Noun Clauses

A noun clause is an entire clause which takes the place of a noun in another clause or phrase. Like a noun, a noun clause acts as the subject or object of a verb or the object of a preposition, answering the questions “who(m)?” or “what?”.

Noun clauses perform the same functions in sentences that nouns do:

  • A noun clause can be a subject of a verb:

What Billy did shocked his friends.

  • A noun clause can be an object of a verb:

Billy’s friends didn’t know that he couldn’t swim.

  • A noun clause can be a subject complement:

Billy’s mistake was that he refused to take lessons.

  • A noun clause can be an object of a preposition:

Mary is not responsible for what Billy did.

  • A noun clause (but not a noun) can be an adjective complement:

Everybody is sad that Billy drowned.

 

Here are some examples of sentences which contain one noun clause (underlined) and one independent clause:

Noun clauses as subjects of verbs:

  • That George learned how to swim is a miracle.
  • Whether Fred can get a better job is not certain.
  • What Mary said confused her parents.
  • However you learn to spell is OK with me.

Noun clauses as objects of verbs:

  • We didn’t know that Billy would jump.
  • We didn’t know Billy would jump.
  • Can you tell me if Fred is here?
  • I don’t know where he is.
  • George eats whatever is on his plate.

Noun clauses as subject complements:

  • The truth is that Billy was not very smart.
  • The truth is Billy was not very smart.
  • The question is whether other boys will try the same thing.
  • The winner will be whoever runs fastest.

Noun clauses as objects of prepositions:

  • Billy didn’t listen to what Mary said.
  • He wants to learn about whatever is interesting.

Noun clauses as adjective complements:

  • He is happy that he is learning English.
  • We are all afraid that the final exam will be difficult.

 

 

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