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My students and I have a disagreement about the subject of the following sentence: "Many animals were found on the farm." I say it's "Many"; they say it's "animals." Who's right?

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"Many" just modifies "animals", so it can't be an object –  simchona Mar 24 '13 at 22:54
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Dixie, if you are a teacher, you might be interested in ell.stackexchange.com where you can pose questions on how to teach English. Please, take a look. Thank you. –  user19148 Mar 24 '13 at 23:02
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ELL is for non-native speakers. Dixie didn't say she was teaching ESL. Dixie, I'd be interested in your theory about why it should be many. BTW, camelbrush has it correct below, so you and your students are both wrong; a subject has to be a noun phrase, but not necessarily a single word. –  John Lawler Mar 25 '13 at 2:57
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2 Answers


Many animals would be the (complete) subject in your sentence, with many being the modifier. Have a look at this page here to get more such examples and the different types of subjects.

And as #Carlo_R suggested, have a look at the ell.stackexchange.com page for further help especially while teaching.

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Pls make the distinction between the following sentences

Animals were found on the farm.
Many animals were found on the farm.
Few animals were found on the farm.

If for any reason, you and your students are able to justify that they convey the same message, then you have a strong case that

Animals were found on the farm.

is sufficient.

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