Simple Subject

What Is the Simple Subject? (with Examples)

Simple subject is the term used for the single word which is the subject of a verb.

A simple subject will often have modifiers before or after it, but, once these are removed, the word left is the simple subject.

Examples of Simple Subjects

Here are some sentences with the simple subjects highlighted.

The Simple Subject Nearly Always Determines the Number of the Verb

The simple subject nearly always determines the number of the verb (i.e., whether it is singular or plural). Be aware that the modifiers around a singular simple subject can sometimes fool a writer into using a plural verb. For example: This is covered more in the lesson on prepositional phrases.

The Simple Subject Does Not Always Determine the Number of the Verb

A noun phrase is a phrase that plays the role of a noun. The head word in a noun phrase will be a noun or a pronoun. The head word is the simple subject. In the examples below, the noun phrases are shaded and the simple subjects are in bold. The overwhelming majority of the time, the simple subject will determine the number of the verb (i.e., whether it is singular or plural). However, this is not always the case. On rare occasions, the sense of a noun phrase can determine number. For example:

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See Also

What are modifiers? What is number? What are noun phrases? What are prepositional phrases? Glossary of grammatical terms