Different Grammatical Forms of Subjects in Grammar

The whole sentence revolves around the subjects it contains. The subjects can occur in Various grammatical forms in a sentence. The subject is typically a noun phrase, but it can also be a noun clause, or in rare cases, a prepositional phrase.

Here is a table showcasing different forms with new examples.

Forms of SubjectsExample Sentences
Noun phraseThe cat chased the mouse.
Gerund phraseRunning is good for your health.
Infinitive phraseTo succeed requires determination.
Noun clauseWhat he said remains a mystery.
Prepositional phraseIn the park is where we met.
Implied subject(I) thank you.
Dummy subjectIt is raining heavily outside.
There was a king.

Different Forms Of Subjects

In constructing sentences or clauses, it is important to recognize the various grammatical forms that can serve as the subject. There are three main forms to consider:

  1. Noun phrases
  2. Noun clauses
  3. Prepositional phrases

Noun Phrases as Subjects

Noun phrases are commonly used as subjects. They consist of a noun or pronoun accompanied by any modifying words.

Other types of noun phrases: such as gerund phrases, infinitive phrases, implied subjects, and dummy subjects, can also function as the subject.

Let’s look at some examples via a table:

Grammatical FormExample Sentence
Noun PhraseThe teacher taught a lesson.
Gerund PhraseSwimming is a great way to stay active.
Infinitive PhraseTo learn a new language requires dedication.
Noun ClauseWhat he said is completely true.
Prepositional PhraseDuring the interval is the ideal time to enjoy playing.
Implied Subject(You) leave me alone.
Dummy SubjectIt is important to be prepared in time.

More Examples:

  • Ajeet Sir has recently resigned from her position as a teacher.
  • His dog barks as ferociously as a lion’s roar.
  • We as a team enjoy organizing events in advance.
  • A polite elderly gentleman guided us to the nearest museum.
  • The man who broke into my house has been apprehended.

Gerunds as Subjects

Using gerunds as subjects in sentences is a grammatically correct way to construct sentences. Gerunds are verb forms that act as nouns, and they end in “-ing.” They can function as subjects, just like regular nouns or noun phrases. Here are a few examples of sentences with gerunds as subjects:

  • Singing brings me joy.
  • Dancing is her passion.
  • Writing requires creativity.
  • Swimming in the ocean is a refreshing experience.
  • Cooking delicious meals is her specialty.
  • Being alone is what I hate the most.

In these examples, the gerunds “singing,” “dancing,” “swimming,” “reading,” and “writing” serve as the subjects of the sentences. They take on the role of a noun, performing the main action or expressing the main idea of the sentence.

Remember that gerunds, as subjects, are usually singular and require a singular verb.
Gerunds are used to express activities, hobbies, and interests. (Helping others is my passion.)

Infinitives as Subjects

Using infinitives as subjects is a grammatical construction in which an infinitive verb phrase functions as the subject of a sentence. Infinitives are the base form of a verb, typically preceded by the word “to,” such as “to eat,” “to sleep,” or “to run.”

  • To succeed requires hard work and determination.
  • To learn a new language takes time and practice.
  • To solve this problem is our main goal.
  • To travel the world is my lifelong dream.
  • To make a difference is what motivates me.

In these examples, the infinitive phrases “to succeed,” “to learn a new language,” “to solve this problem,” “to travel the world,” and “to make a difference” serve as the subjects of the sentences. They express the main action or idea that the sentence revolves around.

It’s worth noting that using infinitives as subjects can make sentences more abstract or impersonal. They can be a useful way to emphasize a particular action or goal without specifying who is performing it.

Keep in mind that when an infinitive is used as a subject, it is often followed by a verb or additional information that provides more context to the sentence.

Sometimes avoid gerunds to use infinitives instead as the subject of a sentence when it conveys a more literary, formal tone. Here some additional examples:
👎Giving is better than receiving. (👍formal: to give is better than to receive.)
👎Seeing is believing. (👍formal: to see is to believe)

Implied Subjects

The subject is not explicitly stated in certain sentences but can be inferred from the context. For instance, in commands and requests, which have an imperative structure, the subject is implied to be the pronoun “you.”


  • (You) Clean your room before going out.
  • (You) Take a deep breath and relax.
  • (You) Pay attention and listen to what your teacher is saying.
  • (You) Put on your seatbelt before starting the car.
  • (You) Make sure to double-check your work for errors.
  • (I) Thank you.

The subject may also be implied when information is omitted from a sentence but can be inferred from the surrounding context.


“Can you pass the salt?”
“Sure (I can pass the salt).”

Sometimes, the subject is left unsaid in a sentence but can be understood based on the situation or conversation.


“Going to the store. Need anything?”
“Yeah (I need something).”

Dummy Subjects

The subject you find in the structure of a sentence is sometimes not its real subject but a Dummy Subject (also called a fake, artificial, or empty subject) Dummy subjects are often employed in English to introduce clauses or sentences that focus on the action or state rather than the subject itself.

The most common dummy subject in English is the pronoun “it” or “there.”

