Subject: ways of expressing the sentence

Identification of the main features of a subject in the sentence which is based on theoretical and scientific works of Russian, English, American and Romanian authors. Research of a subject and its features in works of the American and English fiction.


The given annual project is dedicated to the linguistic problem - ‘The Subject: Ways of Expressing It in the Sentence’.

The main goal of the work is to identify the main features of the subject in the sentence, basing on the theoretical and scientific works of Russian, English, American, Moldovan and Romanian authors, and examine the subject and its features in the works of American and English fiction.

The objectives of the thesis, in their turn, represent ascending steps to the main goal of the project:

1. to define the notion of the subject;

2. to present the classification of the subject according to the theoretical sources of the examined works of the linguists.

3. to present the ways the subject is expressed in the sentence.

4. to identify the subject features and the ways it is expressed in the works of the investigated American and English fiction.

5. to compare the means the subject is expressed in fiction in the works of such writers as: ‘The Book of Grotesque’ by Sherwood Anderson, ‘The Magic Barrel’ by Bernard Malamud, ‘The Last Leaf’, ‘The Gift of the Magi’ by O. Henry, ‘The Man with the Scar’, ‘The Door of Opportunity’, ‘A Friend in Need’ by W.S. Maugham.

Actuality of the work maintains the basic functions of the subject in the sentence as one of the main constituents and its continual study due to this fact. That is a linguistic phenomenon having been introduced into education on different educative levels starting from the simplest definitions in primary school and reaching gradually deep theoretical interpretations of the subject in the institutions of higher education.

The annual project is based mainly on the scientific sources of English and Russian linguists, such as:

Quirk, S. Greenbaum, G. Leech, J. Svartvik, Richard Gardiner, Timothy Cobb, Geoffrey Leech, as for the Russian grammarians: V. L. Kaushanskaya, I. P. Krylova, M. A. Ganshina, N.M. Vasilevskaya, Б. А. Ильин.

Besides, the works of the Romanian scholars – Andrey Bahtaş and Leon Levitchi, and others.

Thus, Chapter One of the present project embodies three points:

1. The definitions of the subject;

2. Classification of the subject (from structural and functional points of view);

3. Ways of expressing the subject;

In English grammar the subject (along with the predicate) is researched by a number of linguists and philologists. It is defined in different interpretations, but still the entire variants base on one common backbone of the notion:

The subject (abbreviated sub . or su. ) is one of the two main constituents of a clause or a simple sentence, according to a tradition that can be tracked back to Aristotle. It is the main part of a two-member sentence which is grammatically independent of the other parts of the sentence and on which the predicate is grammatically dependent.

The subject is sometimes said to be the relatively familiar element, to which the predicate is added as something new, ‘The utterer throws into his subject all that he knows the receiver is already willing to grant him, and to this he adds in the predicate what constitutes the new information to be conveyed by the sentence…’ [4, 154]

Besides, the following features of the subject are maintained in most definitions of the studied linguists:

a) the subject is normally a noun or a clause with nominal function;

b) the subject occurs before the verb phrase in declarative clauses, and immediately after the operator in questions;

c) the subject has number and person concord, where applicable, with the verb phrase.

The classifications of the subject are presented according to the role and structure of the subject in the sentence.

Ways of expressing the subject vary in conformity with the parts of speech and constructions it is presented by.

Chapter Two is the practical part of the given work on the basis of the studied fiction, such as:

1. American fiction: ‘The Book of Grotesque’ by Sherwood Anderson, ‘The Magic Barrel’ by Bernard Malamud;

‘The Gift of the Magi’, ‘The Last Leaf’ by O. Henry;

2. English fiction: ‘The Man with the Scar’, ‘The Door of Opportunity’, ‘A Friend in Need’ by W.S. Maugham.

The practical part is aimed at investigation of the subject features in the works of American and English fiction and fulfillment of the comparative analysis in the given works of two different cultures – American and English.

