Chapter 2: Subjects and Predicates
Every simple sentence has two parts, a subject and a predicate. That is because you
are always doing two things in a sentence. You are talking about something, and you are
trying to say something about whatever it is you are talking about. The subject of a
sentence is what you are talking about in the sentence, and the predicate is what you are
saying about the subject.
Now, please read the following paragraph.
The youngest son was quite unhappy about this turn of events. “My brothers are
taken care of, and I’m glad about that,” he said. “One can grind the flour, and the
other can carry it to market on the donkey’s back. But what will happen to me? It
may be true that a cat has nine lives, but I’ve never met a cat you can eat more than
once. And when he’s gone, what then? I could make some mittens from the fur, but
what would be the point? Do I really care if my hands are warm while I slowly
starve to death?”
What is the first sentence about? It’s about the youngest son. So the subject of the
sentence is “the youngest son.” What is being said about the youngest son? The
sentence says he is quite unhappy. So “was quite unhappy” is the predicate of the
sentence. Please note that this sentence is a simple sentence.
What is the second sentence about? Well, it’s a compound sentence (the two simple
sentences are joined by the word and), and it’s about two things. The first part is about
his brothers, and the second is about himself. So the subject of the first part is “my
brothers,” and the subject of the second part is “I.” The predicate in the first part is “are
taken care of,” and the predicate in the second part is “am glad.”
So remember: each sentence has a subject and a predicate. The subject is what the
sentence is about, and the predicate is what is being said about the subject.
Identify the subject and predicate in each sentence. (Please ignore the words in brackets.)
1. “(If you do what I tell you to do,) I will give you an entire roast of ham.”
2. His brother gave his word at once.
3. He tossed the piece of meat to his brother.
4. “Now, here’s what I want you to do.”