What is a compound subject in English grammar? English has a lot of rules. Maybe by choice, you’re learning grammatical terms, and you’ve gotten down the (simple) subject: it’s the person or thing that is performing the verb in a sentence. Did you know there are different types of subjects? One of these types is called a compound subject. This may sound intimidating, but it’s actually quite straightforward!
What Is a Compound Subject?
So what is a compound subject? It’s a subject made up of two or more simple subjects. Instead of just Ashley as a subject, a compound subject might be Ashley and Fred. A compound sentence usually includes words to link the simple subjects together, such as and, or, and nor.
Let’s make this even easier with some examples!
Compound Subjects Examples
Corey and Nick take a trip to the mountains.
In this example, Corey and Nick are both parts of the subject, and therefore they comprise the compound subject.
A dog, a cat, and a bird sit around a tall tree.
In this example, dog, cat, and bird are all parts of the compound subject.
Easy, right? Let’s look at a few more.
Neither Nora nor I will eat the turkey sandwich.
Nora and I are both parts of the compound subject in this sentence.
The rabbit and the goose are hiding in the same burrow.
Bet you can get this before you even read the answer! Rabbit and goose comprise the compound subject.
Let’s look at a few pairs of sentences. Try to pick out which sentence in each pair has the compound subject.
Justin and Jessica play a video game.
Justin plays a video game and a board game.
If you chose the first sentence, you’re right! Justin and Jessica make up the compound subject. In the second sentence, there are two things (video games and board games), but they’re not part of the subject, not the things doing the verb (plays).
Jacob, Elliot, and I all think holiday music is the best music.
Bethany buys both bags of soil.
Is the sentence with three people as the subject the sentence with the compound subject, or is the sentence with Bethany the compound subject? You’re right, of course: Jacob, Elliot, and I are the compound subject in this pair of sentences.
Siblings are wonderful people to have around.
Brothers and sisters are both types of siblings.
Here’s a trickier one, since both subjects are plural. However, just because something is plural doesn’t make it compound. We still look for the sentence that contains more than one word for the subject: brothers and sisters.
Feeling confident yet?
By now, you’ve definitely got a better grasp on compound subjects! If you just keep in mind that a subject can be made up of more than one simple subject, then you’ll be able to spot compound subjects with no trouble. You just need to look for multiple simple subjects acting as the subject in a sentence, and there’s your compound subject!