The results of the executed practical work demonstrating common and contrasting ways of expressing the subject in British and American fiction are evidenced in conclusion of the project.

subject sentence

1.Chapter One. The Subject: Ways of Expressing It in the Sentence

1.1 Definitions of the Subject

The notion of the Subject in the grammatical theory of the English language can be presented very briefly and clearly: it is the main part of a two-member sentence which is grammatically independent of the other parts of the sentence and on which the predicate is grammatically dependent. [8, 67]

The reason for calling the subject and the predicate the main parts of the sentence and distinguishing them from all the other parts which are treated as secondary, is roughly this. The subject and the predicate between them constitute the backbone of the sentence: without them the sentence would not exist at all, whereas all the other parts may or may not be there, and if they are there, they serve to define or modify either the subject, or the predicate, or each other. [10, 205]

A linguistic experiment to prove the correctness of this view would be to take a sentence containing the subject, a predicate, and a number of secondary parts, and to show that any of the secondary parts might be removed without the sentence being destroyed, whereas if either the subject or the predicate were removed there would be no sentence left: its ‘backbone’ would be broken. This experiment would probably succeed and prove the point in a vast majority of cases.

The question now arises: what criteria do we practically apply when we say that a word (or, sometimes, a phrase) is the subject of a sentence? [10, 206]

The grammatical phenomenon of the subject in English has been examined by a number of linguists, philologists and grammatical experts both of English and foreign origin in different epochs. This notion is defined in various interpretations; still the common backbone is identified in all of them. Let’s retrace this ‘common thread’, kept in all the definitions of the subject.

Sidney Greenbaum in ‘The Oxford English Grammar’ notes that the subject of a sentence is the constituent that normally comes before the verb in a declarative sentence and changes position with the operator in an interrogative sentence. It is applicable, the verb agrees in number and person with the subject (I am ready): the subject ‘I’ is first person singular and so is ‘am’ [2,305]

Paul Roberts in ‘Understanding Grammar’ presents the subject as the element stressed or the new element added to the discourse end in complexities that are interesting philosophically but useless grammatically. The beginner’s device to find the subject is first to find the verb and then ask ‘who?’ or ‘what’ before it. When the subject is very specific (e.g. a proper name), we may even invert the normal word order without befuddling out listeners. [6, 405]

Some brief definitions of the subject are presented by Richard Gardiner and Timothy Cobb in ‘Today’s English Grammar’ from one side, and by Geoffrey Leech in ‘An A-Z of English Grammar and Usage’ from the other side.

In ‘Today’s English Grammar’ the authors state that the word indicating the person or thing referred to is called the subject of the sentence. [1, 202]

Geoffrey Leech, in his turn, notes that the subject is a grammatical term for the past of a clause or sentence which generally goes before the verb phrase (in statements). [5, 413]

Russian philologists, such as Kaushanskaya in «Грамматикаанглийскогоязыка», say that the subject is the principal part of a two-member sentence which is grammatically independent of the other parts of the sentence and on which the second principal part (the predicate) is grammatically dependent, i.e. in most cases it agrees with the subject in number and person. The subject can denote a living being, a lifeless thing or an idea. [13, 115]

According to I. P. Krylova in ‘A Grammar of Present Day’ the subject is a word or a group of words which names the person, object or phenomenon the sentence informs us about. [14,85]

Thus, we can identify the following common points:

a) the subject is normally a noun phrase or a clause with nominal function;

b) the subject occurs before the verb phrase in declarative clauses, and immediately after the operator in questions;

c) the subject has number and person concord, where applicable, with the verb phrase. [3, 158]

Б. А. Ильинin «Стройсовременногоанглийскогоязыка» examines the question first of all by formulating the structure of the definition itself. It is bound to contain the following items: (1) the meaning of the subject, that is its relation to the thought expressed in the sentence, (2) its syntactical relations in the sentence, (3) its morphological realization: here a list of morphological ways of realizing the subject must be given, but it need not be exhaustive, as it is our purpose merely to establish the essential characteristics of every part of the sentence.

