Advanced English Grammar: Noun Clauses


Hi. Welcome to I'm Adam.

In today's video we're going to look at some more advanced grammar.

We're going to look at the noun clause. Now, you may have seen

my previous video where I did an introduction to subordinate clauses. Today I'm going to

look at only one, only the noun clause, get a little bit deeper into it, show you some

examples, show you how it works, how to build it, when to use it, etc.

So before we begin, let's review: What is a clause? A clause is a combination of words

that must contain a subject and a verb. Okay? Now, every sentence has at least one independent

clause. The noun clause is a dependent clause. Okay? I'm going to write that here. It's a dependent.

What that means is that this clause cannot be a sentence by itself. It is always

part of a sentence that contains an independent clause, but the noun clause can be part of

the independent clause, and we're going to see that in a moment.

But before we do that, we also have to look at the conjunctions. Okay? So these are the

words... The conjunctions are the words that join the noun clause to its independent clause

or that begin the noun clause. Okay? And again, we're going to look at examples. So these

are the ones you need to know: "that", "which", "who", "whom", "whose", "what", "if", "whether",

"when", "where", "how", "why",

and then: "whoever", "whomever", "whenever", "wherever", "whatever", "whichever".

These can all be conjunctions. Now, you have to be careful with a few of

them. Some of these can also be conjunctions to adjective clauses, which will be a different

video lesson entirely. And you also have to remember that this clause in particular: "that",

is quite often removed. Means it's understood to be there, it's implied, but we don't actually

have to write it or say it when we're using the noun clause. And again, we're going to

look at examples of that.

Another thing to remember is that only some of these can be both the conjunction, the

thing that starts the clause, and the subject of the clause. So, for example:

"which" can be the subject, "who" can be the subject,

"whom" is always an object, never a subject,

and "what" can be the subject. "Who", "whoever", "whatever", "whichever" can also be subjects.

So I'm going to put an "s" for these. Okay? So it's very important to remember these because

sometimes you have to recognize that it is both the conjunction and the clause, and recognize

it as a noun clause. Now, of course, it will be much easier to understand all this when

we see actual examples, so let's do that.

Okay, so now we're going to look at when to use the noun clause and how to use the noun

clause. So, noun clauses have basically four uses. Okay? Or actually five, but one of them

is similar. First of all we're going to look at it as the subject.

So, a noun clause can be the subject of a clause, of an independent clause.

So let's look at this example: "What she wore to the party really turned some heads." So,

what is the noun clause? "What she wore to the party". Okay? So here's our conjunction,

here's our subject, and here's our verb. Okay? And then here's another verb. Now, remember:

In every sentence, you're going to have one tense verb, will have one subject that corresponds

to it. Here I have two tense verbs, which means I need two subjects. So the subject

for "wore" is "she", the subject for "turned" is the entire clause. This is the noun clause

subject to this verb. Okay? Turned what? Some heads. And, here, we have the object of the

whole sentence. So this sentence is essentially SVO, so we have an independent clause, but

the subject of the independent clause is a noun clause. So although you have one independent

clause, this is still a complex sentence because we're using an independent and the subordinate,

and the dependent clause to build it. Now, here, the conjunction is separate from the

subject itself. We're going to look at other examples soon.

Here: "Whoever wants to know should ask me." So, if you're not sure about what's going

on with clauses, a good hint, a good way to understand any sentence is to first of all

identify the verbs. Now, it doesn't mean identify all the verbs. Identify all the tense verbs.

So in this case we have "wants", and here we have an infinitive, so this is not a tense

verb. It's just an infinitive verb. And here we have "should ask". Now, a modal is considered

part of the tense verb, it's part of the main verb of a clause. So now I have two verbs,

of course I need to subjects. So, here's my subject for "wants", and here

is my subject

to "should ask". Who should ask me? Whoever wants to know.

Okay? So I still have a noun clause as the subject for the main verb, and this is your object,

and "wants" also has its own object.

