someone or something. It begins with a capital letter and ends with a period, question mark, or exclamation mark.

The basic parts of a sentence are the subject and the verb. The subject is usually a noun—a word (or phrase) that names a person, place, or thing. The verb (or predicate) usually follows the subject and identifies an action or a state of being. See if you can identify the subject and the verb in each of the following short sentences:

  • The hawk soars.
  • The boys laugh.
  • My daughter is a wrestler.
  • The children are tired.

In each of these sentences, the subject is a noun: hawk, boys, daughter, and children. The verbs in the first two sentences—soars, laugh—show action and answer the question, “What does the subject do?” The verbs in the last two sentences—is, are—are called linking verbs because they link or connect the subject with a word that renames it (wrestler) or describes it (tired).

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Pronouns are words that take the place of nouns in a sentence. In the second sentence below, the pronoun she stands for Molly:

  • Molly danced on the roof of the barn during the thunderstorm.
  • She was waving an American flag.

Subjects and Objects

The relationship between subjects and verbs and objects can be quite complex. Here we are looking at the relationship between verbs with a subject and a direct object, and verbs with an indirect object.

There are some verbs in English which describe an action or an event that only have a connection with the person or thing. This is what the subject is.

I woke up late. The party was great.

He arrived early.

Subject
Verb
Indirect Object
Direct Object
I gave Chris a pen
John bought his son a new car
I showed him the photo
Tell us the whole story

However a verb can involve a second person or thing which the verb affects or produces. This is the direct object.

He cooked pasta. I love chocolate.

I saw him.

Some verbs do not involve the direct object but are related to it in some way. He speaks English well. We had a great time.

There are some verbs which can also involve a third person or thing. Generally this is someone who is affected by the thing or receives something because of this. This is the indirect object.

I gave Chris a pen John bought his son a new car. I showed him the photo.

Tell us the whole story.

Order of object and direct object

If a sentence or clause (part of a sentence) has more than one object; an object and indirect object then we usually place the indirect object before the direct object right after the verb.

It is useful to think of the indirect object as the part of the sentence linked to the verb. That is why it is placed closest to it.

  • I gave Chris a pen.NOT
  • I gave a pen Chris.

Some verbs can be used with a direct object or with a direct and indirect object but when you use an indirect object the position of the direct object needs to be changed. John bought a car. John bought his son a car. NOT

  1. John bought a car his son.
  2. We look at indirect objects and prepositional phrases in the next lesson.
  3. Lesson by Tristan, teacher at EC Malta English school
  4. Subjects and Ojects 2
  5. Subjects and Ojects 3
  6. Now look at these pairs of sentences and decide which is correct:

What are subjects and objects in a se..

All verbs have a subject. The subject is generally the person or thing that the sentence is about. It’s often the person or thing that performs the action of the verb in question and it usually (but not always) comes before the verb:

Catherine followed Jonathan.
[subject] [object]
He was eating a sandwich.
[subject] [object]

In imperative sentences (i.e. ones that express a command), the subject is usually understood without being explicitly stated:

Come here at once!

(i.e. ‘You come here at once!’ – the subject you is understood.)

Some verbs have an object as well as a subject. The object is the person or thing affected by the verb:

Catherine followed Jonathan.
[subject] [object]
He was eating a sandwich.
[subject] [object]

An object can be a noun (as in the examples above), a phrase, or a pronoun :

Catherine followed Jonathan and his brother.
[noun phrase]
Catherine followed them.
[pronoun]

Direct objects and indirect objects

There are two different types of object: direct objects and indirect objects. A direct object is, as its name suggests, directly affected by the action of the main verb. In the following two sentences, ‘a drink’ and ‘a story’ are direct objects: ‘a drink’ was bought and ‘a story’ was being read.

