What Is a Noun Clause?
Structure of Noun Clauses
In this example, the object of the sentence is a noun.
In this example, the object of the sentence is a noun clause.
How to Identify Noun Clauses
To find out whether a phrase or clause is functioning as a noun or not, try replacing it with a pronoun. If the resulting sentence still makes sense, your phrase or clause is functioning as a noun. Pay attention to 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.
Uses of Noun Clauses
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. 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. Take a look at some examples of noun clauses as indirect objects:
I should have given
She will tell
Noun Clauses as Objects of 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 of
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 about
Noun Clauses as Subject Complements
You can become
In the sentence above, the noun clause 'whomever you 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 function as appositives, but noun clauses can also perform this grammatical function.
The answer from her husband,
Clauses: Nominal or Adverbial?
Identifying the different types of dependent clauses can be confusing, but one way to distinguish between adverbial and nominal clauses is to ask the following 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, while 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
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