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Exercises in Identifying Subjects and Verbs

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These exercises will give you practice in recognizing two key elements in a sentence: the subject and the verb. If you have any difficulties completing these exercises, review our discussion of The Basic Sentence Unit.

Exercise A: Identifying Subjects and Verbs

For each of the following sentences, decide whether the word in bold print is the subject or the verb. When you are done, compare your responses with the answers on page two.

  1. The dog shivered.
  2. An owl shrieked.
  3. The moon disappeared behind the clouds.
  4. We waited.
  5. For a moment, nobody even breathed.
  6. A light rain fell on our heads.
  7. The leaves trembled.
  8. Our hearts beat faster.
  9. Then the black sky opened up.
  10. Furious flames lit up the night.

Exercise B: Identifying Subjects and Verbs

For each of the following sentences, decide whether the word in bold print is the subject or the verb. When you are done, compare your responses with the answers at the bottom of the page. (The sentences in this exercise have been adapted from the paragraph "Rolling Along with Mr. Bill," which appears in Sentence Combining with Adjective Clauses.)

  1. Mr. William Herring is the jolliest man I know.
  2. His outward features reflect the delightful character within.
  3. His hair is red and frizzy, like Orphan Annie's.
  4. His head is fat and round.
  5. He has small, dark, hamster-like eyes.
  6. His eyes peer inquisitively from behind metal-rimmed glasses.
  7. His small mouth is always formed into a friendly grin.
  8. His thick neck connects this funny head to an egg-shaped torso.
  9. He has two fat arms with plump hands and fingers shaped like hot dogs.
  10. On one of these fingers is a diamond-studded gold ring.
  11. The gleam of the ring matches the brilliance of Mr. Bill's smile.
  12. His Santa Claus belly, girded by a cowboy belt, hangs over the sort of baggy trousers that went out with leisure suits and platform shoes.
  13. Mr. Bill's shoes, however, are invisible beneath his trousers.
  14. Still, his walk is distinctive.
  15. In fact, he seems to roll rather than walk.
  16. He rolls to the rhythm of his own laughter.
  17. His students roll right along with him.
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