1. vanilla16
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    vanilla16 Member

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    Please tell me the subject of this sentence?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by vanilla16, Jul 4, 2011.

    Could someone please tell me the subject of this sentence?
    The girl’s vitality and humor were infectious.

    Sorry if this is a dumb question. :)
     
  2. AmandaKBrown3
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    AmandaKBrown3 New Member

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    The subject is "The girl's vitality and humor". And it's not a dumb question at all!
     
  3. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not a dumb question. A lot of people struggle to understand things like this.

    "The girl" is the subject of the sentence.
    "vitality" and "humor" play the roles of object.
    "were" is the predicate.
    "infectious" is a descriptive article (or something like that. I forget that one's name).

    As I mentioned here, "vitality" and "humor" are objects. Sentences shouldn't have more than one subject. When that sort of thing happens, you get messes like, "NamedGuy told him that he could see what he was saying." It's obvious that "NamedGuy" is the subject and "him" is an object, but you can't tell who the "he" is referring to, and it's confusing.
     
  4. polarboy
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    polarboy Member

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    I was going to respond, but I see that Amanda beat me to it by posting the correct answer.
     
  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Wait. "Vitality" and "Humor" are the subjects. "Girl's" is an adjective because it describes them (by who they belong to). Right? I could be wrong ....
     
  6. polarboy
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    polarboy Member

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    "The" is an article.
    "Girl's" is a possessive noun. (But "Her" is an adjective.)
    "Vitality" is a noun.
    "and" is a conjunction.
    "Humor" is a noun.

    I believe that all five words act together as the subject of the sentence from the beginning of this thread.
     
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    ^ Okay so I probably confused subject with noun....
     
  8. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're being technical, "The girl" is the subject. "Vitality" and "Humour" are objects in possession of the subject.
    If you're being generous, then your way is also correct, but in a very different way. As I said, the technical side of things favours "the girl" as the subject, and "vitality" and "humour" as objects.

    "Were" is the predicate, as it is the primary verb and action in the sentence.

    Ignoring tense, the basic version of the sentence is "The girl was."
    Furthering that, it evolves to, "The girl's vitality and humour was."
    Again, it evolves, telling us what they were by adding the descriptive article "infectious". "The girl's vitality and humour were infectious".

    I'd personally phrase it as "The girl's vitality, and humour, was infectious." It is phrased in a simpler way that way with "and humour" becoming an aside. It's the same, even without the commathetical as "The girl's vitality and humour was infectious" which is still grammatically fine, since "were" only pluralises it unnecessarily. The point of the sentence is that the girl's "vitality" and "humour" are both being grouped into a single entity.

    The subject of a sentence is very usually a noun, just as the predicate is very usually a verb.
     
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  9. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    The subject of a sentence is the person or thing who is acting.

    "The ball bounces."
    "The ball is red."


    The subject is "the ball".

    Several things can be acting together:

    "The ball and the cup bounce."
    "The ball and the cup are red."


    The subject is "the ball and the cup" taken as a whole.

    The subject may contain additional words to narrow it down:

    "The large ball bounces."

    The subject is "the large ball".

    "The girl's ball bounces."

    The subject is "the girl's ball". (It's still the ball who's acting, not the girl.)

    In "The girl's humor and vitality were infectious", the humor and vitality are the things which are acting, so they're the main part of the subject. But the whole subject is "The girl's humor and vitality".
     
  10. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    This is the one and only answer. It might be different in English (I studied linguistics in Spanish), but I'd be surprised.

    Everything else in the thread is about further analysing the sentence, but the separation between subject and predicate is binary; each word is either in one or in the other.
     
  11. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's rare for a subject to be more than one word. If the subject was "John Doe" then yes, the subject is multiple words. A subject only encompasses the subject. Since a girl and a ball are different things, it's unlikely that they're going to be the same subject.
     
  12. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    The subject is one of the two main constituents of a clause. The other constituent is the predicate.

    Everything that's not subject is predicate.

    I don't think you'd say the ball is part of the predicate.
     
  13. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're confused.

    The two things a clause must have a subject and a predicate. Those are not the only two things a clause does have. They're just the things it needs minimally.
    There are several other factors to take into a sentence. Would you say that "the" is a subject or predicate? No. They're not parts of either. They're something else.
     
  14. Omega14
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    Omega14 Member

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    The subject and verb must agree.

    "Were" is the verb, so the subject cannot be the girl - you don't say "the girl were". Neither is the girl infectious (we hope :)).

    The correct subjects (there are two subjects) are "vitality" and "humour".

    You can take out "the girl" and the sentence still makes sense:

    Vitality and humour were infectious.

