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.



Thanks, I just googled it actually and I just found a good website to describe it. But yeah, it's basically what you just said. By the way, you guys have really done a good job with the website and staying up to date with the comment section. This is coming from a native speaker as well. Well done :).

There are missing questions in the activity, "clause structure". I hope you could fix that. The button "show feedback" reveals 27 questions. I got only 15 questions.

Hello gemma,

For some questions you need to select multiple words as the subject is a phrase. Each word is counted as one answer and that is why there are 27 answers but only 15 sentences.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Exactly... The last 12 are not appearing. I suppose its a problem with the conter embed in software.

Hello professor Peter M,

Sir, can we call this sentence a clause?: "thou says the Lord". I ask this question because it was described (regarded) as phrase somewhere else on a popular professional website. And, as a result, I am so confused as to the correctness of this as a phrase because the sentence contains clausal properties: subject, "Lord", and verb, "says". And I know that clause always has a subject and a verb while phrase has neither subject nor verb. Now, how come this is called a phrase? In what circumstances and for what reason can the this be termed—a phrase?

Please I need your clear and detail explanation.


Hello roc1,

A clause is linguistic unit which generally contains a subject and a verb, though there are some verb forms in English (non-finite forms) which do not require subjects, such as participles and imperatives. Clauses rank below sentences and above phrases in the hierarchy of linguistic structures, but a sentence can be formed of one clause by itself, or by multiple clauses joined together.

A phrase is a group of words not containing a subject and a verb and which functions as a grammatical unit (a noun phrase, a verb phrase etc).

Your example has a subject and a verb and so would be a clause, in my view. However, the sentence appears incorrect. In older forms of English 'thou' is a second-person form so it does not match the verb in the sentence ('says'), which is a third-person form. It may be that the word should be 'Thus' rather than 'Thou', or it may be that some punctuation is required.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,

I say thank you for your detailed explanation in reply to my question. Yes, I know the sentence is constructed in archaic manner; it's because it's an excerpt of a chapter in the old KJV version of the Bible. And I know it's a clause, but it's just that I am a bit confused about the way it's regarded as a phrase on the site I had come across it.

Thanks a lot once again for your quick reply and the clarity of your explanation.

Hello roc1,

I agree with Peter in thinking that it is clearly a clause. The word 'phrase' can have different meanings outside the context of syntactic analysis, however, so perhaps that is how the word was being used where you saw it.

In any case, you might want to take a look at the Wikipedia page on 'thou', as it explains different ways in which it is used. There is reference in the first paragraph to using verbs ending in -s with 'thou' in certain varieties of English. I honestly have no idea if that could be also the case with the KJV, but it's certainly a possibility. 

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for the reply, Peter M!! Have a great day!

Sir, My Dad is going to buy a mobile and so he asks me to choose one of the given options and I say 'Dad, Which should be brought it depends on you'
So Now Could I also say it like these manners,
"Dad, which to be brought depends on you"
"Dad, which is to be brought depends on you"
"Dad, which to bring depends on you" which is right ? And All I wanna know is in this sentence could 'the phase which to bring' be used like what to do ?