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.