Jonathan bought a drink.
[subject] [direct object]
He was reading a story.
[subject] [direct object]

An indirect object is usually a person or thing that benefits in some way from the action of the main verb. Take a look at the following sentences:

Jonathan bought Catherine a drink.
[subject] [indirect object] [direct object]
He was reading his daughter a story.
[subject] [indirect object] [direct object]

‘Catherine’ has received a drink, but it is ‘the drink’ that has been bought. ‘His daughter’ is hearing the story, but it’s ‘the story’ that is being read. You can often reword such sentences to make it easier to identify the direct object:

  • Jonathan bought a drink for Catherine.
  • He was reading a story to his daughter.
  • Go back to Verbs.
  • Read more about:
  • Transitive and intransitive verbs
  • Phrasal verbs
  • Participles
  • Moods

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Subject – Object Distinction. Субъект – Объект. Различия

The Subject – Object distinction (S – O distinction) is a basis of the Russian Grammar. Let’s see how it works in the English language to understand the idea of it.

  •  Я люблю его. – I love him.

«I» is a subject in this sentence because I make an action. Subject is a person (or a thing) that makes an action. The verb always matches with the subject of a sentence.

«Him» is a direct object in this sentence because he is accepting the other person’s action. He is not doing anything.

There are few more examples with subjects and objects:

  • Я знаю вас. – I know you.
  • Я хочу кофе. – I want some coffee.
  • Я понимаю их. – I understand them.
  • Они видят нас. – They see us.
  • Я слушаю тебя. – I am listening to you (informal).
  • Он понимает меня. – He understands me.

There are 5 types of objects (we call them cases). In this article there is the most important case. We call it Accusative case. It is used for direct objects.

Subject (Субъект)

  • я – I
  • ты – you (singular informal)
  • он – he
  • она – she
  • оно – it
  • мы – we 
  • вы – you (plural or formal)
  • они – they

Object (Объект)

  • меня – me
  • тебя – you (singular informal)  
  • его

Question forms

Home » Grammar » Beginner to pre-intermediate

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Look at these examples to see how questions are made.

Is he a teacher?Does she eat meat?When did you get here?How much does a train ticket cost?

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Question forms: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

To make questions, we often put the verb before the subject. This is called inversion.

Affirmative Question
I am late. Am I late?
I can help. Can I help?
She is sleeping. Is she sleeping?
We have met before. Have we met before?

If there is a question word (why, what, where, how, etc.), it goes before the verb.

Question Question with question word
Are you late? Why are you late?
Was she there? When was she there?
Can I help? How can I help?
Have we met before? Where have we met before?

This is true for sentences with be, sentences that have auxiliary verbs (e.g. They are waiting. She has finished.) and sentences with modal verbs (can, will, should, might, etc.).

Questions in the present simple and past simple

For other verbs in the present simple, we use the auxiliary verb do/does in the question.

Affirmative Question Question with question word
You work at home.   Do you work at home? Where do you work?
It costs £10.  Does it cost £10? How much does it cost?

We use the auxiliary verb did in the past simple.

Affirmative Question Question with question word
She went home.  Did she go home? Where did she go?
They went to the cinema.  Did they go to the cinema? Where did they go?

Subject questions

In some questions, who or what is the subject of the verb. There is no inversion of subject and verb in these questions.

Who broke the window?Who is knocking on the door?

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Question forms: Grammar test 2

Language level

Subjects vs Objects Explained | Grammar 101

Subjects and objects have the opposite functions in a sentence. So, the subject is the ‘doer’ of the action. For example, take the sentence “We are watching Netflix.” Here the subject is the pronoun ‘we’.

Objects are the opposite; instead of doing something (like watching Netflix), they are acted upon. Now, let’s look at the sentence “The police gave him a warning.

” In this case the pronoun “him” is receiving something (a warning), so that’s the object of a sentence. 

  • Subject pronouns include I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who, and whoever.
  • Object pronouns are me, you, him, her, it, us, them, whom, and whomever.

