Noun Clause: Definition, Types, Usage and Interesting Examples

A noun clause is an essential part of the English language, but they can be confusing for many people. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of noun clauses, how to identify them in a sentence, and how to use them effectively in your writing. Understanding the definition and function of a noun clause is essential for effective communication in English.

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What Is a Noun Clause?

Definition

A noun clause is a dependent clause that functions as a noun in a sentence. It can act as the subject, object, or complement of a sentence. A noun clause can start with words such as “what,” “who,” “whom,” “whose,” “where,” “when,” “why,” or “how.”

Function in a Sentence

The function of a noun clause in a sentence is to act as a noun. It can be used as the subject of a sentence, such as “What he said was true.” It can also be used as the object of a sentence, such as “I know what he said.” Additionally, it can be used as the complement of a sentence, such as “His goal is to find out what happened.”

Examples of Noun Clauses

Here are some examples of noun clauses:

  • “I don’t know what he wants.”
  • “She asked me where I was going.”
  • “They wondered how they could help.”
  • “He told me why he was late.”
  • “I’m not sure who is coming to the party.”

Noun clauses are dependent clauses that function as nouns in a sentence. They can act as the subject, object, or complement of a sentence. Noun clauses start with words such as “what,” “who,” “whom,” “whose,” “where,” “when,” “why,” or “how.”

Types of Noun Clauses

Noun clauses are dependent clauses that function as a noun in a sentence. They can be introduced by various words such as that, whether, if, wh-words, and more. In this section, we will explore the different types of noun clauses.

That-Clause

The that-clause is one of the most common types of noun clauses. It is introduced by the word that and acts as a subject, object, or complement in a sentence. For example:

  • Subject: That he is coming is good news.
  • Object: I believe that he is coming.
  • Complement: His hope is that he will succeed.

Wh-Clause

The wh-clause is introduced by a wh-word such as what, who, whom, whose, which, when, where, or why. It can act as a subject, object, or complement in a sentence. For example:

  • Subject: Who will win the game is uncertain.
  • Object: I don’t know what he wants.
  • Complement: Her question is why he did it.

Whether-Clause

The whether-clause is introduced by the word whether and expresses doubt or uncertainty. It can act as a subject or object in a sentence. For example:

  • Subject: Whether he will come to the party is still unknown.
  • Object: I’m not sure whether I should go.

If-Clause

The if-clause is introduced by the word if and expresses a condition. It can act as a subject, object, or complement in a sentence. For example:

  • Subject: If it rains tomorrow, we will stay inside.
  • Object: She asked me if I had seen the movie.
  • Complement: His hope is if he works hard, he will succeed.

Embedded Questions

Embedded questions are questions that are embedded within a sentence. They can act as a subject, object, or complement in a sentence. For example:

  • Subject: Whether he knows the answer is unclear.
  • Object: I don’t know what she wants.
  • Complement: His question is how to solve the problem.

Identifying Noun Clauses

Noun clauses are groups of words that function as a noun in a sentence. They can be identified by their structure, as they often begin with a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun. In this section, we will discuss how to identify a noun clause, as well as the subordinating conjunctions and pronouns that are commonly used to introduce them.

How to Identify a Noun Clause

Noun clauses can often be identified by their position in a sentence, as they typically function as the subject or object of a verb. For example, in the sentence “I know that you are coming,” the noun clause “that you are coming” functions as the direct object of the verb “know.”

Another way to identify a noun clause is by looking for a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun that introduces it. These words signal that the following group of words will function as a noun in the sentence.

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions are words that introduce dependent clauses, including noun clauses. Some common subordinating conjunctions used to introduce noun clauses include:

  • that
  • whether
  • if
  • how
  • why
  • when
  • where

For example, in the sentence “I wonder whether you will come,” the subordinating conjunction “whether” introduces the noun clause “you will come.”

Relative Pronouns

Relative pronouns are words that introduce relative clauses, which can also function as noun clauses. Some common relative pronouns used to introduce noun clauses include:

  • who
  • whom
  • whose
  • which
  • that

For example, in the sentence “The person who won the race will receive a prize,” the relative pronoun “who” introduces the noun clause “won the race.”

Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are words that are used to ask questions, but they can also introduce noun clauses in indirect questions. Some common interrogative pronouns used to introduce noun clauses include:

  • what
  • who
  • whom
  • whose
  • which
  • how

For example, in the sentence “I don’t know what you want,” the interrogative pronoun “what” introduces the noun clause “you want.”

Noun Clauses vs. Noun Phrases

Noun Clauses vs. Noun Phrases

Noun clauses and noun phrases are both types of noun structures, but they have some key differences. A noun clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a verb, and it functions as a noun in a sentence. A noun phrase, on the other hand, is a group of words that functions as a noun, but it does not contain a subject and a verb.

Predicate Nominatives and Nouns

A predicate nominative is a noun or pronoun that follows a linking verb and renames the subject of the sentence. A predicate noun is similar to a predicate nominative, but it is not a pronoun. Instead, it is a noun that follows a linking verb and renames the subject of the sentence.

Subject Complements

A subject complement is a word or group of words that follows a linking verb and describes or identifies the subject of the sentence. A subject complement can be a noun, pronoun, or adjective.

Adjective Complements

An adjective complement is a word or group of words that follows an adjective and describes or identifies the noun or pronoun that the adjective modifies. An adjective complement can be a noun, pronoun, or adjective.

Noun Clauses in a Sentence

Noun clauses are groups of words that function as a noun in a sentence. They can serve as the subject, direct object, indirect object, object of a preposition, or subject complement. In this section, we will explore each of these functions in more detail.

As a Subject

Noun clauses can function as the subject of a sentence. In this case, the noun clause takes the place of a noun and performs the same function. For example:

  • What he said was very interesting. (Noun clause as subject)

As a Direct Object

Noun clauses can also function as the direct object of a sentence. In this case, the noun clause receives the action of the verb. For example:

  • I know what you did last summer. (Noun clause as direct object)

As an Indirect Object

Noun clauses can function as the indirect object of a sentence. In this case, the noun clause tells to or for whom the action is done. For example:

  • She gave whoever needs it a ride home. (Noun clause as indirect object)

As an Object of a Preposition

Noun clauses can also function as the object of a preposition. In this case, the noun clause follows a preposition and tells what or whom the preposition refers to. For example:

  • He is interested in what you have to say. (Noun clause as object of a preposition)

As a Subject Complement

Noun clauses can function as the subject complement of a sentence. In this case, the noun clause follows a linking verb and renames or describes the subject. For example:

  • His goal is to become a doctor. (Noun clause as subject complement)
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