Noun Clauses in English

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Noun clauses are a complex part of English grammar and can be difficult to get a handle on at the start. If you've ever felt confused by them, don't feel discouraged! They can be quite easy to learn.

In this reference, we'll be discussing what a noun clause is, common noun clause examples, types of noun clauses, and their role in sentences. Soon enough you'll clear up any confusion you had about this entire concept!

What is a Noun Clause?

Noun clauses are a kind of subordinate clause that functions as a noun. They have a subject and a verb, but unlike a regular clause, it does not express a complete thought. Noun clauses usually begin with words such as "what," "why," "who," "when," "how," or "that," and can be used to provide more information about a noun in the sentence.

For example, in the sentence "I don't know what he said," the noun clause is "what he said." It's a subordinate clause because it doesn't express a complete thought and it functions as a noun because it provides more information about the subject, “he.”

Noun clauses are often used to provide additional information about a subject, object, or idea in a sentence. They can also be used to ask questions or make statements.

Common Noun Clause Examples

Here are some common noun clause examples:

  • What she said
  • That he is leaving
  • How they met
  • Who they are
  • Why they are here
  • When they will arrive

In each of these examples, the noun clause is providing additional information about the subject, object, or idea in the sentence.

Types of Noun Clauses

There are three main types of noun clauses: declarative, interrogative, and relative.

Declarative noun clauses make a statement and usually begin with the word that. For example: “That he is leaving.” We use these clauses when we want to add extra information to a sentence.

Interrogative noun clauses ask a question and usually begin with the words what, why, when, how, or who. For example: “What he is doing.” We use these clauses when we want to ask a question about something.

Relative clauses provide additional information about a noun and usually begin with the words that, which, or who. For example: “The man who she is talking to.” We use these clauses when we want to provide information about a particular noun.

Essential vs. Non-Essential Noun Clause

Noun clauses can also be divided into two categories: essential and non-essential. Essential noun clauses are necessary to understand the meaning of the sentence, whereas non-essential noun clauses can be removed while the meaning of our sentence stays the same.

For example, in the sentence “The book that I am reading is interesting.” The noun clause “that I am reading” is essential, because it provides additional information about the noun “book”. If it is removed, the meaning of the sentence is gone.

On the other hand, in the sentence “The book, which is on the table, is interesting.” The noun clause “which is on the table” is non-essential, because it can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence. 
Noun Clauses in English

Using Noun Clauses in Sentences

Noun clauses can be used in a variety of ways in sentences. They can be used to provide additional information about a noun, ask a question, or make a statement.

For example, in the sentence “I don’t know where he is going.” The noun clause “where he is going” is used to ask a question.

In the sentence “She said that she was tired.” The noun clause “that she was tired” is used to make a statement. You can also add more than one noun clause to a sentence, such as in the sentence “I know what he said and why he said it.” Here, the noun clauses “what he said” and “why he said it” both work to tease out additional information.

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Noun Clause Grammar

Noun clauses usually consist of a subject and a verb. The subject can be a noun, pronoun, or phrase, and the verb can be any tense.

For example, in the sentence “I don’t know what he is doing.” The noun clause “what he is doing” consists of the subject “he” and the verb “is doing”.

Noun clauses can also contain other parts of speech, such as adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions. For example, in the sentence “I don’t know why he is leaving early.” The noun clause “why he is leaving early” contains the subject “he”, the verb “is leaving”, and the adverb “early”.

A noun clause with an adjective looks like this: "I don't know why he is so angry." Here, the noun clause “why he is so angry” contains the subject “he”, the verb “is”, and the adjective “angry”.

What is the Difference Between a Noun Clause and Noun Phrase?

A noun clause and a noun phrase are both groups of words that function as a noun. The main difference is the following: noun clauses contain a subject and a verb, whereas a noun phrase does not.

For example, in the sentence “The man who she is talking to.” The noun clause is “who she is talking to” and the noun phrase is “the man”.

Noun phrases can contain adjectives, adverbs, and other parts of speech, but they cannot contain a verb. Noun clauses can contain all of these things, verbs included.

Summary

Noun clauses are a type of subordinate clause that functions as a noun. There are three main types of noun clauses: declarative, interrogative, and relative. Noun clauses can also be essential and non-essential in sentences. The main difference between a noun clause and a noun phrase is that a noun clause contains a subject and a verb, whereas a noun phrase does not.

Now that you understand noun clauses, you can start using them in your English. Remember, practice makes perfect! If you need help, there are more references available below.

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Comments

FaridatJan 9th, 2024
Honestly this piece is insightful. It really helped with my homework and I practised and am now better
Leonardo Jan 9th, 2024
Thanks
Zaky Jan 9th, 2024
👌 wow 👌 thank you very much
Saif Jan 9th, 2024
Wow thanks very helpful
JenniferDec 22nd, 2023
nice
Crystal ThomasOct 23rd, 2023
I assume this article is intended to provide helpful instruction for proper grammar use, and I realize that the focus here is on noun clauses. However, there is a grammatical error (appearing twice) in one of your examples: '...the sentence “The man who she is talking to.”...' Not only has the incorrect pronoun been used within the clause, it should not end with a preposition. 'Who' should be 'whom' because it is the object of the preposition 'to'. The correct wording would be, "The man to whom she is talking."
sukhrobJun 7th, 2023
THANK