We have seen that a noun clause is a type of dependent clauses which does the work of a noun in a complex sentence.
Since a noun clause does the work of a noun in a complex sentence, it can be:
- The subject of a verb.
- The object of a transitive verb.
- The object of a preposition.
- In apposition to a noun or pronoun.
- The complement of a verb of incomplete prediction.
In each of the following complex sentences, the noun clause is the subject of the verb:
- How he could assist me was his concern.
- Whether we can start next week seems uncertain.
- That you did so surprises me.
- What I said was true.
- When he will return is uncertain.
- Why Anne hung herself is mystery.
In each of the following complex sentences, the noun clause is the object of a transitive verb:
- Please tell me why you did this.
- I do not know when she will return.
- I cannot tell what has become of him.
- I asked the man how old he was.
- He says that he won’t leave.
- I hoped that it was not true.
- She denied that she met him yesterday.
- Tell me where you like to live.
- Nobody knows who he is.
- Ask if he is at office.
In each of the following complex sentences, the noun clause is the object of a preposition:
- There were no complaints except that the start was bit too late.
- Pay attention to what I am now going to say.
- There is no meaning in what you said.
In each of the following complex sentences, the noun clause is in apposition to a Noun or Pronoun:
- You shall never forget this, that honesty is the best policy.
- It was unfortunate that you were sick that day.
- Her confession that you found the money in the street will not be believed.
- His belief that some day he would succeed made him determined.
- It is feared that they will not return.
In each of the following Complex sentences, the noun clause is used as the complement of a verb of in complete predication:
- Her constant belief was that the infant might live.
- My wish is that I may please you.
- His great fear is that he may not succeed.
- My belief is that she will not come.
- Life is what we make it.
- This is where I live.
A clause coming after a construction consisting of an intransitive verb (particularly the verb to be) and an adjective does the work of noun and is, therefore, treated as a noun clause.
In each the following complex sentences, the noun clause comes after an intransitive verb construction:
- The sick man was sure that he would recover someday.
- The boy was afraid that he would fall down.
- All of us are so keen that you should succeed.
- They felt very sorry that they lost the match at the end.
From the above examples it will be seen that a noun clause is generally introduced by the subordinating Conjunction that. Sometimes, however, the conjunction that is omitted; as,
I know (that) you did it.
Sometimes, instead of a noun clause introduced by that, the accusative with the infinitive is used.
- He thought that he was safe there.
He thought himself to be safe there.
- I believed that he was a true friend.
I believed him to be a true friend.
- This proved that the man had stolen the horse.
This proved the man to have stolen the horse.
- We know that Rama is alive.
We know Rama to be alive.