In English grammar, we use the word ‘subject’ to talk about the person or thing (a noun or pronoun) that does the ‘action.’ Usually, that means that the subject comes before the verb (what are verbs? Grammar 101: Understanding verb tenses). So, the subject of a sentence is the person, place, thing, or idea that is performing the action.

Examples of subjects in English language

Simple sentences

Very simple sentences in English have one verb and one subject. For example:

  • Jason works. Here, the subject is “Jason.” The verb is “works.” In this example, Jason is the subject, because he is the person doing the action, “working” in this case.
  • Nick sleeps. Nick is the subject, because he’s doing the action of “sleeping”.

The subject doesn’t always have to be a person/name. Very often it is not, but it is a pronoun (for example, he/she/it, etc), or a group of people (we/they). Have a look at the following sentences.

  • I sleep. (The subject is ‘I’ because it’s doing the action of sleeping.)
  • We are watching Netflix. (The subject is ‘we’ because it’s doing the action of watching)
  • They play football. (The subject is ‘they’ because it’s doing the action of playing)

More complicated sentences

Sometimes a sentence is a bit more complicated and it gets a bit harder to find the subject. Have a look at the following examples.

  • I am thirsty. (The subject is ‘I’)
  • Mike appears busy. (The subject is ‘Mike’)
  • The employees are in a meeting. (The subject is ‘the employees’) 
  • The girl from my class presented an excellent speech at graduation. (The subject is ‘the girl from my class’ because she’s doing the action)
  • Gemma, Gillian and Mike are having lunch. (The subject is ‘Gemma, Gillian and Mike’ because it’s doing the action of having lunch)

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Now that you know what subjects are, let’s have a look at the objects. Generally, we use the word ‘object’ to talk about the thing/person that the action is done to. Or, the one who receives the action. 

A direct object is a noun or pronoun that receives the action of a verb in a sentence. Usually, it answers the questions what? or whom? about the verb. Choose the direct object(s) in each sentence.

Examples of direct objects in English language

The direct object of a verb is the thing being acted upon. So, it means it is the receiver of the action. Usually, you can find the direct object by finding the verb and asking “what?” or “whom?”. For example:

  • Mike loves doughnuts. (Mike loves what? The object is ‘doughnuts’.)
  • James got his IELTS scores yesterday. (James got what? The object is ‘his IELTS scores’.)
  • I put the orange cat into the garden. (I put what (into the garden)? The object is ‘the orange cat’.)

Examples of indirect objects in English language

Apart from direct objects, there are also indirect objects. An indirect object is the recipient of the direct object. How do you find an indirect object in a sentence? You can find the indirect object by first finding the direct object.

Then, ask “who” or “what” received it. The indirect object will chronologically exist before the direct object in a sentence. Have a look at the example sentences below. We have put the direct objects in bold and underlined the indirect objects.

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  • Can you give Tomoko the keys?
  1. Find the direct object: Give what? the keys
  2. Find the indirect object: Who (or what) received the keys? Tomoko
  • The bartender made Gracie an ice-cold drink.
  1. Find the direct object: The bartender made what? An ice-cold drink
  2. The bartender made a cold drink for for whom? Gracie

Examples of the object of a preposition in English language

It gets a little trickier now. We call the noun or pronoun after a preposition the object of a preposition. When you know the direct object, finding an indirect object is fairly simple.

Remember, you find a direct object by asking “what?” or “whom?” the verb is doing. Then, to find an indirect object, ask “to whom/what?” or “for whom/what” the direct object is intended. Have a look at the example sentences below.

We have put the prepositions in bold and underlined the objects of prepositions.

  • Emily is from Ireland.
  • You can tell from her accent that Emily is from Ireland.

Now that you’ve had a look at the grammar rules and some examples, it’s time to try it for yourself. Have a look at the following sentences, and try to find the subject and the object. The answers are given below, so you can check it for yourself.