The definition of the subject would, then, be something like this. The subject is one of the two main parts of the sentence. (1) It denotes the thing whose action or characteristic is expressed by the predicate. (2) It is not dependent on any other part of the sentence. (3) It may be expressed by different parts of speech, the most frequent ones being: a noun in the common case, a personal pronoun in the nominative case, a demonstrative pronoun occasionally, a substantivized adjective or past participle, a numeral, an infinitive, and a gerund. It may also be expressed by a phrase. [10, 207]

1.2 Classification of the subject

There aresome classifications given by different authors. For example, from the structural point of view and functional point of view

1.2.1 Classification of the subject from the structural point of view

From the point of view of the structure, the subject can be:

1. Simple , expressed by a word or a number of words in the nominal case, the combination of which represents one doer of the action.

No glass renders a man’s form or likeness so true as his speech. (Ben Johnson, Timber)

The proper force of words lies not in the words themselves, but in their application. (William Hazlitt, On Familiar Style)

All things are admired either because they are new or because they are great. (Francis Bacon)

Even in his novels Hardy’s pessimism is always a fighting pessimism. (T.A. Jackson, Thomas Hardy)

What do you think the weather will be tomorrow?

2. Compound , expressed by two or more nouns that represent one and the same notion (or one and the same person)

The great poet, essayist and philosopher died in 1882. (Emerson)

3. Coordinated or Homogeneous , that unites two or more different objects with the conjunction.

Tom and Maggie are the principal characters in ‘The Mill of the Floss’. (G. Eliot’s novel)

4. Complex , expressed by a special construction, first of all, by a noun in the nominal case with an infinitive or with a participle:

He had been reported to move house.

The rain could be heard rapping against the windows.

5. Double that is characteristic of the English folklore.

‘Some suits, some suits,’ the sheriff he said, ‘Some suits I’ll give to thee.’ (Robin Hood Rescuing the Widow’s Three Sons) [9, 186]

1.2.2 Classification of the Subject from functional point of view

The most typical semantic role of a subject is AGENTIVE; that is the animate being instigating or causing the happening denoted by the verb:

John opened the letter.

Apart from its agentive function, the subject frequently has an INSTRUMENTAL role; that is, it expresses the unwitting (generally inanimate) material cause of the event:

The avalanche destroyed several houses

With intransitive verbs, the subject also frequently has the AFFECTED role that is elsewhere typical of the object:

Jack fell down

The pencil was lying on the table

We may also extend this latter function to subjects of intensive verbs:

The pencil was on the table

It is now possible to see a regular relation, in terms of clause function, between adjectives or intransitive verbs and the corresponding transitive verbs expressing CAUSATIVE meaning:

S affected Sagent/instr.Oaffected

The door opened John/The key opened the door

The flowers have died The frost has killed the flowers

Saffected Sagent/instr Oaffected

The road became narrower They narrowed the road

I got angry His manner angered me

Sagentive Sagentive Oaffected

My dog was walking I was walking my dog [3,160]

The subject may also have a recipient role with verbs such as have, own, possess, benefit (from), as is indicated by the following relation:

Mr. Smith has bought/given/sold his son a radio → So now his son has/owns/possesses the radio

The perceptual verbs see and hear also require a ‘recipient’ subject, in contrast to look at and listen to, which are agentive. The other perceptual verbs taste, smell, and feel have both an agentive meaning corresponding to look at and a recipient meaning corresponding to see:

Foolishly, he tasted the soup

* Foolishly, he tasted the pepper in the soup

The adverb foolishly requires the agentive; hence, the second sentence, which can only be understood in a non-agentive manner, does not make sense.

Verbs indicating a mental state may also require a recipient subject:

I thought you were mistaken (cf It seemed to me…)

I liked the play (cf The play gave me pleasure)

Normally, recipient subjects go with stative verbs. Some of them (notably have and possess) have no passive form:

They have a beautiful house ↔ A beautiful house is had by them

The subject may have the function of designating place or time:

This path is swarming with ants (= Ants are swarming all over this path)

The bus holds forty people (=Forty people can sit in the bus)

Unlike swarm, the verbs in such sentences do not normally admit the progressive (* The bus is holding…) or the passive (* Forty people are held …).

