Understanding Subjects, Verbs, Objects, and Modifiers

Every complete sentence has a subject and a verb.  There may be many additional elements, such as objects and modifiers, but the subject and the verb are always there.


The subject of a sentence is a noun, a person, place, thing, idea, or feeling.  The subject often, but not always, comes at the beginning of the sentence.  The subject can be more than one noun.
The subject is always performing an action, doing something, being something, or feeling something.

  • Harry and Sally got married.
  • Love triumphs.
  • Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.


Verbs are action words.  Run and jump are verbs.  Some actions are more subtle.  Stay and wait are verbs.  Even to be is a verb.  Every sentence has at least one verb.  There can be more than one.

A sentence can consist of nothing but a subject and a verb.

  • I run.
  • You waited.

Sometimes, two verbs together describe one action.

  • We were jogging.
  • You are reading.

If you are giving a command, you can even leave out the subject.  The following examples are complete sentences.  The subject is "you."  The subject is implied.

  • Stop!
  • Run!


A sentence can have more than one noun.  While a subject performs an action, an object is a noun that has action performed on it.  The object usually comes after the verb.
The following examples have a subject, then a verb, then an object.

  • I ate dinner.
  • Dave wrote a letter.
  • The trumpet player played jazz.


Another very common sentence element is modifiers.  Modifiers use adjectives or adverbs to describe, define, limit, or modify nouns or verbs.  A modifier can be a single word or a phrase.

  • I ate dinner in the dark.
  • Dave almost wrote a letter to his mother.
  • The fat trumpet player played slow jazz.