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.



Hello! I want to express my thanks for the lessons and the exercises. My problem here is that after finishing the exercises it says that there are seven more items to do but I tried and couldn' t find them. Thanks!

Hello kallarati,

Thanks for your comment! It's always great to hear that people appreciate our work.

I'm sorry for the confusion with the task. In this kind of exercise, you can tick more than one box in some questions, which is why it says there are items remaining. If you tick too many boxes for a question, the exercise will tell you this.

After you click or press the Finish button, it turns into a Show Answers button. This will show which boxes should have been ticked.

I think that should solve the problem for you, but if not, please let us know.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

After 12th the exercise is not permiting advance to next question.

Hello delsonscoelho,

The twelfth sentence is the last one, so after that you can click or press on Finish. Then you can click or press on Show Answers if you want to see them. I've just used the exercise and haven't had any trouble, but if you still can't get the exercise to work for you, please let us know.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

These are too many together, I am making mistakes but cannot understand where because the correct answers are not highlighted.

Hello D Sandhu,

I'm sorry about that. Have you tried pressing the 'Show Answers' button? After you press 'Finish', it becomes 'Show Answers', which should help you see the correct answers.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I have some more questions about content elsewhere on your site (no comment section on there). I need help identifying the subjects in passive cases. Can someone tell me if I am correct?

What is tiramisu made from? Subject = Tiramisu.
The hall is being painted this week so our class will be in a different room. Subjects = Hall and Class? I guess 'so' joins two sentences here right?
Oranges have been grown here for centuries. Subject = Oranges
When he got home he found that his flat had been burgled. Subject = Flat
The work won’t be finished until next week. Subject = Work

Hello BritishBulldog,

You're right about all of the sentences except the first two. In the first, 'what' is the subject and only 'hall' is the subject of a passive verb in the second ('will be' is not passive).

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


For the example: 'What I wanted to talk to you about today was the team's performance' - Why is the subject not just 'I' ??

The given answer is that the subject is 'What I wanted to talk to you about today.' I thought 'you' would actually be the object of the example. It also includes a verb phase 'wanted to talk.' I thought the subject was just a noun phase?


Hello BritishBulldog,

When parsing a sentence, I'd recommend looking for the main verb first. In this sentence, there are two verbs: 'wanted' and 'was'. 'wanted' is a part of the clause 'what I wanted to talk to you about', so it cannot be the main verb. Therefore 'was' must be the main verb.

This complex sentence has the structure 'A was B', where A is a 'what' clause and B is a noun phrase ('the team's performance'). By the way, this is what's called a 'wh-cleft sentence', which you can read more about on this Cambridge Dictionary page.

I hope this helps, but if you have any other specific questions, please let us know.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team