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?

  • 2
    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 ... Apr 2, 2014 at 16:51
  • 1
    The subject of the subordinate clause is no difference between base-oriented and object-oriented software.
    – user230
    Apr 2, 2014 at 22:59

2 Answers 2


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, 2014 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? Apr 2, 2014 at 16:43
  • [not any man][s] ever set foot .... right?
    – Hakan
    Apr 2, 2014 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? Apr 2, 2014 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, 2014 at 17:14

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