All clauses in English have at least two parts: a noun phrase and a verb phrase

Noun phrase (subject) Verb phrase
The children
All the people in the bus
laughed
were watching

But most clauses have more than two parts:

 

Noun phrase (subject) Verb phrase    
The children
John
All of the girls
This soup
Mary and the family
She
laughed
wanted
are learning
tastes
were driving
put

a new bicycle
English
awful
to Madrid
the flowers




 
in a vase

The first noun phrase is the subject of the sentence:

The children laughed.
John wanted a new bicycle.
All the girls are learning English.
She put the flowers in the vase.

English clauses always have a subject:

His father has just retired. Was a teacher. He was a teacher.
I’m waiting for my wife. Is late. She is late.

… except for the imperative which is used to give orders:

Stop!
Go away.

… and for "soft imperatives" like invitations and requests:

Please come to dinner tomorrow.
Play it again please.

If we have no other subject we use "there" or "it" as subject. We call this a ‘dummy subject’:

There were twenty people at the meeting..
There will be an eclipse of the moon tonight.

It’s a lovely day.
It’s nearly one o’clock.
I have toothache. It hurts a lot.

Exercise

Comments

Hello Sir
Thank you for explaining 'everyday and every day in my last question 'He
brakes bread.' Please tell me the following sentences are correct or not . e.g.
He bakes loaves of bread. He bakes them every day.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello,
I would like to know the Main and Subordinate clause in "The teacher, who motivates students, is always remembered".
Thanks in advance.

Hello Sir
This question is regarding the object pronoun. e.g. He bakes bread. He bakes
bread everyday. Bread is uncountable so I can say 'he bakes it everyday.' In the second sentence bread is the object. The object pronoun is it. so new statement is - He bakes bread. He bakes it everyday.
It in the second sentence is correct. Please let me know.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello Lal,

The sentence is fine except for one thing. We write 'everyday' as one word when it is an adjective (an everyday event) but as two words when it is an adverbial phrase (He did this every day).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir,
Re: commas
This is from your website: under sentence structure. e.g. We looked everywhere
but we couldn't find him.
There is no comma before 'but' Please tell me the reason.
I went through 'PURDU' WEBSITE and they say use commas to separate independent clauses joined by and,but, for etc (-coordinate conjunctions)
e.g. The game is over , but the crowd refuse to leave.
In your example given above there is no comma. I think they are independent clauses. Am I right or wrong?
Please let me know.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello Lal

You are right. We are currently revising this grammar section and having everything checked by a proofreader. I'm sure this error will be corrected once we get to this page. Thank you, though, for taking the time to point it out to us.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Is this construction also correct?: "I'm cooking; what are you doing?" i.e, putting semi-colon instead of a conjuction

Hello Hussainidis,

Yes, that is fine. We use a semi-colon when two clauses are related semantically but not grammatically. It is a rather formal piece of punctuation, used mainly in academic or literary writing.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi. Sir
Please tell me whether the question mark is all right in this
statement.
I am cooking and what are you doing? I can write without the conjunction
e.g. I am cooking. What are you doing? But I am not sure whether I can use
the question mark like in the first.
Please let me know.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello Lal,

It's fine to use a question mark at the end of that sentence. I would add a comma to separate the clauses, however, to make it clearer for the reader:

I am cooking, and what are you doing?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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