Simple and compound subjects

Now that we know the definition of a subject, are familiar with the concept and can identify one when we see it, let us move on to the formation of subjects. In an earlier section, we have learned what can form a subject – nouns, phrases, and subordinate clauses. They are all called simple subjects, that is, there is only one subject. It is also possible that there can be more than one subject in a clause, called compound subjects. Compound subjects contain two or more subjects with the same predicate. In this section, we will learn about the formation of compound subjects.

The coordinating conjunctions and and or are commonly used to form compound subjects. When and is used, the resultant compound subject is plural; the same cannot be said about a compound subject formed using or.

Correlative conjunctions such as either. . . or . . . , neither . . . nor . . . , not only . . . but also . . . , both . . . and . . . are also used to form compound subjects.

Sometimes but and not can also be used to form compound subjects. The two possible combinations are a, not b and not a, but b. In this combination, the not-part is called the negative subject and the other part is called the positive subject.

Here are some examples of compound subjects.

  • the teacher and the students
  • mathematics or physics
  • not editors, but proofreaders
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