NOUN CLAUSES

 

A noun clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a verb; however, it cannot stand alone as a sentence.

 

e.g.   What you think does not matter.

 

A noun clause can be used as the subject or the object in the following forms:

 

e.g. What you think does not matter.

In this example, the noun clause is the subject of the sentence.

 

e.g. I don’t know what she thinks.

In this example, the noun clause is the object of the sentence.

 

A       Noun clauses can begin with …

1.     … a question word:

        where he lives

        what one says

        who the man is

        how she survives

 

2.     … “whether” or “if”

        whether she will stay

        if she will stay

 

3.     … a question word + TO infinitive

        what to say

        where to meet

 

4.     … “that

        that he is innocent

        that she knows three languages

 

e.g. That she worked hard for the whole term pleased her parents.

In this example, the whole that-clause is the subject of the sentence.

 

Instead of “that” we can also use the belief that, the fact that, the idea that, the evidence that.

e.g. The fact that the economic growth rate is lower than the population growth rate causes problems.

 

e.g. The idea that the teacher should dominate in the classroom is unacceptable. 

 

However, if the subject is too long, it may be difficult for the reader to understand the sentence. To solve this problem, we use the introductory “it”, which takes the position of the subject in the sentence and signals that a noun clause is to follow.

 

e.g.   Instead of

That she worked hard for the whole term pleased her parents.

we can write

It pleased her parents that she worked hard for the whole term.

 

Note that this pattern can be used only with “that” but not with “the idea that / the fact that”.

 

B       Using subjunctive in noun clauses

       

A subjunctive verb is the simple form of a verb. Sentences with subjunctive verbs generally stress importance or urgency.

e.g. I suggest (that) he see a doctor.

 

Negative form: not + simple form of the verb

e.g. I recommend that she not go to that movie.

 

Passive form: simple form of BE + past participle

e.g. It is essential that children be told the truth.

 

When the main verb of the sentence is in past form, the verb in the noun clause is also in past form.

e.g. I suggested that he saw a doctor.

 

Common verbs and expressions followed by the subjunctive in a noun clause:

 

advise, ask, demand, insist, propose, recommend, request, suggest

 

+  that + noun clause

 

 

essential, imperative, important, critical, necessary, vital

It is  +  that + noun clause

 

 

 

Written by Oya Ozagac July 2004