As my crew and I travel further away from the safety of our families and homes, all that I can see is a sunset casting its last light on the blue nothingness ahead.

The first clause is adverbial.

What makes up the second clause? (participle phrase at the end, for example) It seems as though it begins with a noun clause as the subject...But I thought it HAD to begin with that, and ALL begins the sentence in this case...

Can you break it up for me into its parts to help me answer this question, please.

1 2
As my crew and I travel farther away from the safety of our families and homes-- Adverbial clause (as you said).

all that I can see is a sunset casting its last light on the blue nothingness ahead. -- Main clause

all that I can see-- Subject

is -- Main verb

a sunset casting its last light on the blue nothingness ahead.-- Complement

I was hoping for a more refined analysis than that. Two questions are below:

1) For example, what kind of subject is that? It seems like a noun clause, but I thought they had to begin with complementizers like 'that' not 'all'?

2) Also, could you say that the complement is more specifically the sunset and the particple phrase and prepositional phrase are its modifiers?

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Hello, Eddie.
There are two other dependent clauses in your sentence.

1. (that I can see)
This is a relative clause, post modifier of the pronoun "all". "I" is the subject of the clause, and "that" together with "can see" the predicate. In the predicate you have the verb phrase, made up of a modal auxiliary (can), and a lexical verb (see), and there is also a D.O. (that). Remember that the relative pronouns will be either the subject or the object of the relative clause they introduce).

2. (casting its light on the blue nothingness ahead)
This is a non-finite clause, called by some grammarians a "reduced relative clause", and by others a "present participial clause". It is non-finite because it doesn't have a conjugated verb. In this case, you have only part of the verb tense (present continuous). The "missing" part, to call it sometihng, is the relative pronoun plus the auxiliary "to be".
If the clause had been finite, it would have read "that is casting..."
So, you have a non-finite clause acting as post modifier of "sunset". Internally, you will analyse the clause as if it were a predicate, since the main word, the head, is a verb form (casting). "Its light" is the D.O. of casting; "on the blue nothingness ahead" is an adjunct of place (syntactic function) and a prepositional phrase (category or structure).

I hope that makes sense.

I've just seen your second post.

1. The subject is "all that I can see". It is a noun phrase, not a noun clause. The head of the subject is the pronoun "all", and "That I can see" is a clause, only not a noun clause but, as I said before, a relative clause, post modifier of "all". (remember that "that" can introduce BOTH relative and noun clauses, but when the that-clause is a nominal one, it will not appear right after a noun).

2. I think I answered this before you asked! Emotion: smile

"As my crew and I travel further away from the safety of our families and homes, all that I can see is a sunset casting its last light on the blue nothingness ahead."

I am not familiar with the way native speakers analyze English and don't know some of their terms. That's why my analyses are sometimes different from those of native speakers. I do not wish to be involved in arguments about what label to put on anything, really, but I would just like to mention that in my opinion all that I can see is a sunset is made up of two clauses. The first one is all is a sunset, with all being the subject and is the finite verb. The other clause is a relative clause that I can see, with that being the relative pronoun, I the subject and can see the verb.

In my terminology casting its light on the blue nothingness ahead is a relative clause equivalent of a basic kind. It could be reworded which is casting its light... I am exactly like Clive in that I don't see much point in arguing about what to call something in a sentence. By the way, you and I have a different definition about what a sentence is. In the grammar I am am acquainted with, a sentence can't begin in the middle of another sentence! ("ALL begins the sentence in this case...")

This probably won't help you much in your grammatical efforts but it's the best I can do.Emotion: smile

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Hi, yes it does make sense, thanks!

I have one question, however.

You mentioned that 'that I can see' is the relative clause; however, I thought that if you omit the relative clause, the sentence still makes sense, but, in this case, it doesn't.

Please help, thanks.
I'm glad I was of some help, Eddie.

Now, about relative clauses, there are two main types: restrictive (also called defining) and non-restrictive (or non-defining).

What you have in your sentence is a restrictive relative clause. It is never between commas, it is not similar to a parenthetical comment, thus it can't be omitted. It is necessary for the sentence to make sense.

A non-restrictive relative clause, on the other hand, appears between commas, and it gives you additional information about the antecedent (the noun it modifies). This is information you could very well do without, so if you removed the clause the sentence would still make sense. Another interesting thing about non restrictive relative clauses is that they are NEVER introduced by "that".

Let me give you an example of the same sentence, first with a restrictive relative clause, then with a non-restrictive one:

1. "I said hello to the old man (who lives next door) on my way to work."
What is in parentheses is a relative clause, a restrictive one. If you remove it, the meaning of the sentence will not be clear, or it will be ambiguous. If you use this type of relative clause it is because you feel the information you are giving about the old man is important to identify him.

2. "I said hello to the old man, (who lives next door), on my way to work."
What is in parentheses is a relative clause, in this case a non-restrictive one. It doesn't give information vital for the identification of the old man. Probably, there is only one old man you can be referring to, or the already listener knows who he is. You don't need to say he lives next door. since this information is only a comment, you put it in parentheses and, if you remove the clause, the meaning of the sentence won't change or be lost.

Compare "My sister who lives in London is a teacher" with "My sister, who lives in London, is a teacher."
The relative clause (restrictive) in the first sentence shows, or implies, that you have more than one sister, and that you are referring now to the one that lives in London as opposed, to, say, the one who lives in Leeds.
In the second sentence, the relative clause, being a non-restrictive one, shows that you have only one sister. The fact that she lives in London is not necessary for the sentence to make sense, so the relative clause can certainly be removed.

Is it any clearer now? Emotion: smile

Hi, Miriam,

thanks for the second reply. I am aware that 'that' can introduce both noun clauses and adjective clauses. It sounds like you have the knowledge to answer another post of mine- it would be great if you could. http://www.EnglishForward.com/English/DifferenceBetweenComplementNoun-Clause/hzrld/post.htm

In regards to your second reply, I have one question. Why is it a noun phrase and not a noun clause? 'All that I can see' I assume it is because the verb is in the relative clause, but then if I can't use the relative clause as part of the subject then all I have left is 'all'.

In regards to your latest reply, I have one question. I already knew of non-essential and essential clauses. What I was meaning is when the relative clause is omitted, it doesn't make sense grammatically. I thought that if a relative clause were omitted, the sentence still makes sense grammatically, but the essential meaning changes. But in this sentence it no longer makes sense...

Thanks for your help!
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