(Basic) Anatomy of a Sentence

In talking about sentences, you’ll hear people (especially English teachers) use the words subject and predicate sometimes, while using subject and verb other times. You might, at that time, ask yourself What is a predicate, and why is it taking the place of the verb? Well, I’m glad you asked.

A sentence, in its most basic form, has two parts: a subject and a predicate. (Don’t worry, I’m getting to the verb part.) The subject is the part that tells us who or what is doing the action; that is, it tells us who or what the sentence is about.  In Myanmar suffered a devastating cyclone, the subject is Myanmar. It is what the sentence is about. (Of course, in order to find the subject, you find the simple verb, which in this case is suffered, and then you ask who or what suffered, and presto, you have the subject: Myanmar.)

Now for the predicate, which is where the verb comes in. The predicate is the part of the sentence that tells us what the subject did or had done to it, and it contains the verb. I like to think of it as the verb with all of its accoutrements. In the sentence Myanmar suffered a devastating cyclone, the verb is suffered, and the predicate is suffered a devastating cyclone.

In The three American hostages were flown to safety, the verb is were flown, and the predicate is were flown to safety. (The subject is the three American hostages.)

On a lighter note, in Linus turned his blanket into a sport coat, the verb is turned, and the predicate is turned his blanket into a sport coat.


Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever;

Sherry’s Grammar List

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