The EFC Writer – Subjects & Predicates


Welcome to the EFC Writer—a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing (or not doing, as the case may be).  


TODAY’S TOPIC: Subjects & Predicates

So this one may seem like a no-brainer, but EVERY SENTENCE YOU WRITE NEEDS A SUBJECT AND A PREDICATE. Every. Single. One.

Pretty obvious, right? I mean, really. Label things as you’d like: subject/predicate, subject/verb, topic/comment . . . whatever. The point is that a sentence must contain two basic components, and you, as a writer, must use them correctly and appropriately. Every time.


SUBJECTS are nouns located near the beginning of a sentence that give that sentence it’s meaning.

PREDICATES are verbs located after the subject that comment on the subject.


Here are some examples:

I ate.

Barry is tired.

Your mom is in my bed.

The Tardis travels in space and time.

Bears hibernate.


SUBJECTS: I, Barry, mom, Tardis, bears

PREDICATES: ate, is, is, travels, hibernate

(Yes, I know I didn’t label all the words. It turns out there are different bits and pieces to both subjects and predicates; we’ll get to those later. For now, let’s keep it simple).



“A SUBJECT is the word (or words functioning as a unit) that’s the focus of the action or state of the predicate within a sentence or clause.”

“A PREDICATE is a part of each sentence that’s neither the subject nor its modifiers. It must contain a verb and may include objects and modifiers of the verb.”

– from Grammar & Style at Your Fingertips by Lara M. Robbins





noun sub·ject \ˈsəb-jikt, -(ˌ)jekt\

: the person or thing that is being discussed or described

: an area of knowledge that is studied in school

: a person or thing that is being dealt with in a particular way

Full Definition of SUBJECT

1:  one that is placed under authority or control: as

a :  vassal

b (1) :  one subject to a monarch and governed by the monarch’s law (2) :  one who lives in the territory of, enjoys the protection of, and owes allegiance to a sovereign power or state

2a :  that of which a quality, attribute, or relation may be affirmed or in which it may inhere

b :  substratum; especially :  material or essential substance

c :  the mind, ego, or agent of whatever sort that sustains or assumes the form of thought or consciousness

Full Definition of PREDICATE

1a :  something that is affirmed or denied of the subject in a proposition in logic

b :  a term designating a property or relation

2:  the part of a sentence or clause that expresses what is said of the subject and that usually consists of a verb with or without objects, complements, or adverbial modifiers
pred·i·ca·tive \-kə-tiv, –ˌkā-\ adjective
pred·i·ca·tive·ly adverb

Examples of PREDICATE

  1. In the sentence The child threw the ball, the subject is the child and the predicate is threw the ball.


Further Reading/Sources: Grammar & Style at Your Fingertips by Lara M. Robbins

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