What does it mean to be in this sentence


The subject is a sentence element in German grammar and every German sentence, if it is complete and grammatically correct, almost always consists of a subject and a predicate (see main clause). Subject and predicate form the minimum sentence or the sentence minimum. The subject is the part of a sentence that acts and suffers in a sentence. So it can be done with Who or what is acting? ask. It can consist of a word or a group of words. The subject is often formed from a noun and its companion or its attribute, although it can also be formed from pronouns or groups of nouns. The subject is always in the 1st case, i.e. in the nominative, and thus in the basic form of the noun. In school grammar, the subject is also called Sentence subject designated.

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Determine subject

The subject can be determined very easily in German, because it is always the part of a sentence that does something or that acts. You could even say that this is the Perpetrator acts in one sentence. Let's look at an example to see this:

There are two words in the example sentence above: Nomen Laura and the finite verbread. We now inquire about the subject by asking: Who or what is acting? And who is doing something in our example? Exactly, Laura - the read namely and is therefore the Perpetrator in the sentence and therefore also the subject in our example.

In German, however, most sentences do not consist of just two words, but are usually a little more complex. With our question, however, we should also be able to resolve more difficult sentences.

The above example now consists of three parts of a sentence and five words. Let us now ask:"Who is acting?", we get the subject in responsethe grandpa. And if we ask:"What is the subject doing?", we also get the predicateread. The rest of the sentence is formed by an object - but we leave it alone at this point.

The example also shows us that subjects can not only consist of one word, but also of several. That means that always the complete part of a sentence that leads to the question Who or what is acting? replies that the subject is. That can be a lot of words. It will look like that:

Who / what acts / suffers?
Answer: subject
Overview: More subject examples.
Subject Predicate Object

Example sentencequestion
The mouse eats the cheese.Who is eating the cheese?
Jonas loves Rebekah.Who Loves Rebekah?
The girl plays handball.Who plays handball?
Students and teachers are on vacationWho's on vacation?
The book is on the table.What's on the table?
The sunset is beautiful.What is beautiful?
Note: The subject is always the thing in a sentence that does something and becomes with it Who? or What? he asks. It is helpful to use the subject as the Perpetrator in the sentence to see the predicate as the did and the object as Victim to interpret the plot. Usually people and living beings are with Who? and all other subjects with What? he asks. But this is only a memory aid.

Changeover sample

Now we know how the subject can be queried in a sentence, but sometimes there is still uncertainty as to which words really all belong to it. For this, however, we can remember that parts of the sentence, so too Subjects, always stand together and therefore also can be converted as a whole.

That means, that all parts of a sentence could swap places and the sentence would still remain correct in terms of content and grammar. Thus, all the words that make up the subject always stay together. However, the predicate cannot be moved and remains in the second position in statements. An example:

The example sentence was arranged in three different variants. It can be seen that the predicate is always in the second position, i.e. it is the second part of the sentence, but that all other parts of the sentence can swap positions.

That means, that all words that can only be moved as a group of words are part of a sentence. So are him, shows, a photo and the grandpa the parts of the sentence that make up our sentence. So we just have to check which one answers the question Who or what is acting? responds to determine the subject. Here is that the grandpa.

The subdivisions are therefore parts of the sentence. As an example, we would like to show that it is not possible to assign the parts of the sentence incorrectly. The sentence is then grammatically incorrect.

Substitute sample

In addition, there is another way of recognizing and defining parts of sentences and thus also subjects: the substitute sample.

This is a kind of assurance that we did everything right during the changeover and did not accidentally split the words in a sentence that actually belong together.

The following applies that every part of the sentence that we recognized through the adjustment test can be replaced by a part of the sentence of the same kind. In the example sentence, we can replace all the words that we have identified as part of the sentence with the same parts of the sentence.

And lo and behold: it's worked out. In the example, however, we have only used parts of the sentence that retain the meaning. But basically all parts of the substitute sample can be exchanged for identical clauses. The content sometimes falls by the wayside or the message changes. But that's not what this is about.

Note: With the adjustment and the substitute sample, subjects, predicates, objects and adverbial determinations can be recognized as parts of a sentence. With the methods, however, we only learn that it is about parts of the sentence and not what we have found. To do this, we have to put the right questions to the sentence. You can find an overview of all questions here.

Question: Are there sentences with two subjects?

The answer is: Yes and no.

Basically, it is in every sentence only a Subject can give. So a thing that acts and that Perpetrator is in the respective sentence.

