1

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"?

2

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 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 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 Supports Monica May 18 at 17:40

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