About this quote from Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone:

Wednesday night found Hermione and Harry sitting alone in the common room, long after everyone else had gone to bed.

The first clause, in grammatical sense, has the "Wednesday night" as the subject, "found" as the verb, and "Hermione and Harry" as the objects. But I think it's hard (may be wrong) to interpret this sentence in this way.

Does it omit the subject: "Wednesday night (you could) find Hermione and Harry sitting alone in the common room,..."?

  • 1
    This type of sentence is sometimes used in storytelling. It's just a different way of saying "On Wednesday night Hermione and Harry were sitting..." Commented Jan 12 at 13:02
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    Chambers has find = experience. Using this you can actually see "Wednesday night" as the subject with "H & H stting in the common room" as the object. A bit flowery, treating a time as a sentient object, but not unusual in a literary setting. Commented Jan 12 at 14:34
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    Similar to "The year 1348 saw the bubonic plague reach England's shores."
    – TimR
    Commented Jan 12 at 15:12

1 Answer 1


Yes, "Wednesday night" is the grammatical subject.

What you should realise is that the grammatical subject is not always the semantic "actor" in a sentence. The role that the subject plays depends on the meaning of the verb phrase and its grammatical form.

The subject is often the "agent" but it can be an instrument, causative, affected, locative or temporal role. In this case, with the verb "find", the subject can play a temporal role, giving the time at which they were found in the common room.

Compare this with "Monday was a busy day" (which means the same as "It was busy on Monday") The role of the subject "Monday" is temporal. Take a look at this presentation about semantic roles. And understand how the syntactic "subject" may have many different types of meaning.

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