Subject (grammar)

word or phrase which controls the verb in the clause; one of the two main constituents of a clause (the other being predicate)

The subject in grammar is the agent (the 'doer') in an active sentence such as: Alan kissed Jane.

However, there is a difficulty. The following two sentences are identical in meaning:

  • Our children planted a tree.
  • A tree was planted by our children.

Only in the first sentence is our children the grammatical subject. So there is a difference between the logical subject and the grammatical subject.[1]p996 Also, many sentences have no subject, for instance:

  • Come here!
  • Identifying the thief may take some time.

If a sentence does have a subject, then the rest of the sentence may be called the predicate.


  1. McArthur, Tom (ed) 1992. The Oxford companion to the English language. Oxford University Press.