Thursday, March 22, 2012

Is there a subject in this sentence?

English Class Pop Quiz: What is the subject in the title of this post?
The answer appears at the end of the post, but by the time you read this, you'll already know.

A reader asks, "What is the subject in the following sentence? 'There was no chance, however, to stretch our legs.'"

What a great question! The short answer is, the subject is "chance."

Remember that the subject is the person or thing that is being discussed -- what or whom the sentence is about. It is often helpful to find the verb first. Ask yourself, "Who or what is the verb was talking about in this sentence." Well, a chance was. What kind of chance? No chance. No is an adjective describing the noun chance.

It might be easier to look at a positive example rather than a negative example. Take this sentence:

There were three girls fixing their makeup at the mirror in the back of the classroom.

There the verb phrase is were fixing. Who or what were fixing? Girls were fixing. The subject is girls.

My end-of-the-year confiscated makeup collection

The word there often acts as placeholders for the subject, which will appear after the verb.

There is the boy who put the tack on the teachers chair.

Good old-fashioned tacks

There goes my sanity.

There are too many punctuation errors in this essay.

The subjects of these sentences are boy, sanity, and errors.

I hope that helps explain it for you. Please let me know if there are other any questions. I live for questions

Pop Quiz Answer: You don't really need me to tell you, do you?