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Can someone please explain what is subject and object in this sentence?

'You must do what the boss tells you'

The Boss is the subject and you is object, is it or is it not?

  • The primary subject is You. Consider You must obey, and You must obey me, where the second version also includes an "object". Finally, consider You must do what I tell you, where the highlighted element is a kind of "noun phrase" identifying the thing you are obliged to do (it just happens to include an embedded clause with a "secondary" subject I). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 21 '19 at 18:15
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No. There's a lot going on here, so let's break it down...

Think of the sentence

You must do that.

The subject is very obviously "you", while "that" is the object. Now think of the sentence

The boss tells you it.

"Boss" is the subject, "it" is the direct object, and "you" is the direct object. This sentence also happens to be an independent clause. We can change it into a dependent clause:

"what the boss tells you."

All the words retain their original meaning ("what" replaces "it"), but the inverted word order means that this clause can no longer stand on its own. Now let's go back to our first sentence. We can replace the pronoun "that" with our new clause:

You must do what the boss tells you.

The first you is the subject, just like it was in the first sentence, and the entire clause (which replaces "that") is the object (just like "that" was the object in the original). Within our dependent clause, boss is still the subject, but it is not the subject of the overall sentence, only of the dependent clause.

So in summary, "You" (the first "you") is the subject, and the dependent clause "what the boss tells you" acts as the object. All the words in the dependent clause have their own meanings within the clause, but not so much within the overall sentence.

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