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Omitting the subject

Hello everybody! I´m a Spaniard and I´m having a lot of trouble solving this issue... when can you omit the subject in an English sentence? I am putting some examples to illustrate my problem; which of these sentences are right and why?

I went to the bathroom and I brushed my teeth vs I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth

We can watch a movie or we can play football vs We can watch a movie or play football

I´m going to London tomorrow and I would like to see you vs I´m going to London tomorrow and would like to see you

I want to go to London but I don´t have any money vs I want to go to London but don´t have any money

She´s got a new job so she will have to work harder vs She´s got a new job so will have to work harder

I´m strong but not fast vs I´m strong but I´m not fast

Thanks in advance to everybody because I personally think it´s not an easy question to answer ^^U

August 29, 2014

11 comentarios


This is a great question, Mister_De. The concept you're referring to here is called Compound Verbs (or Compound Predicates) in English.

Any time you have two clauses where the same subject is doing two different actions, you can combine these two clauses into one sentence with a coordinating conjunction (and, but, so, etc) and drop the second subject.

  • Dave goes to the beach. Dave gets a sunburn.
  • Dave goes to the beach AND Dave gets a sunburn.
  • Dave goes to the beach and gets a sunburn.

As far as I know, it is always grammatically ok to drop the second reference to the subject, but it can sound a little strange if you have different tenses in your two clauses. Your example with the girl needing to work harder is one of these instances. To me, "She's got a new job so she will have to work harder" sounds better, but it's definitely understandable either way and both options are grammatically correct.

Here's a link with a great description of the concept: http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/sentences/15-sentences-using-compound-subjects-and-compound-verbs.html

Hope that helps.


Thank you very much, you´ve been of big help!


I would personally repeat the subject in the sentences with "but" and "so".

Wow. That must be really confusing. I never even noticed that sometimes we repeat the subject but sometimes we don't. We always repeat it with "but" and "so", I'm pretty sure. I can't think of an example where I wouldn't.


Could you tell me which sentences do you think are right and which ones are wrong between the ones I've written before?


Is there any rule for this? I've never thought about it before, really good question!


I think the distinctions that Lrtward said are good, worthy of consideration i.e. if its one action (drop the pronoun) or two distinct actions (keep the pronoun).

That said, on the whole, if I was speaking casually I would drop the second pronoun, because there isn't really ambiguity to get hung up on (it's more subtle difference including it or not), and if I was speaking more "properly", formally I would (or at least would be more inclined to).

We can watch a movie .... - include the pronoun for emphasis, delineating the choices, that it is a particular concrete choice.

I'm going to London ... - include the pronoun for a more personal invitation.

I want to go to London - include the pronoun to emphasize you are poor

She's got a new job - include the pronoun to emphasize that it will be an act of the will on her part.

I´m strong but not fast vs I´m strong but I´m not fast ... - include pronoun to emphasize the difference between the two (and not be confused about one following from the other).

In summary the sense is: If you are so particular to include a pronoun that doesn't matter and isn't necessary, then you must be particular about the other parts that are included.

On this last point I had seen the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and the way they rate language ability or the skills for certification of language ability, and ... for level C1 (Effective operational proficiency or advanced) it says "Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer clauses, and recognize implicit meaning" of which it looks to me this question fits under.

If I remember what I saw correctly, Duolingo by itself can deliver to about A2(Waystage or elementary) -B1 (Threshold or intermediate) upon finishing the two trees.

With this in mind (and I say this for myself when it becomes relevant for me in learning Spanish), the short answer to the question if you are a person who is starting with Duolingo (without whatever lots of other practice or proficiency) is:

  1. You don't need the personal pronoun
  2. Time is better spent elsewhere (unless "you've just got to know"), then when you've got competent with a range of language skills, you'll start to notice the answer or it will at least be an answer that will approach being the best thing I can work on now to most improve your language skills.

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