Every simple sentence can be divided into two parts. The subject tells you who or what is doing something (the person or thing which the sentence is about):
The predicate tells you what is happening (what is written or said about the subject):
cracked the walnuts
It's easy to divide sentences like this if you follow these steps:
- Read the sentence.
(Alistair cracked the walnuts).
- Find the verb (cracked)
- Ask the question -- who or what cracked the walnuts? (The answer is the subject -- Alistair.) The rest of the sentence is the predicate. The verb is always in the predicate.
Read the following sentences and tell me the verbs. Ask the question and tell me the subjects.
My grandfather's clock chimes every hour.
- Both Mum and Dad have gold watches.
- The Babylonians divided an hour into sixty minutes.
- Suddenly the earth stood still.
- Silently the eagle touched down.
Note: Be careful, the subject is not always found at the beginning of a sentence, it can also be in the middle or at the end. If it were always in the same place what we say and write would sound very boring!
These all mean the same thing:
The aeroplane flew over the mountains.
Over the mountains the aeroplane flew.
Over the mountains flew the aeroplane.