Quiz: find the subject

  • Q1: All the children in the class study math.
  • a) study b) math c) all the children in the class
  • Q2: They took the General Training IELTS test for migration purposes.
  • a) General Training IELTS test b) They c) migration purposes
  • Q3: For lunch, Mike and Gemma ordered burgers and chips.
  • a) For lunch b) Mike and Gemma c) burgers and chips
  • Q4: Gagan and Daniel received award for players of the year.
  • a) Gagan b) Daniel c) Gagan and Daniel d) players of the year
  • Q5: Next year, I want to go to university in Sydney.
  • a) Next year b) I c) university in Sydney

Quiz: find the object

  1. Q6: Josh painted a flower for his school project.
  2. a) Josh b) flower c) school project
  3. Q7: The cafe baked their own pies.
  4. a) The cafe b) their c) their own pies
  5. Q8: Janet has to practice football every single day if she wants to become a professional.

  6. a) Janet b) practice c) football d) professional
  7. Q9: The kids built a castle with Lego.
  8. a) The kids b) built c) a castle d) Lego
  9. Q10: I will come over after I do the dishes and finish my homework.

  10. a) I b) the dishes c) my homework d) the dishes + my homework
  • Q1: c
  • Q2: b
  • Q3: b
  • Q4: c
  • Q5: b
  • Q6: b
  • Q7: c
  • Q8: c
  • Q9: c
  • Q10: d

In written English, it is important to know the correct spelling of a word you want to use. You don’t want to write “weak” when you mean “week” even though they sound the same. In spoken English, spelling is less important, but pronunciation is. Think about the word “lead” which can be pronounced as “led” or “leed.” Because these words cause a lot of confusion, it’s well worth to spend a few minutes to know the difference: homophones vs homographs vs homonyms.

People often use elude when they mean allude, or write allude when they should really write elude. There are other commonly confused words too: Do you know the difference between advice or advise? That is the question of another article where we explain the difference between these two commonly misused words. Read it here.

Subject vs object

Identifying the nouns and pronouns that are the subject and object of a sentence is an important facet of learning the parts of speech of English grammar. Grammar is the way in which language is structured, the rules that are the foundation of that structure and the study of those rules.

At the most basic level, grammar is the way words are used together to form sentences. When a baby learns his native language, those grammar rules are absorbed effortlessly; languages learned later in life take a bit more conscious effort.

We will examine how to identify the subject of a sentence, the object of a sentence, and some examples of these parts of speech in sentences.

The subject of a sentence is the noun that the sentence is talking about, the noun that is doing something. Every sentence must have a subject. Subject nouns may be proper nouns, personal nouns, pronouns, or noun phrases. The subject of a sentence nearly always appears before the predicate verb or main verb:

The dog chewed the bone. (Dog is the subject–he performs the action.)

He broke his tooth. (He is the subject.)

The oldest man in the world died today. (Man is the subject.)

The subject may appear after the predicate if the sentence is a question or begins with the words here or there:

Is it cold today? (Today is the subject.)

Are fish slimy? (Fish is the subject.)

There were three avocados on the shelf. (Avocados is the subject.)

Here comes trouble. (Trouble is the subject.)

The subject must agree with the predicate, which means that the subject and the verb, known as the predicate verb, must agree in number. If the subject is plural, the predicate verb must also be plural.

The turtle eats the lettuce. (singular)

The turtles eat the lettuce. (plural)

The object of a sentence is a noun that is receiving the action, or is having an action performed upon it. or is the one for whom the action is performed. The object of a sentence may be a direct object or an indirect object.

The direct object receives the action:

The monkey ate the bananas. (Bananas is the direct object.)

Judy sewed the hole in the sack. (Hole is the direct object.)

An indirect object is the person or thing that receives the direct object, or is the person or thing for whom the action is performed:

Sylvia gave the present to Lydia. (Lydia is the indirect object.)

Irving threw Charlene the ball. (Charlene is the indirect object.)

Remember: the subject performs the action, the object receives the action.

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