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Using Nouns and Noun Phrases as Subjects

A noun is traditionally defined as a word that denotes a person, place, thing, or idea. A noun phrase is a phrase consisting of a noun and any modifiers, complements, or determiners. Pronouns are a subcategory of nouns which take the place of nouns and noun phrases.

In grammar, a subject is a word, phrase, or clause that performs the action of or acts upon the verb. In the English language, nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases most frequently function as subjects. Examples of nouns including pronouns and noun phrases as subjects include the following:

  • Cats chase mice. (noun)
  • Babies cry, eat, and sleep. (noun)
  • I love my husband. (pronoun)
  • No one is smarter. (pronoun)
  • My puppy woke me up too early. (noun phrase)
  • The exuberant woman with the pink hat sells seashells by the seashore. (noun phrase)

References

Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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