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Noun Clause

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Most people are comfortable with the idea of a noun, but they may not feel so confident when it
comes to the noun clause. A noun clause is a group of words acting together as a noun. These clauses
are always dependent clauses. That is, they do not form a complete sentence.
The best way to familiarize yourself with these types of clauses is to take a look at some sample
sentences containing noun clauses at work.

Purpose of a Noun Clause


Noun clauses are used to name something when a single word isn't enough. Again, they're always
going to be dependent clauses and these clauses can't stand alone. If a dependent clause stands alone,
it forms a sentence fragment, not a full sentence. While an independent clause can act as a sentence
by itself, a dependent clause cannot.

How to Spot a Noun Clause


One of the easiest ways to spot a noun clause is to look for these words:
 How
 That
 What
 Whatever
 When
 Where
 Whether
 Which
 Whichever
 Who
 Whoever
 Whom
 Whomever
 Why

Types of Noun Clauses


Beyond these keywords, you can also spot a noun clause based on its function within the sentence.
Let's take a look at some of the most prominent roles of noun clauses.

Subject of a Verb
A noun clause can act as the subject of a verb. For example:
 What Alicia said made her friends cry.
 What Megan wrote surprised her family.
 How the boy behaved was not very polite.
When there's a verb in the sentence, you must find the subject.
 In the first sentence, we can ask, "What made her friends cry?" The answer is "what Alicia said."
Therefore, "what Alicia said" is the subject of the verb "made."
 In the second sentence, we can ask, "What surprised her family?" The answer is "what Megan
wrote."
 In the third sentence, we can ask, "What was not very polite?" The answer is "how the boy
behaved."

Object of a Verb
In the same vein, noun clauses can also act as the direct object of a verb:
 She didn't realize that the directions were wrong.
 He didn't know why the stove wasn't working.
 They now understand that you should not cheat on a test.
Once again, you can use the method of questioning to demonstrate how the noun clause is being
used.
 In the first sentence, we can ask, "What didn't she realize?" and the answer is "that the directions
were wrong." Therefore, "that the directions were wrong" is the object of the verb.
 In the second sentence, we can ask, "What didn't he know?" and the answer is "why the stove
wasn't working."
 In the third sentence, we can ask, "What do they understand?" and the answer is "that you should
not cheat on a test."

Subject Complement
A noun clause can also serve as a subject complement. A subject complement will always modify,
describe, or complete the subject of a clause.
 Carlie's problem was that she didn't practice enough.
 Harry's crowning achievement at school was when he became class president.
 Darla's excuse for being late was that she forgot to set her alarm.
Do you see what questions these noun clauses answer and how they relate to the subject?
 What was Carlie's problem? She didn't practice enough.
 What was Harry's crowning achievement? It was when he became class president.
 What was Darla's excuse for being late? It was that she forgot to set her alarm.
Without these clauses, the sentences would not be complete thoughts.

Object of a Preposition
Noun clauses also act as objects of a preposition. In the examples below, you'll see the prepositions
"of" and "for" in action.
 Harry is not the best provider of what Margie needs.
 Josephine is not responsible for what Alex decided to do.
 Allie is the owner of that blue car parked outside.
Again, the best way to understand this concept is by asking the appropriate questions.
 In the first sentence, we can ask, "Harry is not the best provider of what?" The answer is "what
Margie needs."
 In the second sentence, we can ask, "Josephine is not responsible for what?" The answer is
"what Alex decided to do."
 In the third sentence, we can ask, "Allie is the owner of what?" The answer is "that blue car
parked outside."
Each of these sentences could be complete before the addition of the prepositions. However, the
prepositions are introduced to provide further detail and the noun clauses act as the objects of these
prepositions.

Adjective Complement
Last but not least, a noun clause can also function as an adjective complement, modifying a verb,
adjective, or adverb.
 Her family was happy when Meg returned home.
 The child is sad that his stomach hurts.
 I'm excited that my best friend is coming to visit.
Ask some similar questions as before.
 In the first sentence, we can ask, "When was her family happy?" ("Happy" is an adjective for the
family.) And the answer to that is "when Meg returned home."
 In the second sentence, we can ask, "Why is the child sad?" ("Sad" is an adjective for the child.)
And the answer to that is "that his stomach hurts."
 In the third sentence, we can ask, "Why are you excited?" ("Excited" is an adjective for "I.")
And the answer is "that my best friend is coming to visit."
Similar to the examples containing prepositions, each of these sentences could be complete after the
adjectives. However, the adjective complements provide further detail and, in each of these instances,
these adjective complements are noun clauses.

Identifying a Noun Clause


Noun clauses are common in everyday speech. They add crucial information to sentences.
Remember, noun clauses:
 Contain a subject and a verb
 Are dependent clauses
 Function as a noun in the sentence
 Begin with words like that, what, when, or why, to name a few
Indeed, no sentence can be constructed without a noun. Now, go have some fun with these Noun
Games, Noun Quizzes, and Noun Worksheets.