English Grammar

Compound subject examples with characteristics

Compound subject

The composite subject is one that is made up of at least two nuclei. A nucleus is defined as the word that contains the relevant information within a syntagmatic structure (a group of words that fulfill a syntactic function within a sentence). The opposite of the compound subject is the simple subject (single-word kernel). Compound subject characteristics and examples

The syntagmatic structure that performs the function of the subject is the noun phrase. The subject, in grammar, is the term from which something is predicated, said or affirmed. This, together with the predicate, is part of the sentence. For its part, a noun phrase is any word or group of words that functions as a noun.

Thus, by way of illustration, the subject of “Cats and dogs are more than just pets for many people” is cats and dogs . This has two noun phrases whose nuclei are cats and dogs . Therefore, this sentence has a compound subject. In the case of “Dogs are very loyal,” the sentence has a simple subject.


The main characteristic of the composite subject is that it is made up of two or more nuclei. When it has more than two, its nuclei are separated by commas: Mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians are the five best-known classes of vertebrates (animals with backbones) .

In case of having only two nuclei, these are united by means of the coordinating conjunctions: “and”, “or” and “neither… nor”. Conjunctions, in general, are particles that serve to link syntactic elements within a sentence. Between them, the coordinators join equivalent elements (in this case two nouns).

On the other hand, another characteristic of the compound subject is that the verb form of the predicate that accompanies it must be in the plural, even if each nucleus is in the singular. Note the following sentences: Compound subject characteristics and examples

  • His clothes and the rest of his belongings were stored in the cellar
  • Neither you nor I should go to that celebration.

However, when the nuclei of the compound subject are in the singular and united by the disjunctive conjunction “or”, the verb can be in the singular or in the plural. Thus, in the following sentences, both versions are correct:

  • In the end, time or death has to prove me right.
  • In the end, time or death have to prove me right.

Examples of compound subjects

  1. Dolphins and elephants are highly intelligent creatures.
  2. Eating, sleeping, and reading are enjoyable activities.
  3. Both men and women enjoy yoga.
  4. Chocolate and strawberry are my two favorite flavors of ice cream.
  5. Furniture and paper are two uses for wood.
  6. Roses, gardenias, and jonquils bloom in Beatrice’s garden.
  7. Both Tom and I are going on a cruise.
  8. Nobody who went and nobody who watched online liked the presentation.
  9. Toy Story and Cars are movies created by Pixar.
  10. Tsunamis and hurricanes endanger people living near the coast.
  11. Both the players and coaches were satisfied with the game.
  12. Everybody who witnessed the shooting and everybody in the room was interviewed.
  13. Red, white, and blue are the colors of the American flag.
  14. Both Argentina and Brazil are in South America. Compound subject characteristics and examples
  15. Both John and George work at the steakhouse on Carver Street.

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