I'm writing a philosophy essay that pertains to subjectivity (the condition of being a subject of experience).

  • I use subject in sentences like x is a subject if, and only if, x satisfies criteria x, y, z.
  • I use term in sentences like The term denotes x.
  • I use argument in sentences like John's argument for that claim procceeds thus:...

Is there a word that denotes 'the subject of a sentence' or 'the thing that satisfies predicates' that isn't term, subject, or argument?

I sometimes use work-arounds, such as the subject of a sentence and (grammatical) subject or (grammatical) argument. Nevertheless, there are cases where my sentences would read more easily if I could replace those work-arounds with a single word.

  • Theme is sometimes used of the subject of classical predications, although it is also sometimes restricted to subjects of which movement or location is predicated. Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 19:30
  • You could use a typographical device such as italicisation for one. Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 19:35
  • @EdwinAshworth Just to make sure I got the right idea from your comment. You mean, italicize the word 'term' when I use it to denote one sense, but not when I use it to denote the other sense. Presumably, I'd add a footnote that ascribes a sense to the italicized, and a sense to the non-italicized, occurrences of the word?
    – Hal
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 19:48
  • @StoneyB. I'm not familiar with the phrase "classical predications"; what do you mean by it?
    – Hal
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 19:49
  • 1
    I think you're having the same problem here that you have with your work. "Subject" and "predicate" have meanings in English grammar that most of us learned in grade school. Even though many have forgotten the precise meanings they will be confused when you use the terms in a different (yet similar-sounding) context. You need to figure out how to clearly define the terms to us, ideally without using "subject" and "predicate", and then maybe it will be clearer how you'd do it to the general public. I'd start with something like "topic" instead of "subject".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 20:29

1 Answer 1


"Pivot" is a word used by some linguists for a concept which is a generalisation of "grammatical subject". However, it is a very technical term, barely recognised outside grammatical theory.

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