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Ways of expressing the subject.
The subject can be expressed by a single word or a group of words, ^hus it can be expressed by:
1. A noun in the common case.
The sulky waiter brought my tea. (Du Maurier)
Marcellus slowly turned his head. (Douglas)
Note. Occasionally a noun in the possessive case is used as the subject of the sentence.
Mrs. Gummidge's was 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 Iheard 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)
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)
The subject is often expressed by the indefinite pronoun one or the personal pronouns they, you, we, which refer not to any particular person or persons but to people in general.
These sentences generally correspond to the same kind of sentences in Russian, but sometimes they are rendered by impersonal sentences, as will be seen in the examples given below.
Yes, muttered Jon, life's beastly short. One wants to live forever. (Galsworthy) — Да, пробормотал Джон, жизнь чертовски коротка. Хочется жить вечно.
A day is like a page in a book, one cannot read it without commas and periods. (Heym) — День напоминает страницу книги, ее нельзя читать без запятых и точек.
They say he's clever — they all think they're clever. (Galsworthy) — Говорят, что он умный — все думают, что они умные- Howard, you introduce every statement with "they say". I want to know who is "they". (Gowand D'Usseau) — Говард, ты каждое предложение начинаешь с «говорят». Я хочу знать, что говорит.
Note. They is used when the speaker is excluded, one when the speaker is included.
There are some things you can't talk to anyone about. (Voynich) — Есть вещи, о которых никому не расскажешь.
It was good to be alive. Say what you like you couldn't beat it. (Galsworthy) — Хорошо жить на свете. Что ни говори, а этого нельзя отрицать.
Every pleasure is transitory. We can't eat long. If we indulge in harmless fluids we get the dropsy, if in exciting liquids we get drunk. When I say "we", my dear, I mean mankind in general. (Dickens) — Всякое удовольствие преходяще. Нельзя есть долго. Если мы злоупотребляем безвредными напитками, мы заболеваем водянкой, если мы злоупотребляем спиртными напитками, мы пьянеем. Когда я говорю «мы», мой дорогой, я имею в виду человечество в целом.
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)
5. An infinitive, an infinitive phrase or construction.
To live is to work.
To be a rich man, Lieutenant, is not always roses and beauty. (Heym)
For him to come was impossible.
6. A gerund, a gerundial phrase or construction.
Lying doesn't go well with me. (Heym)
Winning the war is what counts. (Heym)
Annette's being French might upset him a little. (Galsworthy)
7. Any part of speech used as a quotation.
On is a preposition.
No is his usual reply to any request.
8. A group of words which is one part of the sentence, i. e. a syntactically indivisible group.
Yet at this very time their friend and defender is darkly groping towards the solution. (Fox)
Here the subject represents one person.
The needle and thread is lost.
Here the needle and the thread are treated as one thing.
This is not to be confused with homogeneous subjects where two persons or things are meant and consequently the predicate is in the plural.
Mr. Pickwick alone was silent and reserved. Doubt and distrust were exhibited in his countenance. (Dickens)
There are other kinds of syntactic units.
There were a number of carved high back chairs. (Dreiser)
There's a lot of truth in that, of course. (London)
Note. There are sentences where the subject is introduced by the construction there is, e. g. There is nothing on the table. In this case nothing is the subject and there is part of the predicate.
9. A quotation group.
"I shan't be able to give you very much," he had said. "Perhaps this what's-his-name will provide the cocoa." (Galsworthy)