I have an assumption but I am not pretty sure. Does 'no difference' is the subject of the next sentence?

If so, how can it be a subject with no + difference?

The result was that no difference between base-oriented and object-oriented software could be measured over maintainability.


As @relaxing indicates that I actually want to know the subject of the subordinate clause,so we have found that!.

So again, how can it be a subject with no + difference?

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    No is a determiner (quantifier) here. The clause has basically the same structure as Each difference could be ..., Every difference could be ..., Any difference could be ... – Damkerng T. Apr 2 '14 at 16:51
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    The subject of the subordinate clause is no difference between base-oriented and object-oriented software. – snailplane Apr 2 '14 at 22:59

The subclause in active voice:

  • We could find no difference / a small difference/ a big difference/ a difference. - Four examples for direct objects.

In passive voice the object becomes the subject: - No difference / a small difference / a big difference / a difference could be found.

The noun groups with "difference" are the subjects, It does not matter what sub-elements the word "difference" has. You can replace all four subjects by a pronoun such as something or it:

  • Something could be found.
  • It could be found.

The subject of the sentence is The result, the verb is was, and that no difference... is a subordinate clause serving as a direct object.

The subordinate clause has its own subject (no difference...) and verb (be measured.)

EDIT: How can "no difference" be a subject -- there are such things as complex subjects that can be entire noun phrases, or nouns and simple modifiers. In this case, no + difference, the "no" quantifies the amount of difference, and the subject becomes the sum meaning of both words.

  • Thanks I will edit my post, so apparently I am right about 'no difference' is a subject of the subordinate clause but how no + difference could be a subject ? – Hakan Apr 2 '14 at 16:41
  • Consider the example - "No man ever set foot on the surface of Mars till now" what do you think about this sentence? Is it okay? And what is the subject? – Man_From_India Apr 2 '14 at 16:43
  • [not any man][s] ever set foot .... right? – Hakan Apr 2 '14 at 16:49
  • The subject of that sentence is "no man". So if we can use "no + noun" as subject in this sentence, what is wrong with these kind of constructions to be the subject of a subordinate clause like you have in your original sentence? – Man_From_India Apr 2 '14 at 16:56
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    @relaxing just a comment on naming. The subordinate clause is acting as a subject predicative. It is said that copular verbs (be, seem, look like...) don't take objects, instead what happens is that the subject predicative complements the subject. – Nico Apr 2 '14 at 17:14

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