Grammar Lesson: The Noun Clause

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Dec 14, 2010

A noun clause (a group of words that has at least one subject and one verb) is a subordinate or dependent clause that functions, as its name suggests, as a noun.

It can be a subject, direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition, or a predicate nominative. This type of clause often starts with any one of these words—how, that, what, whatever, when, where, whether, which, whichever, who, whoever, whom, whomever, whose, and why.

The noun clause is underlined in each of these sentences. Its function within the sentence follows in the parentheses.

    What you thought about that candidate is correct. (subject)
    The paleontologist remembers when he met you at the conference. (direct object)
    Will these older folks recall how they were part of a terrific generation? (direct object)
    Remind whoever is on your discussion panel that we will meet tomorrow morning in the library. (indirect object)
    Give whoever needs that information the correct numbers. (indirect object)
    Mr. Bellington reminded us of where we should obtain the necessary papers for our licenses. (object of the preposition)
    My children's request is that you wear your silly tie to the birthday party. (predicate nominative)
    The lady's wish is that you bring her some pansies and daisies. (predicate nominative)

Activity 1- The Many Uses of the Noun Clause

Indicate the function of the underlined noun clause in each sentence. Write the correct letter codes on the line preceding each sentence. Each function is used at least once.

  1. ____ These math teachers taught us whatever we needed to know for the exam.
  2. ____ The winner will be whichever speller correctly spells the most words.
  3. ____ When the next door will open is puzzling to all of us.
  4. ____ Give the survey's results to whoever asks for them.
  5. ____ The family's housekeeper scrubbed whichever floors were dirty.
  6. ____ I asked whomever I wanted to come to the dance.
  7. ____ Whatever time you decide to leave is fine with me.
  8. ____ That these clams cannot be opened more easily frustrates Samantha.
  9. ____ Winning the raffle prize was what excited him the most.
  10. ____ Winnie presented whoever had earned fifty tickets with a certificate.
  11. ____ My younger brother forgot that he needed to pick up the shirt from the cleaners.
  12. ____ You may travel with whomever you desire.
  13. ____ Fred is very aware of what you meant.
  14. ____ What was on the screen was very intriguing.
  15. ____ Working diligently for many years is why Dr. Hutter is a leader in the field of dentistry.
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