Grammar 19


Finding the Base Clause (of Sentences with Noun Clauses)

Almost every sentence in the English language can be boiled down to one of five basic clause patterns:

equative (S=C)

  • John is a doctor.
  • Mary is sad.

intransitive (SV)

  • The moon rose.
  • The baby slept.

transitive (SVO)

  • Veronica hit the ball.
  • Jeremy kicked the chair.

ditransitive (SVOiOd)

  • Bill gave Judy flowers.
  • Grandma baked me cookies.

dummy subject

  • There is a haunted house on the hill.
  • It is important to always take notes.

Let's analyze a few sentences with noun clauses, just for fun.

In each of the following examples, the highlighted words form a noun clause, and therefore they can be treated like one big noun.

Example 1:

What's the subject of that sentence?

What's the main verb?

What is the complement? (In other words, what is the subject equal to?)

Example 2:

In this case, the noun clause is the complement. It "completes" the main clause by telling us what "the truth" is equal to. Again, the pattern of the main clause is equative (S=C).

Example 3:

Here, the subject of the main clause is "Islam". The main verb is "holds". What does Islam hold? It holds "that the sole of a shoe is unclean". That noun clause is the object of the verb. Hence, the pattern of the main clause is SVO, or transitive.

Example 4:

This pattern ditransitive (SVOiOd).

Example 5:

Did you catch the dummy subject? Remember, any sentence that starts with the following words is a dummy subject pattern.

Instructions for the Quiz

Identify the pattern of the main clause.

To make things a bit easier for you, I have highlighted the noun clause, which means that the highlighted words can be treated like one big noun.