Identify the subject and predicate in the sentence These children's favorite indoor game is chess

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    That sentence has two subjects, one being "these children's favorite indoor game" and the other being "chess." "Chess" is the predicate nominative. Sentences employing a linking verb and a predicate nominative don't have just one subject. There's the subject(s) that comes before the linking verb then the subject(s) that comes after the linking verb. That's why saying, "I am he," is grammatically preferable to saying, "I am him." "He" is a subject pronoun; "him," an object pronoun. Sentences using a linking verb don't have objects, only subjects, which is why the subject pronoun's called for. Apr 27, 2021 at 7:06
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    That's flat wrong. There is only one subject: "These children's favorite indoor game". "Chess" is not a subject but a subject complement of "be".
    – BillJ
    Apr 27, 2021 at 8:31
  • I agree with @BillJ! The subject is indeed the NP These children's favourite indoor game.
    – user405662
    Apr 27, 2021 at 8:44

2 Answers 2


These children's favorite indoor game is chess.

The subject is "these children's favorite indoor game", and the predicate is the verb phrase "is chess"

The copular verb "be" has the noun phrase "chess" as subject complement, so-called because it refers to the subject. In your example, the complement defines the childrens' favorite game as being chess.

The structure is thus S-V-C.


As can be read in the comments, some grammarians might consider that there are two subjects in sentences where the verb is a linking verb. Traditional grammar, however, does not allow this possibility.

(Wikipedia) Criteria for identifying subjects

There are several criteria for identifying subjects:

  1. Subject-verb agreement: The subject agrees with the finite verb in person and number, e.g. I am vs. *I is.
  2. Position occupied: The subject typically immediately precedes the finite verb in declarative clauses in English, e.g. Tom laughs.
  3. Semantic role: A typical subject in the active voice is an agent or theme, i.e. it performs the action expressed by the verb or when it is a theme, it receives a property assigned to it by the predicate.

In the sentence in question, the predicate "is chess" assigns a property to "These children's favorite indoor game".

Of course, the sentence implies that chess is these children's favourite indoor game, and so, it could be argued that "chess" is also a subject, but what is being talked about in the initial sentence is not chess, what is being considered as central in the utterance is "these children's favorite indoor game". The property of being chess is not received by "chess".

(wikipedia) Technical definition

The subject […] is, according to a tradition that can be traced back to Aristotle (and that is associated with phrase structure grammars), one of the two main constituents of a clause, the other constituent being the predicate, whereby the predicate says something about the subject.

  • Sorry to say but you've cobbled together bits and pieces and presented what is a patchwork at best. This concept of multiple subjects in a simple sentence as above only makes things unnecessarily complicated. Things should be simplified when possible.
    – user405662
    Apr 27, 2021 at 9:16
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    @user405662 I am only warning the reader that the approach presented in the comments , which takes the point of view that there are two subjects associated with linking verbs, is only one alternative, and that it is not the point of view of traditional grammar; in my answer I argue to support the traditional point of view (one subject only).
    – LPH
    Apr 27, 2021 at 9:27
  • @LPH The comment you are referring to is not from a grammarian. You're causing unnecessary confusion by dwelling on the ridiculous notion of two subjects. I would urge you to delete your answer.
    – BillJ
    Apr 27, 2021 at 9:55
  • @BillJ You don't need to be a grammarian to repeat what they say; I assumed this person read that point of view somewhere in the grammatical literature; anyway, I do not dwell on this point of view, as you erroneously say, but , on the contrary, I provide references for the standard point of view.
    – LPH
    Apr 27, 2021 at 10:32
  • @LPH It's the person (Harman) who made the comment that is not a grammarian! There is no support for their claim. Most of your answer deals with refuting their view that there are two subjects. Do you seriously think that the people who use ELU need to be told how to identify a subject? In any case the OP's question appears to be homework.
    – BillJ
    Apr 27, 2021 at 11:15

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