Techincal Tuesday: Compound Subjects

Courtesy Lucas Galaxy

Today I am continuing with our study on sentences. Here we are going to study Compound Subjects. We started last week with Simple Sentences, a post in which I described the parts of a sentence what it takes to make a simple sentence. Today we are going to start making sentences more complex, and for that we are going to talk about the difference between single, plural and compound subjects.  Just a quick reminder, before we begin, the best rule of thumb, no matter what kind of writing you are doing, just one idea per sentence. We will talk about the rest later. 


Subject- The topic of a sentence.
Single Subject- A noun or pronoun that represents one thing and only one thing, for example dog, cat, he/she, etc. 
Plural Subject- A noun or pronoun that represents more than one of the the same kind of thing. for example dogs, cats, they, etc. 
Compound Subject- A noun phrase that represents two or more separate things, even if those things are also plural or any combination of these things. For example, dog and cat, dogs and cats, A cat and the dogs, he and the dogs, she and the cat. 

Now we turn to the list from last week and we will cross out those examples that are difficult to work with clearly. 

Mary ran.

A dog barked.

Chicago slept.

The cards fell.

She blinked.

It folds.

They laughed.

Now I will go through all of these examples to make so we get an idea of how to use these in sentences to make our simple sentences longer. 

Mary ran. Simple sentence, single subject, not usually made plural. Good candidate for a compound subject. For example: 
Mary and the dog ran. - two single nouns combined into one subject. Compound subject, simple sentence.
Mary and the dogs ran. - one single noun and one plural noun combined into one subject.  Compound subject, simple sentence. 

A dog barked.- Simple sentence, single noun, can  easily be made plural.
The dogs barked. - Plural noun, simple sentence.
The dog and the seal barked. Two single nouns, compound subject, simple sentence.
The dogs and the seals barked. Two plural nouns, compound subject, simple sentences.

The cards fell. - Simple sentence, plural noun.
The cards and ball fell. Plural noun, single noun combined to get a compound subject. Simple sentence.
The cards and balls fell. Two separate plural nouns combined to get a compound subject. Simple sentence.

It folds. Simple sentence, single pronoun, cannot be made plural.
It and the chair fold. Single pronoun, single noun, combined to get a compound subject, simple sentence. 
It and the chairs fold. Single pronoun, plural noun, combined to get a compound subject, simple sentence. 

They laughed. Plural pronoun, simple sentence.
They and she laughed. Plural pronoun, single pronoun combined to get a compound subject, simple sentence.
They and the child laughed. Plural pronoun, single noun combined to get a compound subject, simple sentence.
They and the children laughed. Plural pronoun, plural noun combined to get a compound subject, simple sentence. 

Now as you look through some of these sentences, although they create a simple sentence, they make little sense out of context. For example, why isn't she a part of the they in the sentence, 'They and she laughed.'? Now, that's a story.  There is an answer to that question and its answer is bigger than one sentence, than one single idea. That's at least a paragraph and a story. 

But what makes each of these a sentence, and not two separate sentences is all of the nouns in the sentence have the same verb. So no matter how many nouns or pronouns you name, if they all have the same verb, it is just one sentence. 

The dog barked. The seal barked. (One idea, one verb, barked becomes one sentence with a compound sentence: The dog and  the seal barked.)

Mary ran. Mary is a proper noun. (A noun that is a name of a specific person. place or thing.) Sometimes when a proper noun is used, it is difficult to make it part of a compound subject since is represents a unique thing. Challenging, but not impossible. It is important to follow the rule that one idea means one sentence. 

But even the examples we crossed out:

Chicago slept.

She blinked.

can be made into compound subjects, depending on the context. For example.

Chicago and the country slept (on Christmas Eve).

She and the dog blinked (against the sunlight).

Given the extra information in the parentheses, each of these compound subjects makes sense.

Now it's time to practice.

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