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NOUN CLAUSES

INTRUDUCTION 

Independent clause

 (a) Sue lives in Tokyo

Independent clause

(b) Where does Sue live?

A clause is a group of words containing a subject and a verb.An independent clause (or main clause) is a complete sentence. It contains the main subject and verb of a sentence. (a) is a statement, and (b) is a question

Dependent clause

(c)  Where Sue lives?

A dependent (or subordinate clause) is not a complete sentence. It must be connected to an independent clause. Example © is a dependent clause.

   Indep.cl dependent cl

 (d)  I know where Sue lives.

Example (d) is a complete sentence. It has an independent clause with the main subject (I) and verb (know) of the sentence. Where Sue lives is called a noun clause
Noun phrase

(e) His story was Interesting

Noun clause

(f) What he said was interesting

A noun phrase is used as a subject or an object.A noun clause is used as a subject or an object. In other words, a noun clause is used in the same ways as a noun phrase.

In (e):  His story is a noun phrase. It is used as the subject of the sentences

In (f):  What he said is a noun clause. It is used as the subject of the sentence. The noun clause has its own subject (he) and verb (said)

                                     Noun phrase

(g) I heard his story

Noun clause

(h) I heard what he said

In (g):  his story is a noun phrase. It is used as the object of the verb heardIn (h):  what he said is a noun clause. It is used as the object of the verb heard
                                             Noun phrase

(i) I listened to his history

Noun clause

(j) I listened to what he said

In (i):  his story is a noun phrase. It is used as the object of the preposition toIn (j):  what he said is a noun clause. It is used as the object of the preposition to.

 

NOUN CLAUSES BEGINNING WITH A QUESTION WORD

QUESTION                                                    NOUN CLAUSE 

Where does she live?                       (a) I don’t know where she lives

What did he say?                             (b) I couldn’t hear what he said

When do they arrive?                     (c) Do you know when they arrive?

In (a):  where she lives is the object of the verb know. In a noun clause, the subject precedes the verb. Do not use question word order in a noun clause.

Notices: does, did, an do are used in questions, but not in noun clauses. See Appendix Unit B for more information about question words and question forms

QUESTION                                                 NOUN CLAUSE

Who lives there?                               (d) I don’t know who lives there

What happened?                              (e) Please tell me what happened

Who is at the door?                          (f)I wonder who is at the door

In (d):  The word order is the same in both the question and the noun clause because who is the subject in both.

QUESTION                                             NOUN CLAUSE

Who is she?                                      (g) I don’t know who she is

Who are those men?                       (h) I don’t know who those men are

Whose house is that?                      (i)I wonder whose house that is

In (g):  she is the subject of the question, so it is placed in front of the verb be in the noun clause.

QUESTION                                                       NOUN CLAUSE

What did she say?                              (j) What she said surprised me

What should they do?                        (j)What they should do is obvious

In (j):  What she said is the subject of the sentence. Notice in (k):  A noun clause subject takes a singular verb (e,g.,is)


NOUN CLAUSES BEGINNING WITH THAT

STATEMENT                                           NOUN CLAUSE

He is a good actor                         (a) I think that he is a good actor

(b)   I think he is a good actor

The world is round                       (c)We know (that) the world is round

In (a): that is a good actor is a noun clause. It is used as the object of the verb think.

The word that, when it introduces a noun clause, has no meaning in itself. It simply marks the beginning of the clause.

Frequently it is omitted, as in (b), especially in speaking. (if used in speaking, it is unstressed)

STATEMENT 

She doesn’t understand spoken English.

NOUN CLAUSE

(d)    That she doesn’t understand spoken English is obvious

(e)   It is obvious (that) she doesn’t understand spoken English

STATEMENT 

The world is round

NOUN CLAUSE

(f) That the world is round is a fact

(g) It is a fact that the world is round

In (d): The noun clause (that she doesn’t understand spoken English) is the subject of the sentences. The word that is not omitted when it introduces a noun clause used as the subject of a sentences, as in (d) and (f).

More commonly, the word it functions as the subject and tahe noun clause is placed at the end of the sentence, as in (e) and (g

NOUN CLAUSES BEGINNING WITH WHETHER OR IF 

YES/NO QUESTIONWill she come?

Does he need help?

NOUN CLAUSE(a) I don’t know whether she will come

I don’t know if she will come

(b) I wonder whether he needs help

I wonder if he needs help

When a yes/no question is changed to a noun clause, whether or if is used to introduce the clause.(note: Whether is more acceptable in formal English, but if quite commonly used, especially in speaking)
(c) I wonder whether or not she will come(d) I wonder whether she will come or not

(e) I wonder if she will come or not

In (c), (d), and (e): Notice the patterns when or not is used
(f)       Whether she comes or not is unimportant to me In (f): notice that the noun clause is in the subject position

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