- The world's biggest and best ESL resource onlineGreat Resources For Teaching & Learning English                                                                                  

Business English

Low Beginning
High Beginning
Low Intermediate
High Intermediate

ESL Grammar Resources

Sentence Subjects



What can be the subject of a sentence?

A noun:



Jonathan loves chocolates.
Mrs. Smith lives next door to the barber shop.
The yellow dog makes me nervous.
Crocodiles are very dangerous


A pronoun.

It isn't time yet.
They went to sleep at 9:00.
Are you coming to the dance?



Words like everyone, everybody, everything, something, anybody, nothing, no one.


Everything is ready.
Is everyone here?
Is anybody home?


Quantifiers with nouns/pronouns Quantifiers without nouns/pronouns
Some of the pie was gone. Some (count) are here. Some (non-count) is not.
Some of the pies were gone. All is well. All are watching.
Both of them are in the foyer. Both are correct. (as a group)
Neither of them is in the foyer. Neither is correct. (separately)
None of those people are nice. (all of them are not nice)
None of those people is my friend. (not any individual)


Noun clauses
Whoever left the food on the table is in trouble.
What you say is not important.
How you do it is up to you.


"Dummy" subjects
There are five people in the room.
There is some milk in the refrigerator.


Be careful


In most cases, the words before the verb are the subject of the sentence.


It is just the three of us.
The three of us are going to be there.


Prepositional phrases cannot be subjects, even if they come at the beginning of a sentence.


On the table was a red hat,
On the table were a red hat, white gloves and a blue scarf.

Some words look plural but are actually singular:


Physics is my favorite subject.
The news was good.
Scotch and soda is my favorite drink. (This is very uncommon usage.)
My faithful friend and companion is Terry.

Mass or "group" nouns may be singular or plural, depending on focus.


The family is more important than the individual.
The family are going in separate directions.

With either/neither...or/nor, the subject closest to the verb determines agreement.


Neither John nor Jane was the winner.
Either the men or the women are going to take the cake.
Neither Mr. Jones nor his sons have a car.
Neither the boys nor their father has a car.

Some can sometimes be used to indicate an unidentified person.


Some woman was here to see you.
Some guy keeps calling you.

Relative clauses do not affect the main subject-verb relationship; however, S-V agreement within the relative clause may be different, depending on the meaning.


The people who live there are my friends.
The house that the Jacksons built need to be remodeled.
One of the men who live there is deranged. He is the only one who lives there.

If you have questions or comments about this page, please contact us.

ESL Videos to help you speak English

Rosetta Stone - English

Speak English as a Second Language

Learning English - Lesson One

English Greetings & Phrases/strong>

English Pronunciation

English - Introductions


© Copyright 2014 - All Rights Reserved Worldwide - Arlington, VA, USA

TOEFL and TOEIC are registered and administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS).
No connection with is implied.

Website designed and developed by

Phrases for Conversation
Conversation Topics
Today's News Stories
Language Tutors
Speaking Situations
English Conversation Partners
Speaking Tasks
Articles for Discussion


What's New?
Places to Study
Practice Your English
Daily Lessons
Join Us on Facebook!
Verb List
Job Center
TESOL Courses
Words in the News
Pictures, Words and Audio
Grammar Explanations
Business Expressions
Teacher Resources
ESLgold Dictionary
Reading Exercises
Textbook Recommendations
Resources for Success
Current Topics
Software and CDs
Word of the Day
Academic Vocabulary Quizzes
Information Articles