What Is a Compound Subject? (with Examples)

What Is a Compound Subject? (with Examples)

A compound subject is one which consists of more than one noun. (This includes pronouns, noun phrases, and noun clauses.)

When the subject of a sentence is made up of two or more elements, it's called a compound subject.

The individual elements in a compound subject are joined by words like and and or (called coordinate conjunctions) or pairings like either/or and neither/nor (called correlative conjunctions).

Examples of Compound Subjects

Here are some examples of compound subjects (shaded):
  • A clean driving licence, sales experience and team spirit are essential.
  • A fool and his money are easily parted.
  • The pigeon and the falcon fell from view.
  • My wife and I cannot attend unfortunately.
  • Neither the British Army nor the Metropolitan Police had any suitable vehicles.

Is a Compound Subject Singular or Plural?

When and is used to join the elements in a compound subject, the compound subject is treated as plural. For example:
  • Mark and Craig are flying on Saturday.
However, when using terms like in conjunction with, as well as, and alongside, the compound subject might not necessarily be plural. For example:
  • Mark as well as Craig is flying on Saturday.
Read more about the quirks of subject-verb agreement.

When using or, either/or, or neither/nor, the compound subject might be singular or plural. Generally, if all elements are singular, then the compound subject should be treated as singular.

There is a little more to it than that though.

Read more about using a singular or plural verb with or, either/or, and neither/nor.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited and printed to create exercise worksheets.

See Also

What is the subject of sentence? What are nouns? What are coordinate conjunctions? What are correlative conjunctions? What is subject-verb agreement? Using a singular or plural verb with or, either/or, and neither/nor Ending a long, compound subject with a comma Glossary of grammatical terms