Finding Objects and Phrases in Sentences
|We have been introduced to subjects and verbs -- the very idea of a sentence. To sum up what we've learned:
- every idea has a main noun (called the subject)
- to communicate an idea, the noun must be doing or being something (have a verb)
- a main noun, together with its verb, is the core of a sentence.
We also learned about adding information to a sentence with:
- adjectives, which describe the noun (the red dress)
- adverbs which describe the verb (he was limping badly.
|Often, we add information to a sentence by adding an object. An object is another noun -- but it's not the main noun -- it is not the subject of the sentence. A few examples may make it clearer:
- Maria bought a dozen oranges.
First, let's find the verb in this sentence. What's the "action" word here? The verb must be "bought". Now, to find the subject, we must ask: who bought...? Who did the buying in this sentence? The answer is: Maria. So "Maria" is the subject of this sentence. But there is another noun in this sentence (remember that a noun is a person, place or thing). The other noun is oranges. However, oranges is not the subject of this sentence: after all, the oranges didn't do the buying! Oranges are what was bought. So "oranges" is the object of this sentence.
- Kevin couldn't find his keys.
The "action words" (verbs) in this sentence are couldn't find. Now: who couldn't find...? The answer is "Kevin" -- Kevin is the one who couldn't find his keys. So "Kevin" is the subject of this sentence. Can you find the other noun in this sentence? "Keys" is another noun: "keys" are what Kevin couldn't find. So keys is the object of this sentence.
- I like to grow tomatoes and watermelons.
The verbs here are "like to grow". Did you pick "I" as the subject of this sentence? "I" is the one who "likes to grow" things in this sentence. And what does "I" like to grow? Tomatoes and watermelons. So both tomatoes and watermelons are the objects in this sentence
|The subject is the "main noun" of a sentence. An object is also a noun, but it is not the main noun. Some people say: "The subject is the doer of the action; the object is the receiver of the action in a sentence."
Each sentence below has the subject shown in bold, and the object shown in italics:
|Mr. Smith bought a new truck.
|| The action word (verb) here is "bought". Who did the buying...? Mr. Smith bought, so "Mr. Smith" is the subject. What did he buy? He bought a new truck. So "truck" is the object.
|My mother loves chocolate.
|| The verb here is "loves". Who loves? My mother loves, so "My mother" is the subject. What does she love? She loves chocolate. So "chocolate" is the object.
|The foreman yelled, "Look out!".
|| The verb here is "yelled". Who yelled? The foreman yelled, so "the foreman" is the subject. What did he yell? He yelled, "Look out!" So "Look out!" is the object.
We tend to think that the subject must come first in a sentence. But sometimes the object comes first. Consider the last sentence in the example above:
The foreman yelled, "Look out!"
This sentence could have been written:
"Look out!", the foreman yelled.
Note that in this second sentence, the subject is still "the foreman", since he is the one doing the yelling. The object is still "Look out!", since this is what he yelled. It doesn't matter where it comes in the sentence: it's still just the object.
|Although objects add important information for many ideas, they are never the subject of a sentence.
|Find the subject and the object in each of the following sentences:
- Luis bought a dog.
- Cher enjoyed "The Empire Strikes Back".
- The boss asked, "Why are you late?"
- My car broke down", the employee answered
Ready to check your work?
1. subject: Luis (he's the one who did the buying);
object: a dog (it's what was bought)
2. subject: Cher (she's the one who enjoyed);
object: "The Empire Strikes Back" (this is what she enjoyed)
3. subject: the boss (he's the one who asked);
object: "Why are you late?" (this is what he asked)
4. subject: the employee (he's the one who answered);
object: "My car broke down" (this is what he answered)
|A phrase is another way to add information in a sentence. What's a phrase? A phrase is a little group of words which begins with a "preposition" -- like these words:
(Although many of our "little words" in English are prepositions, note that the words "the" , "a", and "not" are not prepositions.)
These are examples of phrases:
|to the store
||under the porch
||behind the couch
|from the drawer
||without her mother
|around the corner
||with her best friend
And here's how phrases work in a sentence:
Susan bought a book for her brother.
The dog ran around the corner.
Kira never goes anywhere without her best friend.
Elvis lived in Graceland.
Twenty boxes of cookies is enough for the party.
I'm going to Mexico when I have the money.
Did you notice that phrases don't have to come only at the end of a sentence?
|Try to find the subjects and phrases in these sentences:
- Liam worked on his spelling.
- Under the table slept a huge dog.
- The milk in that cup is sour.
Check your answers:
- subject: Liam (he's the one who worked);phrase: on his spelling (begins with the preposition on)
- subject: dog (it's the one who slept); phrase: under the table (begins with the preposition under)
- subject: milk (it's the thing that "is"); phrase: in that cup (begins with the preposition in)
|If you're ready for the homework,
|Recommended next lesson:
Here and There