Before our amazed eyes was a white unicorn.

Why is unicorn the subject of the sentence instead of eyes? It is because the preposition "before" that was placed in front of the words "amazed eyes"?


Before our amazed eyes is a prepositional phrase. As you say, it's the use of before that determines this.

Your sentence is just an inverted version of the following:

[A white unicorn] was before our amazed eyes.

Changing the order of the components (in this way and in this sentence) doesn't change their syntactical roles.

  • 1
    +1 Even if a filler word was used such as: Before our amazed eyes, there was a white unicorn, the subject would remain the same. – Lucian Sava May 18 '19 at 17:06
  • How do I identify the true subject of the sentence? in this sentence, I could have named eyes as the subject instead of unicorn. – ilovetolearn May 18 '19 at 17:38
  • @ilovetolearn You have to look at the syntax involved. Since eyes is part of a prepositional phrase, it is not the subject. If not immediately understood, fall back on logic and the process of elimination. (Also, use techniques such as reversing the sentence as I did. Or what was mentioned in the first comment under this answer.) – Jason Bassford May 18 '19 at 17:40

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