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Locating the SUBJECT and OBJECT in Sentences

Locating the SUBJECT and OBJECT in Sentences

Author: Nancy Heilman
  1. Explain what the subject is and how it is different than objects.

  2. Explain how to determine what is the subject in different constructions (e.g. head of the phrase, subject-verb inversion, passive voice)

  3. Explain what the object is and how it is different than the subject.

  4. Explain how to determine what is a direct object and what is an indirect object.

This packet should help a learner seeking to understand English grammar and who is confused about word function. It will explain how to determine the subject of the sentence.

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Using the characters Patrick and Nancy, this video explains how to find both a complete and simple subject, as well as both a direct and indirect object.

Source: Nancy Heilman

Subjects and Objects, as Viewed Through ACTIVE or PASSIVE Sentences

Join our characters, Pat and Nancy, as we look at how active and passive sentences differ. We will search for for subjects and objects, regardless of which way the sentence is put together (whether actively or passively).

Source: Nancy Heilman

SENTENCE STRUCTURE: How it Affects Looking for Subjects and Objects

Our characters, Pat and Nancy, will help us look at how the structure of the sentence affects WHERE to look for items like subjects and objects.

Source: Nancy Heilman


  • the PERSON, PLACE, THING or IDEA (noun) that is doing something or that the sentence is about (simple subject).
  • the simple subject and its modifiers or extra describing words (complete subject).
  • generally at the front of the sentence (in English) in a typical S - V or S - V - O construction.
  • NOT the predicate, which contains the verb/action of the sentence plus additional modifying or describing words.


OBJECTS are...

  • the noun RECEIVING the action of the verb (direct object).
  • the noun TO WHOM/TO WHAT or FOR WHOM/FOR WHAT the action is being performed (indirect object).
  • located in the complete predicate (the verb and its modifiers or extra describing words), usually after the verb.



Source: Nancy Heilman

Things to REMEMBER When Locating Subjects and Objects (and other parts of sentences):

  • Think of  figuring out a sentence as similar to doing a math problem.  It takes step-by-step work to solve math problems and also to decide what each word's function is in a sentence.
  • Keep in mind that each word in a sentence has a purpose and a name/label that describes that purpose.  Some words are just trickier to figure out, as are some sentences.
  • When tackling a new sentence, try splitting it into the subject and predicate (physically draw a line between the two).
  • Remember the typical S - V or S - V - O sentence order/structure that most English sentences follow.
  • Remember that questions vary this structure a bit with V - S - V (first verb being a helping or auxiliary verb).  Generally, the direct and indirect objects come after the last verb.
  • PRACTICE!  The only way to get better at anything... is to do a lot of it.

Source: Nancy Heilman