Is a vocative used as a subject in a sentence? If not, what is it used for? (By the way, what is the linguistic term that corresponds to the classification of the components in a sentence into subject, object, ...?)


1 Answer 1


Technically, no - because what follows the vocative is usually either an imperative, which has no subject, or addresses the audience using a pronoun, which then becomes the subject.

Example 1:

David! Come here!

The vocative attracts the attention of the audience, and then the imperative addresses them directly without the use of a subject.

Example 2:

David! You must come here!

The statement uses the pronoun 'you' as the subject.

From a more practical point of view - the whole point of the evocative is to indicate the 'missing' subject so that the right person or group will understand the command or request.

  • what is it used as, if not subject?
    – Tim
    Jul 18 at 8:19
  • 1
    It's called the vocative because it is a function in its own right. It is used to avoid any confusion when using the imperative, or when addressing a person directly because we don't use a person's name in the third person when speaking directly to them. For example, if I said "Tim should look up 'vocative' in the dictionary", you would think I was talking to somebody else about you. So what I'd say is "Tim! You should look up 'vocative' in the dictionary".
    – Astralbee
    Jul 18 at 8:25

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