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Noun clauses

In sentences, noun clauses act as subjects, direct objects and indirect objects and almost always establish ‘what’.

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The clause, that economists considered supply and demand theory to be inconsequential prior to Keynes’ work in the 1930s, is a noun clause.

Recognising noun clauses

Noun clauses can begin with the following words:

that
who
what
when
where
why
how
whether
whom
who ever
whom ever

Determining a noun clause

  • Check if a clause is a noun clause by substituting the clause with the word, ‘it’.
  • If the sentence makes sense and if the clause acts as the subject or object in the sentence, the clause is a noun clause.

In our example, what happens if you substitute ‘it’ for the clause?

A review of the literature reveals it. (direct object)

The sentence makes sense and the word ‘it’ can be substituted for the original words; therefore, we have a noun clause in this sentence.

Noun clause as a

  • SubjectHow they understood her is a mystery to me.
  • Direct objectThey heard that the storm bypassed Perth.
  • Indirect objectThe prize goes to whomever I see wins the race.

Complete the two noun clauses exercises on this page.

 

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