Why “I love you” is the easiest way ever to remember the difference between subject and object.
Examples of Subjects and Objects in Simple Sentences
Let’s look at some more examples:
Buddy chewed the bone. (“Buddy” is the subject. He’s doing the chewing. “The bone” is the object. It is getting chewed.)
Mary built an igloo. (“Mary” is the subject. She’s doing the building. “The igloo” is the object. It’s getting built.)
Note how those two sentence also follow the simple subject-verb-object pattern, so the subject is at the beginning and the object is at the end.
Finding the Subject in Odd Sentences
Not all sentences follow the S-V-O pattern though, so you can’t always just assume the subject is at the beginning. For instance, one kind of sentence that doesn’t follow the typical pattern is the expletive sentence.
“There are three mice making noise,” is an example of an expletive sentence. It looks like it might be a regular S-V-O sentence since it starts with the pronoun “there,” which is followed by a verb, but the subject in that sentence is actually “mice.” It’s the mice that are doing the action of the verb. They are making something: noise.
It’s a tricky topic, and I covered it in much more detail in episode 278 a couple of years ago.
I’ve also talked about Yoda grammar before, as in Yoda from Star Wars. Yoda often uses object-verb-subject order in his sentences. For example, Yoda said, “If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are ... a different game you should play.”*
Let’s consider the simplest part: “a different game you should play.” “Play” is clearly the verb, so to find the subject, ask who is playing. It’s “you.” You should play a different game, so “you” is the subject. And what are you playing? A game. So that is the object.
Just remember that when you want to find the subject, ask who or what is doing the action of the verb.
Next: Direct Objects and Indirect Objects