Can I call the following a clause?

The way we are learning English is not good.

Here, what kind of clause is "The way we are learning English"

I think it's a noun clause because it sits before the auxiliary "is" here. Am I right? If I am correct what is "The way" in that clause?


It is a noun phrase, and the subject of the sentence. It is not a clause, but it contains one.

The noun phrase has a noun "the way" and a relative clause; "we are learning English" is the relative clause, it describes the noun "way". You could also write "The way that we are learning English".

The word "is" is the main verb (not an auxiliary) and "not good" is an adjective and the complement of the subject.

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  • The AdjP "not good" is complement of the verb "be", not of the subject, although it does of course refer to the latter. – BillJ Jun 7 '18 at 14:38
  • It's a subject complement that complements the subject of the sentence by describing it. – James K Jun 7 '18 at 14:48
  • No: in full it's called a subjective predicative complement. It's a dependent in the predicate VP, not the NP subject. – BillJ Jun 7 '18 at 15:39
  • @James K Agreed. It is called the subjective predicative complement because it complements the subject. It completes, but does not complement, the verb. – James Jun 7 '18 at 17:35
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    @James No: it doesn't complement the subject, but simply refers to it, which is why it's called a subjective PC. The crucial point is that it's not an obligatory item in the subject NP, but an obligatory dependent of the verb, and hence a complement of the latter. Further, it qualifies as a complement of the verb because it has to be licensed by a particular type of verb, e.g., “be, seem, become”. In other words, it plays no syntactic role in the subject NP, but does so entirely in the VP. Complement is a syntactic function, not a semantic concept. – BillJ Jun 7 '18 at 18:05

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Here is a simplified tree of the OP's sentence, which clearly shows that syntactically the complement "not good" belongs in the predicate VP, not the subject NP. The complement is required to complete the verb phrase and hence is complement of the verb.

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