Temporal subjects can usually be replaced by the empty it, the temporal expression becoming adjunct:

Tomorrow is my birthday (= It is my birthday tomorrow)

The winter of 1970 was exceptionally mild (= It was exceptionally mild in the winter of 1970)

Eventive subjects (with abstract noun heads designating arrangements and activities) differ from others in permitting intensive complementation with a time adverbial:

The concert is on Thursday (but * The concert hall is on Thursday)

Finally, a subject may lack semantic content altogether, and consist only of the meaningless ‘prop’ word it, used especially with climatic predications:

It’s raining/snowing, etc. It’s getting dark It’s noisy in here [3, 163]

Note: The ‘prop’ subject it as discussed here must be distinguished from the ‘anticipatory’ it of sentences like ‘It was nice seeing you’, where the ‘prop’ subject is a replacement for a postponed clausal subject (= Seeing you was nice).

1.3 Ways of Expressing Subject

As it is stated above, the Subject is the main part of a two-member sentence which is grammatically independent of the other parts of the sentence and on which the predicate is grammatically dependent. [7, 67]

The subject can be expressed by different parts of speech and by different constructions:

1. The noun in the common (or occasionally possessive) case;

The sulky waiter brought my tea. (Du Maurier)

Marcellus slowly turned his head. (Douglas) [13, 226]

The address must be written in the center of the envelope.

Jonathan Swift is the father of irony. (E.B. Browning, Aurora Leigh) [9, 185]

Occasionally a noun in the possessive case is used as the subject of the sentence.

Mrs. Gummidge’s was in a fretful disposition. (Dickens)

Oh, my dear Richard, Ada’s is a noble heart. (Dickens)

2. A pronoun (personal, demonstrative, defining, indefinite, negative, possessive, interrogative);

After about an hour I heard Montgomery shouting my name. That set me thinking of my plan of action. (Wells)

All were clad in the same soft, and yet strong silky material. (Wells)

All were happy.

Everyone was silent for a minute. (Wells)

Nothing was said on either side for a minute or two afterwards. (Dickens)

Theirs is not a very comfortable lodging … (Dickens)

Who tore this book? (Twain) [13, 226]

The pronouns ‘one, we, you are much used with the same general or indefinite force:

‘As long as one is young, one easily acquires new friends.’

‘We don’t like to be flatly contradicted.’

‘You don’t like to be snubbed.’ [12, 149]

3. A substantivized adjective or participle;

The Privileged have seen that charming and instructive sight. (Galsworthy)

The wounded were taken good care of.

4. A numeral (cardinal or ordinal);

Of course, the two were quite unable to do anything. (Wells)

The first and fourth stood beside him in the water. (Wells)

Two were indeed young, about eleven and ten. (Galsworthy)

The first was a tall lady with dark hair … (Bronte) [11, 335]

5. An infinitive, an infinitive phrase or construction;

To see is to believe.

To live uprightly, then, is sure the best. (John Dryden) [9, 185]

To prolong doubt was to prolong hope. (Bronte)

For him to come was impossible.

To be a rich man, Lieutenant, is not always roses and beauty. (Heym) [13, 226]

To walk is useful. Walking is useful. [17, 38]

6. A gerund, a gerundial phrase or construction;

Lying doesn’t go well with me.

Winning the war is what counts. [7, 67]

Walking is a healthy exercise.

Watching and ministering Kit was her best care. (Galsworthy) [11, 335]

Teaching others teaches yourself. [9, 185]

7. Any part of speech used as a quotation;

On is a preposition.

A is the first letter of the English alphabet.

And is a conjunction.

No is his usual reply to any request. [13, 227]

^is the sign of perpendicular.[16, 50]

8. A group of words which is one part of the sentence, i.e. a syntactically indivisible group.

The needle and thread is lost. (here the subject represents one person).

Their friend and defender is darkly groping towards the solution. [7, 67]

Twice two is four.

How to do this is a difficult question. [11, 335]

9. It as the subject of the sentence.

In English the pronoun it is sometimes used as the subject of a sentence.


