Mostly, the English learners are ok with the idea of nouns, but when it comes to noun clauses, they may not be as confident as they are with nouns. Read more.
What Is a Noun Clause?
A noun clause (also called a nominal clause) is a clause that acts as a noun. These clauses are always dependent clauses; that is, they do not form a complete sentence.
Noun Clause: Structure
Typically a noun clause starts with: a 'wh-word' (what, who, which, when, where, why, how) or 'that.' For example:
- Relative pronouns: that, which, who, whom, whose, what
- Indefinite relative pronouns: whoever, whomever, whatever, whichever
- Interrogatives: who (interrogative pronoun), what (interrogative adjective), how (interrogative adverb)
- Subordinating conjunctions: how, if, whether, when, why
Noun Clauses: How to Identify
If you want to know whether a phrase or clause is functioning as a noun or not, try replacing it with a pronoun. If it makes sense, your phrase or clause is acting as a noun. Consider the following examples:
By replacing 'what you did' with a pronoun you can see that 'What you did' is functioning as a noun.
By replacing 'how to make these cakes' with a pronoun you can see that 'how to make these cakes' is functioning as a noun.
Noun Clause: Uses
A noun clause can be used as:
Noun Clauses: As Subjects
Subjects in grammar are words, phrases, or clauses that do the action of verbs. They can be nouns, pronouns, and noun clauses. Take a look at the following examples:
In this example, the noun clause acts as the subject of the independent clause.
Noun Clauses: As Direct Objects
Noun clauses can function as direct objects of the verb in the sentence (the independent clause).
Direct objects are words, phrases, or clauses that receive the action of a transitive verb. Sometimes a noun clause can function as the direct object. Examples of noun clauses as direct objects include the following:
He finally confessed
You can choose
Noun Clauses: As Indirect Objects
Noun clauses can also function as indirect objects of the verb in the sentence (the independent clause).
Indirect objects are words, phrases, or clauses that receive the action of a ditransitive verb. Sometimes a noun clause can function as the indirect object. Take a look at some examples of noun clauses as indirect objects:
I should have given
She will tell
Noun Clauses: As Objects of the Prepositions
Other times, noun clauses can act as the object of a preposition in the independent clause. For example:
I like to keep a schedule
In the sentence above, the noun clause 'when I have upcoming appointments' is acting as the object of the preposition 'of.'
My teacher is writing a book
Noun Clauses: As Subject Complements
Noun clauses can act as subject complements (nouns that follow linking verbs). Noun clauses that function as subject complements are also referred to as predicate nominatives and predicate nouns.
You can become
In the sentence above, the noun clause whomever they want to be is the subject complement of the linking verb become.
The problem is
Noun Clauses: As Appositives
Appositives are words, phrases, or clauses that describe or modify another word, phrase, or clause. Typically nouns and noun phrases have this rule, but noun clauses also perform this grammatical function.
The answer from her husband,
Clauses: Nominal or Adverbial?
Identifying the types of dependent clauses from each other can be somehow confusing. One way to identify if a clause is adverbial or nominal is to ask these questions about the clause:
- If the clause answers the questions, 'who?' or 'what?,' then it is a noun clause.
- If the clause answers the questions: 'where?,' 'how?,' 'when?,' or 'why?,' then it is an adverbial clause.
Noun Clause (acting as a subject):
Adverbial Clause (acting as an adverb):
The main difference between noun clauses and relative or adverbial clauses is that relative clauses and adverbial clauses modify nouns and verbs respectively, noun clauses replace nouns altogether.
'Noun clauses' are dependant clauses that do not form a meaningful sentence. They sit instead of a noun. These noun clauses can function as:
- Subject complements
- Objects of the preposition
- Indirect object
- Direct object
- What Is a Noun Clause?
- Noun Clause: Structure
- Noun Clauses: How to Identify
- Noun Clause: Uses
- Noun Clauses: As Subjects
- Noun Clauses: As Direct Objects
- Noun Clauses: As Indirect Objects
- Noun Clauses: As Objects of the Prepositions
- Noun Clauses: As Subject Complements
- Noun Clauses: As Appositives
- Clauses: Nominal or Adverbial?