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A noun clause is a clause which takes the place of a noun or a noun phrase. It can be used in any way that a noun is used. That is, it can act as the subject, object, object of a preposition, or predicate noun in a sentence. Just like a noun, a noun clause answers the questions who, when, or what?

Examples: As subjects Noun: Kamau is unknown Noun phrase: Their destination is unknown Noun clause: Where they are going is unknown.

The noun clause where they are going is the subject of the verb is.

As objects Noun: I know French.

Noun phrase: I know the three ladies.

Noun clause: I know that Latin is no longer spoken as a native language.

In the first sentence, the noun French acts as the direct object of the verb know.

 

In the third sentence, the entire clause that Latin is no longer spoken as a native language is the direct object of the verb know.

As objects of the preposition noun: He talked about him.

Noun phrase: He talked about the funny items.

Noun phrase: He talked about what you bought at the supermarket.

In the first sentence the pronoun him is the object of the preposition about.

In the third sentence, what you bought at the supermarket is the object of the preposition about and answers the question about what? As predicate nouns. Her first day in school was what shaped her life.

The adverbial clause what shaped her life gives more information about the subject of the sentence her first day in school.

 

Words often used to introduce noun clauses that, when, whose, what, whatever, whoever, how, who, whoever, where, whom

Note: You cannot tell the kind of a clause from the word that introduces it.

You can tell the kind of clause only by the way it is used in a sentence.

If the clause is used as a noun, it is a noun clause.

If the clause is used as a modifier, it is an adjectival clause or an adverbial clause.

 

Examples: Whoever built the house was not an expert.

(Noun clause as a subject) No one knew where he came from.

(Noun clauses a direct object) He left the construction site whenever he wished.

(As an adverbial clause) This is the layout which he left behind.

(As an adjectival clause).

 

Exercise

Identify the following sentences as simple, compound or complex.

If it is a complex sentence, indicate whether it has an adjective, an adverb or a noun subordinate clause.

  1. The hotel is not very old.
  2. The hotel is not very old; it was constructed in 1987.
  3. It has a strange name, but it attracts many tourists.
  4. Whoever broke the mirror will have to pay for it.
  5. The Gor Mahia fans hope that the team will win again.
  6. Did I tell you about the author whom I met? 7. They are searching for the man stole the cow.
  7. People began riding horses at least five thousand years ago.
  8. Some people watch the moon as though it affects their lives.
  9. Some superstitions developed when people felt helpless about the world around them.
  10. The parachute was really a sail that was designed for skiing.
  11. The moon orbits the earth every 291/2 days.
  12. My dog loves bread crusts.
  13. I always buy bread because my dog loves the crusts.
  14. Whenever lazy students whine, Mrs. Ndegwa throws pieces of chalk at hem.
  15. The lazy students whom Mrs. Ndegwa hit in the head with pieces of chalk complained bitterly.
  16. My dog Shimba, who loves bread crusts, eats them under the kitchen table.
  17. A dog that drinks too much milk will always be alert.
  18. You really do not want to know what Aunt Lucy adds to her stew.
  19. We do not know why, but the principal has been away from school for two months.

 

Answer

Exercise

  1. Simple sentence
  2. Compound sentence
  3. Compound sentence
  4. Complex – whoever broke the mirror – noun clause
  5. Simple sentence
  6. Complex sentence – whom I met – adjectival clause
  7. Complex sentence – who stole the cow – adjectival clause
  8. Simple sentence
  9. Complex sentence – as though it affects their lives – adverbial clause
  10. Complex sentence – when people felt helpless about the world around them – adverbial clause.
  11. Complex sentence – that was designed for skiing – adjectival clause
  12. Simple sentence
  13. Simple sentence
  14. Complex sentence – because my dog loves crusts – adverbial clause
  15. Complex sentence – whenever lazy students whine – adverbial clause
  16. Complex sentence – whom Mrs. Ndegwa hit in the head with pieces of chalk – adjectival clause
  17. Complex sentence – who loves bread crusts – adjectival clause
  18. Complex sentence – that drinks too much milk – adjectival clause
  19. Complex sentence – what Aunt Lucy adds to her stew – noun clause
  20. Compound sentence

(B) In terms of purpose we have seen how sentences are categorized into simple, compound and complex depending on their internal structures.

Now, we shall see how they can be categorized in terms of purpose.

 

See also:

ADJECTIVAL CLAUSES

WHAT IS A CLAUSE?

TYPES OF SENTENCES

COMPLEMENTS

OBJECTS SENTENCE

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