Types of subject it Characteristics Examples

it represents a living being or a thing and has the following characteristics:

P stands for a definite thing or some abstract idea – the personal it;

P points out a person or thing expressed by a predicative noun, or it refers to the thought contained in a preceding statement, thus having a demonstrative meaning – the demonstrative it;

The door opened. It was opened by a young girl of thirteen or fourteen. (Dickens)

If this is a liberty, it isn’t going to mean a thing. (Lindsay)

It is John.

It was a large room with a great window. (Dickens)

Dick came home late, it provoked his father. (Lindsay)


it doesn’t represent any person or thing. Here we must distinguish:

a) the impersonal it, which is used to denote:

* denotes natural phenomena (such as the state of the weather, etc.) or that which characterizes the environment. In such sentences the predicate is either a simple one, expressed by a verb denoting the state of the weather, or a compound nominal one, with an adjective as predicative.

* to denote time and distance

b) the introductory or anticipatory it introduces the real subject.

When the subject of a sentence is an infinitive, or a gerund or a whole clause, it is placed after the predicate and the sentence begins with the pronoun it which is called an anticipatory or introductory it.

c) the emphatic it is used for emphasis.

It is cold in winter.

It often rains in autumn.

It is stuffy in here.

It is delightfully quiet in the night.

It is five minutes past six.

How far is it from your office to the bank? (Galsworthy)

It is a long way to the station.

It is morning already.

It’s no use disguising facts .

It was curious to observe that child .

It was he who had brought back George to Amelia. (Thackeray)

It was Winifred who went up to him. (Galsworthy)

The construction there is

When the subject of the sentence is indefinite (a book, books, some books), it is often placed after the predicate verb and the sentence begins with the introductory particle there. The word there has no stress and is usually pronounced with the neutral vowel /ðƏ/ instead of /ðέƏ/. It has lost its local meaning, which is shown by the possibility of combining it in the sentence with the adverbs of place here and there:

there was a gate just there, opening into the meadow… (Bronte)

‘There’s a good spot over there.’ (Cusack) [11, 341]

Things are specifically different in cases when it and there are used in subject positions as representatives of words or longer units which embody the real content of the subject but are postponed.

It is most pleasant that she has already come.

It was easy to do so.

There are a few mistakes in your paper.

There were no seats at all.

It and there in such syntactic structures are generally called anticipatory or introductory subjects.

There in such patterns is often referred to as a function word, and this is not devoid of some logical foundation [15, 94] Sentences with the introductory there may serve to assert or deny the existence of something. In sentences with the introductory there the predicate verb is usually the verb to be; occasionally some other verbs are found, such as to live, to occur, to come, etc., which, similarly to the verb to be, indicate to exist or have the meaning of to come into the existence:

There was a little pause. (Voynich)

(there – an introductory particle; was – a simple verbal predicate; a pause – the subject; little – an attribute)

…there is the rustle of branches in the morning breeze;

…there is the music of a sunny shower against the window; (Gissing)

There came a laugh, high, gay sweet. (Galsworthy) r

…there came a scent of lime-blossom. (Galsworthy)

There soon appeared, pausing in the dark doorway as he entered, a hale, grey-haired old man. (Dickens) [11, 341]

2. Chapter Two. Ways of Expressing Subject in Fiction

Practical part of the given project, presented in Chapter Two, brings to light subject features, investigated from theoretical point of view in Chapter One, in separate examples, drawn from fiction works. Opposing works of American and British English fiction, the paper is aimed at distinguishing subject peculiarities in both fiction sides. Thus, the investigated works are ‘The Book of Grotesque’ by Sherwood Anderson, ‘The Magic Barrel’ by Bernard Malamud, ‘The Last Leaf’, ‘The Gift of the Magi’ by O. Henry concerning American writers and ‘The Man with the Scar’, ‘The Door of Opportunity’, ‘A Friend in Need’ by W. S. Maugham for British authors.

2.1 Ways of Expressing Subject in British Fiction

‘The greatest English playwright, novelist and short story writer, considered one of the most popular writers of his era, and reputedly, the highest paid author during the 1930s’ [ Somerset Maugham], William Somerset Maugham gives preference mainly to the personal pronouns in the role of the subject. All the examined works of the writer within the project keep the tendency of the presenting the personal pronouns as the subject.

