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I was trying to find out sentences without a subject, only object, and I came across this where the poster gives following sentences as an example

Under the tree is a dog.
Next to the park stands a clock tower.
Underneath his jacket was his white tucked in t-shirt and jeans.
Deep beneath the sea lies the mysterious kingdom of Captain Nemo.

Aren't the subjects in them: "the tree", "the park", "jacket", and "the sea" respectively?

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  • Okay. Are there really "sentences" without a subject? Have you checked first? "London. Michaelmas term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln's Inn Hall. Implacable November weather." Anyway. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_%28linguistics%29
    – Kris
    Jun 19, 2014 at 6:02
  • "A grammatical unit that is syntactically independent and has a subject that is expressed or, as in imperative sentences, understood and a predicate that contains at least one finite verb."
    – Kris
    Jun 19, 2014 at 6:04

3 Answers 3

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These are all examples of locative inversion, where the subject and the prepositional phrase shift their normal positions. Usually the subject is at the beginning of the sentence, but not in these examples.

if you want to look into the topic of sentences without subjects, see the classic paper Quang (1971) on English imperatives.

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  • 1
    This does not answer 1. Whether or not there's a subject in the sentence 2. Whether example sentences are correct examples for the case.
    – Kris
    Jun 19, 2014 at 5:39
  • 3
    @Kris I have classified the sentences as falling into one grammatical pattern; from there you infer they are grammatical sentences. I have also said that the pattern involves a subject; from there you infer that they contain subjects. by definition, a subject is the only argument of an intransitive verb.
    – user31341
    Jun 19, 2014 at 15:00
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    However, the question concerns sentences without a subject. Also, it expects a categorical Y/N to "Is there a subject?" Maybe it would have served better to say "Yes, (there is a subject in each of these sentences)." And, "No, (you have not found sentences without a subject in these)."
    – Kris
    Jun 19, 2014 at 15:02
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    @Kris I trust the OP is literate and capable of accommodating prepositions (and the answer was accepted). if you want to look into the topic of sentences without subjects, see the classic paper Quang (1971) on English imperatives.
    – user31341
    Jun 19, 2014 at 15:09
  • Please edit in that last sentence into the answer. Let me know if you need help.
    – Kris
    Jun 19, 2014 at 15:18
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Dog, tower, t-shirt, and kingdom are the grammatical subjects of the main verbs of these four sentences—what is, stands, was, and lies—and thus of the sentences themselves.

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    Why would you think so? Is that an opinion? Are there any supporting references? :) Does this answer the OP's question adequately?
    – Kris
    Jun 19, 2014 at 5:40
  • Let us try altering the number of my proposed subjects and see if the verb forms alter accordingly: "Under the tree were three dogs"; "Next to the park stand two towers"; "Deep beneath the sea lie the two-and-forty provinces of Captain Nemo." The other one already has a plural subject and should really have a plural verb: "Underneath his jacket were his white tucked in t-shirt and jeans." And yes, both the headline and final questions are answered by my main answer: Are these sentences devoid of subjects? No. Are these four nouns their subjects? No again. Jun 19, 2014 at 15:33
  • Oh well, we still need to show 1. These ideas are documented somewhere by someone reliable OR 2. Show the author is an authority on the subject/ aspect. OR 3. Call this a comment. [I am not a mod on ELU. This is just my understanding of what ELU expects of us when you try to answer a question.]
    – Kris
    Jun 19, 2014 at 15:37
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    The matter is straightforward enough, @Kris, that a profile view (not all of us leave them blank) should probably suffice for #2. "To expostulate / . . . / Why day is day, night night, and time is time, / Were nothing but to waste day, night, and time." Jun 19, 2014 at 16:23
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The correct position: Under the tree is a dog. THere is a dog under the tree. Next to the park stands a clock tower. The clock tower stands next to the park. Underneath his jacket was his white tucked in t-shirt and jeans. His white t-shirt and jeans were tucked in underneath his jacket. Deep beneath the sea lies the mysterious kingdom of Captain Nemo
The mysterious kingdom of Captain Nemo lies deep down the see.

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  • While the point you're making is valuable, it is not explained. Your answer would be improved if you explained why the "correct position" improves the ability to identify the subject of a sentence.
    – JBH
    Aug 22, 2017 at 19:01

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