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
were watching

But most clauses have more than two parts:


Noun phrase (subject) Verb phrase    
The children
All of the girls
This soup
Mary and the family
are learning
were driving

a new bicycle
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:

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.



Hi. Sir
Please tell me whether the question mark is all right in this
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.

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?



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.

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.
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.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi there! I wish there could be a page just with lots of sentences with emphasized parts of clause such as subject, verb, adverbial etc. I do understand that it's tons of hard work but I also believe that it will be appreciated not only by me but also by a vast amount of people who consider this theme to be at least tens times less as essential I do .

Hi there! Could you help me with this: Our flight time will be approximately forty-five minutes?
Which is right?
1) [our flight time (subject {noun phrase} ) ]
[will be (verb {verb phrase} ) ]
[approximately forty-five minutes (complement {noun phrase} ) ].
2) [our flight time (subject {noun phrase} ) ]
[will be (verb {verb phrase} ) ]
[approximately (adverbial (adjunct?) {adverb phrase} ) ]
[ forty-five minutes (complement {noun phrase} ) ].
I've just realized that understanding the clause structure is one of the most important things in English, isn't it?
P. S. That what you're doing is something so useful for me that I'm afraid of my disability to describe, even in my native language, not to mention English *which I love so much that I would say 'who' instead of ' *which' but for the grammar, a titanic boost that you're giving to all of us all the time.

Hi sir,
They were fond of music,played on various kinds of instruments,and indulged in much singing.
Tell me is it a clause "played on various kinds of instruments" and if it is so what kind of clause it is?

Hello aseel aftab,

This is an example of a reduced relative clause:

They were fond of music (which was) played on various kinds of instruments, and (they) indulged in much singing.


The clause here describes the noun 'music' and so has an adjectival function.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team