Move the Subject

Move the Subject

When writing sentences, try to add a little variety not only by using different kinds of sentences but also by changing up the structure of those sentences. One way you can “spice it up” is to move the subject within the sentence.

If you remember, the subject is the “who” or “what” of the sentence.

The predicate is what the subject does. In the case of passive sentences, the predicate is what happens to the subject. (Remember to use primarily active sentences for academic writing.)

Before I get into the specifics with some examples, I want to suggest that if you are beginning with the English language and feel more comfortable leaving the subject at the beginning of each sentence, there is no problem with that. Continue to write the sentences you are comfortable with in the best format you can. As you become more experienced, you can play around with moving the subject from time to time. It is not essential to have the subject in various positions. As you begin to use more phrases and introductory clauses, the subject will sometimes fall within sentences at any rate, so there is no need to overthink the issue.

In English, the subject often comes at the beginning of the sentence. I have emboldened the subject in the following examples.

Several members of the basketball team came down with the flu.

The paramedics arrived on the scene within minutes.

          The black bear sauntered down the well-worn path.


For some sentences, you can move the subject to within the sentence.

          Down the well-worn path, the black bear sauntered.

Also, you can move the subject to the end of the sentence.

          Down the well-worn path sauntered the black bear.

You cannot move the subject easily in all sentences to all positions. For example, using the second sentence in the examples given above, the subject can be moved to within the sentence but not to the end.

          Within minutes, the paramedics arrived on the scene.

The first example provided above with the basketball team does not lend itself to moving the subject at all. Of course, there are other sentences one could write about the same topic in which the subject could be in different positions, but it would not be a simple task of just moving the subject in the current example.

In all cases, do not spend a lot of time on this. It isn’t critical. Move the occasional subject if you feel it helps with the flow of your article or if it adds some variety, but do not stress about trying to change every sentence or every third sentence. This is a technique that can be useful, but it is not something you must do. 

One note of caution: Not all sentences you create will be of equivalent quality. Always read your work aloud or have someone read it for you to ensure that the sentences say what you mean and that they sound pleasant to the ear.

RunnerHere are a few more examples.

1.       The exhausted marathon runner stumbled across the finish line.

Across the finish line, the exhausted marathon runner stumbled.

Across the finish line stumbled the exhausted marathon runner.

2.       The cute puppy chewed the slippers vigorously.

Vigorously, the cute puppy chewed the slippers.

3.       A sudden high-pitched scream came from the opposite shore.

From the opposite shore came a sudden high-pitched scream.

Don’t forget to check out the new book Teach Myself? Teach Myself!

This week's video:


| Tags: | Return