Can the subject of a sentence also be its object?

In the sentence, "There came a man who was sent from God," is "man" both the subject of "came" and the object of "sent"?

  • It's possible and common for a noun to be object of a main clause and subject of a subordinate clause (the man in I thanked the man who saved my life) or vice versa, but that isn't what's happening here. Any basic grammar will explain who/whom/which/that.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 7, 2022 at 7:26
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    @StuartF I wouldn't go along with what you say. In your example, the subject of "saved" in the relative clause is realised by "who". "Who" does of course refer to "man" (the antecedent), but it's "who", not "man" that is the grammatical subject.
    – BillJ
    Jul 7, 2022 at 8:00

1 Answer 1


There came a man who was sent from God.

No: what you suggest would be a theoretical impossibility. The subject of "came" is the dummy pronoun "there". "Sent" has no object; rather, it has as its complement the PP "from God".

Note also that it's a presentational construction, where the NP "a man who was sent from God" is not object of "came" but a displaced subject.

Such constructions are called 'presentationals'. They differ from ordinary existentials by virtue of having some verb other then "be" as predicator.

  • 1
    Grammatically BillJ is right. However, there's a gotcha in that they can be physically the same. e.g. "I hit Paul" - different subject and object. "I hit myself" - different subject and object in terms of the words "I" and "myself" but actually the same physical being.
    – Richard Wheeldon
    Jul 7, 2022 at 7:34

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