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

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

Hi Sir
When we say a phrase - is one word also a phrase e.g. John. Can one put one word like that under phrases ?
Please let me know.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hi Sir
I saw in this website of yours a sentence : All the people in the bus were watching. Can one use on the bus also ? e.g. All the people on the bus were watching. I thought if the vehicle is small like 'car' or 'van' we use in but if the vehicle is big we use on e.g. plane, bus, train.
I am I right ? Please let me know.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal
Website name: close structure under close phrase and sentence

Hello Lal,

You can use 'in' or 'on here. 'On' is more common. 'In' is used when we think of the bus as a place rather than a means of transport. You might be on the bus because you are going somewhere, but you might hide in the bus if someone was chasing you.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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