However, there are sentences in which two parts of the sentence respond to the question Who or what? answer, since both are in the nominative, i.e. the basic form of the noun. The “second” part of the sentence that answers the question is not called the subject, but rather Equation nominative.

In the example sentence can use the word groups my grandpa and a hero on the question Who or what? reply. They are therefore both in the nominative. However, if we take a closer look, it is noticeable that only one of these parts of the sentence actually acts and the predicate refers to this: namely my grandpa.

So if we find several parts of a sentence in the nominative, we have to check which one actually acts. In the example above, it's the grandfather who does something, he is. So it is the subject. The equation nominative becomes with Who, what? + Predicate + subject he asks. The answer here would be: my hero.

However, the equation nominative is only required for a few verbs. For example, the following verbs can require it:

Important! One speaks of an equation nominative only then (GSN), if there is another part of the sentence in the nominative and this can be equated with the subject. The equation nominative always refers to the subject of the sentence and describes it in more detail.
Note: In some grammars and on numerous websites there is the tip that the GSN and the subject are separated by the Infinitive sample clearly distinguish. In our opinion, that doesn't work.

Question: Are there sentences without a subject?

At the beginning it was claimed that every sentence is made up of at least one subject and one predicate. In theory this is also true, but in practice we sometimes come across sentences that seemingly have no subject, such as the following example:

At first glance, there seems to be a subject here: namely the people. But if we look at the case, it becomes clear that this group of words is in the dative and does not actually act. It is more like it Victim an act and therefore the object.

Since the subject is always in the nominative and also the Perpetrator is in the sentence, the phrase the people impossible to be the subject of the sentence. The following verbs that make up the predicate can of course also not form a subject. We ask, who or what is acting?, the example sentence above does not give us an answer.

Process passive without subject

That is because that the subject is hidden. The above example is a passive sentence in which the agent is not named. If we transform an active clause into a passive clause, the subject may be omitted, if not always.

In the active set, So the first sentence, there is a subject, a predicate and a dative object. Active clauses that do not have an accusative object cannot be transformed into a passive clause with a subject. However, a preceding it take on the subject role.

This puts the subject in the background and what is happening in the foreground. If no subject is named, however, a placeholder-es can precede and thus form the subject. The sentence then reads:"The students are helped.". But such a sentence can be considered bad style, since the it is meaningless.

This can remain anonymous in the sentence for stylistic reasons and can then be regarded as a hidden subject that we have to think of. In addition, it can be omitted if the sentence is supposed to have a more objective effect or the subject is less important than the action.

Certain verbs without a subject

Another possibility that the subject is not visible is with some verbs. These mostly denote unpleasant feelings, such as freeze, starve, thirst, gray, shudder, dizzy.

Here too, at first glance, there is no subject, just two objects and a predicate. Here, too, there could be a placeholder-es in front of the sentence, although this is of course not the case in every sentence. It would look like this:"She dreads the monster.".

This placeholder is binding - it is only if no other part of the sentence should be in front of the predicate, since the predicate must always be in the second position in the propositional sentence. But if another part of the sentence precedes the predicate, such sentences can be called subjectless be valid. However, they are rare and are more likely to be found in ancient texts such as fairy tales. Sometimes they seem like archaisms.


The last possibility to form a sentence without a subject is the command form (imperative). If the imperative is not used in the you-form, it can do without a subject.

Such orders abound in language and literature. It is even characteristic of the imperative that in most forms it does not contain a subject. However, the subject is contained in the imperative without being directly expressed.

This is due to the fact that the ending of the respective verb in the imperative clearly conveys the grammatical person. Does the imperative end about -e, then the 2nd person singular is always meant, with the ending -t suggests the 2nd person plural.

to runrun)to runrunningto run


Overview: An overview of the most important elements of the sentence:
  • In German grammar, a part of a sentence is referred to as a subject. A German sentence, if it is complete and grammatically correct, consists of at least one subject and one predicate. Only in a few exceptions can the subject be dispensed with.
  • The subject can be formed from nouns, pronouns or whole groups of nouns and combinations of these parts of speech. It is important that the companions and attributes of the nouns and pronouns are also part of the subject. As a result, it can consist of several words.
  • The subject is that Doer or the Perpetrator in one sentence. This Perpetrator commit the did, which is denoted by the predicate and whose Victim or the object is the goal. In short: the subject is that Performers.
  • The subject lets itself be with Who or what is acting? " inquire, whereby it is always in the nominative, i.e. in the basic form of the noun.