Attempting to research when the subject being inferred is okay. Only example I've been able to find is imperative sentences. Are there any other cases that it is okay to infer the subject?

  • Sentences need not be answered with complete sentences... although you typically wouldn't omit only the subject, but also the verb in such cases. This is especially common when answering questions (or making comments) about yourself. Q: "Where are you?" A: "Here!" Q(sort of): "It's time to go!" A(sort of): "Coming!" (I'm) Not sure whether that's what you had in mind ((do you) See what I did there? ... and just now?)
    – Patrick87
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 20:13
  • @Patrick87: Thanks, though your comment seems like more of an answer than a comment. Main issue is that I had someone correct a sentence of mine on SE - and attempting to understand how to test if a subject not being present is okay. As noted above, after a quick search, I really wasn't able to find a definitive source for the topic. Honestly don't care about the edit that resulted in my researching the topic, just attempting to understand the topic a bit better.
    – blunders
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 20:22
  • I guess a better comment might be that language is used for communication, so as long as the language enables effective communication, it's "OK" to use it however you like. Tell your buddy that there's no Academie Anglaise and if he doesn't like that he can buy a beret and move to France.
    – Patrick87
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 20:28
  • @Patrick87: Agree.
    – blunders
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 20:36
  • 1
    There are lots of situations where the subject can be dropped. See e.g. Is there a name for the practice of dropping pronouns in written speech?, Is it acceptable to begin a declarative sentence with “Am”?, "Been doing it since a very young age", and the many related questions linked from these.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 20:56

1 Answer 1


Subjects are inferred in practically every untensed subordinate clause (i.e, gerunds and infinitives).
In the following sentences, what is the subject of the infinitive to take out? How can you tell?

  • Bill told me to take out the garbage.
  • Bill promised me to take out the garbage.
  • I was told by Bill to take out the garbage.
  • I don't want to take out the garbage.
  • The garbage to take out is in the kitchen.
  • It's not hard to take out the garbage.
  • That's what it takes to take out the garbage.

One could do the same for gerunds. Tensed clauses are not so easy to ransack, however.

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