Understanding Noun Clauses: Definition and Examples

Understanding Noun Clauses: Definition and Examples

What is a Noun Clause?

A noun clause is a group of words that plays the role of a noun in a sentence. Just like any other noun, it can work as a subject, object, or complement. However, it is not similar to a regular noun, because a noun clause cannot stand alone as a complete sentence. It is dependent on the main clause to express a complete thought.

  • Tell me who the winner is.
  • We can’t decide which movie to watch.
  • They wonder when the concert starts.
  • He doesn’t know if he should apply for the job.
  • She understands that studying is important.

Types of Noun Clauses:

There are three main types of noun clauses:

  • Declarative Noun Clauses
  • Interrogative Noun Clauses
  • Relatives Noun Clauses

Declarative Noun Clauses:

Declarative noun clauses are used to make a simple statement or declaration. They function as the subject or object of a sentence, and often begin with words like that, what, or if.  These clauses help to clarify the subject matter.

  • She believes that he is innocent.
  • The fact that dogs are loyal is widely known.
  • I hope that we succeed in our endeavors.

Interrogative Noun Clauses:

Interrogative noun clauses are used to ask questions or seek information in a sentence. These clauses are often introduced by question words such as  who, what, where, why, how, etc., and they function as direct objects or are used to inquire individuals within a sentence.

  • I don’t know who will win the competition.
  • Could you tell me what time the train departs?
  • She wonders why he didn’t attend the event.

Relative Noun Clauses:

Relative noun clauses are used to provide extra information about a noun or pronoun in the main clause. They are introduced by relative pronouns such as  who, whom, whose, which, or that.

  • The man who lives next door is a doctor.
  • She showed me the book that she had purchased.
  • The car, which was parked illegally, was towed away.

Subordinating Conjunctions Used in Noun Clauses:

Noun clauses are usually introduced by subordinating conjunctions. These conjunctions help create a relationship between the main clause and the dependent noun clause. Below are some common subordinating conjunctions that are used to introduce noun clauses:

  • That:
    It is the most commonly used subordinating conjunction which is used to introduce noun clauses. It can be used in various contexts and is often left out in informal speech.
    He believes that she will succeed.
  • Whether/If:
    These conjunctions are used to introduce noun clauses when the clause expresses doubt, uncertainty, or a choice between possibilities.
    I’m not sure whether/if it will rain.
  • Wh- words:
    The following Relative Pronouns : who, whom, whose, what, where, when, why, and how, can also introduce noun clauses.
    I wonder where they went.

Functions of Noun Clauses in Sentences:

Noun clauses are sued to perform various functions in a sentence. Here are some common roles that noun clauses can fulfill:

  • Subject:
    A noun clause can act as the subject of a sentence. in this situation, it takes the place of a regular noun. It answers the question What is it?
    What you said surprises me.
  • Direct Object:
    A noun clause is also used to function as the direct object of a verb. It answers the question What?  or Who? after the verb.
    She doesn’t know what he wants.
  • Indirect Object:
    A noun clause can function as the indirect object of a verb. it indicates to whom or for whom an action is performed.
    He revealed who took the money.
  • The Object of a Preposition:
    A noun clause can also function as the object of a preposition. it then provides information about place, time, or other aspects.
    She’s worried about when they will arrive.
  • Complement of a verb:
    A noun clause is also used to act as the complement of a verb. in this state, it completes the verb and adds details to the subject.
    His biggest fear is that he will fail.

Examples of Noun Clause:

  • What she said made me laugh.
  • I don’t know what he wants for his birthday.
  • Wherever you go, I will follow.
  • I heard that you won the competition.
  • Whoever finishes first gets a prize.
  • The fact that she lied surprises me.
  • I wonder who will be the next president.
  • I believe whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
  • The teacher asked if we understood the lesson.
  • I’m afraid of what might happen next.
Understanding Noun Clauses: Definition and Examples

Understanding Noun Clauses: Definition and Examples

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