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How to Identify Subjects and Predicates

English-language arts teachers do spend a lot of time getting students to identify and use subjects and predicates properly. These are the two major parts of the sentence. In fact, every complete sentence must have a subject and predicate.

Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on subjects and predicates. Remember that every sentence must have a subject and predicate. It’s important to know how to identify subjects and predicates. Learning how to identify subjects and predicates will help students and employees comprehend sentences and avoid sentence fragments and run-ons in their writing. Knowing how to identify subjects and predicates will also allow students to manipulate sentences for greater sentence variety. For example, good writers strive to write 50% of their sentences without sentence subject openers. There are other ways to construct a sentence other than SUBJECT-PREDICATE-OBJECT.

Now let’s read the grammar and usage lesson (Common Core Language Standard 1.0) and study the examples.

The subject is the “do-er” of the sentence. It tells whom or what the sentence is about. The simple subject is the noun or pronoun that the verb acts upon. The complete subject includes additional words that describe the simple subject. The compound subject describes a subject with two or more nouns or pronouns. Examples: women, the older women, she and the older women

The predicate does the work of the “do-er” of the sentence. The predicate shows a physical or mental action or it describes a state of being. The simple predicate is the verb that acts upon the subject of the sentence. The complete predicate includes additional words that modify the predicate. The compound predicate describes a predicate with two or more verbs.

Examples: danced, had danced skillfully, danced and sang

How to Identify Subjects

The simple subject is usually found at the start of a declarative sentence. To find the subject of the sentence, first identify any prepositional phrases and eliminate the nouns and pronouns found in these phrases from consideration. The subject of the sentence is not part of a prepositional phrase. Frequently, in imperative sentences, the simple subject, “you,” is implied (suggested, not stated).

How to Identify Predicates

To find the predicate, first identify the subject and ask “What?” The answer to this question should be the predicate. The predicate usually follows the subject in a sentence. However, it can be placed before the subject in a question (Was it your mother’s purse?), in an implied (suggested, not stated) sentence (Look out!), or in a phrase or clause at the beginning of a sentence to add special emphasis (Even more interesting was the fact that she knew it would probably rain).

Practice the advice about with the following examples:

Simple Predicates

He thought of an idea. (thought)

She was a nice lady. (was)

An angry man tried to run me off the road. (tried)

Complete Predicate

He always thought of an idea. (always thought of an idea)

She was a nice lady. (was a nice lady)

An angry man tried to run me off the road. (tried to run me off the road)

Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a complete subject and a complete predicate.

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Teaching the Language Strand Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics and include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

Teaching the Language Strand also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the Teaching the Language Strand program.

Pennington Publishing's Teaching the Language Strand

Teaching the Language Strand
Grades 4-8 Programs

The author also provides these curricular “slices” of the Teaching the Language Strand “pie”: the five Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits Grades 4−8; the five Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4−8 programs (digital formats only); and the non-grade-leveled Teaching Grammar and Mechanics with engaging grammar cartoons (available in print and digital formats).

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