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What is the subject of the following sentence?

All he does is invite random strangers on the internet to play games with him.

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  • Hi Utshaw. This is a perfectly good question to which "show your research" doesn't apply. And it's not straightforward given that an established user here got the wrong answer. Sorry about the downvotes. Don't understand why you got them. Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 12:19

2 Answers 2

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The subject is the noun phrase "all he does," which consists of the pronoun "all" modified by the reduced relative clause "he does."

(If you're a fan of Huddleston & Pullum (2002), you can say that all is not a pronoun but a determinative serving as a fused determiner-head.)

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  • I'd upvote this if you provided some evidence. Why is he does 'reduced', btw? Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 12:20
  • Related.
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 13, 2023 at 13:07
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As the other answer says, the subject of the sentence is grammatically "all he does". But the sentence is essentially equivalent to

He only invites random strangers on the Internet to play games with him.

In this reformulation, we can see that the subject performing the action is "he". It's just a more awkward way to phrase it, and doesn't emphasize the exclusivity that "all he does" suggests.

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  • But a subject isn't 'a thing performing an action'! Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 12:21
  • butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/grammar/… "The subject of a sentence is the person, place, or thing that is performing the action of the sentence. The subject represents what or whom the sentence is about."
    – Barmar
    Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 12:34
  • I realize that this is a generalization that isn't always true. Passive mode inverts the role of subject and object.
    – Barmar
    Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 12:35
  • Yes. Bad source! That description they give's patently untrue, and only fit for helping kids find subjects before they get more information. Consider: "Bob received a blow to the chin" or "She survived her husband by 20 years" etc. So there's got to be better tests. For example, what inverts with the auxiliary verb to make a yes/no question or something like that. Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 12:56

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