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I am unable to ascertain what would be the subject in the following sentence.

The gift Karen gave to her brother is a teddy bear.

Here the relative pronoun (that) has been omitted after the word gift. If I keep this in mind, then I can rewrite the sentence as

Karen gave the gift to her brother. That gift is a teddy bear.

This gives Karen as a subject and gift as the object of the sentence.

Is this right?

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    The word gift is the subject, that Karen gave to her brother is an adjective clause modifying gift. Karen is the subject of the adjective clause. Oct 25, 2017 at 12:16
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    No, because by changing the order of the words you change their function. The subject of the sentence is the noun phrase "The gift Karen gave to her brother", which contains the embedded relative clause "gave to her brother", which has "Karen" as subject. The relative clause is modifying "gift".
    – BillJ
    Oct 25, 2017 at 12:37

2 Answers 2

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As Barid Baran Acharya said, your last two sentences are a paraphrase; you cannot assume that they have the same grammatical structure as the first sentence.

Also, you have overlooked the fact that your paraphrase is two sentences.

The first sentence of your paraphrase "Karen gave the gift to her brother", has the subject "Karen" and the object "the gift", but the second sentence, "That gift is a teddy bear," has the subject "that gift".

The complex sentence you ask about in your question ("The gift Karen gave to her brother is a teddy bear") is closer in structure to the second sentence of your paraphrase. So the subject of "The gift Karen gave to her brother is a teddy bear" is the noun phrase "The gift Karen gave to her brother". It is not "Karen".

"Karen" is the subject of the embedded relative clause in the sentence: "Karen gave ___ to her brother". I have left a blank space there that corresponds to the direct object of the relative clause. The direct object of the relative clause is not explicitly present, but is understood to be the gift that is mentioned earlier in the sentence.

The main clause of the sentence "The gift Karen gave to her brother is a teddy bear" has no direct object. It is a copular sentence where the subject "The gift Karen gave to her brother" is described with the predicate noun phrase "a teddy bear", with the linking verb or auxiliary "is" used to connect the two (noun phrases cannot be used as predicates in English by themselves).

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  • Sir, one more doubt came to my mind regarding this question. If I write it like "A teddy bear was the gift that Karen gave to her brother" will the subject change from the previous one to "a teddy bear" or will it be regarded as some kind of inversion?
    – The NOVICE
    Mar 10, 2018 at 7:51
  • @TheNOVICE: I think "A teddy bear" would be the subject in that sentence.
    – herisson
    Mar 11, 2018 at 10:00
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In object pattern relative clauses the relative marker is omitted but that's not to mean that we are given the liberty of reorientation to the sentence structure. The fact remains that 'GIFT' is the subject of the sentence, it has a dependent relative clause without the relative marker and there is no object whatsoever. TEDDY BEAR is the subjective complement and "HER BROTHER" in the adjective clause is object of the preposition 'TO'. Your last two sentences are just mere paraphrase.

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    The content of this analysis looks reasonable. I wonder why it was voted down.
    – Lawrence
    Nov 12, 2017 at 16:21
  • @Lawrence thanks a lot. Reason speaks to a mind that's ready to hear ; fortunately or unfortunately it is difficulty to get one as such. Nov 13, 2017 at 10:25

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