So, the whole SVO, SVP, SVA applies whether you're in a dependent clause

or whether you're in an independent clause. And if your noun clause is part of the independent

clause, all the rules still apply. Think of this as one subject with its verb and object.

Here's your subject, verb, and object, and they work together. So, noun clause as subject.

Now, we're going to look at the next example. Here we have noun clause as object,

or subject complement.

Just to refresh your memory: An object answers the question what or whom about

the verb. A subject complement answers what or whom about the subject.

So, let's look at the first example. So: "Please ask mom what we're having for dinner." So,

what is the subject here? Of course "you", because this is an imperative. Ask who? Mom.

This is indirect object. I hope you can see "i.o." indirect object. Now, please ask mom

what? What should you ask her? What we are having for dinner. So, here we have our conjunction

"what", here we have our subject "we", "are having" is our verb, and "for dinner" is your

adverb. Okay? So now this whole thing is the object... Let me try to not make it too messy,

here. Object to the verb "ask". Okay. Subject, verb, object, conjunction, subject, verb,

and then we have our adverb there. But we're working on an object.

Here's another example: "Do you know", so now we're looking at it as a question. And

this is one of the things that you have to be careful about. Noun clauses are clauses,

they're not questions. So when you see the word "what" it doesn't mean necessarily that

it's a question. A good hint, a good way to understand that it's not a question, that

it's a noun clause is that the subject comes before the verb. In a question, the verb...

The subject... The verb will come before the subject. "What are we having for dinner?"


"Do you know if she's coming?" So: "Do you know", so "you" is the subject, "know" is

the verb. Know what? So now you need an object to the verb "know", so there it is.

Well, without the question mark, but you understand that. "...if she is coming?" "If" is the conjunction,

subject is "she", "is coming" is your verb. And you have a full clause, and the full clause

acts as the object to "know". So far so good.

Now, when do we use a subject complement? Generally when we have a "be" verb as your

main verb or any copular or linking verb, like: "seem", "appears", or "looks like".

These are not action verbs. They're just situation verbs, and so we use them like a "be" verb,

like an equal sign. And we're talking about the subject.

So: "Paul isn't..." So, "Paul" is your subject, "is not" is your verb. Is not what?

"...what is generally considered handsome." Subject, verb, verb, split up. Okay? "Considered handsome"

is what?

The object to "considered". But... So: "is considered handsome" is the subject

complement, tells you about Paul. Paul is like not handsome. But not... You can't say

not directly handsome, just most people look at him, they wouldn't think he's a handsome

person, general idea. Okay? But again, subject, verb, subject, complement. Subject, verb,

object, etc. Subject, verb, object, or whatever. As... You must understand how the independent

clause works in order to be able to use the noun clauses properly in their positions.

But so far we've looked at noun clause as subject, noun clause as object, noun clause

as subject complement. We still have to look at two more uses of the noun clause. Let's

look at those now.

Okay, so now we're going to look at the other two types of noun clauses, or the other two

uses of the noun clause. The first one we're going to look at is the object again, but

this time we're looking at the object of a preposition. So, in this case, what is a preposition?

Words like "for", "about", "to", so these are prepositions, and prepositions take objects.

So we can use a noun clause as an object to a preposition.

"Sarah should not be held responsible for..." so now I'm giving you an explanation what

she shouldn't be responsible for. "...for what her brother does." So, again, here's

your noun clause. And it is the object of "for". And the whole expression with a preposition

is a complement to "be held responsible". I'm completing the meaning. But this is not...

This is where you have to be careful. It's not an object to the verb: "should not be held",

it's an object to the preposition "for".

Here's another example, and here I'm going to have two. So sometimes remember an object...

A sentence can have many objects, just like a noun clause can be used many times.

"It's more a question of..." so here's your preposition. "...of whom she said it to than..." and here's...

