Noun Clauses: Introduction

Before we go into details of noun clause, it is best to have an idea about complex sentences and clauses. Broadly speaking, any complex sentence has a main clause and one or more subordinate clauses. These subordinate clauses can be divided into 03 types as;

  1. Noun clauses
  2. Adjective clauses
  3. Adverb clauses

Let us discuss each of the clauses, which is important in order to thoroughly understand the complex sentence structures.

1. Noun clauses

A noun clause is a group of words which contains a subject & a predicate of its own and does the work of a noun.

Just have a look at the following sentences;

  1. She expected to win the match.
  2. They wanted that I shall go back home.
  3. That you did this to him makes me sad.

The first group of words, to win the match, does not contain a subject and a predicate of its own. It is therefore a phrase. This phrase is the object of the verb, win and thus it does the work of a noun. Thus it is called a noun phrase.

The second group of words, that I shall go back home, has a subject and a predicate of its own. It is therefore a clause. This clause is the object of the verb, expect, and does the work of a noun. Therefore it is called a noun clause.

The third group of words, That you did this to him, is the subject of the verb makes. Therefore it is also a noun clause, which we will discuss in detail in the coming lessons.

Although we here focus on noun clauses lets have some idea about the adjective clauses and adverb clauses too. This knowledge will help distinguishing noun clauses in a complex sentence.

2. Adjective clauses

An adjective clause is a group of words which contains a subject and a predicate of its own and does the work of an adjective.

Let’s check the following examples;

  1. The shirt with a black apple logo is mine
  2.  The shirt which has a black apple logo is mine.

The first group of words, with a black apple logo, describes the shirt and thus does the work of an adjective. But it has no subject and a verb of its own. It is therefore an adjective phrase.

The second group of words, which has a black apple logo, also describes the shirt and it has a subject and a predicate of its own. It is therefore called an adjective clause.

3. Adverb clauses

Similarly, an adjective clause is a group of words which contains a subject and a predicate of its own and does the work of an adverb.

Let’s see the following examples;

  1. Sunil stopped working in the evening (When?)
  2. Mike stopped working when the evening came (When?)

You will notice that the both groups of words do the work of an adverb as they modify the verb, stopped. The first group of words, in the evening, is an adverb phrase since it has no subject and predicate of its own.

However the second group of words, when the evening came, has a subject and a predicate on its own and it is therefore called an adverb clause.