What makes a sentence complete? What is a subject and a predicate? In this lesson, you will learn the two very special parts of a sentence that make a complete thought.

Fragments

Imagine receiving a story you had written back, and it’s covered in your teacher’s red correcting pen. ‘Fragment!’ it reads in numerous spots. Has this ever happened to you? Wait, what exactly is a fragment?

A sentence needs to have both a subject and a predicate for it to be complete. If it doesn’t, your sentence is missing some of its meaning and might not make sense. In that case, you have written a fragment.

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A fragment is an incomplete sentence that is missing either a subject or a predicate.

Diagrammed Sentence

The image shows a sentence that has been broken down into its grammatical parts. Notice that the simple subject is ‘cat’ while the simple predicate is ‘sat’.

What is a Subject?

The subject of the sentence is who or what the sentence is about.

Here are a few examples:

  • The puppy trotted proudly up the street.

Ask yourself, who or what is the sentence about? The puppy is the one trotting up the street, so the subject of the sentence is ‘puppy’.

  • The children played kickball during recess.

Now, who or what is this sentence about? The children are the ones playing kickball, so the subject of the sentence is ‘children’.

If you aren’t sure about the subject, just look for the person or object that is doing something in the sentence.

The Hidden Subject

The sentence of a subject is usually pretty clear, but sometimes you have to do a little searching.

  • Be sure to lock the doors when you leave the house.

Figuring out the subject here is tricky because it’s an imperative sentence, a command. In this case, the subject of the sentence is the person the speaker is talking to and isn’t a word in the sentence. It’s an implied you, as in ‘(You) Be sure to lock the doors when you leave the house’.

  • Did you sleep in a tent on your camping trip?

What do you do when you have a question to deal with? You flip the question into a statement, and then the subject of the sentence becomes clearer.

Our question changes to: You did sleep in a tent on your camping trip.

When you see it as a statement, it becomes clear that the subject of the sentence is you.

What is a Simple Predicate?

The simple predicate is what the subject does in the sentence. The simple predicate is the verb or verb phrase in the sentence.

Let’s check out a few examples:

  • The baby hit her crib mobile.

Ask yourself what the baby is doing in the sentence. The baby is hitting the mobile, so the simple predicate of the sentence is ‘hit’.

  • Airplanes soar high above the clouds.

Again, ask yourself what the subject, or airplanes, is doing in this sentence. They are soaring high above the clouds, so the simple predicate is ‘soar’.

Lesson Summary

In order to have a complete sentence, a sentence needs to be written with both a subject and a predicate. A subject is who or what the sentence is about, and the simple predicate, or verb, is what the subject is or what the subject does in the sentence.