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

Hello,

I have a question regarding my latest comment below.
(present, past)
If I were rich, I would have bought that Ferrari we saw yesterday.
If Sam spoke Russian, he would have translated the letter for you.

(future, past)
If I weren't going on my business trip tomorrow, I would have accepted that new assignment.
If Donna weren't making us a big dinner tonight, I would have suggested we go to a restaurant.

(future, present)
If I were going to the concert tonight, I would be very excited.
If Sandy were giving a speech tomorrow, she would be very nervous.

In these examples, I don't see how the result precedes the condition. Should I use tenses, depending on their usage in real and unreal conditionals? For example,
''If you were gonna make it, you would have made it before'', ''were going to'' is the only choice since it's future in the past. In unreal conditionals, past simple substitutes for unreal present and future and so on...

Thank you

Hello JakiGeh,

That's a lot of examples for us to comment on! It's not really possible for us to provide such long answers (to long questions) in the comments sections, which are intended for clearing up individual issues rather than providing long explanations. That said, all of the examples are similar, so I will explain one from each pair and I hope you will be able to apply the explanation to the others.

In every sentence the condition is something which was true (in the sense that it was already the case or was already known) before the result. For example:

If I were rich, I would have bought that Ferrari we saw yesterday.

The condition here describes a state which is not real but which applies to general time. The meaning is not 'If I suddenly became rich now' but 'If I had always been and was still now rich'. It describes a general truth, not a sudden change. Similarly, if I say 'If I were a woman' I am talking about a general truth about me, not about a sudden and immediate change of gender.

 

The sentence

If I weren't going on my business trip tomorrow, I would have accepted that new assignment.

is about knowledge, not travel. The speaker's business trip is in the future, but they knew about this trip when they were offered the new assignment, and refused that assignment because of the confict.

 

The sentence

If I were going to the concert tonight, I would be very excited.

is similar. The concert may be in the future, but the speaker's knowledge about the concert is very much in the present, and it is the knowledge which causes (or does not cause, in this case) their feeling's of excitement.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

I don't understand clearly how to construct unreal future conditional sentences because only they have different forms.

I know that can be mixed because it's an unreal situation. For example,

''If you were gonna make it, you would have made it before''
Condition is in future and result is in past.

But the question is if we change a tense in condition, how does it change meaning? I know three forms:

If you were gonna make it,...
If you made it,...
It you were making it,...

Should I always use ''were'' instead of ''was'' with all subjects in formal English?

Thank you very much.

Hello JakiGeh,

Of those three choices, only 'were going to make it' is grammatically possible. In conditional constructions there are two fundamental rules.

First, the sentence must be logically consistent. That means that the condition must precede the result.

Second, the sentence must be consistent in terms of reality. In other words, it must be either real or unreal, and you cannot mix a real condition with an unreal result.

The result clause in your sentence is 'would have made it'. This is an unreal result in the past. It requires an unreal condition before it (in terms of time).

You can say 'If you were going to make it' as this has the meaning 'If it was your fate to make it' and so can refer to a time before the result clause. 'If you made it' and 'If you were making it' do not make any logical sense with the result clause you provide, and would not work in terms of sequence either as they place the result before the condition.

In more formal use 'were' is generally more acceptable, but in informal use 'was' is also quite common.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello

'I believe that to be a part of your university will...'

What is the difference between using an infinitive or gerund phrase in the acting-as-a-noun case? For instance, ''being'' instead of ''to be''. Maybe it is just a question of style?

'I am very aware of importance of staying creative, so going for a long walk in nature relaxes and gives me a clear mind. In fact, that way I wrote many of my projects such as...'

Does ''that way'' act as an adverb? I think it sound better than ''this is the way how I wrote...''

Is this kind of constructions often in English? For example, every day, last time... These are adjective-and-noun combinations, in my opinion, acting as adverbs.

Thank you.

Hello MCWSL,

The infinitive in this structure is used when we are talking about a possible but not actual state. The gerund can describe a current state or a possible state. For example:

I believe that to be a part of your university will... [the speaker is not a part of the university]

I believe that being a part of your university will... [the speaker may or may not already be a part of the university]

In both cases the result will be in the future, of course.

 

You are correct that 'that way' acts as an adverb. Phrases of this kind are very common. For example, adverbs of time are often constructed this way: last week, next month, every weekend.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

''In 1999, John hears requests in his role as the master''

What is the meaning of ''requests in his role?''

''Michael extracts John’s confession to his complicity in setting up the gunned-down for Jack.''

I think that confession could be made to somebody, but if this sentence meant that, it wouldn't make sense. What is the meaning of ''conffesion to his complicity''?

''Jack receives fish wrapped in the vest, indicating...''

I've checked fish could be an coun and uncoun noun. Is in this sentence fish uncountable?

''They closed the door on her.''

What does it mean ''to close on her?''

Thank you.

Hi sir;

Can we say the below sentence in both ways .

its the total number of works in hours to which the team is committed to.

its the total number of works in hours when the team is committed to

Thanks

Hello pumbi,

I'm afraid neither of those sentences is correct. 'Work' is uncountable, so we would not say 'number' or 'works'. I'm not sure what you're trying to say, to be honest, and it's not really our role to provide a correction service for our users. We're here to explain how the language works and provide support for users with our materials.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir ;

I found the below sentence. Here, that word is used with "everywhere". Is it correct ?.

I always have my phone everywhere that I go.

Thanks

Pages