Take the sentence:

I think you are an ass

There are three nouns here, "I", "You" and "ass", and two verbs, "think" and "are".

Clearly "I" is the subject and "ass" is the object, but I cannot work out what "you" is. Surely it is both subject and object, depending on which half of the sentence one chooses to look at?

  • I think [that] you are an ass, reading one. It is the subject of the second clause. – Lambie Jan 31 '17 at 22:41
  • Lambie has, the whole clause U R N S is the subject of "I think," and the word 'that' is understood. – Yosef Baskin Jan 31 '17 at 23:00
  • Others seem adequately to have addressed your question, but I feel I should point out that "I" and "you" are not nouns but pronouns. – WS2 Jan 31 '17 at 23:34
  • @WS2 I am aware of that but I have always considered pronouns to be a subset of the nouns. – bwv869 Feb 1 '17 at 1:27

The fact that there are two verbs, not connected by "and" or "or", suggests that this is a complex sentence. With the optional complementiser "that", it reads

I think that {you are an ass}.

with the sentence "You are an ass" embedded in the matrix sentence "I think X"

In the embedded sentence, "you" is the subject, and "an ass" is the complement. The copula "are" does not take an object.

In the matrix sentence, "I" is the subject, and "that you are an ass" is the object.

  • Why complex? Why not with a main clause and dependent clause? – Lambie Jan 31 '17 at 23:33
  • 2
    Isn't that what a complex sentence is? – Colin Fine Jan 31 '17 at 23:40
  • I guess it is. :) – Lambie Feb 1 '17 at 0:03

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