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Lesson: Today’s Subject is the Subject (and Predicate and Object)

Subject and Predicate Lesson Plan

 “Subject and/vs predicate” and “subject and/vs object” aren’t simply catchphrases that people use to try to sound like grammar experts. Understanding and properly applying the rules surrounding subjects and predicates as well as subjects and objects is key to forming good grammar habits and in turn becoming a skillful writer. In this lesson plan, we’ll share some resources with you involving these topics that can serve well as resources for in-class discussions.

Webpage to Examine in Class Simple Sentences – Subject and Predicate

Written by grammar expert Dan Kurland, is a website that houses a vast amount of information on all things reading and writing. Inference, non-verbal communication, reading vs thinking, and detecting bias are just a few of the many topics this website covers. The page we suggest you share with your class revolves around the concepts of subject and predicate.

This page states that every sentence is composed of a topic and something being said about it. The topic is the subject of the sentence and what is said about it is the predicate. Kurland says the relationship of a subject and predicate is that of a topic and a comment regarding the topic. Continuing, he says there are three main elements that characterize every subject and predicate. These elements include position within a sentence, a form of grammatical construction, and a specific meaning.

A subject’s position is at the beginning of a sentence. It takes the form of a noun phrase and gives meaning by demonstrating what the topic of discussion is. Meanwhile, the predicate is positioned after the subject, begins in the form of a verb, and gives meaning via expressing a thought about the subject.

When they are put together, a simple sentence is formed. Critical Reading explains that these sentences can be short or long and can express both simple and complex ideas. Here are two examples:

  • Ann bought a computer.
  • The man with the mullet and green glasses gave a fascinating speech on the origins of democracy.

While these sentences certainly sound quite different, the subject and predicate in each operate in the same way.

  • “Ann” and “The man with the mullet and green glasses” are both subjects and begin the sentences
  • “bought” and “gave” are both predicate-starting verbs
  • “a computer” and “a fascinating speech on the origins of democracy” both finish the predicate by way of rounding out a certain thought about what the subject of the sentence did.

The site also points out that sometimes a predicate can have multiple parts. This happens when the subject performs multiple actions, usually in a sequential manner. Here’s an example:

  • Sal went home, turned on his television, and watched the news.

In the above sentence, Sal is the subject and he does multiple things. He went home, turned on his television, and watched the news. Each of these three actions forms part of the sentence’s predicate. A predicate such as this can be referred to as a “compound predicate.”

Once you have your subject and predicate written and established, Kurland recommends trying to turn your sentence into a question with a yes/no answer. If you can do so in grammatically correct fashion, then you’ve succeeded in composing a complete sentence. Let’s revisit the first sentence we examined.

  • Ann bought a computer. Did Ann buy a computer? Yes, she did.

Webpage to Examine in Class Subjects and Objects lives up to its name. It contains a several pages covering many English topics. The page that we suggest you share with your class, predictably enough, concerns subjects and objects.

We’ve already covered the concept of what a subject is while discussing the previous resource. Therefore, we’ll cut to the chase and share what this site has to say about objects. It states that an object is either affected or produced by the action described by the sentence’s verb. Here are some examples of this relationship at work:

  • The dog ate the biscuit.
  • A mouse chewed a hole through the wall

In the first sentence, the biscuit was affected by the dog eating it. In the second sentence, the hole is produced by way of the mouse chewing it in the wall. The objects in sentences such as these are known as direct objects.

This page also imparts information regarding indirect objects. It explains that an indirect object is present when a sentence has more than one object. These objects are present when a third item is part of a sentence and is affected by the verb/action. Here are some sentences containing indirect objects:

  • Timmy gave Gina five bracelets
  • Mr. Jones bought his neighbor a Christmas wreath.

In most cases, the indirect object will precede the direct object. In the first sentence, Gina is the indirect object while the five bracelets are the direct object as they are what Timmy was giving. In the second sentence, “his neighbor” is the indirect object and the Christmas wreath the direct object as it is what Mr. Jones bought. In both cases, the indirect objects are affected by the actions. Gina receives bracelets and the neighbor receives a Christmas wreath.

For a grammatically correct sentence, the indirect object almost always has to precede the direct object unless a preposition is present. Here’s what happens when this pattern isn’t followed.

  • Timmy gave five bracelets Gina.
  • Mr. Jones bought a Christmas wreath his neighbor.

However, when a preposition enters the mix, the order can easily be reversed.

  • Timmy gave five bracelets to Gina.
  • Mr. Jones bought a Christmas wreath for his neighbor.

Video Resources

1. Schoolhouse Rock – Subjects and Predicates


Source: Writing Class

Run Time: 3:00

Grade Level: 4-6

Description: This brief video is set to a song and a cartoon. It introduces Mr. Morton and discusses the things that he does. The song’s frequent refrain states, “Mr. Morton is the subject of the sentence and what the predicate says, he does.” It defines both subjects and predicates while providing several examples.

2. What is a Direct Object?

Source: Socratica

Run Time: 4:25

Grade Level: 9-12

Description: This video sticks to what the title promises by way of explaining what a direct objects are and how they function. It points out that not every sentence has a direct object and also explores object pronouns.


3. What is an Indirect Object?


Source: Socratica

Run Time: 2:46

Grade Level: 9-12

Description: This video explains indirect objects and their functions. It also explains how they relate to direct objects and the order in which they will appear in a sentence.

Reinforcement Exercises

1. Have your students engage in a sentence diagramming exercise involving subjects and predicates. Create a worksheet containing 10 sentences with a blank line underneath each one. On the blank line, students should indicate which part of the sentence is the subject and which part is the predicate.

2. Create a worksheet containing 10 sentences that contain both direct and indirect objects. Be sure to have some of the sentences include prepositions so that the order of the direct and indirect objects won’t always be the same. Have your students label each sentence’s direct object by writing a D over it and its indirect object by marking it with an I.

By Scott Kalapos, Education World Contributor