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The fight was the "object" of massive fan attention.

The fight was the "subject" of massive fan attention.

Which is the correct way to say the fight got a lot of attention between the given choices? The internet tells me it's the first one.

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As you saw from the Internet, people usually pay attention to an "object". Here is a comparison from Google ngrams.

"Subject" more often refers to a topic of discussion, study, etc. For example, if two people are debating, then we might ask about the "subject" of their debate. Here is another comparison.

There can be overlap. For example, a particular plant or animal species might be either the "object" or the "subject" of a biologist's study.

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  • I think your first NGram is misleading. It picks up a large number of "similar, but not identical" usages that skew the pattern Feb 28, 2022 at 15:14
  • @FumbleFingers Can you give some examples of similar but not identical phrases that might skew the result? If it seems to be significant, then I'll try to find a better example. Feb 28, 2022 at 15:34
  • Look at the search strings used in my NGram charts. It's a bit complicated to explain exactly which contexts are more likely to use "object" instead of "subject" here, so I won't bother trying here in this comment. But there's no doubt that the specific context of being the subject/object of [qualifier] attention significantly favours subject today, even though object was more common a couple of centuries ago. And for near-synonymous debate, the preference is overwhelming, and always was. Feb 28, 2022 at 15:49
  • @FumbleFingers I see what you mean. However, there must some nuance concerning the qualifier, because replacing "much" with "my", for example, favors "object" instead of "subject": books.google.com/ngrams/… Feb 28, 2022 at 16:35
  • @FumbleFingers OP wrote "massive", but unfortunately ngrams doesn't seem to have enough data for "object/subject of massive attention". Feb 28, 2022 at 16:38
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This is an area where there's been significant change over time...

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But actually, using "object" instead of "subject" in such contexts was always a bit odd, given that we never had any significant tendency to do that with debate, which is near-synonymous in this context...

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    "object of much attention" sounds similar to "object of desire", which is still idiomatic. Apr 10, 2022 at 12:11
  • I didn't think of it at the time, but you're quite right. As this NGram shows, it's usually object of desire, but subject of debate (and ...much desire is "uncommon"). Apr 10, 2022 at 13:30

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