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 peter!
i thought like this 'I heard (that) someone was playing the piano' 
Is this correct when we use 'that' ? I have learnt verbs follow by that clause in this web site.But there i didn't see 'heard'. If we can use 'that' in this sentence it means we can say 'I heard someone was playing the piano'. could you explain this for me.
 
Thank you.

Hi bimsara,

I'm going to try explaining this a different way. Please consider the following four sentences:

1. I heard someone playing the piano.
2. I heard that someone was playing the piano.
3. I heard someone was playing the piano.
4. I heard someone who was playing the piano.

Sentence 1 is from our -ing forms page, and as Peter explained, someone playing the piano is a reduced relative clause and is the object of the verb. We could say this when we hear a piano being played.

In sentences 2 and 3, the verb hear is followed by a that clause (3 is identical to 2, except that that has been omitted). It's true that hear is not in the list of verbs on our verbs followed by that clause page, but the list on that page is not exhaustive - hear is a verb that can be followed by a that clause. We'd typically say one of these sentences to communicate that someone told us that there was a pianist performing somewhere.

Sentence 4 is not grammatically correct for the reason Peter indicated in his last message.

I hope this clarifies the matter for you, but please let us know if not.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello kirk!
 
Thanks for your great help.I finally took the idea like this.please tell me am i correct.
I heard someone playing the piano.
I heard that someone was playing the piano.
I heard someone was playing the piano.
I heard who was playing the piano.
 
All four ways of these sentences are correct and give the same meaning.
Thank you.

Hi kirk!
Sorry for my first reply message to you.I just realized that sentence two and three give different meaning than sentence one.Exactly I want to know is sentence four which i mentioned is correct or wrong and can we use these four formats to every sentence like this.
 
ex: we saw every body running, I could hear someone singing. I heard someone saying that.
 
Thank you.
 

Hi bimsara,

The example sentences you give at the end of your comment are all like my sentence 1.

The new sentence you ask about ("I heard who was playing the piano.") is different from the others. This new sentence means that someone told you the name of the pianist, i.e. you can now answer the question "Who was playing the piano?".

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter and Kirk.
 
Thank you very much for both of you.Now I got the idea about this.

Hi Pete ,
Would you please tell what is a reduced relative clause? 
In the sentence - I heard someone playing the piano. 
Can we alter the sentence a little bit: I heard someone played the piano.
Do you think the altered version is correct? If yes then why ? If no then why?
Would you please clarify our doubts if possible.
Best wishes,
Livon
 
 
 

Hello Livon,

A reduced relative clause (also called a participle clause) is one in which part (from the relative pronoun up to the participle) is missed out.  We use the -ing form to replace an active verb form.  For example:

I heard someone who was playing the piano.

I heard someone playing the piano.

Here, the 'playing' is at the same time as the main verb 'heard', but it's worth remembering that in sentences like this the -ing form can represent any time - it actually represents the time of the other action.  For example, here is a sentence with past time reference:

People who lived in Manchester in the 19th centrury had terrible problems with the smog.

If we use a participle clause then the sentence looks like this:

People living in Manchester in the 19th century had terrible problems with the smog.

Thus we use the -ing form for any time reference, including future reference:

Students who hand in their work late will get no marks.

Students handing in their work late will get no marks.

We use the third form (past participle) to replace passive verb forms:

I saw the man kissed = I saw that he was kissed (by someone)

In the room was a man dressed in a blue suit = he was dressed (passive form) in a blue suit

You can find more information on relative clauses here.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

Dear Pete,
Thank you very much for your response as it not only helps me but also other English learners.
Please Keep up the good work!!
Warmest regards,
Livon
 

Hi Teachers,
When,why and how do we make reduced relative clause? 
I would be very grateful for your assistance.
Best wishes,
Livon
 

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