‘We draw our conclusions from the shape of the jaw, the look in the eyes, the contour of the mouth.’ [26, 355]

‘When you made him that offer of a job, did you know he’d be drowned?’ [26, 360]

‘Well, I hadn’t got a vacancy in my office at the moment.’ [26, 360]

‘She gave him a long searching look.’ [25, 501]

‘In your place I should never have been able to resist the temptation to take my eight cops and have a whack at the blighters myself.’ [25, 503]

‘She is waiting at the prison door.’ [27, 229]

The second preferable part of speech in the subject role is a noun in the nominal case.

‘Women thought a lot of him.’ [26, 357]

‘The blood spurted from the cut vein and dyed his shirt.’ [27, 230]

‘This scar spoke of a terrible wound and I wondered whether it had been caused by a sabre or by a fragment of shell.’ [27, 228]

‘But Alban had already a London look.’ [25, 495]

‘Anne quickly made friends with the shy, pretty native woman and soon was playing happily with the children.’ [25, 496]

Other parts of speech in the Subject position are surely kept but in much less frequent periodicity.

‘That was how you thought a poet should look.’ [25, 515] where ‘that’ is a demonstrative pronoun in the Subject role.

‘Two or three shouted back in answer.’ [25, 525] where ‘two’ and ‘three’ are cardinal numerals occupying Subject position in the sentence.

‘The worst of it was that Anne knew how low an opinion Alban had of the Governor’s parts.’ [25, 514] where ‘the worst of it’ is construction carrying Subject function in the sentence.

‘How can anyone be so shameless?’ [25, 532] where ‘anyone’ is indefinite pronoun in the Subject role.

‘Nothing that concerns me was at stake.’ [25, 530] where ‘nothing’ is a negative pronoun carrying the Subject function.

‘All that was far away in the future.’ [25, 527] where indefinite pronoun ‘all’ is in the Subject role.

The Subject it is surely also presented in the works of W. S. Maugham. In consequence of its research we can state that the frequency of the usage of notional ‘it’ is much higher in comparison with the formal ‘it’ in the works of W. S. Maugham.

‘It’s only an hour’s journey,’ said Anne. [25, 495] where ‘it’ is formal denoting time aspect.

‘It was a room with twin beds and a bathroom.’ [25, 502] where ‘it’ is notional pointing out a thing expressed by a predicative noun.

‘It was a change, but Anne was always glad to get home.’ [25, 511] where the notional ‘it’ is the Subject pointing out a thing expressed by a predicative noun.

‘It was on account of the scar that I first noticed him, for it ran, broad and red from his temple to his chin.’ [27, 228] where both ‘it’s are notional subjects but first ‘it’ points out a thing expressed by a predicative noun whereas the second ‘it’ stands for a definite thing mentioned before.

‘It happened so quickly that many didn’t know what had occurred, but the others gave a cry of horror;’ [27, 231] where the notional subject ‘it’ again denotes a thing expressed by a predicative noun.

‘It was a busy, exhilarating scene, and yet, I know not why, restful to the spirit.’ [26, 357] where ‘it’ is notional carrying the Subject role in the sentence.

The introductory ‘there’ also is maintained in the work but as it is mentioned above in Chapter One, the particle ‘there’ carries just the introductory function, but doesn’t represent the Subject of the sentence.

‘There was a group of natives’ [25, 517]

‘There was a little stir at the gateway.’ [26, 229]

Subject features corresponding to their characteristics in Classifications One and Two can be commented on the following points.

Proceeding from the structural point of view (Classification 1) simple and complex subjects are predominantly met.

‘Though his offices were in Kobe, Burton often came down to Yokohama.’ [26, 356] where ‘Burton’ represents the simple Subject.

‘Those sort of fellows always do.’ [26, 358] where ‘sort’ presents the simple Subject.

‘I couldn’t help laughing.’ [26, 358] where I in combination with the gerund ‘laughing’ represents the complex Subject.

‘They laid the girl on the ground and stood round watching her.’ [27,230] where ‘they’ in combination with the gerund ‘watching’ represents again the complex Subject.

