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  • 1. Verbs 8: The Subject of the Verb Phrase Materials by Liz Siler
  • 2. The Subject (of the verb phrase) • The subject of the verb phrase should not be confused with the “topic” of the sentence. • The topic is what the sentence is about. • The subject of the verb phrase is a grammatical structure. • Sometimes “topic” and “subject” are confused because in other contexts they are synonymous.
  • 3. Example • He speaks three foreign languages fluently. – The topic is clearly the matter of speaking three languages. – The subject of the verb phrase is “He.”
  • 4. Locating the Subject of the Verb Phrase • In simple, declarative (not questions) clauses (statements with one verb phrase), the subject generally comes to the left of the verb phrase. • However, do not assume that everything to the left of the verb phrase is the subject. • Other things (we’ll get to those later in the course) can also come to the left of the verb phrase. • But it’s generally best to look to the left for the subject.
  • 5. Examples • The books </are/ about the Romanov women. • The Gaza crisis this last year< /has brought/ attention to the Palestinians. • President Obama< /has/ a lot of work ahead of him.
  • 6. Testing for the Subject of the Verb Phrase • You can generally find the subject by asking a yes/no question. • Once you have the yes/no question: The subject is ALL of what comes after the moved operator and before the rest of the verb phrase (if there is any rest of the verb phrase).
  • 7. Examples • Are the books about the Romanov women? • Has the Gaza crisis this last year brought attention to the Palestinians? • Does President Obama have a lot of work ahead of him?
  • 8. Another Test for the Subject • You can always substitute the subject for a subject pronoun and the clause will make perfect sense.
  • 9. Subject Pronouns (Review) Person Singular Plural 1st I we 2nd You You (all) 3rd He/she/it They
  • 10. Examples • (The books) are about the Romanov women. – They are about the Romanov women. • (The Gaza crisis this last year) has brought attention to the Palestinians. – It has brought attention to the Palestinians. • (President Obama) has a lot of work ahead of him. – He has a lot of work ahead of him.
  • 11. NOTE • When you replace a subject with the subject pronoun, the WHOLE subject must be replaced. • Example: The books are about the Romanov women. >They are about the Romanov women. NOT: The they are about the Romanov women. (The subject was “THE BOOKS” not “BOOKS.”) • This is a good test to understand the parameters of the subject.
  • 12. More on the Subject of the Verb Phrase • When the first verb in the verb phrase is present tense (or past tense of the verb TO BE), the subject and that verb agree in number and person (assuming that verb is not a modal).
  • 13. Examples • The books are = They are – The subject is plural (more than one book) and third person. – The verb must also be third person and plural. • The Gaza crisis this last year has = It has – The subject is singular (one crisis this last year) and third person. – The verb must also be third person and singular. • President Obama has = He has – The subject is singular (one person) and third person. – The verb must also be third person and singular.
  • 14. To Remember: • The left-most verb in a verb phrase shows: • the tense of the verb phrase • any agreement in person (w/ subject) • any agreement in number (w/ subject)