Sentence Writing – Step 5 (Noun Clauses)

Noun Clauses

In this step we will focus on using noun clauses.  Recall that a clause is a group of words that has a subject and a verb as a minimum.  Like nouns, noun clauses can be used as subjects (SU), direct objects (DOs), or prepositional objects (POs).  A relative clause often serves as a noun clause. 

Noun Clauses As Subjects

  1. Why he murdered his wife is a mystery.  (Main subject = underlined noun clause; main verb = is)
    (In noun clause, subject = he; verb = murdered; DO = wife)
     
  2. What he said made a lot of sense to me.
    (Main subject = noun clause; main verb = made)(In noun clause: subject = he; verb = said; DO = what)
     
  3. Where he went immediately after the accident is a matter of concern to the police.
    (Main subject = noun clause; main verb = is)(In noun clause: subject = he; verb = went; adverb = where)
     
  4. That you are excited about going is obvious since you are already packed.
    (Main subject = noun clause; main verb = is)(In noun clause, subject = you; verb = are excited)
    (Note:  The “that” is mandatory for some noun clauses to cue the listener that a word group is coming that will all comprise a single subject.  This alerts the listener to listen for the word grouping that the main verb will then follow.  If the sentence is rewritten as follows, you can see why the “that” is needed:  It is obvious that you are excited about going since you are already packed.
     
  5. (The fact) That he came to the meeting shows that he is at least somewhat willing to participate.
    (Main subject = noun clause; main verb = shows)(Noun clause: Subject = he; verb = came)
    (When a noun clause must start with “that”, it sounds a little awkward.  If desired, you can usually add “The fact” in front of the noun clause.  Doing so does a couple of things:  (1) It sounds better to the ear.  (2) It makes “fact” become the subject.  (3) It converts the noun clause into an adjective clause that describes which fact we are talking about.)

Noun Clauses As Direct Objects

  1. His girlfriend asked him where he went last night
    (Main subject = girlfriend; main verb = asked; DO = underlined noun clause)
    (In noun clause:  subject = he; verb = went)
     
  2. “Yes men” always tell their bosses what their bosses want to hear.
    (Main subject = men; main verb = tell; DO = noun clause)
    (Noun clause:  subject = bosses; verb = want; DO = what)
     
  3. He told his secretary that he was going out of town for a few days.
    (Main subject = he; main verb = told; DO = noun clause)
    (Noun clause:  subject = he; verb = was going)

Noun Clauses As Prepositional Objects

  1. Let’s talk about what he did.
    (Main subject = (you); main verb = let; preposition = about; PO = underlined noun clause)
    (Noun clause: subject = he; verb = did; DO = what)
     
  2. The meeting is somewhere between where he started the meeting and where the other guy interrupted him.
    (Main subject = meeting; main verb = is; preposition = between; prepositional objects = the two noun clauses)
    (Noun clause 1: subject = he; verb = started; DO = meeting)
    (Noun clause 2: subject = guy; verb = interrupted; DO = him)
     
  3. From where I stand, his actions seem justified.
    (Main subject = actions; main verb = seem)
    (Noun clause: subject = I; verb = stand; preposition = from; prepositional object = noun clause)

Self-Assessment

Instructions:  Enclose all noun clauses in square brackets [ ].  Fill in any blanks with an appropriate word or words to complete the sense of the sentence.  Some sentences may not have a noun clause.

  1. This is where he came in. 
  2. It is also where I leave because I can’t stand to be around him.
  3. He asked me what happened to John.
  4. I told him I didn’t know.
  5. That he came in late is significant to the facts of this case.
  6. I don’t want to conjecture about who the guilty part is.
  7. Why in the world you want to spend so much money on a big wedding is what I want to know.
  8. Do you know why he did what he did?
  9. What I told him was not what he wanted to hear.
  10. Because of the looks they gave each other after the question, I am beginning to think they were accomplices in this crime.
  11. In the movie The Wizard of Oz, the Munchkins told Dorothy that she should follow the Yellow Brick Road.
  12. Following the Yellow Brick Road led her to the Emerald City.
  13. Where did he go?  I don’t know where he went.
  14. When you began using a lot of medical words is where I became lost and confused.
  15. He asked me whose cell phone this was.
  16. Who owns this cell phone?  Who owns that cell phone is not known to me.
  17. I don’t know anything about how that cell phone got there.
  18. Not only do I not know who he is, but I don’t even care __________.
  19. Where is he living now?  I don’t know __________.
  20. That __________ is obvious because he is putting on a coat and hat and getting his umbrella.
  21. __________  is the question of the day.  Inquiring minds want to know.  (Use your imagination.)
  22. Bob is talking to a stranger.  Hm, I wonder __________.
  23. I see that a train is arriving.  Do you know where it is coming from? 
    No, I don’t know __________.  Furthermore, I don’t know __________ either.
  24. _____ his point _____ is difficult to figure out because he likes to beat around the bush too much.
  25. __________ is annoying.  I wish he’d get to the point.  (Follow-on statement to #24.)

 

 

4 comments

  1. This is [where he came in].

    It is also [where I leave because I can’t stand to be around him].
    He asked me [what happened to John].
    I told him [I didn’t know].
    [That he came in late] is significant to the facts of this case.
    I don’t want to conjecture about [who the guilty part is].

    [Why in the world you want to spend so much money on a big wedding] is what I want to know.
    Do you know why he did [what he did]?
    What I told him was not [what he wanted to hear].

    Because of the looks they gave each other after the question, I am beginning to think they were accomplices in this crime.
    In the movie The Wizard of Oz, the Munchkins told Dorothy that she should follow the Yellow Brick Road.
    [Following the Yellow Brick Road] led her to the Emerald City.
    Where did he go? I don’t know [where he went].

    When you began using a lot of medical words is [where I became lost and confused].
    He asked me whose cell phone this was.
    Who owns this cell phone? [Who owns that cell phone] is not known to me.
    I don’t know anything about how that cell phone got there.
    Not only do I not know who he is, but I don’t even care about who he is.
    Where is he living now? I don’t know where he is living now

    That fact that it will be raining is obvious because he is putting on a coat and hat and getting his umbrella.
    Where she have got such a dress is the question of the day. Inquiring minds want to know. (Use your imagination.)
    Bob is talking to a stranger. Hm, I wonder why he stepped back on his principles.
    I see that a train is arriving. Do you know where it is coming from? No, I don’t know from where it is coming. Furthermore, I also don’t know why I should have a clue.
    That his point about Cuban crysys is difficult to figure out because he likes to beat around the bush too much.
    His beating around the bush is annoying. I wish he’d get to the point. (Follow-on statement to #24.)

    1. “Following the Yellow Brick Road” has no subject or verb.  “Following” is a gerund that acts as the main subject of the main verb “led”.
       
    2. “That fact that it will be raining” – can’t say “that fact”.  The pattern is always “the fact that…”.
       
    3. “That his point about Cuban crisis” is not a clause because it has no verb, only “point”, which serves as the subject.
       
    4. “His beating around the bush” is not a clause because it has no verb, only a gerund that serves as the subject.
  2. Any time [that he beats around the bush] is annoying.
    (“time” is the subject; clause is an adjective clause clarifying which time we are talking about)
    (Can’t say “that time is”; it would be “that time was”, so I changed your wording to match “is”)

    [That he was beating around the bush] is annoying. 
    (noun clause used as subject; sometimes requires “that” in the front of it to signal the listener that the subject will be a noun clause instead of a signal word or phrase)

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