A sentence (an independent clause) consists of a predicate (verb) and a subject. The subject does the verb (action) in the sentence.
If the term ‘compound’ means consisting of two or more separate parts, it means that a compound subject is the one that consists of two or more than two subjects. The subjects in a compound subject are nouns that are joined together by a conjunction.
1. My friends and I went to the cinema to watch the latest movie.
In the above example sentence, the compound subject is ‘my friends and I’ which is joined by the conjunction ‘and.’
2. Either paints or colour pencils would make my children happy.
Just like the example (1), example (2) has also two subjects ‘paints or colour pencils’ which make up a compound subject.
Why use a Compound Subject?
Just like a compound predicate, a compound subject can be important to make writing effective and concise. You can use a compound subject instead of repeating each subject in multiple sentences.
- Sarah likes to paint at home. Her friend likes to paint at home. (Incorrect)
- Sarah and her friend like to paint at home. (Correct)
Rules to Remember
Should you use a singular verb or a plural verb with the compound subjects?
Generally speaking, you need to write a singular verb with a singular subject and a plural verb with a plural subject.
- She goes. (singular verb with singular subject)
- They go. (plural verb with plural subject)
However, you have to be careful because there is not the same verb case in a compound subject. Though, a compound subject has two or more subjects but the verb will not always be plural.
If the subjects are joined together by ‘and’ then, you should choose a plural verb. For example,
- Sara and Betty are coming at my place. (both subjects are doing the action)
But, if the subjects are added together and referring to the same idea, then the singular verb should be used. For example,
- Rice and soup is to be ordered.
In a compound subject, subjects can be joined together by ‘or’ or ‘nor’ as well. In this case, check out the subject that is closest to the verb. If the closest subject would be singular, the verb would be singular; and if the closest subject would be plural, the verb would be plural. For instance,
- Neither Sarah nor her friends are like to go to party.
- Either you or my friend gets a free ticket from me.
Compound subjects may help you to make your writing effective and concise. A compound subject consists of two or more subjects (nouns) that are joined together by a conjunction. There are specific rules for the usage of verb because a compound subject does not necessarily needs a plural verb.
*If you feel any confusion, refresh your mind by reading the post again.