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What is the subject of the following sentence?
There is a cat on the mat.
While it is true that in 95% of the cases, the subject comes BEFORE the verb, there are cases in which the order is reversed and the subject comes AFTER the verb. This is one of these rare cases. How can we identify the subject in these cases? We know that the subject and the verb must agree in number. The verb is is singular. Therefore, the subject must also be singular. There are two singular nouns in the sentence: a cat and the mat. One of them is thus the subject.
Incorrect. It is true that this sentence is among the 5% in which the subject comes AFTER the verb and not before it, and kudos for identifying the sentence as such a case.
How can we identify the subject in these cases? We know that the subject and the verb must agree in number. Let's use this rule to check whether the mat is really the subject of this sentence. Suppose we turn the sentence into plural, that is turn the verb is and the supposed subject the mat into plural:
There are a cat on the mats.
Is this correct? No. Therefore, the subject is not the mat.