This is another preposition. "...than why she said it." So, whom she said it to is more

the thing we need to understand more than why she said it. But again, it doesn't matter

because here's your... Here's your first one. Here's your first noun clause. Notice I'm

using "whom" because it's "to whom". Okay? And: "than why she said it", so here's another

noun clause object. Object here, object here. It doesn't matter what preposition you're

using, but if it needs an object, you can use a noun clause for that.

And then we have the adjective complement. Adjective complement. So sometimes we have

a sentence that's complete, but then we want to give a bit more information because although

the sentence is complete, the idea is complete, it needs more information. So... I shouldn't

say that. The idea is not necessarily complete, but the sentence is complete and can stand

on its own. It's an independent.

So: "I am happy", a complete sentence. "I am happy", it's a complete idea as well, but

there are many reasons to be happy, so I want to give more information to make it a more

complete idea. So then I can add in a noun clause with "that". Now, you notice I put

it between brackets. Why? Because I can take it out.

"I am happy that you've decided to come."

or: "I'm happy you've decided to come." Now, more often than not, people will take

this out. Why? Because extra words. We don't need them. You will understand it's there.

Just concentrate on what I'm saying. So, again, subject, verb, "to come", object. All of this

is giving me more information about the happy. Happy why? That you've decided to come.

"I'm unsure", "I am unsure", again, complete sentence, technically, but there's a reason

you're not sure. Right? So you want to complete this idea with a noun clause.

"I'm unsure if he's coming." Conjunction. Now, be careful, "if" is also an adverb conjunction. But this

is not an adverb situation, this is a noun clause, conjunction, subject, verb, that's

it. Complete clause.

Now, one last thing I want to mention: Remember I said a noun clause can be a subject, it

can be an object, so you can have a sentence that the subject is a noun clause and the

object is a noun clause. So it looks very complicated, but it's not.

"That she might be right",

this is your noun clause subject, "is" is your main verb, "what frightens me."

Noun clause again as subject complement. "Her being right scares me." is another way to

say it. But some people like to have very fancy, very long sentences. And again, why

would I write: "That she might be right is what frightens me" and not if...

"It's scary that she might be right." Like, with this kind of sentence. Both are okay. This one

will be more emphatic. People will listen to this sentence or read this sentence with

more attention, because it's long, because you started a sentence with "That" which is

not very common. So you're forcing something. You're forcing the reader, if it's written,

to take attention, to give attention. Not very commonly used in spoken English, but

it is sometimes. In written English, much more common.

Last sentence: "How you go about doing your work should not affect when you get it done."

"How you go about doing your work", so how you work... Your... "...should not affect",

this is your main verb. "...when you get it done." I don't care how you do your work,

that's not important. How you do it is how you do it. When you finish is more important

to me. And how you do it should have no bearing, should have no affect on when you finish it,

if you finish it at the deadline. But again, we're not too worried about the meaning right

now, we're worried about the structure. Noun clause subject, main verb, noun clause object,

complete sentence. This whole thing is technically an independent clause, but again, it's considered

a complex sentence because it uses both simp-... Sorry. Independent and dependent clauses to build it.

Now, I've given you a lot of information today. I know it might be a little bit confusing.

Make sure that you have a bit of background. There's a good lesson I did on the sentence

types: simple, compound, complex, compound-complex, so four sentence types. You should review

that video, it will help a little bit with this as well. And this might also help you

understand that lesson. I also did an introduction lesson to dependent clauses. If you want,

you can review that. This gets a little bit more detail. Of course, I will also make videos

about the adjective clause and the adverb clause. They will come later, you will see

those. And there's also going to be a lesson about the... Or there is a lesson about the

independent clause, where I explain all the pieces in a little bit more detail. This is

advanced grammar, but if you're going to be writing, you need to know this stuff. And

if you have some problems reading, especially if you're taking a test, IELTS, TOEFL, CAE,

whatever test you're taking, if you're having problems with some of the readings - knowing

how to identify clauses will help you a lot in understanding what is written there. Okay?

So, I hope this is all clear. I hope you like this lesson.

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