Complete Subject: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Using It in Your Writing
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


What is a Complete Subject?

Identifying the Complete Subject

Using Complete Subjects in Different Writing Styles

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Resources to Improve Your Understanding

Writing clear and effective sentences is an essential skill for anyone who wants to communicate well in writing. One of the keys to mastering this skill is understanding the concept of a complete subject. Whether you're a student, a professional, or just someone who loves to write, knowing how to properly use complete subjects in your writing can make a world of difference. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the ins and outs of complete subjects, how to identify and use them in various writing styles, and how to avoid common mistakes. By the end, you'll have a much better grasp of this important aspect of grammar, and your writing will be all the better for it!

What is a Complete Subject?

A complete subject is an essential part of a sentence that tells us whom or what the sentence is about. It includes the main noun or pronoun performing the action of the verb, as well as any modifiers that describe or provide additional information about the noun or pronoun. Understanding complete subjects is important because it helps ensure that our sentences are clear, concise, and easy to understand. Let's dive into the definition, some examples, and the significance of complete subjects in writing.


A complete subject consists of the simple subject (the main noun or pronoun) and all its modifiers (words that describe or provide additional information about the simple subject). The complete subject tells us who or what is performing the action in the sentence.


Here are some examples of complete subjects:

  1. The tall man waved at the crowd.
  2. Several colorful balloons drifted through the sky.
  3. My hardworking sister received a promotion at work.

In each of these sentences, the complete subject is italicized, and it includes both the simple subject (man, balloons, sister) and the modifiers (tall, several colorful, my hardworking).

Importance in Writing

Complete subjects play a vital role in writing because they help create clear and engaging sentences. By using complete subjects effectively, you can accurately convey your ideas and maintain your reader's interest. Moreover, understanding complete subjects can help you avoid grammar mistakes, such as sentence fragments or run-on sentences, which can make your writing confusing or difficult to read.

Identifying the Complete Subject

Learning how to identify the complete subject in a sentence is an important step towards using it effectively in your writing. There are different types of subjects, such as simple, compound, and complex subjects. We'll explore each type and provide some tips for recognizing them in sentences.

Simple Subjects

A simple subject is a single noun or pronoun that serves as the main focus of the sentence. It's the most basic element of a complete subject. To find the simple subject, ask yourself, "Who or what is performing the action in this sentence?" Here are some examples:

  1. The dog barked loudly.
  2. She is reading a book.
  3. Clouds cover the sky.

In each sentence, the simple subject (italicized) is the noun or pronoun that performs the action of the verb.

Compound Subjects

A compound subject consists of two or more simple subjects that are connected by a coordinating conjunction (such as "and," "or," or "nor") and share the same verb. To identify a compound subject, look for multiple nouns or pronouns performing the same action in a sentence. For example:

  1. Jack and Jill went up the hill.
  2. Neither the cat nor the dog wanted to go outside.
  3. My mom, dad, and sister are coming to visit.

In these sentences, the compound subjects (italicized) consist of two or more simple subjects that share the same verb.

Complex Subjects

A complex subject is a subject that includes one or more dependent clauses. Dependent clauses are groups of words that contain a subject and a verb but can't stand alone as a complete sentence. To identify a complex subject, look for a subject that contains a dependent clause. Here are some examples:

  1. The girl who won the race is my friend.
  2. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
  3. The book that I borrowed from the library was fascinating.

In these sentences, the complex subjects (italicized) include a simple subject and a dependent clause that provides additional information about the subject.

Using Complete Subjects in Different Writing Styles

Understanding and using complete subjects effectively is crucial across various writing styles. Each style has its unique approach to incorporating complete subjects. Let's discuss how to use complete subjects in academic writing, creative writing, and business writing.

Academic Writing

In academic writing, the focus is on clarity, precision, and formality. Complete subjects help create well-structured sentences, ensuring your arguments are easy to follow. To use complete subjects in academic writing:

  1. Keep subjects clear and concise, avoiding unnecessary jargon.
  2. Ensure subject-verb agreement to maintain grammatical accuracy.
  3. Use complex subjects to provide specific context or background information.

For example: "The researchers who conducted the study found a significant correlation between variable A and variable B."

