A third grade student has been asked to find out the subject and the predicate in the sentence:

There are a book and a pen on the table.

Here, it says that the real subject is "a book and a pen" but I know that "there" can also be called a "dummy subject".

What should be the most suitable subject and predicate in this context?


The real subject "there" because it's involved in the subject-auxiliary inversion and used in a question tag:

Subject-auxiliary inversion:

Are there a book and a pen on the table?

Question tag:

There are a book and a pen on the table, aren't there?

"A book and a pen" is a displaced subject. A displaced subject is not syntactically a subject, but it semantically corresponds to the subject in the non-existential counterpart.

  • And the predicate is everything except the "there"? – user100323 Sep 2 '20 at 3:25
  • 1
    Yes @user100323 – user178049 Sep 2 '20 at 4:52
  • and the same thing applies to the the sentences starting with "it"? – user100323 Sep 2 '20 at 4:53
  • 1
    @user100323 For example? – user178049 Sep 2 '20 at 4:54
  • for example, "it is a pleasure working with you" – user100323 Sep 2 '20 at 4:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.