How to differentiate the subject from the vocative? subject and vocative

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Everyone knows that oral language has features that are not possible in writing, such as tone of voice, physiognomic expressions, etc. Therefore, when we are faced with the written language, we often have difficulty in discriminating functions as common as recognizing the subject and the vocative.

What is the subject? What role does it play in prayer? And the vocative? Is it possible to differentiate them? How to distinguish them visually? Can they have the same part of speech? There are many questions, but let's start by analyzing the concept of subject it's from vocative.

Subject it is a syntactic function that some grammatical classes (noun and noun pronoun) can perform. It is considered to be an essential term of prayer, although there may be prayers without a subject.

Within the noun phrase, the subject it is considered the core, that is, the most important part. You can do the action (agent subject) or receive it (patient subject). In some moments it will be simple, in others it will be composed, and it may even be indeterminate.

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On the other hand, the vocative indicates a call and is named an accessory term of prayer. When we think about the meaning of this word, we understand why this syntactic function receives this classification. What is an accessory? An object we use by choice, not necessity. The car stereo, for example, is an accessory, its presence will make the trip better, go faster, but the car will not stop moving, if it does not exist.

The vocative is considered an accessory because its presence highlights, emphasizes, transmits a call, but its absence does not imply the deconstruction of prayer. However, in written language, not knowing the difference between these terms can bring problems to communication, to the point of severely compromising it. Review the example below.

Mother's day was approaching and the teacher asked the children to write an essay at home. The title and theme matched and should read: Mom only has one.

After the weekend, Pedro arrived all happy, wanting to read the essay to the whole group. The teacher allowed and he started:

My weekend was wonderful. My aunt and my cousins ​​went to the house and we played a lot.

We had a lot of soda, we ate cake, it was wonderful. I was just sad at the end of the day because my mom asked me to go to the fridge and get the soda cans for us to drink. When I got there, I couldn't believe it and yelled:

"Mom, there's only one!"

As my mother is very nice and helpful she went to the market and bought more. we made that racket.

The humor of the text is present in the student's misinterpretation of the theme of the essay, which in addition to modifying the message, transformed the syntactic function of the term “Mother”. In "Mom there is only one”, the highlighted term plays the role of the subject of the clause; but in the construction made by the student ("Mom, there is only one”), the syntactic function is vocative, not subject.

To differentiate the vocative subject, some issues need to be observed, but the main one is to really understand the syntactic function that each one plays. In a very simplified way, the subject can be understood as the one who practices the verbal action, while the vocative serves as a calling term.

The other issue to consider is scoring. Whether it's time to recognize the syntactic function or to punctuate a text, remember that it doesn't separate by comma the subject of the predicate, whoever does this commits a "mortal sin" against the rules of grammar normative. On the other hand, the vocative must be isolated by a comma or followed by an exclamation point.

There is also the semantic issue involving vocative and subject. Let's go back to the examples:

  •  “Mother only has one”.
  •  "Mom, there's only one."

How do they differ? Some may highlight the “visual difference”, that is, one has a comma and the other does not. There is no doubt that this can be considered a structural difference, but what implications does it bring to the meaning of the phrase? In example I, the message conveyed is one of homage to mothers; while in II, the child simply calls the mother to warn her about something.

In summary, to differentiate the subject from the vocative, it is necessary to analyze its syntactic function, the presence or absence of the comma and the established meaning effect. Applying these observations, differentiating the subject from the vocative will no longer be a problem but a solution.

By Mayra Pavan
Graduated in Letters

Source: Brazil School -

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