‘The rebel advanced a step or two to meet her.’ [27, 231] where ‘the rebel’ in combination with the infinitive ‘to meet’ represents the complex Subject.

‘Alban, as was his way, tipped the porter generously and then went to the bookstall and bought papers.’ [25, 495] where ‘Alban’ represents the simple Subject.

Concerning Classification 2 agentive and affected Subjects are essentially identified.

‘Burton came into the lounge presently and caught sight of me.’ [26, 357] where ‘Burton’ in relation with the predicate ‘came’ represents the affected Subjects and in combination with the predicate ‘caught’ – the agentive Subject.

‘A sort of sigh passed through those men crowded together..’ [27, 231] where ‘ a sort’ represents the instrumental Subject.

‘She stared into his blue eyes as if they were open windows.’ [25, 527] where ‘she’ carries the agentive function of the Subject.

‘The tears streamed from Anne’s eyes, she rushed to the door and ran out.’ [25, 533] where ‘tears’ and ‘she’ represent in both cases the agentive Subject.

‘We shook hands.’ [26, 359] where ‘we’ represents the affected Subject.

‘He gave a little mild chuckle and he looked at me with those kind and candid blue eyes of his.’ [26, 360] where ‘he’ represents the agentive Subject in both cases.

Thus, the cases of the agentive and affected Subjects, classified from the functional point of view, and the simple Subjects, classified from the structural point of view, constitute substantially 99% of the Subject, distinguished in fiction of W.S. Maugham.

2.2 Ways of Expressing Subject in American Fiction

Works of American fiction, examined in the given project are ‘The Book of Grotesque’ by Sherwood Anderson, ‘The Magic Barrel’ by Bernard Malamud, ‘The Gift of the Magi’ and ‘The Last Leaf’ by O. Henry.

Investigating American literature, we should mention that the same Subject features, distinguished in the works of the British fiction, are kept here as well. Still some peculiarities of the Subject are evidenced in comparison with British fiction.

Proceeding from the classification of the Subject from functional and structural points of view, we can identify that surely, the simple (Classification 1) and agentive (Classification 2) are essentially distinguished.

‘A carpenter fixed the bed so that it would be on a level with the window.’ [21, 8] where ‘carpenter’ carries the agentive function and meanwhile has a simple structure.

‘Man made the truths himself and each truth was a composite of a great many vague thoughts.’ [23, 12] where ‘man’ represents the simple and agentive Subject whereas ‘truth’ performs the affected function in a simple structure.

‘The matchmaker appeared one night out of the dark fourth-floor hallway of the gray stone rooming house…’ [24, 380] where ‘the matchmaker’ represents a simple Subject carrying the agentive function.

‘Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag.’ [23,12] where ‘Della’ is a simple Subject with an agentive function.

‘The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them.’ [23,18] where ‘the magi’ is again a simple Subject with an agentive function.

Still, another types of the Subject are also distinguished.

‘Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail.’ [23,17] where the simple Subject ‘Jim’ carries the affected function.

‘John’s eyes were open wide.’ [22, 100] where the simple Subject ‘John’s eyes’ carry the affected function.

‘The thing to get at is what the writer or the young thing within the writer, was thinking about.’ [21, 10] where the construction in the role of the Subject ‘the thing to get at’ is complex in its structure.

‘Her face deeply moved him.’ [24, 404] where the simple Subject ‘her face’ performs the instrumental function.

‘An odor of frying fish made Leo weak to the knees.’ [24, 408] where the simple Subject ‘odor’ displays again the instrumental function.

‘The idea alternately nauseated and exalted him.’ [24, 412] where the simple Subject ‘the idea’ performs the instrumental function.

‘But, surprisingly, Salzman’s face lit in a smile.’ [24, 390] where the simple Subject ‘Salzman’s face’ carries the affected function.

‘Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass.’ [23, 12] where the simple Subject ‘she’ displays the affected function.

The only peculiarity of American fiction in comparison with the British one in the Subject investigation is that the instrumental function of the Subject appears on the pages of the examined stories.

The ways of expressing the Subject also maintain similar features of being presented by a noun or pronoun (esp. personal) in nominal case in the examined stories of American fiction.

