Introduction to noun clauses
A noun clause is a clause that can take the place of a noun or a noun phrase in a sentence.
- I don’t know the time
- I don’t know when she is coming.
A noun clause is a subordinate/dependent clause that generally comes after the main clause. This means that the noun clause cannot stand by itself. It is usually linked to the main clause by these conjunctions:
That, which, what, who, whom, whose, where, why, when, how, if, whether, whatever, whichever, whoever, whomever, whenever, wherever,
- Question words: I don’t know where he lives.
- If or whether: I don’t know if she’s coming.
- That: I don’t know that he’s here yet.
In “that-clauses”, it is possible to leave out ‘that‘.
Types of noun clauses
A noun clause can be a complement of the verb be:
- The problem is (that) I don’t have enough time to visit all my friends.
- The difficulty was how he was going to find us in that crowded place.
- The thing is (that) the apartment doesn’t have a view on the beach.
A noun clause can be the object of a verb:
- Nobody thinks (that) Janet will pass her exams.
- We all know (that) he is a generous person.
- I wonder whether that’s a nice idea.
- She wouldn’t say where she was heading.
We can use if/whether or wh-clause when the noun clause expresses a question or an answer to a question. Look at the following examples:
- I’ll ask when the first English test is.
- This receipt shows how much we have spent on food.
A noun clause is sometimes used as a subject:
- That all the students got good grades is good news.
- That you love me is not logical.
- Whoever told you that is a liar.
Notice that “that all the students got good grades” is the subject of the verb “is”. When the noun clause is the subject, we cannot omit “that“; so “all the students got good grades is good news” is NOT correct.
Noun clauses are also used with the empty subject ‘it’:
- It‘s nice (that) you have finished your tasks on time.
- It‘s hard to say if/whether he’s going to attend the party.
- It‘s great (that) you called me before you left home.
We can use a that-clause after certain adjectives:
- I’m really glad (that) you enjoyed the meal in our restaurant.
- We were certain (that) he was to blame.
- I’m aware (that) smoking is very bad for health.
These clauses can also be used with these adjectives:
Afraid, amused, annoyed, anxious, aware, certain, confident, conscious, convinced, delighted, determined, eager, glad, happy, horrified, impatient, pleased, proud, sorry, sure, surprised, willing, etc.
Check more grammar lessons here.