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Noun Clauses Part 2

Noun clauses function as nouns. In the last lesson, we focused mostly on using noun clauses as the direct object of a sentence.

A noun clause can begin the following: that, if, whether (or not), or a question word.

The noun clauses can replace nouns. Here are some examples of what we studied last time. ("what we studied last time" is a noun clause.)
  • I don't know where to go.
  • I didn't know that she was married.
  • She understands what to do.
  • They think that it is good.
  • She asked if are going to come.
  • Tell if what to do.
  • They told us that it will be ready soon.
Now, let's look at some more ways that we can use noun clauses.

1. We can use noun clauses after prepositions – of, about, to, on, for, etc.
  • I am thinking about what to do next.
  • They talked about where to go on vacation.
  • We are looking forward to what will happen next week.
  • I will look for what city I want to move next week.
2. We can use noun clauses as a subject complement. These come after "be verbs". You will understand if you look at some examples.
  • My family is what gives me happiness.
  • Music is what helps me relax.
  • The library is where I go to relax.
  • She is who I talk to when I need help.
  • Coffee is what gives me energy.
  • Children are what bring happiness and joy to the world.
3. We can also use noun clauses as the subject of a sentence.
  • What I like the most about her is her personality.
  • Where I go is none of your business.
  • Who will come is secret.
  • Why she likes me is a mystery.
  • How to make kimchi is complicated.
4. Sometimes, the subject noun clause comes after a short phrase like "The fact", "The idea", "The reason", etc.
  • The fact that she has worked here for 10 years is very important when considering her for the promotion.
  • The idea that people of different religions cannot get along is false.
  • The reason that I like her is that she gives me free things.
The last sentence has 2 noun clauses.

The 3 examples above could also be considered adjective clauses because they describe nouns (idea, reason, fact). But since they are so closely related to the subject of a sentence, I thought it was important to mention here as well.

5. A noun clause can also start with the following: whoever, whatever, wherever. These can be the subject or object of a sentence.
  • I will help whoever needs it.
  • You should do whatever makes you happy.
  • He is so popular that his fans will love whatever he says or does.
  • Whatever you dream is possible.
  • Whoever comes to the show before 6 will get a prize.
If you pay attention when you read or listen to English, you will hear and see noun clauses many times. Pay attention to how these are used and try to make similar sentences when you speak. This is one of the best ways to learn and become comfortable with English grammar, especially advanced English grammar like noun clauses.

Practice your English speaking and improve your English grammar with this simple practice exercise. First, finish the sentences below and then try making your own sentences.

What I like most about her is _______________.
Where I want to go the most is _______________.
Why she is mad at you is because _______________.
I will think about _______________.
I can't think of _______________.
_______________ is what makes me happy.
What makes me happy is _______________.
I will do whatever _______________.
The fact that _______________ is _______________.
The reason that _______________ is _______________.

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