‘She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard.’ [23, 12] where she is personal pronoun in the Subject role.

‘After the doctor had gone Sue went into the workroom and cried a Japanese napkin to a pulp.’ [22, 100] where ‘the doctor’ and ‘Sue’ represent Subjects expressed by a common and a denominative nouns in nominal case.

‘The old man listed hundreds of the truths in his book.’ [21, 12] where ‘the man’ is the Subject expressed by a common noun in nominal case.

‘By remembering it I have been able to understand many people and things that I was never able to understand before.’ [21, 12] where the Subject is expressed by the personal pronoun ‘I’.

Still, some cases where the subject is expressed by numerals, interrogative and demonstrative pronouns are also noticed.

‘Who can love from a picture?’ mocked the marriage broker.’ [24, 414] where the Subject ‘who’ is expressed by the interrogative pronoun.

‘This is my baby, my Stella, she should burn in hell.’ [24, 412] where the Subject ‘this’ is expressed by a demonstrative pronoun.

‘Hundreds and hundreds were the truths and they were all beautiful.’ [21,12] where the Subject is expressed by cardinal numerals.

The Subject is undoubtedly maintained in American fiction as well.

The notional ‘it’ is noticed much oftener in comparison with the formal ‘it’ as it is witnessed in British fiction as well.

‘Well, it is the weakness, then,’ said the doctor. [22, 100] where the subject ‘it’ is notional and denotes a thing expressed by a predicative noun.

‘It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her.’ [23, 12] where the Subject ‘it’ is notional and denotes a definite object mentioned before.

‘No, it wasn’t a youth, it was a woman, young, and wearing a coat of mail like a knight.’ [21, 10] where the Subject ‘it’ is again notional and denotes a thing expressed by predicative noun.

The introductory features of ‘there’ are kept on the pages of the American fiction as well.

‘There are only five left now’ [22, 102]

‘There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room.’ [23, 12]

Thus, the Subject features in American fiction are predominantly similar to the ones kept in British literature; the only noticed peculiarity is the instrumental function of the Subject.


On the basis of the theoretical and practical investigation of the Subject within the framework of distinguishing its features in American and British fiction conforming to the examined theory, we have reached the following results of the research work:

The Subject justifies its definition of being ‘the main part of a two-member sentence which is grammatically independent of the other parts of the sentence and on which the predicate is grammatically dependent’ in combination with all the other characteristics mentioned by different grammarians of any languages practically throughout the investigated fiction.

Classifications of the Subject presented in two variants reflect that from structural point of view, simple and complex types of the Subject are predominantly used. From functional point of view, the agentive and affected role of the Subject is generally maintained. Vivid examples proving the present conclusion are presented in Chapter Two.

Ways of expressing the Subject vary mainly surely between the nouns in nominal case (these examples constitute the majority part of expressing the Subject), personal pronouns (that also present a vast percentage of the examples where they are in the role of the Subject), demonstrative, interrogative, indefinite pronouns are of less often frequency.

Numerals are also used in the role of the Subject, these cases are mainly characteristic of the colloquial dialogues.

Infinitive and gerundial constructions possess a rather high index of frequency usage identified in the investigated fiction.

Concerning ‘it’ Subject, the results of the investigations prove to state that generally the notional type of ‘it’ is practiced in the role of the Subject. Formal type of ‘it’ Subject is used much more moderate.

Regarding the other parts of speech that also can be used in the role of the Subject, that is substantivized adjective or participle, any part of speech used as a quotation, a group of words which is one part of the sentence, i.e. a syntactically indivisible group are less preferred both by the American and British writers within the given project.

In reference to the feature differences in the usage of the Subject in American and British fiction, we can surely state that both cultures prefer to use common features of the Subject. The only characteristic of the American fiction touches the fact that instrumental function of the Subject is used a little oftener whereas British writers keep 100%-preference to the Subject expressed by nouns and personal pronouns.

The implemented investigation will be elaborated in the subsequent thesis of the next year based on the fiction of the John Galsworthy (‘The Forsyte Saga’) where detailed internal research analysis will be executed.


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