The basic unit of English grammar is the clause:

[An unlucky student almost lost a 17th century violin worth almost £200,000]

[when he left it in the waiting room of a London station.]

[William Brown inherited the 1698 Stradivarius violin from his mother]

[and had just had it valued by a London dealer at £180,000.]

Clauses are made up of phrases:

[An unlucky student] + [almost lost] + [a 17th century violin worth almost £200,000]

[when] + [he] + [left] + [it] + [in the waiting room of a London station.]

[William Brown] + [inherited] + [the 1698 Stradivarius violin] + [from his mother]

[and] [had just had it valued] + [by a London dealer] + [at £180,000.]

We can join two or more clauses together to make sentences.

An unlucky student almost lost a 17th century violin worth almost £200,000 when he left it in the waiting room of a London station.

William Brown inherited the 1698 Stradivarius violin from his mother and had just had it valued by a London dealer at £180,000.





''When starting programming classes, I was astonished by the Mathematics application in a computer and even though many see a computer as a simple everyday device, being creative and skillful mathematically, I understood that if used properly, it is a tool to...''

I repeat ''a'' very often. Is there any way to omit a determiner before a noun and not to make a mistake?

''Living in the UK has given me an opportunity to develop my skills''

Could I omit indirect object if my it's clear that it gave ME opportunity not to somebody else.

Are there rules of using ellipsis or it's just a matter of style and wanted purpose?

If this question is too wide, then I just want to know if it's used in formal English frequently.

Thank you for help.

Hello JamlMakav,

In your sentence about programming, I'd probably use the plural in one spot ('many see computers as a simple everyday device') instead of the indefinite article, but otherwise it sounds good. I'm afraid your question (if there's any way to omit a determiner and not make a mistake) is a very difficult one to answer as there are so many possible situations to consider.

As for your second question, it would sound unnatural to omit 'me' in a phrase like that one. Perhaps you could rephrase it, but since the sentence mentions skills that you developed, it'd be difficult without changing it significantly.

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with any tutorial on ellipsis, though the Cambridge Dictionary's Grammar entry on it and this Wikipedia article might be something to look at, and in any case there may be something available on the internet that I'm not familiar with – I'd encourage you to do a bit of searching.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Chemistry is learned through the
three levels of representation of macroscopic,
sub-microscopic, and symbolic levels .

what tense it is sir?

Do I need to use a comma in the following sentence:
" She had fish and chips and cheese and ham omelette yesterday."

Thanks in advance

Hi zagrus,

It's not a very elegant sentence because of the proliferation of 'and' throughout. However, there is no grammatical need for a comma and no real place to put one. I think the sentence could be improved in other ways, however. You could use 'as well as', 'followed by', 'in addition to' or similar phrases. Of course, if the sentence is spoken then the speaker can use their voice (a pause) to help the listener follow.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


''I'm just gonna tell him I could only find four rocks''
''I'm just gonna tell'' refers to future. But what is ''could only...'' referring to? Is it not full imaginary conditional sentence or it is that future's past?

''Wouldn't it be awkward to see what he wrote''
It is an imaginary situation in future. In this situation, I have the same question.

''I am going to the mall means that I need you to be home''

''I am goin...'' functions as a subject. Is something missing in there? For example, a word ''sentence'' or something.

Thank you.

Hello JakiGeh.

In your first example 'could' is used because the speaker is describing a situation in the past. The action of telling may be in the future but the action of finding happened in the past - before the moment of speaking. I could make a similar sentence about my breakfast yesterday:

I'm going to tell her that I had toast and marmalade.


The subject in English can be many things. We can use nouns, pronouns, gerunds, infinitives and participles, for example, and we can also use clauses. For example:

That he was an idiot soon became clear.

The thing that really annoys me is her rudeness.

There are two ways to read your example, I would say. It may be a quote, in which case the sentence is interpreting the quote. Alternatively, it may have the meaning of 'The fact that I am going to...', which is similar to the example above.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

How will I explain the definition of Clause to pre-intermediate students.

Hello Mahfoozindia,

That depends on how you need to fit the concept into the larger framework of your class and course, but in general, I'd probably emphasise that any clause has a subject and a verb. There are many different types of clauses (as explained in this section - see also the Oxford Dictionary Grammar), but it might be better to leave those for another day.

By the way, if you're a teacher, you might want to take a look at our sister site TeachingEnglish, where there are forums where you can find lots of useful information on teaching English.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team