Plain English Part 92

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Little child _lives_ are coined into money.

Defenseless, helpless _children_ suffer most under capitalism.

Every neglected _child_ smites my conscience in the name of humanity.

The thrilling, far-sounding _battle-cry_ shall resound.

Note that in all of these sentences the word in italics is a noun, which is the simple subject of the sentence. All of the other words which comprise the complete subject are the modifiers of this noun, or modifiers of its modifiers.

But in our study of words, we have found that there are a number of other words which can be used in place of a noun and these may all be used as the subject of a sentence.

+417.+ +A p.r.o.noun may be used as the subject of a sentence+, for the p.r.o.noun is a word used in place of the noun; and a p.r.o.noun used as the subject of a sentence may have modifiers just as a noun. It may be modified by adjectives or adjective phrases, as for example:

_We_ are confident of success.

_He_, worried and out of employment, committed suicide.

_She_, heartsick and weary, waited for an answer.

_She_, with her happy, watchful ways, blessed the household.

_They_, victorious and triumphant, entered the city.

How can _I_, without money or friends, succeed?

"Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, _I_ thank whatever G.o.ds there be For my unconquerable soul."

In all of these sentences the p.r.o.noun is the simple subject of the sentence, and the p.r.o.noun with all of its modifiers is the complete subject of the sentence.

+418.+ +The participle may be used as a noun, the subject of the sentence.+ For example:

_Traveling_ is pleasant.

Here the present participle _traveling_ is used as a noun, subject of the sentence.

Participle phrases may also be used as nouns, as for example:

_Being prepared_ will not save us from war.

His _having signed_ the note was the cause of the trouble.

In these sentences, _being prepared_ and _having signed_ are participle phrases used as nouns, the subjects of the verbs _will save_ and _was_.

Note the use of the participle used as the subject in the following sentences:

_Painting_ is an art.

_Making_ shoes is his work.

_Being discovered_ seems to be the real crime.

His _having joined_ his comrades was a brave act.

Your _remaining_ here will be dangerous.

Note that when the participle is used as a noun, the possessive form of the p.r.o.noun is always used with it, as in the sentence above:

_Your_ remaining here will be dangerous.

Notice that in some of these sentences the participle has an object; as, making _shoes_, his having joined his _comrades_. The participle still retains some of its verb nature in that it may take an object. The entire phrases, _His having joined his comrades_, and, _Making shoes_, are the subjects of the sentences.

+419.+ +The infinitive may also be used as a noun, the subject of the sentence.+ Note in the following sentences the use of the infinitive as the subject of the sentence:

_To err_ is human; _to forgive_ is divine.

_To be_ or not _to be_ is the question.

_To toil_ all day is wearisome.

_To aim_ is one thing; _to hit_ the mark is another.

_To remain_ ignorant is to remain a slave.

+420.+ +An adjective can also be used as the subject.+ You remember in our study of adjectives we found that an adjective may be used as a noun, as for example:

The _strong_ enslave the weak.

Here the adjective _strong_ is used as a noun, subject of the sentence.

Note in the following sentences, the use of the adjectives as subjects:

The _wise_ instruct the ignorant.

The _dead_ were left upon the battlefields.

The _rich_ look down upon the poor.

The _mighty_ of the earth have forced this war upon us.

The _poor_ are enslaved by their ignorance.

The _wounded_ were carried to the hospitals.


The subject usually comes first in the sentence. If it has any modifiers, they alone precede the subject, as for example:

A wonderful, inspiring _lecture_ was given.

The weary _army_ slept in the trenches.

But occasionally we find the subject after the verb.

+421.+ +By simple inversion.+

We will often find this use in poetry or in poetic prose, as for example:

Never have _I_ heard one word to the contrary.

In this sentence _I_ is the subject of the sentence, _have heard_ is the verb, and _never_ is an adverb modifying the verb phrase, _have heard_.

But in order to place emphasis upon the word _never_, which is the emphatic word in the sentence, _never_ is placed first, and the verb phrase inverted so that the subject _I_ comes in between the two words which form the verb phrase. The sentence expressed in its usual order would be:

I have never heard one word to the contrary.

You will note that this statement does not carry the same emphasis upon the word _never_ as the inverted statement.

+422.+ +In interrogative sentences, the subject comes after the helping verb or after the interrogative used to introduce the sentence.+ As for example:

Have _you_ heard the news?

When will _we_ hear from you?

How have the _people_ been managing?

What will the _children_ do then?

Will the _students_ come later?

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Plain English Part 92 summary

You're reading Plain English. This manga has been translated by Updating. Author(s): Marian Wharton. Already has 528 views.

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