Noun Clauses – Examples

In English grammar, sentences have various layers and parts. This includes different parts of speech, such as nouns, adverbs, pronouns, verbs, etc., and clauses. First, we combine the various parts of speech together and produce different clauses. Further, these clauses are combined with one another to form unique complex sentences.

When we say clauses, there are generally two broad divisions. One is the independent clause, and the other is the dependent clause. However, dependent clauses can be further classified into three different types, namely adverb clauses, adjective clauses, and noun clauses. In this post, we will discuss the final type i.e. noun clauses.

Noun clauses are always dependent clauses. They cannot stand alone and express complete thoughts on their own. So, they are basically a type of dependent clause that acts as a noun in a sentence. Take a look at the explanations below to understand their purpose and function.

What are noun clauses?

By definition, we can simply state that noun clauses are the type of clauses that has a primary aim to play the role of a noun in a sentence. They take the place of any noun in a sentence and become whether subjects, objects, or subject complements.

In simple words, noun clauses can be defined as the type of dependent clause that functions as a noun in a sentence. Noun clauses are always reliant and can never express a complete thought by themselves. They are usually introduced or preceded by a copular or linking verb in a sentence.

Most noun clauses begin with words such as how, that, which, why, when, etc. However, do not confuse them with noun phrases. Unlike noun phrases, noun clauses consist of both a subject and a verb.

Let us look at some examples to have a better understanding:

  • She was shocked after what she saw last night.
  • I don’t know what he does all day long.
  • I do not understand what they are laughing about.
  • Whether she attends the meet or not is her decision.

Different functions of a noun clause

Now that we know the meaning and definition of a noun clause, let us figure out the different functions and roles that a noun clause can perform in a sentence.

Subject of a sentence: The first role of a noun clause is to act as the subject of a sentence. That means a noun clause can act as a single subject of the independent clause by itself performing the action in the sentence.

For example;

What Sarah said made her parents angry.

Object of a verb: Noun clauses also commonly act as the direct object of an independent clause. Here, they follow the verb to indicate the direction of the action.

For example;

She wasn’t sure why the waiter was staring at her.

Subject complement: Noun clauses can also act as subject complements that modify and complete the subject of a clause.

For example;

Sia’s problem was that she didn’t know the concept clearly.

Object of preposition: Finally, a noun clause can also act as an object in prepositional phrases.

For example;

Sia is not responsible for what Krish decided to do.

So, these are the main functions of a dependent clause as a noun clause. They mainly aim at acting or taking the place of any noun in a sentence.

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