    Or you can look on it as a prepositional phrase (but nobody speaks or writes like this normally):

    The vitality and humour [of the girl] were infectious.

    Rachel
     
  15. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    While I agree wholeheartedly with your post, you're somewhat hypocritical.

    You said that you cannot say "the girl were", which is why I changed it to "The girl was" in an earlier post. You did not change the word.

    However, in your final example, you changed "were" to "are".
     
  16. Omega14
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    Omega14 Member

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    Yes, I was just trying to edit that as you were posting. Not trying to be 'hypocritical', just a typo. :rolleyes:

    Are/were still agree with multiple subjects, whereas 'was' doesn't.

    Rachel
     
  17. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Haha. I just want to throw it out there that I didn't mean it as a bad thing, either. I was just pointing it out. Didn't mean to cause offence or annoy with that.
     
  18. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    Ok. It doesn't make much sense for me to continue discussing English grammar not having studied it as my first language. However, I'd suggest asking plainly to a more knowledgeable person than any of us, because after checking in the wikipedia, the concept of subject and predicate seems to be exactly the same in English and Spanish, and that includes the fact that they strictly separate the sentences in two parts.
     
  19. Declan
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    Declan Senior Member

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    The = definite article
    girl's = common noun in the possesive
    vitality = common noun
    and = connective
    humor = common noun
    were = auxillary verb
    infectious = adjective

    In a basic sentence, such as "I held the cat", you have an SVO (subject verb object) structure...

    I = subject
    held = verb
    the cat = the object

    ... because the object is usually what 'receives' the verb, or what the verb is being 'done to'.

    Your example is a little different, as the only verb is the auxillary verb 'were'. In this case, the noun phrase "vitality and humor" is recieving the verb: "vitality and humour were...", making them the objects.

    The subject is the first noun phrase, 'the girl's', as this noun phrase is not receiving any verbs.

    Also, that 'girl's' is in the possesive form is usually a huge clue, as she owns the humor and vitality, making it hers... her object.


    P.S the subject is often more than one word, if it is part of a phrase:

    "The super-large, ugly, gruesome and smelly hat" is one noun phrase, beginning with the definite article 'the' and ending with 'hat'.
     
  20. Declan
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    Declan Senior Member

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    And is a conjunction. A preposition is something that usually goes between a verb phrase and a noun to help elucidate the meaning of the sentence, such as:

    I walked to the tree
    I walked past the tree
    I walked through the tree
    I walked over the tree

    Of course, it's postion can change: "Over the hills there was...", yet it's purpose remains the same.

    That's what I thought, except that it's a descriptive adjective, rather than an article, surely?

    Not always. More often than not the subject can be two or more, as most subjects consist of noun phrases, usually beginning with 'the...'.
     
  21. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Consider the following sentence:

    "The cow and the horse ate the apples"

    Both the cow and the horse take equal part in the action (eating), so they belong equally well to the subject. We can't analyse the sentence without grouping both nouns ("cow" and "horse") into the same subject.

    They're part of the same subject. "The girl's ball" is a different subject from, for example, "the boy's ball", or "the red ball". Grammar courses often simplify and pick out the most important word as the subject, but technically, the subject is often a whole phrase.

    Consider the following sentence:
    "The girl's ball rolled left, and the boy's ball rolled right."

    This sentence consists of two clauses, each one with its own subject and predicate. If both subjects were the same, they'd be interchangeable. But the sentence is talking about two different subjects, "the girl's ball" and "the boy's ball", respectively.
     
  22. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry, but for all of your attempts to defend this, it is complete and utter nonsense. The subject of a sentence is a noun phrase [1], which can be a single word but can be (and often is) multiple words. "The girl's vitality and humor" is the subject, as other's have said. If "The girl" were the subject it would be the girl who was infectious which isn't what the sentence is saying. "Vitality and humor" is the head of the noun phrase (they're the things that are infectious); "the girl's" modifies that head, but is still part of the subject.

    Please go and check this in a decent reference grammar before confusing the questioner any further!

    [1] Biber et al.,The Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English, Pearson Education Limited, 2002, p460, my emphasis.
     
  23. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes "the" can be part of the subject or the predicate. In "The girl hit the boy", "The girl" is the subject, "hit the boy" is the predicate; "the" is part of each.

    You seem confused between the subject and the head noun of the subject. The subject is the entire noun phrase, not just the head of that noun phrase.
     
  24. Islander
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    Isn't "hit" the predicate, and "the boy" the object? Or do you count the object as part of the predicate?
     
  25. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Hit" is the verb phrase. As Wikipedia points out (correctly!), the predicate includes objects (direct, indirect, prepositional), predicatives, and adverbs as well as the verb phrase.
     

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