Creative Writing

Creative writing allows for more flexibility and creativity in using complete subjects. While maintaining grammatical accuracy, you can play with language and sentence structure to create engaging stories. To use complete subjects in creative writing:

  1. Experiment with varied sentence structures to enhance your narrative.
  2. Use descriptive language to paint vivid images of your subjects.
  3. Employ compound and complex subjects to add depth and intrigue to your characters and settings.

For example: "The ancient oak tree that had witnessed centuries of history stood proudly in the center of the village."

Business Writing

Business writing requires clear and concise communication, with an emphasis on getting your point across efficiently. Complete subjects are vital for structuring sentences and ensuring your message is understood. To use complete subjects in business writing:

  1. Keep sentences short and focused, with clear subjects that convey your main point.
  2. Avoid using jargon or complex language that may confuse your reader.
  3. Use simple and compound subjects to emphasize collaboration or shared responsibility.

For example: "The marketing team and the sales department will work together to develop a new strategy for product promotion."

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Using complete subjects effectively in your writing can help you avoid common errors that may confuse or distract your readers. Let's examine some of these mistakes, including fragmented sentences, run-on sentences, and subject-verb agreement issues.

Fragmented Sentences

Fragmented sentences occur when a sentence is missing a complete subject, a verb, or both. This can make it difficult for readers to understand your intended meaning. To avoid fragmented sentences:

  1. Ensure each sentence has a complete subject and a verb.
  2. Combine related fragments into a single, coherent sentence.
  3. Revise your writing to eliminate any unnecessary or confusing fragments.

For example, instead of writing "The cat. On the sofa.", you could write "The cat is lying on the sofa."

Run-On Sentences

Run-on sentences happen when two or more independent clauses are joined without proper punctuation or conjunctions. This can make your writing difficult to follow and may confuse your readers. To avoid run-on sentences:

  1. Use punctuation, such as commas or periods, to separate independent clauses.
  2. Employ conjunctions like "and," "but," or "so" to connect related ideas.
  3. Break long sentences into shorter, more focused statements.

For example, instead of writing "The dog chased the ball it was fast and energetic.", you could write "The dog chased the ball. It was fast and energetic."

Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement is when the subject and verb of a sentence match in number (singular or plural). Errors in subject-verb agreement can make your writing sound unprofessional and may confuse your readers. To ensure proper subject-verb agreement:

  1. Match singular subjects with singular verbs and plural subjects with plural verbs.
  2. Be aware of irregular verbs that may not follow standard agreement rules.
  3. Revise your writing to correct any subject-verb agreement inconsistencies.

For example, instead of writing "The children plays in the park.", you should write "The children play in the park."

Resources to Improve Your Understanding

Enhancing your understanding of complete subjects and their use in writing is a valuable skill. Fortunately, numerous resources are available to help you refine your knowledge and application of complete subjects. Let's explore some of these resources, including grammar books, online resources, and writing workshops.

Grammar Books

Grammar books provide in-depth explanations and examples of various language rules and concepts, including complete subjects. Some popular grammar books that may help you improve your understanding of complete subjects are:

  1. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
  2. English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy
  3. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

These books not only cover complete subjects but also provide a wealth of information on other aspects of grammar and writing.

Online Resources

Several online resources offer interactive exercises, quizzes, and explanations to help you hone your understanding of complete subjects. Some popular online resources to explore include:

  1. Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
  2. Grammarly Blog
  3. Khan Academy Grammar

These websites provide a wealth of information and interactive activities to help you practice using complete subjects in your writing.

Writing Workshops

Participating in writing workshops can help you improve your understanding of complete subjects and other writing concepts through hands-on practice and feedback from instructors and peers. Writing workshops can be found at:

  1. Local community centers
  2. Libraries
  3. Colleges and universities
  4. Online courses and webinars

By engaging in these workshops, you can receive personalized guidance and support to strengthen your understanding and application of complete subjects in your writing.

If you enjoyed this blog post and want to dive deeper into the world of illustration, we highly recommend checking out Juliet Schreckinger's workshop, 'Composing Complex Illustrations using Basic Shapes'. This workshop will teach you how to create intricate and visually stunning illustrations by utilizing simple shapes and techniques. Don't miss out on this opportunity to enhance your illustration skills!