- A noun clause is a dependent clause and cannot stand alone as a sentence. It must be connected to an independent clause, a main clause. A noun clause has its own subject and verb. It can begin with a question word. It can begin with if or whether. And it can begin with that.
a) Noun clauses with question words:
- The following question words can be used to introduce a noun clause: when, where, why, how, who, whom, what, which, whose.
- Answer this question using ‘I don’t know…’
- Where does Maria live?
- I don’t know ————-.
- It is incorrect to say, “I don’t know where does she live.”
- Notice that “does she live” is a question form. Noun clauses cannot be in question form; it has to be a statement.
- “I don’t know where she lives” is the correct answer.
- Noun clauses with who, what, whose + be:
- A noun or pronoun that follows main verb ‘be’ in a question comes in front of ‘be’ in a noun clause.
–> Who is that boy? I don’t know who that boy is.
- –> Whose pen is this? I don’t know whose pen this is.
- A prepositional phrase does not come in front of ‘be’ in a noun clause.
–> Who is in the office? I don’t know who is in the office.
- –> Whose pen is on the desk? I don’t know whose pen is on the desk.
- Notice that usual word order is not used when the question word is the subject of the question as in ‘who’ and ‘what’. In this case, the word order in the noun clause is the same as the word order in question.
- Be sure to complete the exercises in the assignments.
b) Noun clauses, which begin with if or whether:
- When a yes/no question is changed to a noun clause, if is usually used to introduce the clause.
–> Is Maria at home?
- I don’t know if Maria is at home.
- –> Does this bus go to Los Angeles?
- I don’t know if this bus goes to Los Angeles.
- –> Did Juan go to Mexico?
- I wonder if Juan went to Mexico.
- Frequently, speakers may add ‘or not’. This comes at the end of the noun clause in sentences with ‘if’ and immediately after ‘whether’ in sentences with ‘whether’.
–> I don’t know if Maria is at home or not.
- –> I don’t know whether or not Maria is at home.
- Notice that we cannot use ‘or not’ immediately after ‘if’.
- c) Noun clauses which begin with that:
- A noun clause can be introduced by the word ‘that’.
- –> I think that Ms. Weiss is a good teacher.
- In the sentence above, ‘Ms. Weiss is a good teacher’ is a noun clause. It is the object of the verb ‘think’.
- That clauses are frequently used as the object of verbs which express mental activity. Here are some common verbs followed by ‘that clauses’.
- Assume that believe that discover that dream that
- Guess that hear that hope that know that
- Learn that notice that predict that prove that
- Realize that suppose that suspect that think that
- There are many more verbs that can be followed by “that” clause.
- Here is an exercise for you:
- Complete the following with your own words. Use noun clauses.
- 1- I feel that —-
- 2- I wonder if —–
- 3- You are lucky that —–
- 4- It is a fact that ——
- 5- I doubt that ——–
- 6- I am worried that ——
- 7- I don’t know when ——
- 8- I don’t know if ——-
- 9- I regret that ——-
- 10- I am amazed that ——-
Find out the noun clauses in the following sentences and state what purpose they serve.1. The king ordered that the traitor should be put to death.
2. He said that he would not go.
3. That he is not interested in the offer is known to us.
4. He said that he was not feeling well.
5. I cannot rely on what he says.
6. I don’t know where he has gone.
7. He asked whether the servant had polished his shoes.
8. The news that he is alive has been confirmed.
9. The belief that the soul is immortal is almost universal.
10. It is certain that we will have to admit defeat.
11. It was fortunate that he was present.
12. The report that only ten persons were killed in the riots is not true.
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