These subjects are known as “empty” or “dummy” because they do not refer to any specific noun or pronoun. Instead, they serve as a placeholder to meet the syntactic requirements of the sentence.

Examples: (It)

It is raining.” (The focus is on the action of raining rather than the subject causing the rain.)

It seems like you’re upset.” (The emphasis is on the state of seeming, rather than the cause or subject of the seeming.)

It is important to exercise regularly.” (The emphasis is on the importance of exercising, not on any specific subject.)

It is difficult to understand.” (The subject “it” is used to fulfil the subject position in the sentence, while the real subject is “to understand.”)

Examples: (There)

There are many books on the shelf. (Emphasizing the existence of books on the shelf)

There is a problem with the computer. (Highlighting the presence of a problem)

There were five people at the meeting. (Introducing the number of people present)

There seems to be a misunderstanding. (Suggesting the presence of a misunderstanding)

In these sentences, “there” doesn’t represent a specific noun or have any independent meaning. Its purpose is to introduce the main subject of the sentence and draw attention to the existence or presence of something.

Note: Avoid dummy subjects – Of course, there may be situations where the use of a dummy subject is necessary or preferred for stylistic reasons or to emphasize a particular point. However, in general, when writing formally, it is recommended to opt for real subjects whenever possible to achieve a more direct and precise style.

Examples: (Dummy subject replaced by real subjects)

In each of these sentences, the dummy subject is replaced with a real subject, making the sentences more direct and concise. This style is generally preferred in formal writing contexts like a thesis or a job application.

  • There is a need for further research in this area.
    Revised: Further research is needed in this area.
  • It is important to consider the implications of this study.
    Revised: We should consider the implications of this study.
  • There are several factors that contribute to this phenomenon.
    Revised: Several factors contribute to this phenomenon.
  • It is expected that the results will show a positive correlation.
    Revised: We expect the results to show a positive correlation.
  • There are many challenges faced by the healthcare industry.
    Revised: The healthcare industry faces many challenges.

Noun Clause as a Subject

A noun clause can function as the subject of a sentence. A noun clause is a dependent clause that acts as a noun within a sentence. It can consist of a subject and a verb, and it functions as a single unit within the sentence.

Here’s an example of a noun clause acting as the subject:

“What she said” surprised everyone.

In this sentence, the noun clause “What she said” functions as the subject of the sentence. It acts as a single unit and represents the thing that surprised everyone. The noun clause consists of the interrogative pronoun “what” as the subject and the verb “she said.”

More Examples:

  • “Whether he will attend the party” is still uncertain.
  • “Why she chose that career path” remains a mystery.
  • “What happened last night” is the topic of discussion.
  • “If they can complete the project on time” is still unknown.
  • “Who the winner will be” is anyone’s guess.

In each of these examples, the noun clause serves as the subject of the sentence, representing the topic or question being discussed.

Prepositional Phrases

While prepositional phrases are commonly used as modifiers, they are not typically used as the subject of a sentence. The subject of a sentence is usually a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase that performs the action or is being described in the sentence.

However, there are some instances where a prepositional phrase can be the subject of a sentence, although these cases are relatively rare.

Prepositional phrases as subjects are more common in speech than in writing.

Here’s an example:

“When should we plan our vacation?”
“During the summer” is the best time to go on vacation.

In this sentence, the prepositional phrase “During the summer” is functioning as the subject of the sentence. It indicates when the best time to go on vacation is.

While this usage is possible, it is more common for prepositional phrases to act as modifiers, providing additional information about the subject or other elements of the sentence.

More Examples:

Here are a few more examples of sentences where a prepositional phrase is used as the subject:

  • “In the kitchen” is where the family gathers for meals.
  • “Under the bed” is where the cat likes to hide.
  • “With great power” comes great responsibility.
  • “After the rainstorm” is when the flowers began to bloom.
  • “Without your support” I wouldn’t have succeeded.

In these sentences, the prepositional phrases (colour) are functioning as the subjects and provide information about the location, timing, or conditions of the action or situation described in the sentence. While these examples demonstrate the rare usage of prepositional phrases as subjects, it’s important to note that they are less common compared to noun subjects in typical sentence structures.

Conclusion: Usage of Subject affects the tone of the sentence.

The subject of a sentence determines what the sentence is about and allows for better control of focus. Choosing the right subject can help in directing the reader’s attention and emphasizing certain aspects of the sentence.

  • The construction of a sentence impacts its tone.
  • Infinitives used as subjects can create a more literary tone (e.g., “To disobey means insulting the elders”).
  • Noun clauses shift the focus to the object in the sentence (e.g., “What we think is more important”).
  • Prepositional phrases as subjects are more commonly used in speech than in writing (e.g., “After lunch would be perfect”).
  • Implied subjects, where the subject is not explicitly stated but understood, are also used in speech (e.g., “[You] leave now”).
  • Dummy subjects, such as “there” in sentences like “There are many books already written on this issue,” should be avoided in academic and business writing. Instead, it is preferable to rephrase sentences to highlight the subject (e.g., “Many books have already been written on this issue.”).

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