I don't understand what is subject in sentences like these "What colour is your car", subject is "What colour" or "your car" "What size is this shirt" "What time is it" etc.

A little similar "Who phoned you", Who is subject Who did you phone? You is subject. In these sentences finding subject is easy, those above i can't

  • The subject is "your car" and "what colour" is predicative complement. Compare "your car is x colour". In "who did you phone", the subject is "you". – BillJ Jul 15 at 8:23
  • I think the same, but i'm not sure, but i think you're right. Thanks! – Denis Jul 15 at 8:25
  • Non-subjects are usually fronted and accompanied by obligatory subject-auxiliary inversion, as seen in "What colour is your car"? where the subject "your car" and the verb "is" are inverted. But in "Who phoned you?", "who" is in the usual subject position, before the verb, and there is no inversion so we know that "who" is the subject. – BillJ Jul 15 at 8:50
  • If you answer as not comment then I can make your answer as right and correct if you want. Thanks you again. – Denis Jul 15 at 8:52

To identify the subject of questions that use a form of be, the following two criteria can be helpful: subject-verb agreement and the case of personal pronouns used to replace noun phrases.

If ""What colour" is the subject of the sentence "What colour is your car?", then it should be possible to replace "car" with a plural object-case pronoun, such as "them", without changing the rest of the sentence. But in fact, we don't say "What colour is them?": we would instead say "What colour are they?", with a subject-case pronoun "they" and a plural verb "are", which shows that the singular noun phrase "What colour" is not the subject of a sentence like this.

The same arguments show that "What size" is not the subject of "What size is this shirt" (we would say "What size are they", not "What size is them?").

Because "it" in "What time is it" is a "dummy" pronoun, we can't actually replace it with anything else, but you can infer that is is the subject by analogy with the structure of other similar sentences.

  • Can I ask about one more case. " Who is that girl". To find subject in this case I did next tips: These girls are Maria and Masha - remove inversion and make positive phrase Who are these girls? - auxiliary verb was plural when I switched that -> these These girls are Maria and Masha, aren't they? So does it say me that "that girl" is subject in phrase "Who is that girl" ? – Denis Jul 16 at 9:29
  • @Denis: "Who" sentences are tricky, but yes, "that girl" is more likely to be the subject in the sentence "Who is that girl?" – sumelic Jul 16 at 22:00

I think your confusion have came from the difference between the who and whom.

"Who phoned you"-In this sentence the subject is "who"

The other sentence that you have mentioned is:

"Who did you phone"-Here,The actual sentence was "Whom did you phone"

And, whom is the "object" and you is the "subject" in the second sentence.

In modern English,Many use who instead of whom.

  • Yes, you're right, But it doesn't give me answer to my main question (What colour is your car, what is subject there?) – Denis Jul 15 at 7:41
  • Undoubtly, the subject is "what" in the sentence "What colour is your car." – Muhammad Jahid Jul 15 at 7:56
  • Suppose , we choose a subject "Red" and put into that sentence insted of what. "Red colour is your car"-Now it matched up. – Muhammad Jahid Jul 15 at 7:57
  • But " Red colour is your car" it is not the same "Your car is red" is it? They have different meanings But my opinion second is more correct. Oh, maybe i'm wrong – Denis Jul 15 at 8:01
  • No, Muhammed. The subject in "What colour is you car?" is "your car", and "what colour" is predicative complement. It's the interrogative version of "Your car is x colour", where "your car" is clearly the subject. – BillJ Jul 15 at 8:43

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