Grammar 19

 

Noun Clauses

Noun clauses are like Russian nesting dolls. Small ones fit inside large ones, and large ones, in turn, can fit inside even larger ones.

Here's how it works:

You put the word "that" in front of a clause, and by doing so, you turn the entire clause into one big noun.

Let's look at an example.

That's an independent clause. "Mary" is the subject; "loves" is the verb, and "Bob" is the object of the verb. Put it all together, and we've got a transitive clause (SVO).

Next, let's put the word "that" in front of this clause:

By doing so, we have now turned the whole clause into one big noun, which allows us to make a new sentence, like this:

In this new sentence, "Jim" is the subject; "thinks" is the main verb; and "that Mary loves Bob" is the object of the verb. Put it all together, and once again we have a transitive clause (SVO). It's also a complex sentence, since now it includes at least one subordinate clause.

Can we keep going? You bet!

Let's turn that whole sentence into a noun clause by putting "that" in front of it, like this:

Now we can write a new sentence, like this:

In this new sentence, "Susy" is the subject, "believes" is the main verb, and "that Jim thinks that Mary loves Bob" is the object of the verb.

This table may help you to visualize the sentence:

1

S
Susy
V
believes

O
that Jim thinks that Mary loves Bob

2

 

S
Jim

V
thinks

O
that Mary loves Bob

3

 

S
Mary

V
loves

O
Bob


Sentence 1 actually has two different noun clauses hiding inside it. (Sentences 2 and 3 are subordinate to sentence 1).

Can we keep on going? Certainly! How far would you like to go?

Consider this sentence:

Is that a beautiful sentence? No!

Is it is a confusing sentence? Yes!

Is it grammatically correct? Yes!

There really is no limit. You can write a sentence with thousands of noun clauses, all nested inside one another (although God only knows why you'd want to).

Like I said: Russian nesting dolls.

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the questions.

Quiz